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SEO? PPC? SERPs? I’'m confused!

18:57 on Wed, 29 Aug 2007 | SEO | 0 Comments

If you don’t know the difference between different forms of search engine marketing, then don’t worry - you are by no means alone. That’s why we thought we’d give you this very brief guide.

SEO in a nutshell
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In short, SEO can be described the act of creating or amending a website in order that it will rank high, or higher, in the search engine result pages, which, just to confuse you further, are also known as SERPs.

Here we are talking about the ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ search results, which appear as the main search results, not those shaded in yellow.

This is how it works. Every search engine has an index of websites and notes and updates various statistics pertaining to this site. When a user then searches using that search engine these statistics are used to govern which of the sites will appear at the top and which appear later down the list.

As part of the SEO process, people like us here at Further concentrate on manipulating the appropriate aspects of a website to ensure that it receives the highest possible ranking.

Important factors can be broken down into two categories - on-page SEO factors and off-page SEO factors.

‘On-page’ SEO factors include:

    * Keywords
    * Page design
    * Navigation system
    * Intra-site linking
    * Clean, compliant code
    * Keyword density
    * Proper HTML tag usage
    * Keyword placement

‘Off-page’ SEO factors are:

    * Inbound link (IBL) quantity
    * Inbound link (IBL) quality
    * Inbound link (IBL) anchor text

Different search engines place a different level of importance, commonly referred to as a ‘weight’, on different factors. The three most regularly considered search engines are the big three - Google, Yahoo, and MSN because these three combined receive the vast majority of all searches conducted on the web.

All three search engines use different algorithms to determine how well any particular site should perform in their results.  These algorithms are kept as a closely guarded secret by the search engines but extensive study means that accurate assumptions can be made. By sticking to these SEO guidelines it is possible to increase the performance of your website with regards to search engine results.

So how is that different from PPC?
PPC stands for Pay-per-click advertising. It allows a business to display their advertising within search engine results or on other websites by bidding on one or more search terms and then to only pay for this when a user clicks the advert and visits their website.

These advertisements would appear in specially selected, and often shaded, areas of the search results page.

Can I dictate where my adverts appear?
Each pay-per-click provider allows a business to advertise on their network on the specific keywords or phrases that they choose. Most providers also offer a range of matching options.

How do I know where my ads will appear?
In most cases an advertiser's position within the search results is determined by how much they are prepared to bid for each clickthrough to their site. Google AdWords and MSN adCenter, in addition, consider the relevance of an advertiser's advert text and website when ranking sites. So it’s not always down to the bid price. That’s why it’s vital you select a credible, proven online marketing company to carry out your PPC campaign for you.

Is PPC costly?
Not necessarily. The cost will vary depending on how much an advertiser is prepared to pay for each click and the number of clicks they receive. In some markets with high value orders, (such as legal, property or financial services) advertisers will be prepared to invest more than in lower cost markets. but one thing is for sure. the cost per qualified lead is still significantly lower than through most traditional marketing methods.

How will I know if PPC is working for me?
Specialists like Further will use 'conversion' tracking code which registers when an online enquiry form or an online sale has been made as a result of the advertising. This allows the cost per enquiry or sale to be established, and for the most effective keywords to be identified.

This PPC lark sounds easy. Can’t go wrong, can I?
Oh yes you can.

Making the the most of pay-per-click advertising is a complicated and time consuming process - here are some common mistakes new advertisers make:

• Targeting very general keywords - this will lead to paying for a proportion of clicks from visitors who may be unlikely to make a purchase or enquiry, so you are wasting money.

• Not targeting a wide enough range of keywords - many advertisers target a small range of the most obvious keywords and as a result there is often much less competition for more specific or less obvious terms, resulting in lower costs. These type of keywords are often searched for by users who have refined their search and may be more likely to make a purchase of enquiry
• Bidding more than is cost effective - in some markets there is a great deal of competition to be ranked highly for the most obvious keywords, which can result in a bidding war and advertisers moving past what is cost effective for them.
• Not considering the target website - often a large amount of money is invested in the advertising with little thought given to the process and decisions a user will got through once they reach the site. Making the visitor's journey simple, establishing credibility and providing key information on products or services can all help to convert the visit being paid for into a lead or sale.

This is a vitally important factor and the reason why Further employ
marketing specialists to aid with the click to conversion process.

For more information call Mark Cook or Louisa Mann on 01603 878240

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