What is search engine marketing?

My business sells novelty hampers. We currently attract customers through word of mouth and visits to our website mainly coming from links I have on other sites. I would like to increase web sales and geographical reach. Several people have suggested search engine marketing. What does this mean and how do I set it up?

A. Kate Burns of Google writes:

Use keyword advertising to make the most of search engines and guarantee exposure when you want it. This way you’ll reach people already looking for your products and services. Plus, you only pay when a user clicks on your ad.

Take the following steps to enhance your chances:

Make your site attractive to search engines 

Clearly present links to other sites, a site map and up-to-date content. Search engines use automated technology called spiders to index websites, which can’t understand image files, so include important web content as text and captions, not pictures.

Understand what makes a good keyword

The most profitable ads connect people with exactly the information they’re looking for. Avoid a popular keyword if your site doesn’t include information relating to it.

Know what you want to achieve 

Set goals. Do you want to increase sales of a particular product by 50% or are you aiming for 100,000 new visitors per month? This makes it easier to judge your ad’s success later on.

Choose the right keywords to trigger your ad

Use keywords to target specific groups and effectively turn away those not suitable. Don’t use generic keywords.

Make your ad part of a marketing campaign 

Plan carefully. Organise your keywords into groups that reflect the information people might be looking for.

Write a great ad 

Take special care over spelling and grammar. Include relevant keywords together with your company name and details of special offers.

Send visitors to the right web page from your ad 

If your ad describes a special offer, link directly to a page about that offer. The more clicks it takes the more customers you lose in the process. Track which pages create most response.

Measure your success 

Search engines track the number of people who click on your ad from each keyword search, using a measurement called click-through rates or CTR. You can also use free conversion tracking tools to calculate which keywords are generating the most response.

Don’t just focus on ranking 

Constantly tweaking for higher placings risks you losing as many customers as you gain. Visit competitors’ websites to identify keywords that might work.

Measure, measure, measure 

Search advertising puts you in control of the number of leads you get and the budget you spend. You decide when to turn the tap on and off.


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