These days, if you’re not marketing your business online, you’re not marketing your business. And for many businesses, online marketing revolves heavily around search engines. There are essentially two ways to increase your business through search engine marketing: SEO (search engine optimization) and PPC (pay-per-click advertising).
Search is a nearly universal online activity. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 92 percent of U.S. adults that use the Internet also use search engines.
Numerous studies show that search is extremely important to the consumer buying process. One that we recently reported on Search Engine Land showed that 58 percent of consumers begin the buying process with search, compared to 24 percent starting on company websites and 18 percent beginning with social media.
SEO means developing your website so it is more visible in the organic results on Google, Bing and other search engines. PPC involves an auction system that displays ads based on bid amounts, keywords sponsored and numerous other factors.
Both are powerful ways to market and increase your business through search engines. Some companies use both SEO and PPC, while others market primarily through just one.
This “crash course” offers a look at various aspects of SEO and PPC, ranging from basic concepts to more advanced strategies and tactics. The reading list below is valuable, whether you’re new to search engine marketing or trying to expand what you already know.
What is SEO?
If you’re new to SEO, begin with these articles that explore basic terms and concepts.
Search engines can’t rank and display pages that they can’t first crawl and index. Make sure you’re not putting up barriers that prevent spiders from accessing all of your content and showing it to searchers.
You have to know what words and phrases potential customers use when they’re using Google, Bing or other search engines to find your products and/or services. Keyword research helps you optimize your website for the right words.
Content is the centerpiece of a successful SEO effort. Search engines want to show links to great content when people search. Humans want great content to get their questions or needs answered. If you want to rank on page one, ask yourself: Is my content really one of the 10 best pages on the Internet about this topic?
Using the right tools can help you gain an edge on the competition. But remember that tools are not a replacement for your own knowledge and decision-making.
If your business targets customers in a certain area, your website and online marketing needs to do the same. Smart local online marketing can be a big business boost.
Search engine marketing/pay-per-click advertising
In addition to SEO, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) can be an effective way to gain exposure on search engines. In a nutshell, this typically involves writing short text ads and then bidding to have your ad(s) appear when searchers use certain keywords. Advertisers only pay when someone clicks on their ad—thus the name pay-per-click advertising.
You might be thinking, Wait! Social media isn’t SEO—they’re totally different! That’s partially true, but did you know that both Google and Bing have confirmed that they use social signals as part of their ranking algorithms? It’s true. And social media is also a great way to build links and visibility.