Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Stage 1: Search Engine Marketing

Search Marketing has become a buzzword that is now heard all over the place many times a day. Here we provide an exact definition of what it refers to, and how it relates to both Web Search and Web Marketing.
Search Marketing is also known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and as such we will refer to is as SEM throughout this course. The definitions that follow are the basics; if you are an expert / advanced Search Marketer, you can skip these terms; otherwise we recommend that you read and understand them.
Search Marketing is a part of business marketing efforts that is aimed at increasing traffic (the number of visitors) to the website from the search engines. Additionally, it addresses conversion (the percent of visitors who become buyers). The first is achieved by increasing search engine visibility, i.e. the position of your site in search engine results for certain keywords that people type in the search box to obtain these results.
For instance, if someone wants to find and buy a digital camera, they will go to a search engine such as Google and type "digital camera" in the search box. Google will list, in this case, 138 million results (these are the real figures extracted while creating this course). If you sell digital cameras or offer any related services, your site may be listed among these 138,000,000 results. Here, everything depends on how deep you are. If you are on the first or second page of the search results, it's more likely that such visibility will bring many visitors and customers from Google. If you are the 300th result, it's unlikely that anyone at all will come to you from Google.
Together with the power and size of your banner / ad network, your affiliations and partnerships, SE visibility comprises a broader concept - Web visibility (aka online visibility).
Generally, there are two main methods of carrying out SEM: a) Search Engine Optimization (SEO) b) using pay-per-click and paid inclusion listing models. They are briefly depicted in the following lessons.
Although paid inclusion and pay-per-click advertising methods seem like the fastest methods to search engine marketing, website owners prefer to adopt a more time consuming search engine optimization method to obtain better marketing of their website on search engines.
Organic rankings are results that you get for free. That is, you create Web copy and publish it, then after a certain period of time a search engine robot finds it (either by itself or as a result of your submission). Finally, the robot reads your content and puts your site into its index. Now your site will be found by this search engine when people query for some words contained within your pages. Obtained this way, your positions in the result list are called your "organic search engine rankings".
Paid listings are different: pay a search engine and it guarantees the inclusion of your site in the index. Moreover, many search engines offer advanced pay-for-performance programs, such as showing your site / ad in the search results for keywords of your choice. These are the so-called "sponsored" results. Most commonly, you will have to pay a specified rate for each visitor that comes to your site from this search engine that clicks on these ads.
Mastering both methods and their proper combination can provide maximum search engine visibility. Because things keep changing, search engine marketers need to devote a good deal of time staying on top of the SEO industry and its trends.
The aim of SEM is not only to find a proper balance between organic and paid listings, but also to achieve maximum conversion of visitors into loyal customers. Nowadays SEM relies on the statement that it's not the traffic itself that matters, but how targeted and convertible it is. The way your traffic converts also matters a lot –  even more than your site rank on a search engine. You can rank worse than a competitor and yet the percentage of your visitors that turn into buyers can be high enough to actually outperform a competitor several times over.
The following are the main goals of Search Engine Marketing:
  1. Improve Web visibility and get as much traffic as possible.
  2. Improve traffic quality: get high rankings for exactly those keywords that bring visitors with the best conversion rate.
  3. Decrease expenditures by switching off advertising for underperforming keywords.

Methods used by Search Marketing

The main methods used for achieving the goals of Search marketing are Search Engine Optimization (for organic listings), Bid Management (for paid listings) and Web Analytics (for both types of listings).
Search Engine Optimization (further referred to in this course as SEO) is about changing the HTML code of your pages and the structure of your site in such a way that when an SE robot reads the site, it can understand that the pages have valuable content related to your keywords, and then rank them high. SEO also tells about ways to increase your link popularity - the number of links from other high-ranked pages to your site. This is important because most search engines consider your link popularity a vital ranking factor.
Bid Management is about controlling bids, i.e. the amount of money you spend maintaining your visibility in the sponsored listings. Usually you try to detect the best converting keywords and keyword groups, in order to increase bids on them; as well as decrease or take off bids on keywords that don't break even. Attention also should be paid to leveraging your paid and organic listings, so to spend less on paid advertising campaigns when you get enough traffic from natural results, and invest in paid advertising when an algorithm changes or strong competitors force you out from the top positions in the organic listings.
Web Analytics (further referred to as WA) is about getting, analyzing and using the information about your visitors, their details, their behavior on your site, the ways they have found your site, the efficiency of referrers and advertising, conversion rates, and, together with all that, eCommerce information.

So here's what you should remember from this lesson:

  1. Search Marketing, or Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is the aggregate of efforts aiming at increasing your search engine visibility.
  2. SEM deals with your organic and paid listings on the search engines.
  3. SEM includes and uses the techniques of Search Engine Optimization, Bid Management and Web Analytics.

