The lowdown on SEO/SEM

The lowdown on SEO/SEM

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has been around since the mid-1990s, when early search engines like Yahoo and AltaVista first appeared. In the beginning, it was possible to ‘trick’ these search engines into ranking website pages by stuffing them with keywords, but as search has evolved and the search engines, such as Google, have become more sophisticated, SEO has developed into a complex and nuanced practice.

SEO is still very much about keywords, but it is driven by searcher intent and the need to deliver relevance, quality information and a great user experience. It is no longer a stand alone practice but one that must be integrated into marketing strategies and website builds from the onset in order to be successful. It is only through understanding what your target audience wants, what they might be searching for and why that you can create content that will answer their questions, satisfy their informational needs and engage them.

What does SEO involve?

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) refers to the practice of optimising content and websites to improve their visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO involves a range of practices, including keyword research, on-page optimisation, technical SEO and link building.

The goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic to a website, which can lead to more leads, conversions, and revenue. By optimising for search engines, your business can be more easily found in search for the products or services you provide, thereby improving your online presence and helping you to reach a wider audience of potential customers.

SEO: Necessity or nice to have?

In a nutshell, SEO is a necessity. Any organisation that has a website needs SEO in order to make the best of that website. Think of your website as a small shop in a rural area, hidden down a country lane that no one ever goes down. Despite stocking a fabulous range of products and having an awesome team of people running your store, if nobody knows it exists, you simply won’t get the footfall you need to generate sales. It’s the same for your website. Without proper signposting and optimisation to help you compete with the organisations who have been doing it for years, your website won’t be found when people are looking for the products or services you offer.

Organic and paid search: what’s the difference?

If you are looking to grow your online presence you might be considering organic or paid search marketing. To know what will work best for your business right now, it’s a good idea to understand the difference. Let’s look below at the two types of search results your business could appear in:

  • Organic search results - these are the listings on a search engine results page (SERP) that appear due to their relevance to the user's search query, as determined by Google's algorithm. These results are not influenced by advertising or payment to the search engine, but rather by the content of the website and its optimisation for search engines.
  • Paid search results - these are the listings on a SERP that appear because the advertiser has paid for them, typically through Google Ads or Microsoft Ads. These listings are typically displayed above or below the organic search results and are marked as "sponsored" or "ad." Advertisers pay the search engine to display their ads to users who have searched for specific keywords or phrases.

The latest statistics suggest that 80% of website visits are trackable and of that 80%, 53% of visits come from organic search and 27% from paid search. This means that the majority of website traffic is from organic search, confirming the fact that SEO is a necessity. It also shows us that it is possible to influence paid search results by paying for the keywords that are most relevant to your business.

The core difference between organic and paid search is the time that it takes for your website to become more visible. Organic search is a long term commitment to improving the visibility and reach of your website. It is something that should be done on a continual basis and which should grow and change as your business, audience and goals change. Paid search, on the other hand, can help to increase your visibility from day one. This can be a very useful tactic when launching a new business or website, expanding to new target markets, fighting back against new competitors or giving your brand the edge at important times of year.

Google Ads: the best route to paid search visibility

Google has a 93% search engine market share in the UK, which means if you are looking to advertise your products or services, Google Ads currently provides the best route to increased visibility.

Google has a suite of advertising networks that can enable your business to be more easily found in paid search for the products you sell or the keywords that best describe your products and services. It can also help increase the reach of your brand through visual and video ads.

Some of the Google advertising services you might like to consider include:

Search Ads: These are text ads that appear on search engine results pages when a user searches for a specific keyword or phrase related to the business.

Shopping Ads: These are product ads that appear on search engine results pages when a user searches for a specific product or category of products.

Performance Max Ads: These are a new type of automated campaign that allows advertisers to access all ad inventory from a single campaign. This includes all of Google's advertising channels, such as Search, Display, YouTube, Gmail, and Discovery campaigns.

Video Ads: These are ads that appear on YouTube and other video platforms.

Display Ads: These are image led ads that appear on websites and apps that are part of Google's Display Network.

App Ads: These are ads that promote mobile apps and appear on other apps or websites.

