Any service or activity that concerns itself specifically with the manner in which websites try to gain a greater degree of visibility, falls under the umbrella of Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Although SEM is a part of Internet Marketing, it is such an expansive discipline on it’s own that it has spawned an entire industry related to getting websites more prominence on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Below we broadly examine the various elements of SEM and how they are employed to affect the traffic and conversion rate of your website. Although ideally, these should be used together for an effective strategy

Search Engine Optimisation

This is the practice of getting ranked higher on the SERP by optimising elements of your web page so it seems more relevant to certain keywords on input on search engines. This activity involves marketing your website to web-crawlers (the software programs that browse the internet and index its contents) as well as people.

This is know as organic online marketing because it doesn’t cost anything. Although it does require expertise, so many websites use a professional SEO service to get indexed better by algorithms.

The other flavour of search engine marketing. You pay search engines to place a plain text link or (in much rarer cases)a media-rich banner to advertise an offering or domain, on the first page of a queries web results. Pricing is usually on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis.

This option ensures exposure, as it can be applied to more generic keywords without having to worry about the algorithm. But while quite very good for conversion rates, these sponsored links typically have a much lower clickthrough rate (CTR) as web users are naturally averse to commercialism.

Web Analytics

Involves using collected internet data (browsing behaviour, keyword preferences, page tagging, logfile analysis etc.) to analyse and make inferences on demographic retargeting and behavioural patterns.

This isn’t so much a separate marketing activity as it is something that compliments the decisions made in paid search and organic search engine optimization strategies. From an accountability perspective, it can be invaluable in measuring the results of the campaign.

Expert SEO practitioners use this data to improve on search retargeting methods so they can optimise on PPC costs. It’s also essential for assessing cultural factors that affect keyword use, for websites that cater to markets that are local.

Search Engine Marketing Agency vs. In-House

The validity of the below would depend on the quality of the offering or the skill of the in-house employee.

Benefits of SEM Agency

  • Expertise and experience is needed for meaningful SEO.
  • SEM is a continuous and changing effort. It may require you to dedicate too many internal resources to it, with sporadic return.
  • It’s cheaper than hiring a permanent employee.
  • Because of the variety of skills needed, a team working on your SEM some of the time is more effective than one person working on it all of the time.

Benefits of In-House SEM

  • You have a dedicated person to continuously fine-tune the SEO.
  • More control over practices.
  • Improved accountability and response time.