SEO 101: What is SEO/SEM & Why is it Important?

Hi, hello, and welcome to TechArk’s first blog post of 2018. Happy New Year!

We’re kicking off the year strong with lots of hot coffee, strategy sessions, and a new blog series of how-tos and what fors, to help educate our friends and clients on what exactly we do. Can you tell we get that question a lot?

We’ve decided to start with the basics of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO & Search Engine Marketing, or SEM: what it is, how it works, and why it matters.

To put it simply, SEO helps your website get seen. When current or potential customers search for goods, services, or businesses like yours, the value of your website’s SEO determines whether your site displays in the search results page. That’s why SEO matters.

There are two different levels: organic SEO and paid SEM.

Organic (free) SEO

Google and other search engines regularly crawl (review) websites for a whole checklist of factors. What does Google look for? We’re so glad you asked.

Keywords: what is your audience searching for?

Keywords relevant to your industry help search crawlers understand what your site is about. Sprinkle a little SEO magic into your web copy, but don’t get too excited.

Organic SEO is a slow-paced waltz, a strategic game of chess. In other words, it takes time.

Meta Titles & Descriptions: how to help customers find you?

Meta information is a great way to boost your website’s organic SEO value. When users search and then review the results, the meta titles are the bold, blue links to the page, while the smaller, gray descriptions below are — you guessed it — meta descriptions.

You may have to install a plugin for SEO (we like Yoast) and then the backend of each web page should have fields for you to fill in. Once again, do not expect to see results for some time.

Content: why isn’t my site ranking on search?

So you’ve sprinkled your keywords and you’ve added meta information to each page. What else can you do to boost your organic SEO? Update your content. Google reviews website content and drops your site in the rankings if it’s old or outdated. There are a variety of ways to handle this, but the simplest is to add a blog to your site, and post on it regularly.

What should you blog about? That’s up to you — but our copywriter is here to help if you’re interested in our monthly blog services!

Paid (not free) SEM

Paid SEM includes PPC, AdWords, Display Ads, Retargeting, Call Tracking, and more. These are advertisements backed by money. A lot of work goes into crafting such ads, from the visual design, to the strategic copy, to the page on the site where it takes users (landing page). It’s a science, an art, and sometimes, a pain.

But it gets results, FAST.

PPC: Stands for Pay Per Click, a model in which a business can create and target ads to specific users, but only pay when the ad is clicked on. Have you ever noticed that some search results have that tiny little word beside them: “ad?” That means that if you click on it, you’ll cost the company money. You’ll be taken to a landing page, where any subsequent actions will be tracked and recorded for analysis.

AdWords: Google runs a constant online auction, in which businesses ‘bid’ on those keywords we discussed earlier. Whoever places the highest bid gets the highest ranking, meaning that their ad is displayed highest. How much does AdWords typically cost? This keyword auction ranges in price depending on the industry and keyword. AdWords is like an investment, so bid wisely.

Display Ads: These are the ads that you’ve likely seen on a website. Banners at the top, sides, or footer (bottom) of the websites are all display ads. They often feature animation or video in order to catch attention, and can even be interactive, like a game. These ads require a high level of graphic design skill to pull off well.

Retargeting: Ever searched for something, or clicked on a link for a product, then noticed it following you around the internet? No, you’re not being paranoid. This is called Retargeting. Once you’ve engaged with an ad or expressed interest in a product, ads for such goods or services will target you in hopes that you’ll convert (call, email, subscribe, make a purchase).

Call Tracking: By setting up a unique number through call tracking, and using that number on ads, companies can track which of their marketing efforts are bringing in leads. By taking it a step further and recording the incoming calls, bosses can determine whether leads are coming in but getting lost due to bad customer service (we’ve seen it happen).

In Conclusion ...

Organic SEO and Paid SEM work best in tandem, but we’re happy to discuss either with you (or both). While it is possible for business owners or rookie marketers to take on these tasks alone … it is not really advisable.

SEM/SEO is complex, strategic, and constantly in flux. You’ll make the most of your budget by hiring a professional. What companies do SEM/SEO? It’s funny you should ask.

TechArk employs a number of Search Engine Marketing & Optimization specialists. Our digital marketing team includes a copywriter and marketing strategist, and we love a good success story. No matter what the current state of your SEO, we’d love to help it improve.

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