If you own a business and use the internet for marketing, you probably know that being on the first page, preferably the first few hits, of the search results is important if you want people to notice you. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art of putting web sites at the top of search results. It constantly evolves as search engines, especially Google, tweak their algorithms to provide searchers with the best, most relevant results. Large corporations have teams of coders and marketers making sure their pages are optimized, but what do these changes mean for the small business?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Search engine marketing promotes websites using a combination of SEO and pay-per-click advertising. Careful use of keywords helps search engine spider’s index your pages properly. Informative, engaging content attracts your target audience and makes them want to come back. Pay-Per-Click advertising puts your ad where people who are interested in your product will see it. The ads may appear on search result pages using Google AdWords, Microsoft adCenter, or other services for other search engines.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is one component of Search Engine Marketing. Google recently changed the way its algorithms classify web pages for search results. This always causes panic in the SEO industry. If your pages are well designed, the changes are no big deal. Good SEO has not changed. It consists of:
Proper Keyword use: For body copy use keywords naturally, the same way you would in speaking or writing. For Meta tags, use them sparingly.
Linking: Link to sites related to your content. Create content that people will want to share. When you share links to your content, do it in appropriate forums. A link to a comic book store is probably inappropriate on a site about 19th century literature – though it might work if you are advertising comic book versions of Dickens classics.
Search engine optimization is one part of Search Engine Marketing. It constantly changes, but the changes usually improve the quality of search engine results so searchers see results that are relevant to their search terms. If your site is designed well you will need few, if any, changes when search engines change their algorithms. If your site took shortcuts – used link farms, stuffed keywords into Meta tags and content pages, put links in improper places, etc; you will have to make changes. Whether you already have a web site or are building one, having a marketing professional review it can greatly improve its effectiveness and protect it against future changes in search engine algorithms.