SEM

SEM

by Dave Curtis on 12/25/2008

SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING

Once you’ve gotten the idea of SEO (search engine optimization) down to a fair degree where you can rank a page on page one in Google for three or four terms, remove one of the terms so that the page no longer ranks for that phrase, and then put it back onto page one in Google again for that phrase by re-doing it a different way you can be fairly confident that you can now begin your focus on marketing or “copywriting” for web pages.

Some people will enter into the SEO field from the field of having done Market Research already, and they will approach it from the other direction and develop, adopt and apply SEO strategies. Whichever way you do it though, it’s the real meat and potatoes of what commercial web sites are really all about. Your site can’t sell anything if it can’t be found, and your site won’t sell much (or as much) if your offers aren’t pitching well.

Face it – no matter what page your site is indexed on in Google, there are always going to be other search results showing up on the same page as yours – whether that be page one, or page one million. Therefore, just the way the keywords and phrases have been optimized for your page to reach page one in Google, your copywriting on that page has to reach number one within the prospects mind in convincing him or her to buy from you rather than from the other choices offered on pages one or two in Google.

This section, Search Engine Marketing, is about the different ways to do that. A lot of marketing people entering into SEM don’t really become excellent SEO’s, but instead focus SEM almost solely on how it applies to Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is often because they are unusually strong and well educated in the specific field of market research and advertising. They know that their copy will sell and don’t really want to make a whole lot of changes to their work. After all, they do a huge amount of research on the marketing aspect of their copy already, and why should they spend almost twice the time and effort to go out and fully learn Search Engine Optimization as well, and have to integrate that research and results into their copywriting only to have to wait for Google to get around to indexing the web site (and seeing if indeed they have succeeded in reaching page one for any of the terms) to begin making sales? Instead they learn about PPC keyword strategy focusing on keywords there to jump start the marketing process early and leave it at that. Very wise. Doing this, they can move on with their true profession and start working with the next client. For the rest of us, though I’ll cover the area of PPC marketing, SEM is not about PPC. It’s about Search Engine Optimized Copywriting a.k.a. Search Engine Marketing: Natural Search Engine Marketing for the long term without having to rely solely on adwords. Of course some on-page content and keyword optimization matching the PPC ad content has still got to be done by the PPC SEM, but it’s not as in depth or focued. One reason for this, as stated, is that the marketing expert feels a need to craft the page’s content in a very exact way to effect a sale and would rather not chance mucking it up with a lot of keyword additions and substitutions about which their previous testing has not provided statistical proofs. There is less integration of the two sciences with the PPC model of SEM.

Integrating the sciences of SEO and and true on-page Marketing is the most important area we as SEO’s can focus upon because without the marketing aspect being involved (even though our optimized pages will be found), the number of sales generated from poor copywriting (meaning without well defined focus on benefits, features providing attractive offers, and using conversion tools like newsletter sign up and, or estimate forms) will be disappointingly low.

When that happens and it becomes generally believed that Pay Per Click using a marketing expert outperforms simple SEO, then the simple SEO will no longer find work. Furthermore, marketing SEO as marketing is easier to pitch to businesses than simple SEO – particularly when their sites already contain lousy marketing – and just about any attempt to do a better job with that would be welcome.

One serious concern with marketing is in the area of testing. We place an ad or create our copywriting and then wait and check statistics to see how the target is converting. We create multiple versions of a page and test again to see which one works best using percentages. We need to have the cooperation and help of the business owner because although we can track hits, and see who has gone to a form or sent an email request, we don’t know the internal factors, e.g. “did the sale go through”. Here’s a link to an excellent case study on website optimization and part of how it is done.