When it comes to raising awareness of your website, no matter what kind of website it is or what it has to offer, the most important step is absolutely the search engine. The layers of search engine marketing can get pretty comlplex, but we’re going to stick to the basics in this short guide.
Ever since the World Wide Web had more than a handful of addresses, the search engine has been the primary interface between internet users and websites. Internet browsers are just as important, of course, but you can’t visit a site if you don’t know what to type into the address bar.
SEO And The Black Hat Effect
In the beginning, the layers of search engine marketing was pretty simple to understand. A search engine would send out simple web crawlers, called spiders, to search through pages for things like keywords and important phrases, copies of the search terms which the engine users tend to type in. If the page used the search terms frequently, it would show up high on the results page.
However, it wasn’t long before people realized this fact and some took advantage by repeating keywords in the page code so that it would show up for the crawlers but not for the human visitors. This was the beginning of “black hat” search engine optimization, and search engine crawlers have been growing steadily more complex. After all, not only do they have to analyze an exponentially growing pile of information in the internet itself, they also have to adapt to new black hat tricks so that only good links that people want to find remain.
As such, an important point about search engine optimization is to stick with white hat tactics only, tactics that optimize your website for web crawlers but which also provide visitors with the content they’re looking for. These tactics include using keywords (up to a point), updating your website consistently with new content, and convincing other people and websites to create links to your site. By combining all these factors, you could potentially get one or more of your web pages onto the first results page of a decent website.
Results Page Ads
There are ways of getting your site onto the first page of results, ways that bypass both SEO and black-hat manipulations. It’s called results page advertisements, and Google in particular is proudly embracing this technology. As such, when you search on Google for common products, corporation names, and famous individuals, you’ll very likely discover a slightly shaded advertisement asking you to check out one site in particular. These ads are alternately called paid inclusions, paid search ads, results page ads, or search engine marketing, although that last term can also include SEO.
For some searches, these ads are simply a formality. Ford Motors is the top result of a search for “Ford,” so there’s no particular need for an ad on top of that, except for the fact that it makes sure none of the company’s competitors can take the slot instead.
For other searches, however, a results page ad could mean the difference between people discovering your site or ignoring it completely. If your website has plenty to offer your visitors, then your most important concern is getting them to show up long enough to realize that fact.
Still, results page ads also have a few issues when you compare them to SEO. First of all, placing an ad costs money, whereas SEO doesn’t have to cost anything so long as you’re willing to fulfill all the steps yourself. Second of all, since ads are clearly separate from the actual search results, this means that far fewer people will click on them as compared to site whose SEO gives it a place on the front page.
As such, there’s a tradeoff for each option: SEO takes more time and effort but gets better results, while search engine ads can get you instant but less potent results. As you can see, the layers of search engine marketing can go on for a while if you keep digging into it.
The Importance Of Analytics
Whether you decide to focus on SEO, search engine marketing, or a combination of both, you’ll want to make full use of the analytic tools which Google and other search engines can place at your disposal. These tools can let you discover correlations, or connections between the demographics of the person doing the searching or between two or more search terms that users often type in one after another.
Gathering this information gives you the opportunity to create a list you can use for SEO or for choosing which search terms to buy ad space on. Either way, by embracing these terms when you write new content for your website, you’ll be able to continue discussing the topics that interest you while raising your search engine profile at the same time.
You can also look at the layers of search engine marketing to discover key demographics you might not realize were interested in what your website has to offer. But if you can learn how to appeal to a new audience by changing the way you write, changing your site’s layout, or expanding the scope of your site to include a few related topics, you can significantly expand your core audience. You might even see it as an opportunity to launch a sister site with a new affiliate program.
However you look at it, the layers of search engine marketing (as the umbrella term) is a complex but absolutely essential part of building a successful website. Search engine analytics can tell you who your audience is and what else they like, paid ads can be an effective way to get things started, and following white-hat SEO can be a powerful investment in the future of your website.