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by Lucy Griffiths on 26th January 2010
As the search engines develop, so too do the potential avenues for effective marketing. So what exactly is the most effective Search Engine Marketing strategy?Traditionally, the two ways in which you could improve your website’s visibility on search engines was through SEO and Pay per Click (PPC) advertising. Whilst they may remain at the forefront of most strategies, SEO and PPC are by no means the only way to get your name where it matters.
As the search engine results pages (SERPs) have diversified, including new facets and restructuring their layout, marketing methods have been quick to follow suit. With Twitter updates, local search results and news items infiltrating the SERPs, the realms of possibilities are more diverse and in greater supply than ever before.
Most Effective Search Engine Marketing Solutions
Let’s start with the forerunners though. There’s a good reason why SEO and PPC have endured for so long, whilst losing none of their popularity amongst Search Engine Marketers – they work.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
The basic premise of Search Engine Optimisation is to improve a website’s ranking within the search engines. This is achieved by following a basic code of understanding – there is no finite blueprint – with work completed internally and externally of a site’s parameters.
Fundamentally SEO revolves around two basic elements, content (on site) and links (off-site and on). Within the confines of your website a search engine crawler (which indexes pages and ultimately ranks them too) can only understand text. It assigns more weight to some areas than others, with factors including headings, page copy and Meta. Unique copy throughout your site will avoid any possible duplication issues and will provide the crawler with sufficient information to rank it for your keywords – which should be used in moderation throughout.
Off site, you want to get as many links coming in as possible. Variety is the spice of life and search engine algorithms are in no mood to argue with that. They want links from relevant, authority websites where possible and will assign your site with added strength as a consequence. So the more you can attract, without paying, the better you should perform. Using optimised anchor text where possible, including within the internal linking structure, will help to give search engines even more understanding of what to rank a page for.
SEO works, but it is a competitive industry. There are millions of sites competing for keywords worldwide, so to really succeed you need to be at your best. Top rankings are by no means guaranteed, but with SEO you could be surrendering the one free, constant source of targeted traffic .
Pay per Click Advertising (PPC)
If you’d rather pay for those targeted clicks, maybe PPC is more up your street. Pay per Click advertising is almost as simple as the name suggests; you create adverts, choose which page on your site to link them to and then set them live. Of course there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get them to the top and ensure that you’re targeting the best possible traffic.
In terms of Search Engine Marketing, PPC is a very important facet as the adverts appear in some of the most prominent positions on the SERPs – the top and right hand side of the page. Therefore getting your adverts to the top of these lists can be a simpler way of getting yourself noticed for the keywords you’re targeting. Through effective ad copy, catchy titles and focused keywords (and negative keywords) a PPC campaign can easily pay dividends for your Search Engine Marketing strategy.
Blended Results: Local Search, News and Social Media
New and interesting elements have crept onto the SERPs in recent years, with the most recent being the addition of real-time social media results [see: Google Goes Real-time]. As these now have reasonable prominence within the search engine pages, it isn’t unreasonable to group them in with the more conventional options of SEO and PPC.
Local search is slightly different. Search engines have been featuring maps with local business results in their pages for some time and most would argue that this falls under the SEO umbrella. However, with local results becoming increasingly important, both in terms of their position within the SERPs (often ahead of the highest ranking organic results) and the proliferation of its usage (aided by mobile internet), it needs a special focus. You can no longer simply assume provenance, you have to optimise a website to ensure that the search engines are left in no doubts over where you are and what you do.
News is an interesting area. As we announced earlier this week, the Koozai blog is now featured in Google News, making us just one of many thousands of sources channelling their RSS output through a search engine. This affords the opportunity to rank within search results for the terms used within a post. The same is true of many article and press releases; all can be used to gain a page ranking within the SERPs, but without having to do any major SEO work or even spending a penny.
With these blended results, you have a wealth of opportunities to get noticed on search engines, thus adding to your Search Engine Marketing strategy. But, then what is the most effective Search Engine Marketing strategy?
And the winner is…
Well, it is a blended strategy. By focusing solely on the individual areas, you immediately put pressure on yourself to succeed within that field. For example a website that had done little to optimise for SEO, but was paying for positions (outbidding competitors and using broad match) in PPC, runs the risk of not attracting the best level of targeted traffic and would have to expand or perish.
The same can be said of almost any combination. SEO can’t always guarantee a top position, social media traffic is largely untargeted and difficult to measure, whilst local search is not enough to guarantee wider success.
Can you succeed by focusing your efforts? Certainly. But by branching out, albeit not spreading yourself too finely, you can adopt a more all-encompassing strategy and really optimise the opportunities available to you in modern SERPs.
You need to find what works for you, what brings in the best traffic levels and which returns more on your investment. By combining numerous elements you stand a far better chance of establishing the most effective Search Engine Marketing strategy.