Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What is Search Engine Marketing?

What is actually search engine marketing as a whole? Too often paid search like Google Adwords, Yahoo! search marketing and Microsoft adCenter is considered equal as search engine marketing (SEM). Sometimes, depending on the source, search engine optimization is included (SEO) as well. Even Wikipedia nowadays has a quite narrow definition about SEM. In my opinion:
"Search Engine Marketing includes different kind of methods to affect and improve visibility related to people, companies and social networks in different kind of search engine results."
Therefor, search engine marketing as a whole have to include several other areas of search. It is obvious that Google is dominating search business, but here's my list of different kind searches and examples you may consider when thinking your search engine visibility:
  • Paid placements or price per click (PPC) advertising offered by search engines mentioned above. You can easily buy your visibility, but I strongly recommend to use professional (sertified) help for optimizing your paid search campaign.
  • Shopping search. I wrote a post about shopping search in Finland, but if you're selling products online in other countries as well, you may have to check shopping search possibilities by target market.
  • Paid inclusions. Some search engines and especially directory services, except Google, may charge a small fee to get you in their index. This can be very similar compared to previous one.
  • Image or picture search. Every major search engine offers you image or picture search. Try now and have fun! Think twice when you edit next time your image file names for public publishing.
  • Video search. Probably the most used and known is the YouTube. As a part of Google's property YouTube integrates with Google search. If you upload videos, you may consider how you name these videos to get some search visibility.
  • People search. You can find people by any search engine but you may also want find people from social media services. Perhaps the most used in the business world is the LinkedIn and you can't talk about this without mentioning the Facebook. Of course, there are other services where you can find people (mobile number services etc.) and you can easily test how to find you or your company's executives.
  • Social search. Related to people search, you can also try to find different kind of social networks. For example you can find Omniture user group in LinkedIn or Web Analytics Association in Facebook. Can your company fans or product users be found in these?
  • Internal site search. You may have a search engine closer than you guess - in your own website. You should defenitely analyse your site ranking in search engines and which keywords are bringing visitors to your site, but also how the internal site search is used. This can be a gold mine as you can find out the "long tail" by seeking out those "zero results" with your web analytics system. If you find internal search important, then maybe you should have internal site conversion as one of your KPIs (key performance indicator).
  • Map search. Many search engines offer a map search and for example to Google Maps you can provide your company information for free via local business center. As video search, Google Maps are integrated to normal Google search. Check out below how our company is shown at Google Maps.

And beware: word wide web services are used more and more with mobile devices. We may already have or at least we will have own search software for smart phones. I hope you like more holistic view about search engine marketing and don't be a stranger, please comment if I forgot something here. : )