What Is Search Engine Marketing?

It's in our genes, we're driven to seek. We 'hunt' for food, homes, partners, jobs and lately ? with the advent of the Internet ? information.

Even in the early years of the Internet, before it evolved to include Web browsers, there were text based search engines. Back then they had funny names like Archie, and Gopher. It was only later, when the graphical browser was invented, that searching became much easier and accessible for the rest of us.

The concept behind Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is quite simple: when a consumer or business person searches the Web through either a text box or by clicking through a directory hierarchy, they are in "hunt mode." This mode is unique because it indicates that the person is looking for information. Marketers understand this "hunt mode" means the searcher is probably somewhere in the buying cycle, researching a product or service to fill an immediate or future need.

It's this 'timeliness' that makes search engine results some of the best sources of targeted traffic, whether that traffic originates from "organic" unpaid search listings or paid (sponsor) advertising listings.

To leverage the power of targeted traffic, marketers must understand how to effectively use both paid and organic SEM and what they can expect each methodology to achieve.

Search engine traffic is unique because:

? Presenting your message within the search engine traffic is non-intrusive. The searching is not interrupted and your message "arrives" just when the searcher is seeking knowledge or a solution.

? Search engine traffic results from a fixed inventory of searches. To truly qualify as search engine traffic, the search must be one that the searcher initiated as a search, either by clicking a search link or by entering a search query.

? Search engine traffic originates from a voluntary, audience-driven search. This means the visitors arriving from a search have selected your listing and chosen the words that match.

Natural or "Organic" search engine marketing combines the best practices of technology, usability, copy/linguistics and online PR. This is because many search engines base their relevancy algorithms on a combination of the text they see on a page or site, combined with external elements such as links and user behaviours/preferences.

These days, Marketers can buy text-link search results on all of the top search sites. The popularity of paid search results advertising can be attributed to the search engines' need for alternative revenue sources, marketers' increasing requests for search results traffic, and the high value of the traffic generated through search results.

Unpaid (otherwise known as organic or algorithmic) search engine traffic was once fairly easy to get ? but this was before there were more than 3 billion documents competing for attention of the search engine databases!

Some marketers believe there are "tricks" which will improve the relevancy of their indexed sites. Using tricks to fool the search engines is dangerous because many of these 'tricks' result in negative relevance penalties (they actually lower your ranking score!) as the engines take measures to punish search marketers who try and manipulate their systems. Remember, site and IP Blacklists do exist and 'tricks' are one sure-fire way to get yourself added.

The good news is there are many compelling and legitimate organic search engine optimizations. Some of the best ones focus on content ? the mainstay of the Internet. Particular efforts should be focused on copy (the words), the site design (it's an artful balance between what the computerized search engine needs and what the human searcher wants), HTML formatting, and other technical considerations.

Online marketing is a proven and valuable part of an overall integrated marketing campaign. And it all begins by understanding the precise keywords and search terms your ideal prospect is using to search the Internet. Find these and you unlock the potential of the Internet.

Happy hunting?keyword hunting that is!

JAMES C. BURCHILL is a 20-year veteran entrepreneur and information technology executive who now provides strategic marketing consulting services to a select group of clients. He is a published author, a passionate advocate of technology and the Internet, as well as an avid study of classical advertising and marketing strategies (which he uses during 'Internet alchemy' experiments.) James is an expert in information and data management, Internet marketing and online networking. A self confessed 'information and technology enthusiast', James brings a wide range of valuable skills to any venture. Of singular note is James' ability to assimilate complex subject matter and produce clean clear 'easy-to-understand' messages. James has been interviewed many times and caused quite the media buzz when a client 'double-dog-dared' him to prove you can get front page coverage for $0. The details and that 'dumb stunt' are now part of EBay legend. Currently James lives in Ontario, Canada with his wife and family, their Siamese cat and one very nervous fish.

Visit http://www.JamesBurchill.com for details.

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