Without a doubt the biggest topic of discussion and confusion in our industry right now is Search Engine Marketing in its many forms. To help shed some light on this subject and how it relates to the car business I am going to first start with a summary of what Search Engine Marketing is and the value that it has, and then break it down into its parts in future posts. You will find there is no mystery to successful SEM or SEO, just some basic concepts followed though with quality and effort.
What exactly is Search Engine Marketing (SEM)? The answer to this question will vary a little depending on who you ask, but in general SEM is taking an action to be found in the results of a search performed using one of the various search engines by a person browsing the Internet. The intent is to be seen in order to sell a product, service, or idea. SEM includes paid marketing like banner ads and paid per click advertising as well as free advertising like organic search, social, and viral marketing (all aspects that I will cover in coming posts)
Is Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as important as all of the hype? Since the beginning of the Internet the potential for profit has been apparent in both sales and advertising. So getting your company name, brand, or products in front of potential buyers as they were browsing the Internet was a great way to be seen. Since the widespread adoption of Google over the last four years or so, coupled with their ability to put specific products in front of people as they are looking for that product has increased the marketing potential one hundred fold. Imagine if you picked up a newspaper, and while looking at the front page decided that you want to see all of the 2006 Ford F-150′s at which point the newspaper rearranged itself to display all 2006 Ford F-150 classifieds and articles for you to see. At the same time the newspaper brought up these all of the advertising shifted to the companies that have products or services for F-150 owners and potential owners. Then the next time you pick up a newspaper it remembers what you searched for last time, this is just a fraction of what Google can do. With up to 80% of potential car buyers doing some sort of research online before buying, yes SEM is worth all the Hype. Just be careful and do some research before making any decisions regarding paying for SEM or SEO services as there are companies out there that will take advantage of your lack of knowledge.
Over the coming weeks I am going to break down the components of SEO, kind of a glossary of terms to help as you talk to SEM/SEO companies and web site companies.