If you know anything about online marketing you know the importance of search engines – especially Google. For the last number of years Google has dominated the online search field. You cannot possibly be serious about online marketing unless you spend time getting ranked in Google. There are other search engines such as Bing, but for the purposes of explaining how the search engines work I will use “Google” to cover all of them.
Trying to get the search engines to drive traffic to your website(s) is called Search Engine Marketing or SEM. SEM involves different ways of trying to influence search engines to give you high ranking for searches done on your most important keywords.
There are two main types of traffic you can get from Google – “free” (or “organic”) and “paid” (or “sponsored”). This article is about getting “free” (organic) traffic by getting high rankings when people search for your most important targeted keywords.
Getting Ranked in Google
What exactly does it mean to get “ranked” in Google? To make a long story short, it means that when someone searches for a specific “keyword” (or “search term”), you want your page, website or blog to be there in the recommended results.
The objective is to get on the first page of Google’s results – preferably in one of the very top positions. Extensive research has shown that the first few sites listed on the Google results page get the vast majority of the clicks. And clicks mean traffic.
Most people have absolutely no idea how to get ranked in Google. They assume it is a mysterious process which only a relatively few people understand. But the fact is there are simple, basic, effective strategies for getting ranked. And these strategies are available to anyone.
The Importance of Keywords
As we will see, it is important to understand the role played by “keywords” in the SEM game. For example, if your most important keywords are “Toledo Real Estate”, SEM involves trying to get high ranking when people do Google searches for the phrase “Toledo Real Estate”. This way people will click on your link in the Google search results and be taken to your blog or website.
You soon realize that your choice of keywords is very important, and involves a bit of “science”. Before beginning a serious SEM effort you should do some research to determine which keywords are going to bring you traffic – in other words, which keywords you should target.
Basic SEM techniques
The two most important techniques used to influence the search engines are:
1. “Optimizing” your content for specific keywords. This is usually called SEO – short for search engine optimization. SEO involves choosing the most promising, most relevant keywords, and then making sure those keywords show up in your web content in the most important places.
One of the basic operating principles used by Google is that if a web page mentions specific keywords, then that page is relevant to those keywords and is therefore a potential valuable resource for people searching for those keywords.
So it follows that you should go out of your way to make it as clear as possible what your pages are about. In other words, you should include your target keywords a number of times in your content, and you should place your target keywords in as many significant places as possible.
2. “Link Building” – Getting links from other sites pointing to your content is crucial to getting the attention of the search engines. They consider inbound links as “votes” by other online bloggers and publishers that your content is worth looking at.
Generally speaking, the more your content focuses on your primary keywords, and the more inbound links you have, the better your website or blog will rank in the search engines. It’s (more or less) as simple as that.
Limitations of SEM
While SEM is important, it should not be considered a complete marketing system in and of itself. Even in terms of online promotion SEM is incomplete.
To do a really thorough job of online marketing you should augment your online efforts with other things like email list building, video placement in places like YouTube, and social networking – especially in Facebook. All of these things are beyond the scope of this particular article, but are dealt with in other articles and courses offered by the author.