A Simple Guide to Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing is by far the most efficient and effective way to advertise your business. With over 86% of internet users using Google as their search engine, the need for your business to show on the first page of Google has never been greater.

Many people are unaware of search engine marketing and just take for granted the results that appear when they search for something on a search engine such as Google.

However, search engine marketing seems to defy to current doom and gloom of the recession. Think about this:

“The average Britain spends 164 minutes online everyday, compared with 148 minutes watching TV”

Over half the world’s population now has access to the web and nearly 90% of them find what they’re looking for using search engines. 36% of people think that the result at the top of the first page is the market leader and 80% of people make their choice from first page listings alone. With over 21 billion web pages wanting a first page position how can you get your website on the first page.

This is called search engine marketing and I have listed a few techniques and tips to get you started with optimising your website to rank well on a search engine. Remember that this is a basic guide to help to you on your way.

Link building

First we have to look at how search engines rank a website and decide which order to list them. The simple (very very very simple) version is, Google changed everything the way many search engine rank. The initial creators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) wanted to create a search engine that could rank a website for quality and list them in order of quality to the user. The way they decided to rank a website was to count how many other websites link to it. If other websites link to it then it must be good. So, essentially links mean votes. Like I said, this is the very simple version and there is so much more to it than this but it is a great place to start as it holds the most importance.

See who links to you and then see who links to your competitors and try to muscle in on some of their action. Simply go to yahoo.co.uk, then in the search box type “link:yourcompetitor.com”. This will bring up a list of websites linking to your competitors website. Then contact them and ask them to link to you too.
Don’t be stingy. Make sure you have links going out from your website. Important though that you link to high quality websites, i.e. If your website is a property website, have links to the relevant governing bodies, Wikipedia or the largest property portals. Search engines will see your site as being a good place to get good content.
Submit your website to online directories. This can be very boring and takes hours. But once you have had your site accepted in to a directory. You’ll have a link back to your website. Remember. The more the better.
Subscribe to forums in your niche. You can include a link in your signature straight to your website. Remember though. Do not spam on a forum. Forum users will not like it and the moderator will probably kick you off. If you use a forum properly though you will find it quite engaging.
Read blogs relating to you niche market. This is very educational as well as beneficial for link building. Read the blog then leave a comment about that blog. Don’t forget to include a link to your website though. Just don’t make it too obvious.

Social Media (web2.0)

“Facebook”, “YouTube”, “Flickr”, “Myspace” – These are all social media websites. They provide a means for people from all over the world to join online and share information. The way in which people communicate vary though. “Flickr” allow people to upload photos and share them with other users or even comment on pictures uploaded. “Youtube” allow people to upload videos etc. The number of people visiting these websites to share information is in the millions. So maybe you could use these social communities to spread the word about your website. Social media is a great way to connect with hard to reach people that share the same interests. There are a number of ways to do this.

Make your content interesting enough for people to want to view it. Then,unlike search engine optimisation, change the content often, This will make people want to keep visiting you.
Make it easy for people to tag or bookmark your new content. Bookmarking is very fashionable at the moment. The most popular way of doing this is by getting an “addthis” button due to its ease of use, however, there are many buttons available.
Use more than just text in your site. Create a video and submit it to a video sharing website like “youtube”, Create a PDF version of your content and create an audio version too. Submit it to appropriate websites. Don’t forget the link back to your site.
Blog.Blog.Blog then blog some more. The simple truth is that the majority of internet users love blogs. So do search engines. Create a blog and use it. A lot. Submit it to sites like “technorati.com”. If it is good enough people will link to you and then share and tell others about your writings.
Make friends. The social media community, are very social and friendly. They will want to talk to you and ask you questions. Make sure you are polite and take time to answer any messages. Negative feedback spreads faster than positive feedback.

Pay Per Click

This is a method in which you pay to get people to your website. Have you ever done a search on Google and found there are two columns. The Colum on the right is called sponsored links. They are adverts from businesses. They do not pay anything for appearing there but they do pay when you click on the advert (pay per click). This is a very fast way to get people to your website but you do have to pay. I would recommend getting a pay per click company to help here. It will save you a lot of money. However, if you must have ago your self here are some very basic tips.

