SEM, or search engine marketing, involves using search engine programs as a marketing tool. Search engine programs are the gateway for online research, access to information and products, and reviews. Due to the importance of search engines for online navigation, they are an essential part of an online marketing strategy. Search engine marketing incorporates both paid (PPC or pay-per-click), and organic (SEO or search engine optimization) search engine results.
The most popular search engines globally are Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The netmarketshare results of 2017 show that Google has 79.4% of the global search market, Microsoft’s Bing has 7.31%, China’s Baidu 7.06%, and Yahoo 4.9%. Other, lesser known, search engines, such as Ask, AOL, Russia’s top search engine Yandex, and South Korea’s Naver make up the rest. Google is currently the most effective search platform, as it is by far the most widely used search engine globally.
Keywords are search terms frequently used in searches for a particular product or service. Search engines work by using “spiders” or “crawlers” that crawl through uploaded documents, searching for specific keywords. The resulting search engine results page, or SERP then lists them for you. Keywords provide the building blocks for searching.
It is important to develop a keyword strategy, so that you can identify which keywords are important for your particular product. There is online software to help you identify good keywords. You may also use negative keywords to make searches more precise and relevant, so your product does not show when buyers are in fact looking for something slightly different (if you are selling train tickets, it will not help you to attract buyers looking for model trains, for example). “Search intent” keywords increase the likelihood of a sale include (“buy, deal, etc.”). Understanding keyword grouping increases the likelihood your audience will be able to find you.
Search engines such as Google will auction valuable keywords to advertisers, which marketers then bid upon. When a potential customer searches using a particular keyword, these sponsored posts are the most prominent. Companies win keyword auctions by combining the maximum keyword bid with a quality score. Google’s Panda algorithm update has been a determining factor of this score. The max bid and the quality score combine to give an ad rank. Your quality score is a significant percentage of this mix, and reflects the quality of your content based on certain criteria. PPC advertisers do not need to pay for unread content.
Various platforms to help you navigate search engine marketing include Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Yahoo’s Gemini.
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