Search Engines are one of the most popular methods of finding information in the 21st century. Gone are the days of opening an encyclopedia to find the answer to a question or skimming the yellow pages to locate a local specialist. Search engines are helping us tackle every conceivable problem that we happen to face in our daily life. Need to do research on the Civil War? Car having problems? Shopping for a new microwave? Curious about evolution? The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Search Engines provide a means to possibly answer any question that anybody has at any time. So how can this help us in promoting our business?
To start, let’s discuss how search engines work, without boring you with too much computer tech babble. Search engines consist of a number of very sophisticated software programs that gather and organize information from the internet. The first important program is called a “robot spider” that is used to index, or “find” pages posted on the internet. The search engine then uses an algorithm, or mathematical equation, to determine how important a web page is in relation to a particular word or phrase (referred to as keywords or keyword phrases.)
Let’s use an example to better understand this concept. Say you went to Google.com and entered the words “los angeles pizza”. The results shown by Google will be shown on your screen. The results are numbered starting with #1; Google is telling you that, based on its very sophisticated mathematical equation, that the number one listing is the most relevant web page for the words “los angeles”. Hopefully, that # 1 listing will provide you with the information you are looking for.
Now imagine if you were a pizza shop owner in Los Angeles, and your websites home page just so happened to be that # 1 listing on Google. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how this listing is an important marketing tool for your pizza business.
Now, before you jump out of your seat, hold on, because it gets better. Another software program the search engines use has the ability to keep track of how many times a word or phrase is being searched. This is where the dynamics of search engine marketing really start to shine.
In traditional marketing, like television or radio, demographics are used to determine what audience you should target your business to. A commercial for a kid’s cereal would probably be shown during a children’s television show. TV companies would charge more for an ad spot that ran during a show that attracted more viewers for a specific “target market”. Super Bowl ads are the most expensive because the program attracts the attention a millions of 18-35 year old men who tend to spend quite a bit of money on consumer products, thus the crazy amount of money that is spent of advertising.
With search, however, the information that is collected helps us target our websites (which are a basically commercials that run 24 hours a day) to a more specific audience; we can actually pinpoint roughly how many people searched for the words “ford mustang parts”. Now if you are someone who sells ford mustang parts, this information is very important to you. Ten years ago, the only way of marketing your business would be to purchase advertising that probably targeted a large number of people, usually in a car trade magazine. You would have a good idea about your audience, but you didn’t have any real numbers of how many people were looking for your product. With search engine marketing, it’s possible to focus marketing campaigns on just people that are actually looking for the products or services you sell, saving you precious time and money that would otherwise be wasted on those not interested in you. This is why search engine marketing is especially important to the small business owner, who usually does not have deep pockets to spend on marketing and advertising to begin with.
Search Engine Marketing has taken the business world by storm, and has propelled search engines like Google to become huge, billion dollar corporations through their advertising revenues. Traditional media has begun to transform as the barriers between television, radio, print, and the internet begin to blur. The internet has introduced a new performance-based marketing and advertising platform that will spill over into these other forms of advertising. Understanding the actual process of marketing your website through these search engines is crucial in understanding how the marketing industry is evolving and changing in the new century.