Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Gasta SEM Basics

Some consider SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) synonymous, interchangeable terms. This is not the case. In fact, SEO is a subset of SEM. Although most SEM's perform traditional SEO services (organic site optimization), SEM is generally part of a broader gamut of internet marketing.

The marketing side of SEM involves advertising and target marketing in order to draw traffic to websites. This includes, but does not only pertain to:

Pay-for-inclusion - the SEM firm manually submits your site to applicable search engines and directories. Submission fees are required for submissions to search engines and directories. Many SEM companies guarantee your site will be indexed by the search engines within a short period of time.

Trusted Feeds - when there is no page to crawl, or a site is working off of dynamic pages drawn from a database, they are impossible for spiders to see and index. Trusted feeds send out this dynamic content via XML format so that it can be indexed by the search engines.

ROI tracking - the SEM firm tracks statistics gathered from marketing channels to show ROI trends.

Email Marketing - the SEM company sends out email adverts typically targeting customers related to the SEM's client.

Traditional Ads - Ads are displayed on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Ads are based on keywords entered in the search and fees are triggered by impressions (you pay for the ad even if it's not clicked through).

PPC- generally these are text based ads, where the copy is written by the advertiser. The advertiser places a bid amount, choosing the fee they are willing to pay when the ad is clicked through.Typically, the higher the bid, the better ranked the ad will be in the SERP.

SEM has its advantages in that your site can obtain instant traffic increases if the campaign strategy is successful. But relying solely on the marketing side SEM has its disadvantages. It can be expensive as costs will accumulate from ads and PPC. Furthermore, these marketing tactics do not necessarily guarantee stickiness of your site. Search engine marketing may drive initial traffic to your web pages, but this traffic increase will be short term if your pages are poorly laid out and contain weak or irrelevant content. Websites need to be well written, from both a programming and aesthetic perspective.

The intricacies of search engine marketing combined with search engine optimization can also be an overwhelming task for any firm. While a large SEM company may be able to handle the workload of both the marketing and SEO side of the business, specialization will most likely provide better results.

SEO is a more technical process than SEM and involves a deeper understanding of search engine algorithms. An SEO firm also sets out to optimize your site for peak performance organically, so that it is seen and listed in the search engines on an ongoing basis. The organic search engine optimization process of SEO is one of the main factors that separates SEO from SEM. Organic search engine optimization provides free search engine positioning, instead of pay for results.

An SEO company tends to have more understanding of website design, programming, and how search engines work. SEO company staff is typically made up of programmers and website designers.

If you were to separate the marketing side of SEM from SEO and compare the two, SEO maintains a better overall ROI than SEM. Sixty percent of top search engine listings are devoted to organic listings. In most cases, a good SEO service is all your site needs to drive traffic to it.

Search Engine Optimization is by no means a simple practice. It is made up of a number of complicated in-depth processes and requires an ample amount of time to comprehend its core facets. Moreover, because SEO is an ever changing industry, keeping up with the latest SEO trends can be difficult. For these reasons we have compiled a list of some of the most important SEO practices to be aware of. This is by no means complete, but should serve as a general guideline.

Change is necessary
One of the misconceptions about SEO is that it will automatically improve a site's ranking within the search engines without necessitating changes to that site. Unfortunately this is not the case. An SEO firm that claims it can mysteriously make a site perform better in the search engines without modifications is not practicing ethical standards.

In order to index websites, search engines send out spiders, or bots, to visit a site's pages. The spider learns what the site is about by 'reading' the site's content, so it can place the site into the appropriate context. Spiders analyze the main body content, as well as content located within the Meta tags. One of the perks to this process is that the more relevant the site's content, the better the rating it receives. Therefore, sites laden with pertinent, text rich content are favored above sites that do not incorporate such strategies.

At the basic level, a true SEO service needs to analyze then apply changes to a site's content, optimizing Meta data and the main body with relevant keywords and phrases popular within that site's vertical. For this reason, site's built predominantly with Flash are simply not as effective in the search engines, because the spiders have nothing to read. If you have a Flash entry page, make sure there is an HTML version available as well.

Contact your SEO service before you update
It's very important to communicate with your SEO service before implementing changes to your website, unless you are 100 percent certain you know what you're doing. Even the slightest alterations can affect your site's rankings in the search engines; when spiders revisit your web property and discover things have changed, it can be for the better or for the worse.

There are numerous instances where clients accidentally overwrite previously optimized work without realizing it. This is a simple mistake, but it can be a costly one. For instance, you may accidentally replace optimized elements in the Meta tags or body content by using older or newer templates that are not optimized properly.

Site redesign is an even more crucial matter. Redesigning your website can be a scary undertaking since it will no doubt affect your site's position within the search engines. Even if you're comfortable making small changes to your website, contact with your SEO practitioner before you implement the new site is imperative because you are typically overhauling the whole thing. Your SEO will be able to offer vital information and the technical assistance required to make this complex process a success.