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As of this writing, 97% of consumers search for products and services online. SEM is a catch-all acronym that stands for Search Engine Marketing. To better understand the wide net cast by this phrase it may be wise to start with a better understanding of search engines, followed by a brief primer on marketing. We will bring it all together to talk about the advantages of SEM to traditional marketing, and offer you our opinion about which methods work the best in today’s marketplace.


Search Engines: The Mercenary Librarians of the Internet

Prior to the introduction of modern search engines, the majority of internet traffic came directly from people typing a web address into a browser. This kind of visit is aptly named direct traffic. People found out about websites from more traditional sources, such as newspapers, business cards, marketing mailers, and television commercials.

If we go back a step further, telephone directories like the White Pages were the primary means by which businesses connected with their client base. Business phone directories were sorted by category, in alphabetical order. At that time, the best way to get calls was to append “AAAA” to your business name. This is very similar to what happened in the early days of SEO.

Looking to learn more about a topic, the most common method of research was to visit a local library and speak with a librarian. With nimble fingers your public servant would ruffle through a stack of index cards and obscure catalogs and find books and articles on the subject you were seeking.

Search engines are at their core, a mathematical attempt to be that librarian on the Internet. Speaking very generally, search engines are composed of five parts.

The Five Major Components of a Modern Search Engine:

1. Web Crawlers (aka Robots and Spiders)

Every major search engine has a network of computers that are working 24/7 to find content on the internet and add it to a master index or catalog. They are commonly referred to as spiders, crawlers, and “bots”. Each major search engine has a proprietary name for their bot, like GoogleBot or BingBot. This automated piece of software loads your website and “reads” it. Hundreds of millions of dollars are invested by companies like Google and Bing to collect every minute detail of a given website.

2. Index (The Catalog of Everything)

The data collected by bots creates an enormous database called an index. This lists everything from your URL, how long it takes your page to load, what address is mentioned in your dialog, what color the text is, and what images you have on your site. The list of items checked by spiders is constantly growing, and is ultimately a proprietary secret of the search engine.

3. Ranking Algorithm (The “Secret Sauce”)

When you visit a search engine and type in a query, the index is searched and results are provided by the algorithm, an incredibly sophisticated formula that aims to do two things. The first is to give you the best match to your query. The ranking factors that determine the “best match” number in the thousands, and are constantly changing to provide the best user experience. The second aim of the algorithm is generate revenue for the search engine, and over 90% of Google’s revenue is generated by ads they display in their search results.

4. Search Results & Ads

A search engine results page (or SERP in SEM-speak) provides the “answer” to the question posed by your query. It is designed to offer you a mix of exactly what you are looking for (based on the algorithm) and what Google wants from you, which is advertising revenue. Every major SERP contains geographic links (Maps), web links (Organic Results) and paid links (Pay Per Click). The SERPs of every major search engine are constantly evolving, to provide the best user experience while simultaneously encouraging users to click on the paid links created by businesses to capture traffic.

5. Analytics & Tracking

Analytics and tracking occur at every level of web interaction. Unlike the White Pages or the library, the catalog you see when you search is constantly updated and informed by he actions of yourself and other users. In addition to tracking the actions taken by users on their pages, Google offers a free service to gather information about users to your website. This informs their index, and allows their algorithm to better serve their clients. Your search behavior changes the results you see.

A Very Brief Marketing Primer

The adage goes “spend money to make money”. Whether it’s a suspicious young man waving a sign on a street-corner or a late night commercial for the latest time-saving kitchen widget, businesses are spending money in search of profits. The money one makes on the money they put out is referred to as Return on Investment (ROI). The higher the ROI, the better the investment. In traditional marketing, it is difficult to track the Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). Without a surveillance van, it is difficult to determine whether the sign waver we hired yesterday enticed the young couple who just bought a new mattress to visit our showroom.

In a profit driven model, being able to accurately track ROI and find ways of increasing ROAS are the keystones of sound strategy.

SEM Is A Game Changer for Small and Medium Business

Search Engine Marketing offers you the chance to compete and succeed in the largest marketplace for goods and services in recorded history. At a cost significantly lower than traditional advertising, your business can achieve higher ROI and measurable ROAS without a full-time staff.

You can reach potential clients via their mobile devices, at work, in their inbox, at home, and during leisure. While it may be unprofessional to watch TV while working, millions of Americans are browsing the internet over 40% of their waking lives.

VerumÂcan leverage every available means currently available to reach potential clients, with the technical expertise to present your brand, products, and services, in the best way possible. We offer an effective, durable combination of technical sophistication and aesthetic styling that routinely exceeds the expectation of our clients. Talk to us and see what we can do to help you grow your bottom line.