Demystifying Search Marketing: Quick Guide for SMB’s

Posted by: Mike White Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Race To The Top

Search Engine Marketing

Have you ever had brochures or flyers professionally designed and printed for your business? Did you then lock them away in a cabinet, never to be seen again?

Hopefully not. More than likely, you took full advantage of those promotional materials by showing them off at trade shows, handing them out to potential customers, and hanging them anywhere there was wall space. Most businesses today understand the importance of having a user-friendly, responsive website. A common mistake companies make is making the investment to commission a brand new website with all the bells and whistles, but failing to implement a digital marketing strategy to attract meaningful traffic. This is essentially locking their website in a cabinet where the only thing it's generating is dust!

A sound search marketing strategy will encompass a blend of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and local optimization tactics to deliver a steady stream of interested prospects to your website.

With over a billion websites on the web, search marketing is necessary if you want your website to stand out above your competition. By leveraging the major search engines, you can increase your website's visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through both organic (unpaid) and paid strategies. While there is much to be said about each of these tactics, it is important to first have a firm grasp on the basics:

  • Search engines: In the U.S., the major search engines include Google, Bing, Yahoo,, and AOL with Google being the most used.
  • Search engine results page (SERP): The page displayed after you type a keyword search into let's say Google. These pages contain the two different types of results: organic and paid.
  • Website Visibility: How well your website ranks in search results can have significant implications on your website traffic and overall success. Consider the following, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of results and the top three search results receive nearly 60% of all the clicks. If your website is not visible on the first page of results for the keywords and phrases your audience is searching then you're highly unlikely to even earn an opportunity to compete for their business.

Both organic and paid approaches have their own advantages depending on what you want to accomplish. Both can successfully promote your brand and drive traffic to your website, but have two very different ways of getting there.


The Sprint: Search Engine Marketing

When you search for a specific keyword in Google, you may have seen the results at the very top of the page with the word "Ad" in a tiny yellow box. THAT is SEM. Search engine marketing or SEM is a type of paid advertising that can get your website found on search engines. Search engine giants like Google and Bing each have their own paid search engine marketing platforms with each offering a variety of ad formats. The most common ad formats today include text, image, and video ads and are generally offered in either a pay-per-click (PPC) or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) scenario.

In terms of implementing SEM, it is the sprint with the shortest distance to the finish line. SEM can be put into action relatively quickly and can be modified based on budget and results. Utilizing search engine marketing can help get eyes on your new website, landing page quickly while testing to see which keywords and key phrases yield the best results. The level of control over paid search allows you to include what keywords trigger your ad, time of day, device type, ad position and much more making it a highly-targeted and flexible form of advertising.

The Marathon: Organic Search Engine Optimization

After the paid advertisements, lies the organic results where websites and other content such as videos, maps, and local listings are shown. These results are ranked based on a formula of unique algorithms that each search engine considers to determine what is most relevant to its users. Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of getting your website naturally placed higher on the search engine results pages.

Marathons, compared to sprints, are run over an extended period of time. Similarly, SEO takes time to establish. The methods used to obtain high rankings are extensive and should begin before you even create your website. It will then need constant tweaks, reviews, and shifts in order to continue providing stellar results. Just like in a marathon, the trick is to sustain performance levels over time and pace the work rate.

Although SEO does not always yield immediate results like SEM, search engine optimization can outperform paid search traffic and deliver a high return on investment (ROI) over the long haul. Search engine users are more likely to trust a brand when it appears in one of the top organic listing positions. Considering the top organic results on Google SERPs receive on average 36.4% of all clicks, the number 2 spot earning 12.5%, and the third spot takes 9.5%, SEO is well worth the time and energy required to achieve these high placements.

Local Optimization Example

The Mile Markers: Local Optimization

If you serve a specific geographic area, local optimization should likely be at the center of your SEO and SEM strategies. 4 in 5 consumers use local keywords when conducting a search online including terms like "nearby," "in South Carolina," "closest restaurant," "6.2 miles away," etc. Since major search engines, Google in particular, like to give the people what they want, they have begun to put more emphasis on local business listings, geo-targeted keyword terms, and consistency across the internet.

The Finish Line

The ultimate goal of marketing and advertising is to drive people to the center of your marketing efforts i.e. your website. Once on your website you can educate them on your products and services, cultivate them through their buying process and lead them down the path ultimately convert them into paying customers and brand advocates. By improving your website's visibility with search marketing, you have the opportunity to outrank your competition, and win the attraction of prospective customers.

However, SEO, SEM, and local optimization alone cannot help you reach your highest marketing potential. Social media, branding, blogging, and other marketing approaches complement these organic and paid marketing tactics. It is the combination of each element into a comprehensive marketing strategy that will help you grow your business exponentially faster.

Last week, we provided an overview of the digital landscape in part one of our series entitled The Modern Marketing Solution Your Business Needs To Thrive. Stay tuned over the next three weeks as we dive deeper into the world of digital marketing and search marketing with in-depth looks into the material covered today:

Here at Splash Omnimedia, we have a team of search marketing strategists who specialize in SEO, SEM, and local optimization. These specialists can help you develop, implement, and monitor a search marketing strategy that can will drastically boost your brand visibility, website traffic, and your bottom line. If you're interested in exploring how search marketing can impact your business specifically then we'd love to chat. Don't just make an impact, make a splash, contact us today!