Google Ads, when done correctly, can be a powerful tool to help you reach your target audience and drive sales and conversions. If you’re not sure whether paid ads will be worthwhile for your business, consider the following benefits:

  1. Targeted Advertising: Google Ads allows your business to target ads to specific locations, languages, and devices, as well as to people who have already shown an interest in your products or services.
  2. Measurable Results: Google Ads provides detailed analytics and tracking, allowing you to measure the success of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions.
  3.  Cost Control: Google Ads allows you to set a daily budget and only pay for clicks or impressions, ensuring that you don't overspend on advertising.
  4.  Flexibility: Google Ads allows you to create and adjust campaigns at any time, giving you the flexibility to respond to changing market conditions and customer needs.

How a digital marketing agency can help your business harness the power of SEO and Search Engine Advertising

Whilst it is possible for your business to run its own organic and paid marketing campaigns, there are definitely advantages to calling in the experts to work alongside your in-house teams. As a full digital marketing agency, with experts in areas including Shopify website development and management, SEO, paid advertising, email marketing and social media, we are well placed to connect the dots and deliver integrated marketing campaigns that work towards your business goals.

Some of the key advantages we can promise you when working with us on SEO and Search Engine Advertising campaigns are:

  • Strategies that help you reach your goals - we listen to your requirements to get a better understanding of your business so we can devise a strategy that helps you work towards your overall aims. We can also ensure that the right tracking is in place to help you understand what channels are delivering the most visits, sales and revenue.
  • An open and honest approach - we are fully open about what we are doing for clients. We provide you with regular plans and strategies to show what we will be working on and aim to be open and honest with you at all times. We might love marketing but we hate industry jargon, so we’ll always try to explain everything in simple terms and provide stats in a way that they are easy to understand. 
  • Monthly management that makes sense - each month you’ll receive a report from us that shows you data on how your website and campaigns are performing. We’ll explain the stats so they can help you make future marketing decisions and outline any work we have done, or plan to do, that month.
  • Keeping you up to date - not only will we provide regular reporting and communication to keep you up to date on everything that is happening with your marketing activity, but we’ll also ensure our services remain relevant and fresh. When the big movers in the industry, such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook make changes to their services, we make it our business to know these changes so we can understand how they might impact your business. For example, as Google is currently rolling out Google Analytics 4 (GA4) we are on hand to advise on when to implement the new tracking and what it means for the data you’ll be able to see.

A brief outline of the services we offer:

SEO and Content Marketing - to include keyword research, content strategies, content creation (onsite and offsite), backlink building, onsite reviews and local listings. All of our content is created based on the keywords we have researched for you, with the goals of helping your website to be found around these keywords and improving users’ onsite experience. All content is all sent to you for approval prior to publication.

Search Engine Advertising Set Up - to include Google Ads and Microsoft Ads set up. If you already have campaigns set up, we can review these initially and provide a report with recommendations on how you can improve these campaigns and, where necessary, add in new ones to help you improve visibility, reach, website visits and sales.

Search Engine Advertising Management - for all of our campaigns we offer a monthly management service. This includes monitoring the campaigns and making tweaks as necessary to maintain and improve performance. This might include: refining keywords to ensure you only pay for clicks that are relevant, tweaking bidding strategies to get the best from your budget, updating ads to keep them fresh, adding in new campaigns as necessary, ensuring product data feeds correctly from your website and advising on ad, feed, campaign and product disapprovals as necessary. We can also implement special offers and reviews into paid advertising campaigns to help encourage people to click through on your ads.

Social Media Marketing - to include the creation of posts for your social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin, reporting on how these channels are contributing to your website’s traffic and sales and the creation of ads on social media channels to help you reach targeted audiences.

Email Marketing - to include helping you to integrate your Shopify website with Klaviyo - a powerful email marketing tool that integrates seamlessly with your website to give you full transparency on how email campaigns are contributing to traffic and sales. We can help you to set up flows to ensure that new sign ups get welcome emails and offers and that those who abandon their cart are given reminders to complete their purchase and discounts on doing so where applicable. We can also create regular, seasonal or special promotion newsletters to your entire database or segments thereof, to remind past and existing customers of what you can do for them or to introduce new products, services or special offers.

Want to know more?

It’s never too early or too late to start search engine marketing and advertising. Whether you’ve had a website for years and never really invested in promoting it or you are just looking for a change in direction or fresh approach to your current marketing strategy, we’ve got the experience and resources to support you. Get in touch to find out more about our full suite of digital marketing services or to request a review or quotation.

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