SEM (Search Engine Marketing)

When you use a search engine to display the results of your question (for example – when you type a question into Google – and what is listed on the screen after you press enter), there will be some results that aren’t ‘naturally’ there – but are branded as ‘Advertisement’.


Paid Placement in Google

Go to Google, and search for a product or service, such as “doctor in my area” – or something similar.

On your screen – you’ll see the advertisements (3 of them) across the top, as they must pay for that position in the search results.  Before you ask, the price varies wildly.  Some searches are relatively inexpensive – due to the low average search volume and low level of competition.  Some search terms are HIGHLY competitive (such as real estate agents, lawyers, and doctors), and have a very high search volume – so the price skyrockets accordingly.  If you could be the #1 lawyer in search engines, you have a much higher chance of being clicked on.  As the metrics show, nearly 60% of clicks from search engine results go to one of the first 3 “organic” websites listed.

Wait… What does Organic mean?


Search results are broken out into several separate categories, but I’ll only explain the top three in this book.  The categories are established to explain what type of ‘link’ a search engine result is displaying.



An organic link is the most natural way to draw in website visitors, and takes the longest to establish.  When your website shows up towards the top of search engine results – it is the result of a lot of hard work, length of time the website has been online, and many, MANY other factors.  Since the website took a lot of work to show up ‘organically’ – it also takes a long time for the link to disappear once the work is stopped.  If you stop working on search engine optimization (see previous chapter) – the link will remain in place for quite a while, instead of dropping off the face of the planet overnight. These links are very ‘honorable’ links, and when shown in search results – they let the person viewing the search results know that the link they are about to click on is legitimate, and isn’t trying to ‘fool’ someone into visiting their website.  All organic results are subject to the rules and ‘regulations’ of the search engine itself – so in Google’s case, if you’ve ranked highly on their website – you’ve gained a token of respect from them – and they’ve brought your website higher in their ranks.



These links are based on a reference from another source.  Either a paid advertisement link, a link from a social network, or an advertisement on a third-party website.  This link is based on the amount of worth you can find in the “linking source” material.  Imagine you want to pay for a link on your local newspaper website for your services.  Chances are, you’re going to get some response for your advertisement – and you’ll get some clicks onto your website due to the advertisement being clicked on.  The cost that you will pay can be based on how many people view your advertisement (brand awareness strategy), or how many click to visit your website (PPC – Pay-per-click).  Again, these values depend on the amount of traffic to either the third-party website, the number of followers you have on social networks, or the amount of traffic from the search engine for any search ‘phrase’.   Referral links don’t usually last very long – and usually fade into the background after a short period.  Any traffic generated from the source will also fade away.  For any paid advertisement, the amount of traffic you acquire from the advertisement will (obviously) disappear once you retire the advertisement, or it has run its course.  Paid advertisements in search engines usually take up the first three results – but many people have become aware that the first results are advertisements, and skip right past them to the ‘actual’ (organic) search results.



When you share a link to another person, or they type in your domain name into a browser, this is considered a direct visitor.  The link they click, or the address they type in, are a direct method of visiting your website – since browsers can’t “see” the source of the traffic initially.  After the visitor ‘lands’ on your website, the visitor can then be tracked as they view your content – moving from page to page.  Direct links don’t have any ‘shelf-life’ – and do not relate to search engines.


Google Adwords

A separate form of advertising that can reach outside the bounds of the search engine – and can be presented on other websites, is Google AdWords.  In order to create an account, you will go to and create your free account.  You’ll be able to research keyword search volume, review how much a ‘click’ will cost your company, and many other metrics that will be invaluable to your company.  But, as the interface can be a little confusing – you could end up spending quite a lot on advertising using this method.  Since you pay two-fold, on a pay-per-click campaign – or through an ‘impression’ campaign – you could end up burning through a majority of your advertising campaign without any sort of target audience in place.


