Search engine marketing simplified

WhitsonIssue2-2012Learn how to use this unique tool to better your business and reach your practice goals.

By Lauren Whitson

Search engines have become the go-to means for people looking to find information about products and services.

They have proven their worth by providing businesses and organizations with an additional avenue for marketing, the least of which is helping to get your name in front of your target market. Through the use of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), you can improve your online visibility.

The primary benefit of SEO is that it forces you to take a careful look at your practice’s website to determine if its content is pushing your site to a prominent position in online search results. In other words, when someone is searching for a chiropractor in your area, search engines scour the Web for resources that include the words used within the search phrase and place them more prominently in the results.

This is a cost-free solution that can be accomplished by using the right keywords and industry vocabulary in your site’s content, regularly updating information, incorporating credible links to other relevant Web-based sources, and including captions with your photos.

Just as SEO can be extremely effective, SEM has become a valuable strategy for those who have a budget available for marketing. It is a tactic that focuses on placing information via ads on search result pages rather than placing the website in the results.

Working with a Web-hosting company that offers such a service helps improve your marketing strategy with the help of experts who are knowledge- able about the process and can provide valuable advice. It can also eliminate confusion that may occur if you are an inexperienced business owner.

What is SEM?

SEM gives you the ability to guarantee the placement of your practice’s website in ideal locations on pages with search engine results.

These Google Ads are placed in two different locations as a “sponsored link”: either along the top of the listings or along the right-hand side of the results. It is a great tactic to ensure that your practice’s website is visible to anyone searching for your particular service.

What does a Google Ad consist of?

The advertisements in each location consist of three different parts:

  • a title linking to the website
  • up to two lines for a description
  • the business’s URL

The topic of the advertisement can be anything relevant to your organization, from an overview of your practice to a specific service you currently offer.

CHEC_2-12_38How does it work?

Perhaps the simplest and most effective method of creating a Google Ad is to work with a Web host who is knowledgeable on the subject and can act as a liaison in providing you with the best experience and results possible. You usually will speak with an expert and provide them with your budget as well as the keywords you wish to use in describing the specific aspect of your business. Typically, the team then works to develop relevant advertisements to fit your needs.

The budget you relegate to the campaign goes toward the number of times someone clicks on the ad (also called “pay-per-click”) when they search using one of your keywords. The advertisement can be live in as little as five days so the benefits from your investment can usually be seen quickly.

What is a Google quality score?

Google’s mission is to ensure that the most relevant ads appear in a page of search results and not just those from advertisers who invest the most money.

Due to this, Google assigns a “quality score” to each keyword a business uses. This score is based on certain criteria, which include keyword relevancy and how long the website has been live.

When the quality score improves, so does the opportunity to place your ad in valuable positions online. If you have a great quality score, Google considers your ad to be beneficial and relevant to the searcher, which in turn lowers your cost per click. This not only saves you money but also allows you to take advantage of more opportunities through SEM.

How to optimize your website for SEM

When developing your SEM strategy, keep in mind some aspects of your website that can help place your advertisement in an optimal position online.

First, ensure that your website’s home page is coordinated with the keywords used in your advertisement. If Google cannot make the connection between the ad and your site’s home page, the relevance will be missed and your Google quality score will be lowered. Additionally, ensure that your website loads properly and all Web pages are fully functional.

It is good to remember that website readers like to scan text for details, not read it word for word. To best share important information to visitors, limit the amount of text by using concise phrases and pointed vocabulary.

Place the most important information toward the top of the page to quickly capture people’s attention. Visitors do not always scroll down the entire page so placing important messages too low may lead to missed information.

How do I know it’s working?

Many Web hosts that offer SEM services will also provide you with an analytics tool.

This will illustrate information about online activity related to your practice’s website such as how many people clicked on your site, which days had the highest traffic, and which advertisements produced the most clicks.

Additionally, you will be able to see how much of your budget has been used and manage how you wish to continue spending it.

SEM is a great technique for local businesses to place their services in front of their ideal target market. By choosing the relevant keywords and working with SEM experts, you will be sure to reap the benefits of this great investment.

LaurenWhitsonLauren Whitson is a public relations associate with 1&1 Internet Inc. In addition to managing their media relations efforts, she also manages PR campaigns for 1&1 Mail and Media Inc., 1&1’s sister company. Whitson has also worked at a boutique public relations firm in New York City as a PR coordinator. She can be contacted at