Search engines have become an integral part of our everyday lives. In today’s ever faster converging world even small, traditional businesses have to develop some sort of on-line presence in order to stay visible and compete. So with all the added competition online, how will the businesses of the today and tomorrow gain the needed exposure?. Well, they must certainly look into using search engine marketing or SEM. This is the process of marketing a website via search engines and gaining increased visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs). SEM strategies, primarily consist of search engine optimisation (SEO), contextual advertising and pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Search engines are able to rank websites standing based on a variety of different parameters. Search engines such as Google and MSN use their own secret algorithms in order to determine the position of a website in search results. The process of SEO is to improve websites, natural or organic search engine ranking. One of the most important parameters in this process is establishing the sites credibility through quality and high quantity of other sites linking back to it. SEO also involves on-site optimisation. This is the process of making websites content, relevant and easy to read for the different search engines information gathering robots.
PPC advertising involves a set amount of money being paid to the search engine for every click a visitor makes on an advert. This is also sometimes referred to as paid placement, search engine advertising or cost per click (CPC).
The importance of search engine marketing has grown significantly over the last few years. Spending on SEM in North America in 2005 was at $6 billion, by 2006 this had grown to $9.45 billion and is expected to be over $18 billion industry By 2011. This coupled with the massive growth of the Internet (over 7 billion searches made every month in the US!) highlights the need for companies to become involved and remain up-to-date in this important area of business.