Search Engine What? The Beginner's Guide to SEO/SEM Marketing

Digital Marketing Consultant Washington DC - Alex Lloro


Managing Director

SEO/SEM marketing is integral to all businesses. Read our beginner's guide to know how we can use our skills to help improve your search engine ranking!

It's easy to get lost in all of the discussion about digital marketing. There are a lot of acronyms, difficult-sounding concepts, and terms thrown around that seem foreign to the newcomer.

It's not all that difficult once you start to do it, though. SEO/SEM marketing are two of the foundational terms of digital marketing, and understanding them will get you a foothold of understanding to move forward with.

We're going to describe search engine optimization (SEO) followed by search engine marketing (SEM). Knowing a little bit about both of these will help a lot moving forward.

Understanding SEO/SEM marketing

We won't get too far into the nitty-gritty in this article. We will, however, lay down a baseline guide for those of you who know little to nothing about these terms.

We'll start with search engine optimization.

What Is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the process of making your website fit the specifications and preferences of the search engine. Search engines are the gatekeepers of web traffic, and it's the site owner's job to optimize well in hopes of ranking highly for specific keywords.

When a user types something into a search engine, those terms go through a gauntlet of some 200+ ranking factors, the search engine then producing a list of the most relevant pages according to the keyword.

It seems simple while it's happening, but the process is extremely complex. The SEO worker's job is to understand the most important ranking factors and tailor their site to meet those specifications.

Here are some of the most important elements of SEO:

1. Keyword Placement

Keywords are arguably the most important piece of SEO. These are the terms that users search, hopefully being directed to your site by the search engine.

One would think that good keywords to optimize for should just come to mind, but there's a serious process of keyword research that lies behind selecting a keyword.

Once you find the keyword you need, the job is now to embed your web page with the appropriate amount of that keyword. Laying on the keyword too thick will cause the search engine to lower your ranking while having too few keywords may result in your page not ranking for that word.

2. Backlinking

All websites exist in a web of other sites. Search engines actually index the sites of the web by following links to and from sites and documenting ranking factors as they go.

This is done with something called a "crawler," which you can think of like a bot that rolls through the web at the bidding of the search engines. As crawlers move throughout the web, they find themselves coming back to some websites more than others.

Sites that have more connections through links can be reasonably thought to be more important. If you respect a site, you're likely to link to it through your page.

If your site has links from high-powered, relevant websites, you will receive a higher ranking. If you have no links or very few, low-powered links to your site, you'll have a difficult time competing.

3. Content Creation

The volume and nature of the content you create are also extremely important. First, creating regular content keeps your site fresh, and the search engine understands that you're active.

Second, each time you create a new blog post or piece of content, you're given the opportunity to optimize that content for a specific keyword. As you make more and more, your keyword layout should pretty well cover the gamut of terms that your users are likely to search.

Content can range from more to less important but should always direct users back to your most important product pages.

The three SEO terms listed above are likely to be some of the most important you'll come across. They lay the baseline of what SEO is and how it should be worked on.

What Is SEM?

Search engine marketing is very similar to search engine optimization, seeing as they work in the same domain.

As you search for content online, whether it's on social media or through a search engine, you'll notice that relevant ads will appear. This is something that we've all experienced, but we may not think about how those ads get there.

Google Ads is the source behind all of the ads you've ever seen while scrolling through google's result pages.

When you enter your business into a Google Adwords account, you're given the opportunity to enter keywords, write copy, and come up in the search results of any number of people.

The great thing about this is that you don't have to optimize for an excessive amount of time to reach an audience. Google is in control, and being a paying customer helps.

You're able to place your ad in front of users as soon as it's up. Additionally, there's a pretty cool pay program.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Most ad platforms have a PPC model. This essentially means that you don't have to pay a flat rate for advertising space. Instead, you create an ad, and you only pay when someone clicks on it.

This is exceptional in contrast to traditional advertising which requires you to pay crazy money for ad space that might not even be effective. You literally pay for the exact outcome you get.

Granted, some sites charge more per click than others, but you'll find that a lot of the larger platforms have reasonable prices. Additionally, you can set a budget.

So, let's say your ad has a huge amount of success on the first night. It will stop running as soon as your pre-determined budget is reached. This is better than waking up to finding that your ad bill is larger than your bank account.

Trying to Reach a Wider Audience?

Digital marketing is the key to making waves with your site. Understanding SEO/SEM marketing is the first step in that process. As you start to unfold the process of marketing your site, you'll find that it gets easier and easier.

At the same time, there's only so much you can do on your own. To find huge success, you may need to let a professional try their hand. If you're interested in learning more about marketing, explore our site for the information you need. Or you can schedule a free consultation today.

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