Search Marketing for Beginners: The Ins and Outs of Paid and Organic Advertising

By: Samantha Bedford

What Is Search Marketing?

Search marketing is the overarching term that encompasses everything related to how and what people search within search engines. Formerly known as SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, it has since taken on a broader definition. Search marketing focuses mainly on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization and PPC, or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

One of the most important SEO factors is optimizing content for search engines, and is crucial to the success of any website. This is the practice of honing in on certain key terms that people are specifically searching for, and then putting them in designated places on a website. That is to say, by strategically placing these keywords in a few areas of your site, search bots will crawl these keywords and rank you higher because of their placement and use…to put it simply.

At Pico, we target search-marketing-specific keywords. This strategy can be implemented with any business, regardless of industry. Finding the best key terms takes research, often in the form of utilizing data from your pay-per-click campaigns in Google Adwords, and a specific keyword planning tool like Screaming Frog, or another similar platform. These planners spit out information like how much competition exists on any given keyword, as well as its success over time. By taking the time to sit down and look at an active list of keywords relevant to your business, you’ll be able to hone in on the keywords you want to rank for. Below are some of the most common ways people research keywords:

Specify a location

Pico is in Denver, and thus it’s an easy way to parse our search market. So, an appropriate keyword for us would be something like “search marketing agency Denver”. It gives a keyword specific to Pico, and geographically differentiates the company from other agencies in the same industry.

Target a niche

Some companies only have one related niche. Using Pico as an example again, we work with a wide variety of clients and provide a number of different services. We might want to focus on more broad terms like ‘digital marketing strategies’ and more specific terms like ‘search engine optimization program’ or ‘display advertising solutions.’ It is important to create a strategy that encompasses what makes your brand unique through your products or services.

Nail a Low-Competition Keyword

There are a lot of things people search about within any given industry. Using the aforementioned keyword tools, you can find information on exactly what people are searching, and if there are lots of competitors in a given keyword space. Determine keywords with high search volume and low competition. More traffic may head to your site because there are fewer overall businesses in the space.

Where to Place Keywords

Once these keywords have been targeted, it’s essential to place them in various areas of your website. This strategic placement is a big portion of SEO. The search engines crawl certain snippets of data on your website, in order to determine its content. This is a cornerstone of search marketing.

Placing keywords in these designated areas are key to growing website traffic organically. These include:

-H1 and H2 tags
-Metadata
-Content (including interior pages and blogs)
-Links

Once these updates have been made, back linking is a big part of optimizing a website for the search engines. Basically, the more relevant pages that link to a specific page rich in content, the higher that page may rank. If a page has great content, more sites will link to it because it’s likely relevant to their specific audiences. In the search marketing world, this is known as authority. Because Google and other search engines rank authority so highly, your website visibility will grow as authority grows.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

Oftentimes, when you search on Google, ads will pop up above and below organic search results. The ads that display for any given search term are bid on at the keyword level within an advertising platform like Google AdWords. These paid ads are known as pay-per-click advertising, or PPC. Companies bidding for these ad spots–and specifically keywords–only pay when someone clicks on their ad, hence the name.

Understanding keywords and capitalizing on relevant terms is essential to the success of a pay-per-click campaign. Having a website properly optimized for SEO–especially the landing page for a given PPC ad–is necessary if you don’t have a specific page built for your pay-per-click campaigns. If someone is sent to a page that isn’t appropriate to the keywords advertised, not only will she likely leave, but Google will give you a low-quality score which means you’ll have to pay more in the auctions to show your ads. Landing page relevance, and by association keywords, to your PPC ads must be in sync. A lack of relevance leads to wasted clicks, and ultimately wasted dollars.
Highly relevant keywords, ads and landing page content often lead to a significant change in conversion rate and likely your ultimate goal in running a pay-per-click campaign. Better results arise when SEO and PPC efforts work in tandem, rather than as individual programs.

Tracking and Analyzing Traffic

Analytics should already be installed on your website. If you aren’t using any sort of system, we highly recommend that you use a free tracking tool like Google Analytics to understand how users interact with your site. Measurement tools like this provide awesome insight into traffic demographics, device breakdown, and information on how long people spend viewing your website content. Because PPC is a paid effort, traffic that arrives on the website through those ads is not considered organic. By auto-tagging your campaigns within Google AdWords, you can gain valuable information on how users interact with your site once they click on your ad. You can even link Google Analytics with Google AdWords to see a handful of metrics directly in your AdWords interface.

Google offers another free tool called Search Console or Webmaster Tools that provides insight into the performance of your organic terms. You can also link this with AdWords to see how your paid and organic keywords interact with each other. Other tools like Screaming Frog mentioned above, or Moz allow you to track the performance of the keywords you want to rank for organically.

Finding out-of-the-box (but still relevant!) keywords that fit your marketing needs and tracking their performance is necessary for the success of both your organic traffic and paid advertising.

To Wrap it Up – Search Marketing Will Propel Your Business

By understanding the fundamental differences between SEO and PPC, you have the ability to craft an extremely targeted search marketing strategy. These keywords can be location-based, targeted to a specific niche, or may reside in a very low-competition space. However you go about choosing the keywords that best fit your business–after a good deal of research, of course–make sure that any paid campaigns you employ are in-line with your website’s SEO strategy. Both paid campaigns and organic updates are necessary for search marketing success!

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