Search Engine Marketing 101

Achieving visibility for your Web site on search engines requires specialised efforts in search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (or search engine advertising).

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) v. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Search Engine Optimisation
Optimisation aims to achieve ”natural listings’ for Web sites in search engines’ results pages (SERPs). Natural listings are displayed in SERPS and positioned by search engines depending on how relevant they perceive Web sites to be in regard to search queries. You cannot pay search engine for high ‘natural’ listings, but you can pay for the services of optimisation companies like Avatar to ‘optimise’ your Web site.

Search Engine Marketing (or Advertising)
Search engine advertising, on the other hand, involves paying for positioning on search engines. Common search engine advertising programs – such as Google, and Yahoo! Search Marketing – position ads at the top and right hand side of their SERPs. You, the advertiser, bid for positioning and pay only when a search engine users clicks on your advert.

You can also choose for your ads to be displayed on search engine’s content networks. This means that not only do your ads display on SERPs, but on third party Web sites which include content relevant to the keywords you decide to bid on.

SEO and SEM Strategies

Both strategies can be used simultaneously by Web site owners to promote their Web sites on search engines. Natural listings tend to be more trusted than paid listings, but recent research* indicates that when a Web site appears on both natural and paid listings, the click through rate can significantly increase.

We suggest that SEO should be is considered as a long-term strategy and SEM more of a short-term, quick fix approach. It is important to measure the ROI (your return on investment) for both strategies, so you can decide which approach is better for your own particular circumstances. A few of the advantages and disadvantages of each are outlined below:

Search Engine Optimisation — Advantages

Search Engine Optimisation— Disadvantages

Search Engine Marketing / Advertising — Advantages

Search Engine Marketing / Advertising — Disadvantages

*Source: Hitwise

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