Budget. Make sure you create a sensible budget and stick to it. Don’t get in to a bidding war.
Don’t just rely on pay per click as the be all and end all for your business marketing. PPC is great for promoting specific products and services very quickly but you always have to pay for the result.
Analyze your cost per click and cost per acquisition closely. Then compare it to your other marketing activities. See which one works best.
Remember that sites such as Google take into account the quality of your website content being marketed more than how much you are bidding. PPC is my favorite part of search engine marketing due mainly to the sheer speed of return on investment BUT make sure it is done properly other wise it can be devastating.
Always have two ads running at the same time for each product but with different ad text. Google will use the most successful advert for you and show that advert more often, helping you gain more traffic. Change to poorest performing advert and see if it improves. Keep repeating. This will eventually lead to you having the best possible advert showing.

Search engine optimisation

Remember the two columns we just mentioned. Search engine optimization is the are of optimizing your website enough for Google to rank it on the left hand column. This list is ordered on how relevant your website is. And you don’t have to pay for these listings. Ever noticed how all the big companies appear at the top of the first page. Now we should as “which came first – The chicken or the egg?”. Search engine optimisation is generally split into two categories onsite optimisation and off site optimisation. The first, when done property is very important but it will only get you to the starting line. Offsite optimization is the race itself. A good search engine optimisation campaign should include all the search engine marketing techniques mentioned and when you really get into it you can learn the more advanced techniques. Below are a few basics.

Include your keywords in your domain, title, meta tags. The first thing a search engine spider will read is your domain name. i.e [http://www.yourdomain.com]. This doesn’t mean anything to a search engine so ideally use [http://www.yourdomain.com/your-key-words], or even better [http://www.your-key-words.com] . Then the next part is your title. Don’t just have “home Page” or “Front Page”. I would have “your domain – your key words”. This also matches the domain name. Then repeat the same in your meta data. And sprinkle it throughout your web page. Keep it readable though.
Make each page different. This helps search engines differentiate them and should lead to them indexing each of your pages separately.
Get a site map and submit it to major search engines. Don’t pay for this service though. It amazes me that people actually charge for this. Just type into Google “sitemap” and you should be presented with website that will generate you a sitemap for free.
Keep going. Older sites generally rank better than new sites. It is believed that older websites must be more reliable. As there is nothing we can do about this just focus your time on other offsite optimisation such as link building, social media optimization and if you just can’t wait, Pay per click. Search engine optimisation is a long term solution but boy is it worth waiting for.
Validate your HTML code. Visit “validator.w3.org/ “.This will ensure that web browsers show your website correctly and helps search engine to index your site. There is no point in optimising your website if it doesn’t work properly.

Other useful tips

Get Google analytics. It is one thing having a website but you need to know what people are doing when they are on it. Google analytics is very comprehensive and FREE but it does not report in real time. Woopra however does report in real time. The choice is yours. Before doing anything else you should get one of these other wise how will you know your efforts are paying off.
If you decide to use a company to undertake your search engine marketing campaign (recommended) make sure you choose your search engine marketing company wisely. Don’t just go on recommendation. It is going to be a long working relationship so the important thing is that you get on with them. Do your own research on the industry. Think twice about search engine marketing firms that say they can guarantee a first page listing in a short time, the methods they use WILL end up in your website being banned. BMW found this out the hard way.

Insurance Search Engine Marketing For Insurance Agent Leads

For many insurance companies and insurance agencies, insurance search engine marketing is a brave new world, filled with a litany of confusing terms and acronyms. Like any emerging field, what might seem confusing at first, is readily understandable after a quick review of jargon and basics. Let’s take a look at insurance search engine marketing and define terms and acronyms along the way.

For the time being, let’s think of insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) as it relates to the insurance business, as if we were talking about the printed Yellow Pages phone book of the not distant past. Fifteen years ago, if someone was looking for a business, product or service, they could take a Yellow Pages off the shelf and open the phone book to search for the given product, service or company, flipping pages until they arrived at the relevant phone book pages. For the purposes of this example, let’s say that someone wanted property and casualty insurance, and were looking for insurance agents that they could contact. The person who was searching for the insurance, upon finding the two yellow pages which listed insurance agencies, might scan the insurance agency names beginning with the letter “A”. This is roughly analogous to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) from Google, Bing or Yahoo. A key difference here is that these search engines display their results by relevancy as opposed to alphabetically. The placement of the names on the SERP relates to organic SEO, or in this case, insurance search engine optimization.