Pay-per-Click (PPC) Ads

If you only want to direct people to your website, you can focus on exactly what you’d like to pay for a person to click on your advertisement – and then set a budget for your advertising campaign.  Note: If you click your own ad, you are spending your own money!  If you can’t see where you can test your ad before launching your campaign, and make sure that it works – don’t click too many times, as you could essentially eat up your entire budget.  When a potential visitor sees your advertisement in Google, and they click on the advertisement –  you are paying the current rate for that single click.  Rates are available in Google AdWords’ dashboard when you build your ad campaign, so there shouldn’t be any surprises in cost per click.

If your business is in a low competition, low volume industry – each click might hover around $0.10 cost to your budget.  In a highly competitive, high search-volume industry – you might run across clicks that cost above $50 each time someone clicks on your advertisement!

When you establish a budget for your campaign, it might be a good idea to start researching your ‘conversion rate’ of your website, along with your average profit per customer, so that you can establish what your return on investment (ROI) will be during the campaign.  I mean, it doesn’t make much sense to invest $1000 in Google AdWords per month if the outcome would be to sell ten more goldfish.  On the other hand, if you are in real estate – $1000 per month could equal another house sold at a $5000 net profit, which you could then invest in more Google AdWords campaigns!


Impression-Based Ads

If your business is just starting, and you’re not sure you need to get a bunch of random people to your website – you might consider advertisement that is called “Impression-Based” advertising.  The sole purpose of this type of ad, is that you want the advertisement to hit as many eyeballs during a course of a week or two.  Traditionally, an example would be a 30-second TV spot – which would serve over the course of a seven-day spread – equally to as many people as possible.  The cost of this sort of advertisement is based on ‘inventory’, so with Google as an example – you could target the same high volume keywords – but would have to ‘outbid’ the next person.  Another example of this type of advertising will be covered in the “Third-Party” section below.


Facebook Ads

The whole experience with advertising on Facebook has changed throughout the years, but recently – the interface that you use has been improved to provide help hints, tips, tricks and even allows you to boost posts to gain more viewers.  Each step of the way you’ll see helpful hints that will get you to spend more money at Facebook, but they provide the numbers that you need to see to make an educated decision.  If you don’t have the budget to advertise on Facebook – I’m not so sure you’d have enough budget for any of the other options above!  It’s inexpensive, and you can start very small with your campaign.  The options to advertise to a targeted market is also extremely helpful!


Other Sources (Third-Party)

If you choose to advertise on a newspaper website, blog, video posting website (i.e. YouTube), there are a variety of options to choose from –  but most of the above options will work until you start to get into video advertising, as you’ll have to create the content (video) that will run on their service.

Newspaper ads usually have you build an advertisement (or they will have their creative department develop some ‘creative’ for you), but I would say that the most successful advertisements come from your own company.  If someone you know can help you, or at least be a ‘sounding board’ for your advertisement ideas, you’ll be ahead of the curve.


How do I make an Ad?

Come up with a goal in advance, and create the ‘pitch’ (what are you trying to say?) for the advertisement.  Start with a 300 pixel wide by 250 pixel tall space on your computer – which is nearly the same ratio as a piece of printer paper – and create your ad.


Helpful Hints

Don’t make the text too small – as at a smaller size on a screen, it might become illegible.

Use bright colors if they match your branding – just don’t be obnoxious.

If your overall goal is to be obnoxious, use several contrasting bright colors that will attempt to give your potential visitors a migraine.

Some advertising sources (newspapers, blogs) might allow you to use some basic animation, such as two or three ‘slides’ – served as a single, looping, animated ad.  This can help to collect eyeballs, and draw people into clicking on your advertisement.

Use animation sparingly, and don’t get too complex – as you want to leave the potential visitor asking for more information.  If your entire sales pitch is in the ad itself, you don’t need to have them click the link for more information – and you’ve lost out on the reason for the advertisement in the first place.

A good rule of thumb for a great ad, is to have it ask a question that you know they must click to get the answer.

Tools to Help you with SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Most small businesses have limited resources, budget and expertise to incorporate SEO into their strategy, so this is where the help of a few free tools comes into play. By using them, you’ll better understand your competition, your SEO strengths and weaknesses, and your market opportunities.

