SEM – search engine marketing
SEM is defined differently by different people. For many the term SEM refers to the broader steps a company takes to improve traffic to its website and aid in improving website marketing through paid and unpaid initiatives. In fact LinkedIn takes that broader position, defining SEM as both paid and unpaid actions taken to optimize a website to improve search results. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can review the LinkedIn definition at http://www.linkedin.com/skills/skill/SEM.
Other companies use the term “search marketing” to define the broader definition which incorporates both SEO and SEM; these companies define SEM or search engine marketing as simply the paid search activities used to optimize a company’s marketing. See Search Engine Land’s definition at http://searchengineland.com/guide/what-is-paid-search.
I tend to embrace the broader definition of SEM which includes SEO activities that we discussed in last week’s blog post (http://jploetz.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/seo-search-engine-optimization/) and broader paid and unpaid website based marketing activities aimed at getting your website on the top of search engine lists to optimize your search marketing.
The important question is how do you decide how to manage this process? You need to look at how to proceed in setting up an SEM plan for your company. Go to http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2013/08/16/online-marketing-when-to-outsource-when-to-do-it-in-house/ for a discussion on how to decide whether to handle optimization in house or get outside assistance. Also, a good website to start with to give you overall info on SEO and SEM information, news and training is http://searchenginewatch.com/
In general, a few things to think about when setting up an SEM plan are:
1. Look closely at the cost/reward for any paid activities you plan to take.
a. Weigh the costs of hiring a full time person to handle these tasks or hiring a consultant.
b. Make sure to tie overall budget costs to a specific set of goals- sales or website access numbers.
2. Make sure you are tracking your results; quantify how your SEM activities are making your marketing more successful.
3. Have a set budget worked out on a monthly and annual basis with goals tied to those budget numbers.
4. If you are not attaining set goals be prepared to reassess and make changes on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Search engine marketing is an inexact science and the rules and ways to be successful are constantly changing. Make sure you are on top of the technology changes and the trend changes, so that you can optimize your resources to get the best bang for your buck. This is an area of your business that you need to be continually reviewing and fine tuning. If you are not getting results over a few month time period be prepared to make changes in your plan.
Next up – Is sales just selling?