Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or in simple terms, web marketing, can be very confusing for business owners so my intention with this article is to simplify it and give you an overview of what it’s all about. In essence, SEM is the art of driving traffic to your site, converting prospects into paying customers and measuring the results so you know what’s working and what’s not. In order to do that for your business, you have to know where you currently stand in terms of your own search engine marketing.

Search Engine Marketing: Where Do You Rank on Google?

The best way to start is to find out how you rank on Google. It’s worth taking a moment to find this out because if you can’t find yourself on Google, chances are your prospects can’t either.
If you don’t know how to go about finding yourself on Google, your best bet is to ask “Well, what words would the average person type into Google if they wanted to find my business? (These words are called keywords.)
This is where it gets interesting because in order to do this, you need to crawl inside your prospect’s head and start thinking like they do. This is easier said than done because people will search for your service using words that would never have occurred to you.

Search Engine Marketing: How Do You Know What Your Keywords Are?

To work out what those keywords are you first need to put yourself in the shoes of your customer. What words would they use? What phrases would they use?

Let’s make some assumptions to demonstrate the principle. Let’s assume:

  1. you’re a lawyer specializing in workers compensation law
  2. that the person seeking your services lives in Melbourne and has never had to contact a lawyer before.

So here’s what that person might type in to Google to find you:

  • “Lawyer, Melbourne”
  • “Solicitor, Melbourne”
  • “Workers Compensation“
  • “Workers Comp Lawyer”
  • “Workers Compensation Lawyer, Melbourne”

Keywords don’t just refer to ‘words’ but to ‘phrases’ as well eg “Lawyers in Melbourne” is a phrase that would be used, not just “Lawyers.”

Now, all those search terms (or keywords) will bring up different search results so it’s worth trying out a few different combinations to see if it makes any difference to where you rank.
Depending on your ranking, you’ll either be pleasantly surprised, mildly pleased or drastically worried. Whatever the result, take comfort in the fact that at least you now know where you rank on Google.

search engine marketing techniquesSearch Engine Marketing: Where Do Your Competitors Rank?

This exercise begs the question: if you’re not on page one of Google, who is? This is the perfect opportunity to work out where your competitors rank. Take note of who the high rankers are and take a virtual stroll through their website and see what they’re up to. Here’s a few things they are probably doing well:

They probably:

  • Use the right keywords on their website
  • Get lots of relevant sites to link to theirs
  • Use the right keywords in those links
  • Have lots of content on their site and add more regularly

Search Engine Marketing: 7 Steps to A Successful Keyword Analysis

Keyword Analysis is the first thing you should do when embarking on a Search Engine Marketing campaign. The first thing you need to do when you begin chasing a good search engine ranking is decide which words you want to rank well for. This is called performing a ‘keyword analysis.’ Here’s a few tips to get you going.

Step 1: Choose a product or service that you’d like to promote

For example, using the lawyer case study, you might choose your Workers Compensation service as a starting point. Then, when you’ve refined your SEM techniques, you can promote another service you offer like Medical Negligence or Family Law.

Step 2: Create a “master list” of all potential keywords

Make a master list of all the words and phrases that people would use to find your service. Use your instincts and imagination to do this. To get you going, start with your own site. Print off every page and then highlight all the words that relate to your service.

Step 3: Look at what your competitors are doing

Look at your competitors’ sites, especially the ones that rank well. Print off all their pages and highlight all the words that relate to your service.

Step 4: Look at the View/Source coding

Look at the “View/Source” coding of your competitors’ sites. This is a clever tool that legally allows you to see all the keywords that your competitor has nominated as being important to them.
It’s easy to access: Just click on View/Source on any website and it will take you to a page of coding. Yes, it looks confusing but don’t panic – just look for the line saying “Keywords”. Next to it will be a selection of keywords that the website owner considers to be the keywords they think prospects will use to search for them on Google. If their site ranks well, it’s a good indication of what keywords you should be using. Yes, this is legal to do and yes, you can access the code for every website on the planet using View/Source.

Step 5: Write your AdWords Advertisements

Write a series of AdWords advertisements (8-10 different advertisements is a good number to aim for) using a selection of these keywords to promote your product.
Run the campaign for a few weeks to see which of the advertisements give you the best result.

Step 6: Check your success using Google Analytics

Using Google’s free measurement and tracking tool, Google Analytics, you’ll be able to quickly discover what your top performing keywords are. Once you know what your top performing AdWords advertisements are, keep running those advertisements and ditch the rest because you don’t want to be wasting money paying for AdWords advertisements that aren’t working.

Running an AdWords campaign is easy to set up but can be costly to run. I’ve had many clients tell me that they’ve started a campaign but stopped it because they didn’t know if it was working or not.
If you don’t know how to write an AdWords campaign or you don’t know how to measure whether it’s working or not, don’t do it. It’s too easy to waste a lot of money and not get the result you want.
Your best option is to do a short course in how to write AdWords or at least do some research on how to use it effectively before you start spending money.

Step 7: Rewrite your web copy and coding to include your keywords

Re-write your website copy, especially your Home Page and key landing pages, making sure that it’s liberally sprinkled with those top performing keywords. Never sacrifice readability or engagement for loading up your page with keywords. Some clients think if they repeat the key word often enough it’ll help their Google ranking. It won’t. It’s what you say, not how many times you say it.

Ideally, by the time you’ve implemented all these steps, you’ll have started to drive more traffic to your site (via AdWords) and then converted the prospects to paying customers (via skilful web copywriting). And you’ll know whether or not any of this is working (via Google Analytics). There are many other things you can do to improve your Google ranking but try these techniques as a starting point. Search Engine Marketing is the future of marketing and like it or not, it’s here’s to stay so it’s worth getting familiar with how it works and how it can help you.