Google Speed Test (

Quickly understand where your website’s speed stands against similar sites and receive a list of optimizations to help make improvements.  Some of these can be highly technical – but at least you’ll have a to-do list to hand to a developer/designer, who can apply the changes.  One thing to keep in mind, the slower your website – the less Google (and other search engines) will promote it, and there’s a better chance it will slide down the search engine results page – due to the slow, poor experience you are delivering your website visitors.


Google Webmaster Tools (

Extract useful information about your website, traffic and technical errors that may impact your SEO potential.  Again, some of these tasks can be very simple to address – such as creating links from other websites, and making sure you have specific pages on your website – but if you run across something that you don’t understand – reach out and talk to a professional.  Most times, they will be able to teach you important steps about the situation, but please realize that they still need to make money to survive – so try to offer something if your needs become extensive.


SEMRush (

Review competitor analysis data around both organic and paid marketing.  This tool works well to see how you are competing online – against your direct/online competitors, but also brings some other features to your attention, including social networking, overall (global) site rank – and many other metrics that can help you gain ground online.


KeywordIO (

Uncover what your audience is typing into search engines and find the best keywords for your content.  Having trouble understand what is being ‘searched’ online more often than other keywords?  Use this tool to help uncover diamonds in the rough.


Google Trends (

If you are just starting out – or are branching out to find new keyword opportunities, this tool is a great way to measure average monthly search volume of individual keywords, but also allows for multiple keywords to be entered – showing a relative chart, most searched vs. least searched.  As with any part of marketing, you want to make sure you are ‘making what you can sell’ and not just ‘selling what you make’.  If you target the high-volume keywords, you’re helping your chances of being discovered by your potential customers.

ScreamingFrog (

Export your site’s “raw” files and easily review your meta tags (title, description and keywords) along with your content structure.  This tool works incredibly well for taking ‘snapshots’ of your website at any given time – showing all the vital pieces of information that is used to rank your website in Google (or other search engines).  If the information doesn’t show on this report – chances are, it isn’t being seen by the search engines (or at least it’s not a factor in ranking your website).


With a few good tools, you can keep your website in tip-top shape to play nicely with search engines and make sure that customers can find you.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Local search is a powerful way for small business owners to reach new customers and generate leads. When a customer uses the internet to research products or services, they’re not just looking for any business—they’re looking for a business in their neighborhood or city. And you want to make sure your business is at the top of those local search results.


Although we don’t recommend any attempt at advanced techniques in this book, due to the amount of regular changes that happen in the world of SEO – we will give you enough information to understand exactly what it is that your provider is offering.  To properly juggle the tasks necessary to accomplish your SEO goals – you should think of all the moving parts involved.


What is SEO?

SEO doesn’t have to be confusing.  Just think of the separate parts, and you’ll have a good idea of how we manipulate the search engine results – but altering parts of your website.


Separate parts of the Search Process

  • Browser (the software you use to access the internet – not to be confused with a search engine, which is a website you visit to get search results. By default, many browsers are set to either Google, Bing, or MSN when you first open them – which is the cause of the confusion.  The following are browsers:
    • Google Chrome
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • Microsoft Internet Explorer
    • Safari
  • Search Engine
    • Google
    • Bing
    • Yahoo
    • DuckDuckGo
  • Search Engine Results
  • Search Engine Results Page


I’ll describe each piece individually, along with how they all fit together in general.



Your browser is the software installed on your computer that allows you to access the internet. When you open the software, many times the first thing you see is the search engine – which can be confusing to some users.  Although we won’t go into much detail in this book – there are many great resources online that you can review to learn more about the differences.


Search Engine

The search engine’s purpose – is to go out on the internet, and provide ‘results’ for what you would like to find.  If you type in a request, the search engine will check it’s ‘index’ – and post the results for you on your computer.  Although these results aren’t 100% live, they reflect a lot of work that is completed by the search engine to properly ‘index’ billions of search results – and rank them in proper order depending on the search request.


Search Engine Results

The results page is the output of a variety of equations and algorithms built with the express purpose of delivering the best (right) content every time, and to penalize people who try to cheat the system.