Of course there would also be many advertisements interspersed within the two phone book pages of agencies, both small and large. These ads are roughly analogous to PPC ads (Pay Per Click ads) found today on the search results pages. One notable difference is that in the case of the old Yellow Pages phone book, your insurance agency would pay a flat fee for the ad, whereas with a PPC, your agency only pays when a user clicks on your advertisement. Just for purposes of clarity, there is also something called PPI (Pay Per Impression), where your business would pay for impressions, though for our insurance agency web website optimization discussion, we’re going to stick with our PPC ad analogy. The difference between organic insurance search engine marketing and insurance PPC ads is as simple as having your agency name listed in the Yellow Pages at no charge, versus a display ad in the Yellow Pages at a cost of perhaps $1,000 per month. Thus the appeal of organic web marketing, if your insurance agency can rise to the top of the organic SERP, you are very likely to direct web surfers (read that as insurance agency leads) to your website and reap the benefits without any PPC costs. Think of this in the same way as the old phone book listings with company’s starting their name with “AAAA Auto Parts” or “AAAAA Insurance Agency” to ensure their names would appear first. A SERP offers a better alternative than the printed Yellow Pages name game, in that the agency name is secondary to other, more relevant criteria. This criterion is determined by search engine algorithms which can have over 100 attributes they use to determine relevancy, and subsequently determine if your insurance agency website should be on page one or page ten (SERP Ranking).

A simple explanation of some key terms often associated with insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) include:

Back links – Links to your agency site from other internet sites and directories.
HTML – Code used to create many websites.
Keyword Density – The number of times, in terms of percent, that a keyword phrase is used on any given page of an insurance agency website. Divide the number of uses of that keyword, by the total number of words on the page. Experts disagree on the ideal percentage for optimization with all engines, but targeting a number around 5% as of this writing should be effective. An important note, some article directories only allow keyword density of up to 4%.
Keywords – Words typed into a search engine to return a list (SERP) of relevant sites and documents.
Long-tail Keywords – Longer keyword phrases, which yield more specific search results germane to your insurance agency. These long-tail phrases are three or more words bundled together. For example, “insurance agency marketing” is a long-tail keyword where as “insurance” is not.
Off Page Optimization – Content creation, directory submission and back link building used to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
On Page Optimization – Modifications made to insurance agency website content and HTML code to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
Organic SEO – Page ranking results returned by a search engine based purely on relevancy as opposed to a paid ad placement.
Page Rank – A gauge of the popularity of your site, typically determined by the volume of visitors and links to your site. This was once a preeminent performance measure, but for niche industries like insurance agencies and agents, other criteria is now more important than page rank and back links.
PPC – Pay Per Click where your business posts an ad on a search engine and pays each time a web surfer clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed above and on the side of many search terms. Another variation on this is PPI, which is Pay Per Impression, where you would pay a bulk rate for every thousand times your ad is displayed, regardless of the number of times your ad was clicked.
PPI – Pay Per Impression where your agency pays a flat fee per thousand of times your ad is displayed on the Google, Bing or Yahoo results pages.
Search Engine Marketing – The process which is used for insurance companies and insurance agencies to rise to the top of the organic SERP listings, or to place ads that will be posted on page results for selected long-tail keywords.
SEM – Acronym for insurance search engine marketing
SEM – Search Engine Marketing.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SER – Sometimes you may see the acronym SER used, which can refer to Search Engine Results, Rankings or even Relevancy.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page
Web Marketing – Insurance agency search engine marketing is a subset of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan.

The goal of insurance search engine marketing is driving qualified insurance agent leads to your agency website. Once these web prospects have arrived at your insurance agency website, you need an effective call to action, which in itself, is the topic for another insurance agency marketing article. Obviously, more qualified agency leads, combined with a compelling insurance agency website and call to action, should yield increased premiums and help grow your agency’s book of business.

Does Your Business Need a Search Engine Marketing Consultant?

Many businesses in the UK make the mistake of not using a search engine marketing consultant, especially when they are first contemplating whether or not to design and implement an Internet website. In this article, we’ll answer some of the commonly asked questions about search engine marketing.

Q. Why do I need a search engine marketing specialist?

A. First, some background: Successful Internet search engine marketing services can provide highly specialized services. One of these is called PPC (pay per click) and it’s a powerful way to direct customers to your website. But not just any customers, PPC helps assure that the customers who visit your site are already interested in your products and/or services. PPC is driven by search engine results. Search engine results are in turn driven by keywords.

