Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing is the practice of promoting a business' web site by increasing search engine visibility. This marketing strategy is closely tied to the concept of Search Engine Optimization, or "SEO". SEO is the art of writing web site content that is both informative to readers and optimized to ensure higher ranking on search engines. The very top goal of any search engine marketing, or "SEM", strategy is to achieve the top spot in search results. As well it should be, since data analytics firm Chitka reported that the top listing on a search page gets nearly 35% of the traffic. That is more clicks than the sites ranked two through five combined. Chitka goes on to state that traffic drops off quickly, falling below one percent after the tenth-ranked page. This statistic is a testament to the importance of sound SEM strategy.

Google is King

Search engine marketers understand that ranking is important since the majority of web users will simply click the top link. They also understand that 25% of all online retail business is driven by searches. To get that business, a company needs to be ranked as highly as possible. But whose ranking are they going by? The answer is Google. Avtec Media Group reports that Google receives roughly 66% of the world's search traffic. That two-thirds statistic is higher than all other search engines combined and blows away its closest competitor, Yahoo, at 14%. It is clear that Google ranking must be the primary focus of any SEM plan.

In order to form a proper SEM strategy, marketers need to understand how Google "PageRank" rating system works in order to optimize their site for visibility. Keywords are important, factoring for roughly 25% of Google's ranking criteria according to Search Engine Watch. Quality links are more important, though. Over 40% of the "weight" given by PageRank is assigned due to links. What this means is that marketers not only need to ensure their content is relevant when it comes to keywords; they also have to make sure it's interesting enough for other sites to link to it. Combining keyword and backlinking strategies is the only way to increase a site's ranking on Google.

Are Mobile Searches the Future of SEM?

Performance marketing agency Performics reported that, in 2010, 16% of all Google internet search activity was done using mobile search. This number is expected to grow in 2011 and beyond as smartphones, tablets and other non-traditional devices fill the market. Considering the inconvenience of digging through search results on a small screen, it's easy to see why achieving higher ranking via search engine optimization is a must. It's not difficult to assume that the current statistic of 35% of all traffic going to the number one link will increase to 50% or higher in a mobile world. Web searchers on the go need the right site and they don't have the time to scour results that computer desktop users do. The mobile device user base is growing and with it the importance of a top ranking grows also.

According to SEO firm Bline Marketing Marketing, 75% of Americans regularly use search engines and the global number is comparable. Bearing in mind the power of Google and the growing importance of on-the-go web browsing, it's not hard to see the importance of effective search engine marketing strategy. If a site isn't in the top five search results it has very little chance of getting hits. Soon it will be the top three. Eventually, the number one site on search engines will get almost all the traffic. When that day comes, companies with sound SEM plans will flourish while others will go unclicked.