For search engines to be relevant – they need to continually produce quality results, or a competitor will start to take advantage – and grab more traffic for their search services.  At the advent of the internet – there were many search engines, but with it’s simple interface – Google jumped to the top of the list, and became the search engine of choice for nearly a decade now.


On-Page Metrics

Each page of your website could have up to 20 different variables, and if you have 20 pages on your website – you have a total of 400 pieces of “on-page” information that must be individually altered and then measured, then re-altered, and measure again.  The measurements happen once per month – but there are times when the results from search engines don’t publicly release until 3+ months have passed.  Any changes that you’ve done to your website must be meticulously documented – so that you can return to the information after several months have passed.


Off-Page Metrics

When you look at your website, any visible (or invisible, coded) elements are considered on-page.  Every other metric, whether you’re measuring the number/volume of links from other websites, links from social networks, reviews in Google/Yelp/Yahoo/etc., or considering the relation between government or organization websites – you’re looking at “Off-Page Metrics”.  These measurements are a lot more difficult to control, as you could be linked to a ‘bad’ website – that has a miserable reputation, and could be in a different country.  Removing that link would require a lot of time and effort by someone who doesn’t have experience in the procedures necessary to successfully complete the removal.  You could have an article written about your company that doesn’t have a link to your website, and there’s a chance that you may be able to contact the author to request a link to a specific page on your website.  You could ensure that each post you send out on social networks has a link to information on your own website, which can help as well.



A link from your website to another might be ‘shoving your customer out the door’ – but if you create the link correctly, you are helping your customer – along with boosting your ranking in search engines.  Remember that search engines just want their users to get to the right information as quickly as possible.

If a website is ranking well, and you send a visitor from your website to the higher-ranking website – search engines see this connection, and the ‘trust-factor’ is boosted on your website.  If a high-ranking website links to you – the link also adds trust.  An easy way to think of this connection, is to imagine your website being covered by gold dust.  When one of your visitors enters your website – they gather a bit of that gold dust on their shoes.  If you send them to another website, they track that gold dust over to the other website – increasing the value of that transaction.  If you want to gain more gold dust at your website – all you need to do, is increase the volume of links at high ranking websites!  That increases the potential of your website visitors bringing as much of that gold dust back to your website as possible.  But, don’t forget what search engines are looking for…  they want users to find the right information!  So, when you create a link on a social network, business listing, or other high ranking website, make sure to link to a page with information that will help your brand-new, gold dust tracking customer!


How does SEO effect your business?

Well, if the internet is a library – the search engine is the librarian, and your customers are the people asking the librarian to find some information for them.  Your website is simply a single book in this massive library.  I mean, every website in the world is a separate book – so you can imagine it takes a while for the librarians to read YOUR book, along with every change to every ‘book’ on the planet.



With social networking, people posting pictures of their meals, and altogether too many selfies online, the library is growing out of control.


The librarians are extremely busy, sorting this information – and cataloging an endless flow of data for search engines to work properly.

When you simplify the overall situation to these small pieces, I can easily explain how each part can be used to help market your company online.  “How do you get to the top of Google?” you might ask, and I can easily say:

“The librarian has to effectively read your book, take notes, and verify pieces of information to be ready the next time someone asks for related information.”

If the librarian was an actual person, your website would never hit the top of the list.  At the rate of data expansion in 2017, and forecasted into the future
– it would never even reach a search engine at all.  There is no possible way for humans to sort this information on time.  Fighting against this stream, you should ensure your website has the proper elements to be quickly read and understood by the search engines.

These parts are defined/described as:

  • Title Tag (Book Title)
  • Heading (Headline/Chapter Name)
  • Content (What is the book ‘about?’)
  • Images (Are there pictures?)
  • Meta Description (Short description in dust cover)
  • Geographic Location (Where?)
  • Update Frequency (when was the book published last?)


These are a few of the factors that are used by search engines to sort and rank your website, but this list goes much further – with nearly 200 factors involved in the detailed listing for your website on the search engine results page.