After conducting extensive research I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding the subject of Search Engine Marketing. The greatest misunderstanding is in confusing the terms Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
One would think that those individuals claiming to be SEO experts should be knowledgeable about the subject and recognize the clear distinction. Apparently this is not the case; the internet is full of misguided information, from so called experts. Proving, I suppose that the industry is liberally spattered with cowboys.
To start, let us first define the term “Search Engine Optimisation” (henceforth referred to as SEO).
SEO is the process of manipulating the structure and content of a website in such a way that it will perform better in the search engine’s organic listings. The techniques involved can be sub-structured into several areas of activity, as detailed below.
1) Page readiness – Search engines expect to crawl clean HTML code. Every page of a website should be validated to eliminate errors and sloppy coding.
2) Site readiness – Search engine web bots follow the links on your web pages and thereby find new pages to index. If a web bot meets a broken link it cannot continue spidering your site. Make sure you have no broken links. Also, provide a site map. A tool for creating site maps is available at my website, www.pro-seo.co.uk.
3) Keyword selection – It is vitally important to select the right keywords for which a particular page is to be optimized. The most obvious keywords are not always the best choice, and are often mega-competitive. Choose wisely.
4) Site structure – Your website should be structured in such a way that each page can be optimized for a maximum of two keywords. Do not try to optimize for a lot of keywords on one page. Remember, you have to write for your users. Writing copy is a balancing act that keeps both users and search engines happy, and is better achieved on a well structured site.
5) Copy writing – the visible text on your web pages should be structured to include the two most important keywords for that page’s content. Get the keywords into headers. Work the keywords into paragraph text, having your keywords appear near the beginning, near the middle, and near the end. Make some keywords bold, some italic and some underlined.
6) HTML tags – The most important of these is the Title tag. Get both keywords for that page into the Title tag, without repetition. For example, if your main key phrase is “diet plans”, and your second phrase is “diet supplements”, the Title tag should read “diet plans and supplements”. Do not repeat the word diet, to search engines it may look like spamming. If your main concern is to improve your Google ranking, you may have overlooked the Meta keywords and Meta description tags, don’t, there are more search engines than Google and they can all bring traffic. Also, get the keywords into H1 tags, H2 tags, alt attributes, and very important, your link text.
And after doing all that for every page in your website you may be asking: so where does SEM come in?
SEM includes SEO plus all the other things you can do to boost your visibility in the search engines and increase targeted visitors to your website. A condensed list may be as follows:
1) SEO (see above).
2) A link building strategy
3) Pay per click (PPC) campaigns.
4) Banner exchanges.
5) Press releases.
6) And any other activity that will get your website noticed.
SEM then, is the full package. Whereas SEO techniques are a vital, but not the only, component of that package.