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Search Engine Marketing: Paid or Unpaid?

Search engine marketing (SEM) services are the single most important components for generating quality leads. It's that simple. And although researching search engine marketing quickly becomes detailed and complex, here's the big picture: search engine marketing falls under two basic categories, unpaid (SEO) and paid. The aim: generative traffic (leads) to result in sales.

Organic SEO Methods

Unpaid methods of search engine marketing are perhaps the most familiar. In general, simply think of it as SEO – search engine optimization. As more small and large business begin to make and manage their own web presences, numerous resources are being developed to help people learn about how to improve or "optimize" their sites for the search engines like Google or Bing. In concept it's simple: rank certain words or phrases for the front page of search results. In practice it's incredibly challenging: learn and implement the never-ending technical "magic" that helps sites rank well in Google. And don't forget that the target moves, unexpectedly: Google changes their algorithms every so often which make changes both big and small for the laundry list of SEO best practices. 

Paid Methods

Paid methods of search engine marketing compose the other large category. While in principle they closely resemble the original print advertising methods of the early days (yellow pages, newspaper ads, billboards, tv commercials, etc.), in practice, paid search engine marketing methods are a bit more complex. Perhaps the most common form is the PPC (pay per click) campaign, utilizing services such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads. The basic idea is to create an ad and submit it to a service which display the ads on websites, graciously requiring the product group to only pay "per click," or, when the ad is clicked on. The price per click can vary from a few cents to a few dollars, occasionally in the double digits (e.g. insurance groups, law firms, doctor offices, etc.).

No one approach to search engine marketing should suffice. The best practice is to implement various methods, eventually directing the most time and money to those that are generating the most successful leads. Though the two biggest, most common, and arguably most important starting places are SEO and PPC campaigns, do know that these are simply the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. There are other important components to search engine marketing, all of which are included in our services and many of which are discussed in other blog posts.

Matt Walde
Post by Matt Walde
November 15, 2012

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