What You Should Know before Getting Started with Online Marketing

The good news is that Internet marketing has rapidly grown and offers a broad array of opportunities for small and large businesses. From the previous introduction we became familiar with the Internet marketing science structure and the particular steps to follow to develop an online business.
At this point, before delving more deeply into the subject, let's define some main terms. Online marketing deals with websites and Web pages, search engines, email and the Internet as the base of the World Wide Web. All of these areas are used to advertise and sell goods and services.
Referencing the original Wikipedia encyclopedia project definitions of our basic terms, they are as follows:
The World Wide Web ("WWW" or simply the "Web") is a system of interlinked, hypertext documents that runs over the Internet.
The hypertext documents, or Web pages, reside on Web servers - special computers that receive requests for Web pages and can "serve" them to the requesting side.
Each Web server, or host, has its unique global address used to find it over the Internet. This address is called an "IP address". A typical IP address looks like four numbers separated by dots. For example, 63.146.123.0 is the address of the server where google.com is situated.
Each server can hold one or many websites. A website (or Web site) is a collection of Web pages, typically bound to a particular domain name or subdomain on the World Wide Web on the Internet. A website is identified uniquely by its domain name, e.g. www.webceo.com.
Domain names are translated into IP addresses by the global DNS - domain name system. That is, when you type www.webceo.com in your browser, the latter first sends a DNS request, and receives the IP address of the server where www.webceo.com is hosted. The browser then connects to that server directly and asks for Web CEO's home page.
Each website is composed of many Web pages. A Web page is a document, typically written in HTML, that is always accessible via HTTP, a protocol that transfers information from the website's server to display in the user's Web browser.
So when a new business is born on the Internet, or when an established brick and mortar enterprise goes online, it starts by creating a website. This is done by purchasing a domain name from an organization accredited to sell domain names, e.g. godaddy.com or register.com. Also, some hosting space must be purchased, so that there's some server ready to store the website. Then, several Web pages are created and linked to each other to make up this website. Finally, the website is linked to the domain name so that everyone can type this domain name in a browser and view these pages.
With a Web browser, a user views Web pages that may contain text, images, and other multimedia and navigates between them using hyperlinks. A client program called a "user agent" retrieves information resources, such as Web pages and other computer files, from Web servers using their URLs.
Most commonly, the user agent is a kind of Web browser: Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, Opera, Netscape, or the program that you use to view this lesson. It retrieves content from remote Web servers and displays it on your computer. You can then follow hyperlinks in each Web page to other World Wide Web resources, whose location (including their domain name) is embedded in the hyperlinks. The act of following hyperlinks from one website to another is referred to as "browsing" or sometimes as "surfing" the Web.
To find a Web page, you can always type its address in the address field of your browser. But what if you don't know the exact address, or want to find all Web pages from different websites on a particular topic?
This is when you use a search engine or directory for the search. There are 3 top search engines: Google, Yahoo! and MSN (Windows Live Search). These search engines are most preferred by Web surfers and every site owner strives to get included in their databases. If people can find your website through search engines, this search engine creates an invaluable source of traffic for you, which translates into income if you sell goods or services.
Actually, search engines are very numerous and differ according to how they work. We have a specific section for "Understanding Search Engines" which includes seven lessons to guide and familiarize you with their core principles.
There is one final point we'll look at, and that is the use of email for your online marketing activity. The topic is email marketing and using this form of communication to send goods and service offers to clients.
Electronic mail (abbreviated "email") is a store and forward method of composing, sending, storing, and receiving messages over electronic communication systems.
Email predates the Internet; existing email systems were a crucial tool in creating the Internet. Email was quickly extended and became additional and highly useful tool for the online marketers.
Email Marketing and other forms of Internet Marketing are depicted in this course to select and master your niche for a future online business.

Introduction into Internet Marketing

Starting from the early 1990s Internet marketing made an amazing development from simple text-based websites that offered product information into highly evolved and complete online businesses promoting and selling their services on the Internet.
Nowadays, the Internet marketing industry has become a complicated and branchy science involving a great deal of theoretical knowledge in combination with applied techniques. As a science, it ranges from browser-side and server-side programming and coding on one end to marketing and economics on the other.
Internet marketing means the use of the Internet to advertise and sell goods and services. It includes Banner and Text Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Interactive Advertising, Affiliate Marketing and Search Engine Marketing (including Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click Advertising).
Our first stage of the Internet Marketing course will start with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as a specific area of an online marketers' business. Mainly, its purpose is to increase targeted traffic from search engines via organic search engine ranking, paid listing and advertising. Here you'll be shown the main principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), link building, and paid advertising campaigns.
Actually, every successful search engine optimizer should be aware of top search engine demands and consider them while creating website and improving on-page and off-page factors for Web pages. There are numerous important factors influencing search engine ranking of a Web page. The SEO division of the course provides profound and consecutive lessons depicting each step of your optimization work. Search Engine Advertising is the last topic of the SEM Stage.
There are certain methods that go beyond SEM that can help improve your site online visibility. These include, for instance, creating and spreading a banner / ad network and / or paid link partnerships, as well as social media, email marketing and building affiliate relationships with other websites.
The Social Media Marketing stage is devoted to the numerous social media channels on the Web. Blogs and micro-blogging services, social networks, social news sites, media sharing sites, wikis, etc., offer a valuable opportunity to moderate and share content. Social media channels are a perfect place to interact with existing or potential consumers; a good viral marketing campaign within the online community creates buzz around your brand and may result in new inbound links to your site appearing on the Web.
Email marketing is an independent branch which has to be dealt with separately and does not have much in common with SEM. Email marketing is a subject of our next stage and there we will provide insight into the main direct mail campaign steps and guidelines.
Banner networks relate to SEM as long as they touch upon your link popularity (which is a component of SEM).
In the following stage you'll study the Affiliate Marketing division of Internet Marketing. It is a popular method for promoting web businesses when with few marketing dollars marketers can establish a presence and earn a profit recruiting affiliates. Such partner networks can grow with your company business projects and add its profit to your marketing budget.
The most vital stage of the whole course is Web Analytics. Its role can be hardly underestimated as Web Analytics is an essential measure for continually improving web business performance, advertising campaigns, organic search engine results, ranking positions and others. Generally, Web Analytics deals with the traffic already generated at the previous stages. Its primary goal is to improve traffic quality and enhance conversion.
Although it is possible (and advisable) to understand every theoretical aspect of Internet marketing, in practice you may do much better by specialization in a specific area or technique and simply start your Internet Marketing business. Our last stage provides a proper and clear scheme about how to estimate your potential, find a niche, manage projects and promote your services as online marketer, SEO consultant, etc.