Are you so laser focused on achieving the top positions for your keywords in the search engines that you are overlooking what happens when you get there? In general, search engine optimization tends to be more technical in nature, keeping search engine algorithms at the forefront of analysis, experimentation and strategy. Search engine marketing on the other hand deals with the human factor of online marketing. What are people actually looking for? What gets them to click? What can turn a search visitor into a customer?
Here are three important aspects of SEO and SEM to think about, and tips for effective implementation in your overall digital marketing.
This aspect of a web page has not been used in Google's ranking algorithm since 2009, and is now sadly dismissed by too many website owners as irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth!
While the area may have outlived it's usefulness in terms of influencing search engine rankings, it is one of the most important aspects of turning impressions into clicks.
This short area of text is your first chance to sell yourself, your brand and your products. It is prime marketing real estate. The copy should be compelling, unique and highly relevant to the search terms to drive the highest number of people to your site from your search engine listing.
If you do not specify a meta description for a page, search engines will automatically populate this area with text taken from the page copy. This is not always a bad thing, especially for search phrases that you haven't considered when choosing keywords, but for your target search terms it is far better for you to remain in control.
Sadly, there are many unscrupulous SEO service providers out there who will provide a report to a client showing a list of top 1 positions they have managed to secure for a website.
Wow, thinks a client, that's great! I am ranking in position 1 on Google!
Before you get too excited, take a closer look at that keyword. Is it relevant to your page and site? Does it get a decent amount of search traffic each month? Will it attract people who have the potential to turn into customers?
Not all position 1 rankings on Google are equal.
One of the biggest problems that can occur when SEO overrules SEM is for a site to start ranking for keywords that don't contribute to sales.
Let's say your firm provides data security solutions for large organizations. Ranking highly for terms such as "how to keep data safe on laptop" or "best anti-virus protection for computer" is more likely to send a stream of visitors looking for practical guidance and recommendations for security solutions for domestic use than the larger-scale clients you are trying to attract.
Often, the difference between popular and relevant keywords is subtle, and is something that you will have to research and experiment with to find the best balance.
A second consideration in this category is content relevance for the visitor. Does the keyword they have used direct them to a page that is going to provide them with the information they are looking for, or give them a solution to their problem? Not only does Google consider a visitor's likelihood to stay on your page vs returning to the search results to select another page a ranking factor, but making sure your pages are relevant and useful is the best way to reduce your bounce rate.
Search engines are getting smarter about matching key words and context, but at the end of the day it is your responsibility to provide value to search visitors in order to turn them into customers.
Technically, search engines are clear that PPC budget and activity do not influence a site's organic search rankings.
However, studies show that a large percentage of people are unaware of the difference between the first ad shown in the search results and the top organic search listing. From an SEM perspective it makes sense to try and capture search traffic for a keyword by using PPC ads in your search strategy.
Don't lose site of the marketing and sales aspect of your SEO efforts and be sure you are attracting and keeping the right type of visitors to your site through search.