Search Engine Marketing
Many businesses are increasing their visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs) by investing in search engine marketing, or SEM. Search engine optimization (SEO) and paid placement are two different forms of SEM that are becoming increasingly popular in the world of online marketing.
SEO is the process of driving more traffic to a given website by improving the standing of that website within the organic results of any search engine. The goal of SEO specialists is to get their website to rank as high as possible within the organic results of search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. These search engine optimizers will achieve these desired high rankings by working to understand what people search for and how search algorithms work.
While SEO is completely reliant on organic placement on SERPs, paid placement is dependent on the amount a company is willing to pay for advertising. By bidding on specific keywords, their link will be placed in a highly visible place on the SERPs. Companies are all right with spending money for good placement because the more visible the link is, the more likely someone will visit their site to purchase something or fill out a lead.
In 2006, there was a 62% increase in the amount of money being spent on SEM. Advertisers in North America spent $9.4 billion on search engine marketing, an enormous increase over the previous year. SEMPO (Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization) conducted a survey that predicts SEM spending will double by the year 2011, bringing the annual amount spent on SEM to $18.6 billion. While Yahoo! and MSN are moving their way up in the SEM world, Google still reigns as the most popular SEM vendor.
While it may seem tedious (in the case of SEO) or expensive (in the case of paid placement) to get heavily into SEM, it is very important for the success of online businesses. According to Harris Interactive, 80% of internet traffic begins at a search engine. With this high of a number, it is advisable to carefully consider integrating SEM into the advertising and marketing plans for your online business.