Advertising Your Website…
SEO, SEM and PPC Explained
By Brett Lloyd Abbott, MYM Austin Inc.
How many annoying phone calls do you get from ad reps trying to sell you their “latest, greatest on-line advertising opportunity”? I know it’s more than once a month, because my clients are always forwarding these guys over to talk to me. They’ll rave about “hits” and “clicks” and “traffic” and “backlinks” and “RSS,” “SEO,” “SEM” and “PPC.” (Honestly, I feel sorry for any business owner who has to listen through all these sales pitches, and try to figure out which one of these is worth the expense.)
Ever heard the expression “If you can’t befuddle’em with brilliance, baffle’em with bullsh__” ? Personally, I think half of these sales reps really aren’t quite sure what they’re selling, but they’ve found that if they baffle and befuddle enough people, they’ll make some sales.
Would you like to bring these guys back down to earth next time they start talking over your head with industry jargon? If so, just say “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that TLA.”
You’ll usually get a puzzled look (and a welcome break from the sales pitch), followed by “What’s a TLA?”
“Three Letter Acronym.”
OK, maybe it won’t work for you, but I’ve found it gets these people to slow down, laugh a little, recognize the silliness of their jargon-speak, and start talking plain English for a change.
For those reps who won’t slow down, here’s a quick tutorial on the three most important TLA’s for promoting your website:
SEO – “Search Engine Optimization”
This is the original concept of creating “keywords” and “meta tags” for each page of your website, so that the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) know what your website is all about. In “the good old days” (like eight years ago), this was really the only thing you had to worry about to get good search engine rankings, because that’s all the search engines cared about. Pick forty good keywords, and you were done.
The internet’s grown up a lot since then. The search engines got a whole lot smarter. Now, instead of stopping at keywords, these nosey little search engines read all your content, and make sure it supports the keywords you chose. If your keywords are bogus or not relevant to your content, the search engines will “black-list” you, and put you on page 50 instead of page one. It’s not nice to fool Mother Google.
By the way – If it’s been more than three years since anyone’s reviewed your meta tags, you might want to get someone to make sure you’re not using “sex” or “Britney Spears” or the names of your competitors as keywords. That would not be good.
SEM – “Search Engine Marketing”
SEO was all the rage until about two years ago, when this new sibling TLA stepped onto the scene. Where SEO was all about your website, SEM is all about other websites, and what they have to say about you. The SEM expert will focus on getting your name and website to show up in as many other places as possible. This makes the search engines think “Wow, you sure are popular! Since everyone else is talking about you, you must be very relevant.”
This is where “back-links,” and “link farms” come in. Back-links are generally good, especially when they’re valid, such as the Aquatech, Carecraft or Genesis 3 websites pointing back to their members. Press releases and blog sites are another great way to set up valid back-links, as are many of the social media sites such as Linked-In, Twitter or Digg It.
It’s not quite so good when your backlink is to an unrelated industry or website. You’ve probably been approached at least once by a “stranger” who is proposing you set up mutually beneficial “reciprocal links.” This might work for a very short period of time, but the search engines are continually getting smarter. They’re fast learning to ignore (and eventually “punish”) links that appear to be meaningless. I recommend you stay away from this types of “link sharing.”
“Link farms” are the worst offenders. These websites are meaningless to humans; they’re set up strictly to create hundreds of thousands of links to websites, in an effort to trick the search engines. This battle rages onward, as the link farmers and search engines continually try to outsmart each other. (You can see an insidious example here http://mymaustinoil.bzlnk.com/contact.html. This company bzlnk.com has stolen the contact info of thousands of business -including MYM Austin- purely for the purpose of promoting their “Pagelink.com” and “Shop4Zero” websites. I can assure you – MYM Austin is not in the oil business.)
In 2009, the major focus of SEM has shifted to video. Google and others have clearly stated that the presence of video content on other websites pointing back to you will score very highly when they calculate your rankings. You can blame YouTube for this. In 2009, video is king.
PPC – “Pay Per Click”
“Pay-Per-Click” is a completely different animal from SEO and SEM. Everything I’ve discussed up to now is in regards to “organic listings” – the “free listings” you’ll see in the white space of Google, as shown below:
PPC ads are what show up as a “sponsored link” in the yellow space at the top, and also over on the far right (as shown above). Plain and simple, PPC is paid advertising. It’s a way to get yourself on the first page when your organic rankings aren’t good enough. Perfect for those of you who still have “Britney Spears” in your list of key words.
PPC is intriguing because you don’t pay anything for it until someone actually clicks your ad. (Hence “pay per click.”) Actually, you do have to put up some money in advance to “fund” the clicks, but those are details we’ll cover in another email. The key point of PPC is it’s a great way to get your internet visibility way up in a hurry. Most PPC services start at $500/month and go up from there, but you can target literally thousands of keywords instead of just the forty or so that the search engines will look at organically.
I’ll be happy to cover more of PPC in a future newsletter, TBD. Meanwhile, I suggest you get focused on your SEO, your SEM and all your other TLA’s PDQ.
Till next time, BFN.
©2009 Brett Lloyd Abbott / MYM Austin Inc. May not be used without permission.
PS – In case you’re wondering, Yes, MYM Austin does offer SEO / SEM services, as well as PPC coordination. Call us if you need help with this.