What is Search Marketing? Your Easy Guide

Dec 23, 2019

Whether we want to buy, go, or need to know, the answers are only a quick search away online. We’ve learned to rely on search engines to answer our questions. However, not every link on a search results page is equal. Let’s break it down.

Of all website traffic:

  • 51% starts from organic search
  • 10% starts from a paid listing
  • 5% starts from social media
  • 34% comes from another source

Together, these different starting points help companies use search marketing to get in front of potential customers.

So, what is search marketing?

Search marketing is the process of using paid and unpaid tactics to improve your website’s visibility and traffic. Previously called “search engine marketing,” search marketing is an umbrella term that includes:

  • SEO: search engine optimization, which attracts website traffic through organic/unpaid search engine listings
  • SEM: search engine marketing, which buys website traffic through paid search engine listings
  • Other tactics, including social media advertising

When you search for answers using Google, Bing, or Yahoo, both organic SEO and paid SEM listings show on the page. By utilizing both search marketing methods, you can bring people to your website while they’re looking for a product or service like yours.

If you’re feeling a little confused, that’s okay. We’ve reviewed the various types of search marketing below. Keep reading to learn more about using search marketing to help build your business!

A close up shot of the Google website on a laptop screen.


Search Engine Optimization

To develop your online presence and gain visitors for your website, you’ll need search engine optimization. SEO allows you to list your website content and pages on search engines like Google and Bing. These listings are ranked based on what the search engine thinks is relevant to a user’s search. Organic search results appear underneath paid results on search engine results pages (SERPs).

There are over 1.5 billion websites on the internet right now. Search engines use many ranking factors to determine which sites match a specific query.

SEO Ranking Factors

Organic listings appear on SERPs based on several factors split into two categories: on-page and off-page.

On-page ranking factors are the elements you can control on your website. These include:

  • The content’s quality
  • The content’s uniqueness 
  • Whether the content matches what a person is searching
  • Keyword proximity and density
  • How easy it is for search engines to crawl a webpage
  • The way a site works on a mobile phone
  • A website’s speed
  • The URL for a webpage
  • Whether the keyword appears in the title, header, body copy, and meta description
  • Whether the site uses HTTPS for security

Off-page ranking factors, on the other hand, depend on other websites and your visitors. These include:

  • Links and shares back to your site
  • Links from high-quality and trusted sites
  • The number of links that point to your content
  • Engagement, such as how long a person stays on your website
  • A site’s domain history
  • The quality of a website’s content
  • The country, city, and location of the site’s visitors
  • Whether people regularly visit your site
  • How many people share your content on social media
  • The popularity of the person sharing your content

These factors work together to help your site rank higher on SERPs.

The Benefits of SEO

To show people that you’re an industry expert, your website will need to house a lot of content. From blog posts to webinars, unique content can draw visitors to your site and show them that you’re a credible company. SEO helps people find your site’s content.

SEO is also vital for driving buying decisions. Before pressing “buy,” most people head into research mode. They want to know that they’re choosing a company that can meet their needs at the right price. According to Google, 39% of people make a purchase based on a search. In other words, you can influence a buyer’s decision by providing customers with the information they’re looking for when they’re searching for it.

Other benefits of SEO include:

  • Increasing your website traffic (which also increases your site ranking)
  • Improving brand trust and credibility
  • Increasing conversions
  • Improving your ROI
  • Increasing website engagement
  • Improving user experience

These SEO benefits can help grow your business without wasting your marketing budget.

Search Engine Marketing

When people ask “what is search marketing,” SEO is only half of the equation. Search engine marketing involves attracting site traffic by buying ads on SERPs. These ads appear above organic listings.

There are many different types of search engine marketing methods to choose from, including:

  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Remarketing
  • Social media advertising
  • Influencer marketing
  • Banner ads

Of these, pay-per-click advertising is the most popular. Also known as PPC, with this form of advertising, you pay when someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads is the most widely used PPC platform. 

Social media advertising on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn is also a form of PPC.

You can also choose to pay when someone views your ads. This payment structure is called viewable cost-per-thousand-impressions (vCPM). This type is used mainly for display ads that use images and videos.

The Benefits of SEM

Like SEO, SEM can help you attract visitors to your site while they’re researching your product or service. These ads stand out from organic listings, helping your business stand out, too. 

Know those ads that appear before and after the video your watching on YouTube? They are 84% more likely to attract someone’s attention than a TV ad.

If you’re worried about your budget, SEM makes it easy for you to track the results and make changes as needed. SEM allows you to control how much you spend on each campaign daily. You can even alter your bids for each keyword, enabling you to bid higher than other companies for specific search terms that you value more.

This form of marketing allows you to decide where you spend your money and how much you use. If one campaign is performing better than another, you can reallocate your budget as needed.

Other benefits of SEM include:

  • Google algorithm updates don’t affect PPC ads
  • Control over every detail of your advertising campaign
  • Precise targeting
  • Fast results
  • Control over your spend
  • The chance to reconnect with previous site visitors
  • Increased conversions
  • Higher ROI

These SEM benefits can help you attract new leads the same day you start your campaign.

SEO + SEM + PPC + SM = What Is Search Marketing?

When people ask “what is search marketing,” the answer is less of a definition and more of an equation. You need search engine optimization, search engine marketing, pay-per-click advertising, and social media advertising to use search marketing to its full potential. Using these various strategies, you can grow your reach and attract new business to your site. Still hungry for more knowledge? Read our article about digital advertising and the ways it can benefit your business.

Need help defining your Search Marketing strategy? We would love to help! Send us a note at info@fableheartmedia.com to talk about your specific needs.

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We are Fable Heart Media, a digital marketing agency in Jacksonville, FL, that focuses on driving measurable growth and obtaining results for our clients. Whether you own a small company or lead a marketing team, our team can help you achieve your business goals. We love creating stunning websites and writing awesome blogs, but for us, nothing tops the feeling of watching our clients grow online due to our marketing partnership.