Search Marketing – The Small Business Growth Factor

search-marketing-and-seo

It’s safe to say you are probably somewhat familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), but what about search marketing? Originally referred to as “search engine marketing”, search marketing is the other side of SEO (think paid and unpaid search activity). For small businesses, this is one of the most important aspects of any good digital marketing plan. In a nutshell, search marketing is an effective way for you to increase visibility, reach your target audience, and grow your brand.

What is Search Marketing?

Before we move any further, an important distinction to make is that search marketing, or SEM, is not the same thing as SEO.

I know, confusing.

While the two work closely together, SEM is more about advertising and gives you instant gratification by displaying ads in search engine results. SEO, on the other hand, is a long-term approach that will keep your brand relevant and allow you to continuously reach new customers. Search marketing relies heavily on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, allowing you to use Google and Bing ads to spread the word about your brand.

Why Does it Matter to My Business?

As a small business, finding the right tactics to grow your brand and become successful is difficult, to say the least. This is why it is so important that you look for the most efficient ways to spend your marketing dollars – which often means search engine marketing. This is especially important during the busy holiday shopping season, as millions of consumers will be relying on Google and other search engines to help them fulfill those gift-buying lists.

It is unfortunately common for businesses to fall behind a bit when it comes to integrating all these different strategies into their overall digital marketing plan. Not only does it seem like there is always something new you should be doing, but Google is constantly changing their algorithms, keeping us all on our toes.

It may help to look at SEM as a set of techniques used to bring more traffic to your business website, as it works to promote websites through ads on search engine results pages. This can be done through paid advertising or organic placement, depending on your brand and goals.

Search marketing also matters to your business for the following reasons:

  • It increases brand awareness
  • It can help you sell your products or services to online customers
  • It can increase your sales and generate new leads
  • It can provide your customers with solid, informational content

Tips for Using Search Marketing to Grow Your Brand

When used in conjunction with SEO, search marketing can increase visibility and showcase your brand. This is important, as a good SEM strategy can literally drive potential customers directly to your website.

Here are a few tips for using search marketing – during the holidays and otherwise – to grow your brand:

  • Pick the appropriate keywords
  • Use these keywords in your online campaigns and paid ads
  • Make sure you know who your audience is
  • Create eye-catching, informative ads people will want to click on
  • Drive your audience from ads to an SEO landing page to increase conversion rates

We hope you now understand just how valuable search marketing can be to your digital marketing strategy. We know how overwhelming this can be, especially when you are launching a holiday campaign to promote your brand. If you have any questions or would like our help with this, get in touch with us! We’re happy to brainstorm at no cost to you.

Search Engine Ranking – How Links Can Positively Impact SEO

Search Engine Ranking, Links, and SEO

Don’t be intimidated, but search engine ranking requires more structure and planning than many realize. One of the best ways to increase your ranking and draw traffic to your website is by building links within your content.

Links and backlinks are like the curtain track for your business.  If the strings are broken, if the track is rusty from overuse and no care, or if the fabric is ripped, there’s a feeling of chaos and disorganization.  Additionally, using negative SEO tactics, like keyword stuffing, will instantly give off a “spammy” vibe.  People and search engines are a lot smarter now, so those black-hat methods make the business owner look like the clown, and while we love clowns and the laughter they bring (the non-creepy, non-IT kind at least), we don’t think that’s what you’re aiming for.

Link building is the maintenance and upkeep required to make sure your digital curtain rises on-time for the audience, and that the stage set is perfectly organized for entertainment.

You may wonder if where a link lands impacts its value in terms of search engine ranking. Does the one in the image send better signals than the one buried in content? Or how about the link in the navigation that you thought would enhance SEO?  Truth be told, where a link lands and what type of link it is impacts its overall value. You’ll find that there is a bit of a formula to the art of building a good link profile, and once you get the hang of it, you will see just how simple it is.

Determining the Value of Links for Search Engine Ranking

One of the first things you must consider is their overall value. For example, content links are greater than navigation ones, which are greater than those in the footer.  And a text link is more valuable than an image alt link.

Are you still with us?

Good.

Keep in mind, links that are more visible have greater vibe and get more weight than links that blend in with the content. Making your links stand out by putting them in bold is one tactic, or you could try linking unique words that catch a user’s eye. These words are going to be ones that meet a specific user need, especially the one they came to the article for in the first place. It often helps to put yourself in the user’s shoes and consider what words attract the eye and grab attention.

Seeing the Structure in On-Page Links

While it is not universally true, content links carry more weight than navigation links because they are typically specific to a topic rather than repeated on every page. That being said, creating a well-rounded portfolio may send the best signals to Google and improve your search engine ranking. Some here, some there with an emphasis on uniqueness rather than repetitiveness.

This holds true for footer links especially, as simply repeating what you have in the main navigation will lead to devaluing the links at the bottom. There’s better use for that space!

Ok, back to the structure of the page. Remember, first links get more weight than second links to the same page. However, this is true from the perspective of the HTML, not necessarily the visual design of the page. It is important to keep all these various moving parts in mind when creating a blog or web page, and we recommend never using the same link more than once on any one post or page.

The last thing you (or Google) want is to manipulate SEO by repeating keyword-rich links throughout your website. This is considered keyword stuffing and it will get you in big, big trouble with the search engines.

Using Your Space Wisely

One theory that has come up recently is that links that are used more frequently carry more weight in search engine ranking. This seems to be good logic, if you ask us.  The pages that have the most links to it is called cornerstone content by Yoast SEO.  Choosing to include highly trafficked links in your content will amp up your score, which is exactly what you are trying to do, right?

This holds true for replicating keywords in navigation that you know get a lot of clicks on high traffic sites. Google instantly sees value in these types of links, and when Google is happy, everyone is happy.

With all this, it is important to keep in mind that Google will ignore a link that is used elsewhere on a page, giving only value to the first one. So, what does this say about internal links to main navigation pages? It clearly means it’s usually not worthwhile. This is where a blog comes in handy. A blog can carry many different pages that are not listed on your main navigation. You can then link back to these pages for better credibility. Blogs are essential to top ranking higher in search engines.

So, now that you’ve got the nitty gritty, or at least an overview of link valuing by Google, it’s time to let your SEO agency optimize your website. Choosing an SEO agency may seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but the ones that stand out are the agencies that get results for their clients. The process for building links can be tricky to track, so beware of quick-fix tactics that cheap agencies tout to draw you in.

 

Additional Reference:

Moz – Links in the header, footer, and navigation