What is search engine marketing (SEM)? Anvil is often asked to explain SEM strategies, tactics, and benefits. The answers we’ve provided to the following frequently asked search engine marketing questions represent the culmination of our years of experience.
- What is search engine marketing?
- Why should I care about search engine marketing?
- How do I determine if search engine marketing is right for my company?
- How do I get started with search engine marketing activities?
- How do I measure the success of search engine marketing efforts?
- How do I determine if I should manage search engine marketing activities in-house or outsource to an SEM vendor?
- What criteria should I use to evaluate an SEM vendor?
- Why would I choose Anvil Media, Inc. for search engine marketing services?
Search engine marketing is an umbrella term referring to all activities utilized to generate visibility in search engine results in order to increase revenue. Common strategies and tactics include search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, link development, and pay-per-click (PPC) management.
Research indicates that a high percentage of the developed world is online, so the likelihood that your potential customers, partners, employees, and shareholders are also online is very high. Not only is search engine marketing one of the fastest growing and popular new marketing channels available, it’s also the most cost-effective (as compared to other channels—online and offline alike—like email, direct mail, and broadcast). Search engine marketing is an excellent avenue for brand building and is a cost-effective means of generating leads and online sales. If your company doesn’t currently have a search engine marketing strategy, you’re behind the curve. But don’t take our word for it; do a search online for your own company, your competitors, and your industry terms, and see for yourself.
Unless your company is headquartered in a cave and your customers are other cavemen, it’s very likely that your company will benefit from some aspect of search engine marketing, whether search engine optimization (SEO) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. No matter what you primarily hope to generate online—awareness, new recruits, strategic partners, investors, leads, or sales—search engine marketing offers an opportunity to improve your bottom line. A quick assessment by professionals like Anvil will help clarify the need and fit.
The easiest way to get started with search engine marketing efforts is to contact Anvil. If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach or would like more information before moving forward, we recommend downloading our free search engine optimization (SEO) white paper and reading our integrated marketing blog.
Search engine marketing efforts are highly measurable. If your objective is to generate awareness, you can track “impressions” and “clicks” on organic and paid search engine listings. If your objective is to measure brand preference or performance of text ad creative, you can measure “click-through” and “conversion” rates. If your objective is to generate qualified leads, you can track online registrations (for newsletters, events or white papers), downloads (trials or demos), or email inquiries. If your objective is sales, you can track eCommerce sales or offline sales via printable coupons or phone call tracking.
How do I determine if I should manage search engine marketing activities in-house or outsource to an SEM vendor?
Generally speaking, most companies prefer to outsource their search engine marketing efforts to SEM professionals to ensure their programs are properly managed and remain cutting-edge. Larger companies tend to have an in-house resource like a Webmaster or Digital Marketing Manager who is responsible for implementing search engine marketing programs, but oftentimes this person still outsources her day-to-day SEM activities to a trusted vendor in order to free up her time to educate and manage internal resources, develop long-term strategies, and create optimized content. Factors influencing the decision process include objectives, timeline, available marketing budget, and internal resources.
There are a few key criteria utilized to evaluate search engine marketing vendors. The following are just a few of the most important: length of time in business, collective industry experience, number of employees, number of clients, size of clients, client and employee turnover, depth and breadth of service offering, pricing, proprietary services, industry credibility, client testimonials, success stories, philosophy and process. Look at their clients’ visibility versus their own, as “search engine marketing” is a highly competitive term, and those that perform well probably have a little too much time and not enough client work to keep them busy. Be sure to ask for references if they don’t have testimonials and success stories.
From its base in Portland, Oregon, Anvil Media, Inc. has focused exclusively on providing search engine marketing services to clients for over 12 years. Anvil has served over 300 clients ranging from startups to Fortune 250 companies. Anvil generates a measurable return-on-investment (ROI) for clients by developing world-class digital strategies rooted in a unique background that combines integrated marketing, business consulting, and problem-solving.