What is SEM...Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing is defined as the process of increasing the visibility, usability, and effectiveness of a website, including its individual web pages, content, and interactive media in search engine results pages. This is done either via optimization or advertising, SEO: search engine optimization, and paid search. Years ago, having a website for your business was negligible. Years later, the question of whether or not to have a website is ludicrous. With the increasing usage of social media, smartphones, and numerous other communication technologies, it is no longer an option not to have a fully optimized and marketable site. Websites must not only be optimized, but they have to be user-centric. The old business model of "build it and they will come" was effectively discarded with Steve Jobs and his innovations with Apple. The mp3 player was nothing new. They simply created a product an experience that was more user-centric. The ipod was created with the user in mind and the exact science of how the user would use the technology...so should a website.

There is no bigger marketplace than the World Wide Web. There are almost 250 million websites online and this number is growing. How does one differentiate oneself in light of all the competition?? According to a study conducted by seomoz.com, the first ranking position on the search engine results page receives 42.25% of all click-through traffic, the second position receives 11.94%, the third, 8.47%, the fourth, 6.05%, and all others are under 5%. 90% of users never go beyond the first page of search results. What does this mean?? To rank within the top three websites is the equivalent of spending thousands of dollars worth of advertising ...the value of search engine marketing cannot be understated.

Web pages have two primary users, search engines and people. Search engines use automated search "bots" to crawl the web, following links to catalog what they find. The "bots" use complex algorithms to categorize information and try their best to return the most relevant and useful information. Their primary sources of data are website content, architecture, and link structure.

These "bots" can be likened to judges in a talent show who have the power to determine what is and isn't useful to users. While these judges have to the final say so, the audience's "votes" coming in from links and traffic are also factored into the equation of where your website ranks in the search engine results page or "SERP". With that said, I don't have to tell you how important marketing and branding your site is in the effort to receive these crucial votes.

What is Social Media Marketing?

What exactly is social media marketing and what are some things to consider when starting a social media marketing campaign? For starters, social media marketing is more than simply getting people to "like" a business page. I like to think of SMM as a new interactive, interaction between an enterprise and its audience. Social media is also about sharing. An effective marketing campaign should be judged upon how much people share or interact with your content...and finally heed a call to action. Every story has to have an ending, every business venture must have a purpose and a bottom line, and so does social media marketing.

Why waste payroll dollars on someone thumbing around on Facebook without a rhyme or reason. If a company wishes to engage in a social media campaign, they must ask themselves an age-old question: Why? Why do you think you need social media campaign? Is it because everyone's doing it? Believe it or not, social media isn't for every business. Some business will do just fine with a simple presence and not a "campaign". For instance, if I sold metal plating to the military, what use would a dominant social media presence have in relationship to my bottom line?

Naturally the next question is: Who is your audience? If you sell life insurance to 65+ year olds then I doubt you'd get much attention from an all out, isolated Twitter campaign. Maybe a consistent flow of tweeted blogs would suffice since your audience is more than likely not spending a significant amount of time tweeting. Consistency and presence pays off. I have created company websites simultaneously with Facebook and Twitter accounts and found that Google more often than not finds the social media accounts first before it indexes the new website. What are your goals, in terms of your bottom line? At the end of the day, the bottom line is all that matters. How will a social media campaign play into reaching the bottom line?

If your goal is to draw traffic to your website and eventually increase conversions, then your campaign would look much more different than a campaign design to raise awareness for abandoned cats. Once goals are clear, the final two steps are to set bench marks and/or metrics and track them. Whatever gets measured gets managed. Some of the best social media tracking programs are Nimble, Klout, Tweet Adder, Social Mention, Viralheat, Radian6 and Open Site Explorer. These programs can be integrated into an overall SEO strategy to exactly how your brand is being spread across the internet.