Q. How can a pay per click consultant help me choose the most effective keywords?

A. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking they can generate their own list of keywords. While this may be somewhat true, an experienced search marketing consultant often sees the “big picture” and can consider tangential but critical issues like keyword variations including regional keywords, negative keywords, abbreviations, misspellings and unique brand and/or product terms and descriptions. Competent search engine marketers will also target users who are looking specifically for your products or services with a customized and effective landing page that will capture the user’s attention.

Q. What search engines does a search engine marketer work with?

A. At the very least your search engine marketing plan should include Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Ask, AltaVista and AOL. But the consultant’s actual expertise is best utilized by helping clients determine what second level search alternatives are available for the client’s specific products and services. A partial list of second tier search engines includes Kanoodle.com, Enhance.com, PageSeeker.com and Search123.com. Your consultant will also help you find specialized search engines that will, for a small fee, provide a customized search platform for you. Beyond search engines, a search engine marketer will help expand your web presence into blogs, forums and sites that review products and services.

Q. What about the costs?

A. Search engine consultant costs can be customized and tailored to your particular needs and budget. PPC advertising is extremely flexible and allows you to determine the amount you’re willing to pay whenever a user clicks on your ad. But this isn’t the whole picture. It’s important to remember that factors like how relevant your content is and the historical performance of your keywords will effect the bottom-line cost. This cost can range from $.05 to more than $20 per click. So the experience of a search engine marketing consultant would be of prime importance.

This FAQ has touched on only the very basics of what a search engine marketing consultant can accomplish for business in the UK. But the fact remains, that such a consultant these days is a definite necessity for a successful online business presence.

The author is an online marketing professional with Infomedia Direct Technologies Ltd – a professional Search Engine Marketing Consultant in the UK [http://www.infomedia-direct.com/search-engine-marketing/search-engine-marketing-consultant.htm] The company is an expert in providing innovative internet marketing solutions for small, medium sized and large businesses. They offers cutting-edge pay per click, Search engine optimization and search engine marketing solutions for your business with a full refund guarantee.

5 Common Search Engine Marketing Tips

Strategies like search engine marketing are becoming quite common these days. It is basically an integration of PPC and search engine optimization campaign that is quite effective in attracting more and more people on a specific website. The primary reason of adopting it by the business owners is to create more awareness of their business on the internet in order to hike profits.

Simply going for this strategy will not bring any result that a business owner can consider as favorable. It is thus very necessary to know some of the best search engine marketing tips that help you in keeping up the pace all the time. Listed below are the 5 common search engine marketing tips which are a big yes-yes for your business.

1. Give equal importance to the landing pages of your websites

Usually web owners made a mistake by keeping an eye on their home page only. You have to understand that other pages of the website are also important as if the users land on a page where they cannot find anything related with what they were looking for, probably they will ignore your page and leave without making any transaction. Thus you must make it sure that your landing pages are also having useful content, features, design and so on.

2. Focusing on the content and quality

Of course the content representing your business image on its official website and on other platforms play an excellent role in search engine marketing. Ensuring that the content is informative and is best in all the aspects is one among the top search engine marketing tips.

Write the content in such a way that it attracts the interest of people and you will surely have favorable fortune in SEM. Also focus on the quality of the web design and development to attain more success and keep the density of keywords balanced while writing the content.

3. Keep building the links

Building the links is one among the most recommended search engine marketing tips as it diverts the traffic from other networks to your own website. Link building is purely based on your relations with other websites. As a beginner you can begin with blogs and websites that allow free article submission on them. Make you’re the website that you choose have enough traffic to be diverted on your own website.

4. Don’t forgot to set web analytics software on the site

It really doesn’t matter that whether your website is old or new over the World Wide Web, you have to keep this thing in mind that web analytics software is something that can help you in SEM up to a great extent. It unconditionally helps you to know the time spend by knowing the visitors of your website and which pages of the website attract their attention. With this kind of information you can simply get an idea that which pages needs improvement and how to make the visitors to stay longer on the website.

5. Keep posting the ads

Posting the ads time to time on different platforms over the internet is one of the most common search engine marketing tips. Search engines divert more traffic on a specific website through ads that can be published on them. Thus posting ads will help you in keeping up the pace in this matter of concern.