Search Marketing 101

For decades, companies have strived to find the most effective ways of promoting their goods and services to potential customers. For the most part that has meant advertising, but no matter how well targeted a traditional advertising campaign is, it will still be wasted on large numbers of people who really aren’t in the market for what’s on offer.

Doesn’t it make more sense to only reach out to those customers that are already looking for what you are selling? This is the core principal behind online search marketing.

Right people, right time
Every day around 14 million Australians type tens of millions of queries into online search engines such as Google and Yahoo! Often they are prepared to part with their money if they find what they’re looking for. The goal of search marketing therefore is to place information about your products and services in front of consumers at the time they are looking to make buying decisions. It’s this ability to carry out highly-targeted campaigns to qualified leads that sets search marketing apart from other forms of advertising.

There are two aspects to promoting your business on search engines. The first, called search engine optimisation (SEO), incorporates a series of techniques that give your website the best chance of ranking highly in the so-called ‘natural’ results that are presented in response to a search query. By improving the content and layout of your website, you can help it become more prominent in the search results.

The second, which is commonly called paid search marketing, sees companies paying for the right to appear in prominent areas of the search results web page, above or alongside the natural results. To do so, they bid against other companies for the right for their brand and advertisement to appear when specific words or series of words, called keywords, are entered by the search engine user.

The advertiser bids for the keywords they think are most relevant to the goods and services they are selling, and then creates short written advertisements with more information. The goal is to write advertisements that are so compelling that the web searcher will click on them and be taken through to your website. Because advertisements are only displayed as a direct response to a specific query, there is a much greater chance that the user will be seeing your advertisement at a time when they are predisposed towards making a purchase.

Pay per click
Paid search marketing has many advantages over other forms of advertising. For starters, you only pay for the number of times that a user actually clicks on your advertisement, not the number of times your advertisement is displayed. In this way, you can be sure that you are only paying for qualified leads, not casual browsers. Other forms of advertising usually require you to pay a fixed rate, but you have little knowledge over how many people actually look at them or are persuaded to respond.

You can also take complete control over what you spend by setting limits on the number of times your advertisement is to be displayed.

According to Google Australia’s business marketing manager Deepak Ramanathan, the value of search marketing is that you really get to understand where each dollar goes, and how to get more from your budget. “It’s fully accountable and controllable,” Ramanathan says. “Plus, you are reaching people at the precise moment they’re interested in information about you.”

Cost-effective and accountable
With traditional advertising costs rising and consumers becoming harder to reach, small-to-medium Australian businesses are increasingly turning to search as a cost-effective and accountable means of finding qualified leads. The medical equipment manufacturer and distributor Equimed for instance, has been able to use search marketing to grow its business by 500 percent. Marketing manager Andrew Nutman says that only paying for clicks and being able to track those that convert into sales makes it the most accountable way to reach its target audiences.

This accountability also makes it easier for a business to measure the return that it is getting from its spending, commonly referred to as return-on-investment or ROI. Knowing this ROI means that you can ensure that the maximum amount that you are spending on keywords remains below the profit that you are making from each click, so your campaigns always generate a positive return.