Expert Interview: What Is Search Engine Marketing?

Jeanne Grunert
Digital Brand Expressions is an agency that helps companies market online.

What is search engine marketing, and how is it used? These are the questions Veronica Fielding, president of Digital Brand Expressions, answered for LoveToKnow. As a leader in the search marketing world, Veronica has been a frequent resource for The Wall Street Journal and other industry publications about the world of search engines, social marketing and other online technologies. She founded Digital Brand Expressions in 2001 after selling her first company, United Multimedia, in 1998. Her background includes leading customer acquisition for Dow-Jones Interactive and developing many innovative online and interactive technologies and products.

Veronica Fielding

What is Search Engine Marketing

Veronica has grown Digital Brand Expressions to be one of the top search marketing firms in the country. Here she shares her expert insight into the world of search engine marketing.

How do You Define Search Engine Marketing?

Search engine marketing is ensuring that your brand shows up when people turn to Google, Yahoo, and other search engines for solutions, services, or products that you provide.

How do Search Engines Find Website Content?

They seek out solutions for keyword requests and compile massive databases of "solution sites". When someone enters a search term as a query, the search engines look into their databases (called an index) and see what sites best answer that query. They then serve up those sites as natural listings.

Search engines seek keywords embedded in text. It's up to the website owner or web master to make sure that keywords are used appropriately in the website to help the search engines find the site. You want to build your website so that it's a win for all.The search engines win by finding your site, the person seeking information wins because they get the information they need, and you win by getting someone to visit your website.

Improving Search Engine Marketing

Many small businesses seek to improve their search engine marketing.

How Do Websites Get to the First Position in Search Engine Results?

There are literally hundreds of factors that search engines consider when determining which sites are among the top in the results, but here are the most important factors.

  • Keyword research: Keyword research is king! Do your homework. Look for terms used by your stakeholders and then check to see how frequently they're searched.
  • Perform analysis: there are hundreds of factors, but the top five to look at include:
    • Programming techniques approved by search engines (keyword tags, etc.)
    • Title tags with keywords
    • Frequency of keywords in visible content
    • Search engine valued inbound links. Links from authoritative sites are important.
    • Refreshed content.

Please Explain More About Links

You may have heard that it's important that other websites point to your site through links, and that's true. However, contacting other websites and asking for reciprocal links - "I'll link to you if you link to me" - won't help. Search engines ignore those types of links. It's more important to have links from authoritative sources, such as articles or respected websites or blogs, than to have a lot of random links pointing to a site.

What Steps Can Businesses Take to Improve Search Engine Rank?

Assess what keywords are relevant to your business-what are people looking for and how do they phrase that as a search term? Use WordTracker to see how often people are searching using those phrase combinations. Prioritize the terms and optimize one page on your site per term. Make sure the title tag is the term and that the term appears about five times out of 250 words on the page. Make sure you get other websites to link to that page of your site with that keyword/phrase as the clickable text (not your homepage URL but actual text) in the form of an anchor link. Monitor performance based on competitors. Keep honing and requesting links from other sites.

Paid Search Engine Marketing

Next, Veronica shared her thoughts on paid keyword search marketing, another form of search engine optimization.

Can You Explain Paid Keyword Search Engine Marketing Versus Natural?

Ideally, they both work hand-in-hand, just as in the offline world a brand would use both public relations (natural search engine marketing online) and advertising (paid search engine marketing online) in an integrated program. Search engine optimization (SEO) is like PR - you are providing the 'reporter', the search engine, with information so that they want to 'write' about you. With SEO, the reporter is the search engine algorithm and you're feeding it content that associates keywords with your site. Paid search is advertising, pure and simple. It helps reinforce the messaging in the natural listing, and studies repeatedly show that if you have a natural listing and a paid listing, customers tend to click on the natural listing which costs you nothing. They're more inclined to click on the natural listing if they see a paid listing. Your ad reinforces their choice to go to your website.

What Else Should Companies do to Increase Site Traffic?

Consider exploring the social media landscape for your brand. The biggest difference between social media sites, such as Facebook, for your brand and your website is that your website is a marketing tool, your social media sites are your opportunity to speak with, not at, your audiences. Become a member of the communities that your brand interacts with, wade in slowly, but make sure your brand is seen as a trusted community member. Great social media sites definitely drive site traffic.

Is One Social Media Site Better Than Another?

I recommend getting started on Facebook and proceeding slowly. Experiment and build up your knowledge. MySpace is mostly for teens and preteens, so unless you're marketing specifically to that audience it may not be appropriate. LinkedIn is best for business to business communications. There are many others to explore, but Facebook makes a great starting place.

Top Five Steps for Search Engine Marketing

Veronice's top five steps companies can take now to improve search engine optimization are:

Thoughts on Search Engine Marketing

Search (combining search engine and social media marketing) marketing is THE most cost-effective, non-intrusive marketing channel available. It's scalable, geographically targeting, and relatively fast to implement. It's the rare brand that cannot benefit from some form of search marketing.

Resources

If you would like more information about search engine marketing, please contact Veronica Fielding at Digital Brand Expressions, 866-651-6767.

  1. Look at your site traffic logs and make sure you see traffic from search engines-if you don't, the setting may be off in your traffic software or there may be a technical problem keeping the search engines from indexing your site.
  2. Identify 5-10 keyword phrases you think people would use to start to find solutions providers and use WordTracker to get a sense of the opportunity you're missing by not showing up in the search results for those keywords.
  3. See how your site performs on Google for the five keyword phrases you think people who would buy from you would use to search for solutions providers compared with your competitors. f you're site isn't showing up at all, consider search engine optimization.
  4. Check out if your competitors are advertising and what it would cost you to compete for those 5 or so keywords of importance to you. You can set up campaigns to be served up local (zip code level), state-wide, nationally, and internationally.
  5. Consider social media as another avenue for driving traffic to your site. If you have videos of interest, set up a YouTube channel. If you are an expert, join Yahoo Answers and answer questions about topics related to your business-if you get voted a top-info-provider, you can use that to reinforce your expert standing. Set up a Facebook page for your business, and make sure your business has a searchable LinkedIn Profile.
Expert Interview: What Is Search Engine Marketing?