S.E.M. Is An Acronym For ‘Search Engine Marketing’

This covers almost every area of web related or on-line marketing. In an era where traditional marketing is getting continually more expensive yet less effective by the day, we need to look carefully at where the commercial market-place is going. Without a doubt, an on-line presence is now absolutely essential to every business that retails any kind of product or service. But simply having that on-line presence is not enough – customers HAVE to be able to find you!

Picture a new retail premises opening up shop…

They’ve spent a fortune on stock, fixtures, merchandising and systems. They open the doors; and suddenly discover they’re in a tiny backstreet, 3 miles out of the city centre on the 4th floor, and the road outside is closed due to a diversion, plus they’ve done no advertising that tells anyone where they are…

What kind of sales do you think they’ll manage?

This is exactly the scenario for 99% of ALL commercial web sites in existence.

The internet has dramatically changed the shape of modern marketing. Ten years ago, as everyone was getting on the bandwagon, there was an idea that everyone needed a web site. Businesses scrambled to get themselves an online presence, often spending tens of thousands to create fancy graphical sites as web-designers happily lapped up the new business.

Then everyone started to notice that they weren’t getting any traffic to their site. There was a belief that if you built it, they would come. But unfortunately, this turned out to be completely false…

Modern internet marketing requires a fundamental shift in thinking from traditional marketing. A traditional marketing guru would tell you that your web site is your online catalogue or advert of services, and that you will need to utilise all normal marketing channels (print, radio, TV, media etc.) to then drive traffic to that site. Essentially working in the same way as they’ve always done: Produce the pretty brochure and then market every possible avenue to generate enquiries to send that brochure to.

This view is completely and utterly flawed in the internet economy.

The internet itself is not just a viewing portal. It is a completely interactive place where billions of people can research, investigate, discuss and choose services and products in the comfort of their own home. And because of Search Engines like Google, Bing/MSN, Yahoo and Ask etc. there are huge indexes of sites that can be easily found (from the customers perspective at least) to perform these tasks.

Think of the chaos involved if Business Yellow Pages wasn’t in alphabetical order; how would you ever find what you wanted? The Search Engines solve this dilemma. But in doing so, they’ve radically changed the face of marketing forever…

Because now, if you want to be found in the vast sea that is the internet, you have to be indexed in the Search Engines. And not only that, it’s pretty pointless if you’re number 4 on page 7 of the results. Studies have proved that the vast majority of traffic goes to the sites on page 1. By the time you get to page 5, you can forget it, unless you’ve got a very detail-oriented and persistent customer!

Because it was often so difficult to rate highly for certain terms (but commercially because the Search Engines wanted the revenue), they introduced paid advertising with a unique spin – you only pay when someone actually chooses your advert (hence the name ‘Pay-Per-Click’.) This caused quite a storm when it happened.

Essentially, you now only paid for someone who’d already decided they were interested in your service or product. This is an incredibly targeted way of advertising, and done properly, can yield some exceptional results. Unfortunately, PPC advertising has now become literally swamped with adverts in most fields.

Costs per click have been heavily driven up (mostly by inexperienced marketers bidding too highly) to the point where now we’re seeing click prices that are so high, it can literally be unfeasible to make a profit, especially where large volumes of clicks are required to make a sale.

This has caused a rebirth and interest in Search Engine Optimisation as those in the know try to drive their sites up to the revered page 1!

As an exercise; if you go to Google, Bing or Yahoo RIGHT NOW and type in a few product or service keywords, does your site appear in the first 3 pages of results?

…Chances are – it won’t. Which puts you in the exact situation detailed above. And if your site is listed; is it appearing for keywords that your customers will actually enter?

If UK retail giants like the DSG Group (Dixons, Curry’s, PC World etc.) now achieve a large percentage of their annual turnover through online sales (a percentage that is continually growing) – how do you think smaller businesses are going to fare if they don’t get in the race?

Sales statistics are now clearly showing that both UK and worldwide commerce is undergoing a paradigm shift towards online sales and marketing. There is no other choice but to deal with it – and ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the opportunities.


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