Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are quite similar terms. SEO and SEM are however two different services. They are both forms of internet market focused on improving visibility but operate on different principle. SEO is actually a subset of SEM.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a process of optimizing a website with the focus of attracting organic traffic from search engines. It is a form of internet marketing focused on improving visibility of websites in free search engine results. Organic traffic refers to the traffic that is channeled to your website by search engines as a result of unpaid queries. For instance in the screen capture below, the rectangular box indicates a PPC ad while all the all the other results appearing beneath it as shown by the arrow are organized according to how well they are search engine optimized.
SEO is categorized into two namely on- site and off-site SEO.
- On-site SEO
It is composed of SEO considerations that one should take in to account to make their website search engine friendly. These considerations mostly focus on the content of the website. They focus on their nature and how they should appear. These factors include;
- Page titles
Page titles are used by users to evaluate search engine results. They are also used by web crawlers in determining the relevance of you web pages in relation to queries. Every page should have a unique title describing its content. The title needs to be short and very descriptive in such a manner as to help a user understand what the page is all about. Most importantly, the title should contain your keyword so that the search engine highlights it if a user performs a query including the keyword. The closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title the more weight it carries.
- Title tags and meta tags
Title tags are HTML elements that create the web page’s title. Web crawlers pay close attention to title tags. They consider the title within the tag in ranking web pages. It’s therefore important that the title tag remains relevant to the content of your website and that it contains your keyword in order for it to rank higher in search engines.
A page’s description is also known as a meta tag. It gives the search engines a brief summary on what the page is all about. A good description should provide a descriptive summary of all pages, products and posts of the website. It should not be longer than 160 characters. It should also not use the key words not more than 3 times.
A webpage’s URL exhibits hierarchy of the information found on the page. This information is important in the determination of a webpage’s relevance by search engines with regards to a query. An ideal URL should be simple and easy to understand. It should be short. It should also contain words describing or pointing towards the contents of the page.
In as much as possible make sure that the keyword appears in the first 100-150 words of you page’s content. Use you keyword naturally. Current Google algorithm can sniff keywords used without relevance.
- Quality content and good formatting
Search engines have indirect ways of determining content of good quality. These ways are based on user metrics like time on site, repeat visitors, chrome bookmarks and dwell time. This calls for high quality content on your website in order to achieve all that.
Well formatted work appeals to users. Use H1 for the title and H2 for major headings. Bold and italics also make work more appealing, you should to consider using them. It’s also advisable that both H1 and H2 contain the keyword.
Images, audio and videos could reduce bounce rate and in turn increase time on site. This is very important in user interaction ranking something Google has been very keen on. It also increases the perceived relevance of the content of your website.
- Loading speed
Google has in the recent past been quoted stating that the loading speed of a website greatly affects its SEO ranking. Boost the speed of your webpage by compressing multimedia and by ensuring that your hosting speed is satisfactory.
- Outbound links
It helps a search engine figure out your page’s title. It also elevates the search engines relevance of your websites content.
- Google authorship
Google authorship is the process of linking ones web content with their Google+ profile. This way, their photo gets to show up on Google search results. This not only allows authors to claim content but also allows user to access more work by the same author. It helps in establishing both credibility and legitimacy of web content and their authors. Most importantly, it’s used by Google to rank to rank an author.
- Off-site SEO
This is the process of promoting you website across the internet with the focus of improving search engine ranking and attracting traffic from other websites. Off-site SEO involves;
- Link building
Backlinks are links received by a webpage from another webpage. They are links that link from a different webpage to your website. To build such links, reach out to non-rival companies having relevant websites and ask them to link back to your web pages. You could also publish content on their websites that link back to your website. Alternatively, you could write press releases sharing latest developments, news and opinions and distribute them through online channels. Make sure they link back to your website.
Getting listed in a quality business directory with links pointing back to your website goes a long way in boosting your links.
- Social sharing
Google highly rewards websites with both fresh and original content. The number of times an item is shared on social media is an insinuation that it is fresh and original. The more you get you content to be shared in social media, the more your chances of improved visibility.
To enhance the chances of your product social media attention, add social sharing buttons to your website. Ensure they are strategically placed and big enough. These buttons not only offer readers a personal touch but also indicate to Google that the content of your website is incredible. Include as many social buttons as possible. Google+ is one of the often forgotten or ignored social media platforms. It has grown tremendously in the recent past making a worthy platform. Besides, this will certainly improve your ranking on Google as an author.
Create a Google Places account and ensure to verify you location in order to improve you ranking and to allow your social media followers to check in to your location.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is a form of internet marketing which aims at attracting both traffic and visibility from search engines through either organic or paid efforts. SEM encompasses all SEO tactics as well other forms of paid traffic.
Paid traffic is obtained through buying space in search engine results. The most prominent form of paid traffic is Paid-Per Click (PPC) marketing. In PPC marketing, the search engine for instance Google places you ad at the top of its search results page. Whenever your ad is clicked on and traffic channeled to your site, you pay a small fee to the search engine.PPC is achieved through many ways for instance through Google AdWords. Google AdWords is the most prominent PPC platform.
- How Google AdWord operates
Whenever a query is made, Google refers to the existing pools of bidding AdWords advertisers and picks a set of winners that will appear in the ad space on its search results page. The winners are picked with regard to many factors which include;
- Quality and relevance of keyword and ad text
- Size of Keyword
The decision on who is to appear and where they appear is based on an Advertisers Ad Rank. Ad Rank is the product of CPC Bid and Quality Score. CPC bid is actually the amount of money the advertiser is willing to pay whereas Quality Score is Google’s rating of quality and relevance of not only you Keyword but also your PPC ad. This means that Quality score is very important when considering PPC. You could be willing to spend less but your Ad Rank score emerges highest simply because your Quality score is high and vice versa.
The cost and efficiency of your advertisement is majorly dependent of Quality Score. Quality score is quite hard to arrive at. It depends on a lot of factors most of which are dynamic. If you want to assess the quality score of you ad then consider consulting a specialist.
If you are considering using PPC, then ought to enlist professionals to assess you Ad rank status. That way you will be able to ascertain your chances of being picked winner and the probable cost you will incur. A professional’s advice with regards to that is invaluable if you are counting on paid traffic to drive you sales.
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