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Search engine marketing: grow your online potential.

We've all done it. We're looking for information on a specific company or product and we turn to a search engine to help us find it. After we enter our query, we see search results from the top to the bottom of the page and along the right side. But what determines which sites are going to come up in the first page of the search engines and how do companies get their sites at the top of the list?

Search engine marketing encompasses two widely known techniques used to make a Web site visible within the search engine results; search engine optimization (also known as an organic campaign) and pay-per-click.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is a fairly new idea, having gained popularity within the last five years. The main goal of search engines is to provide users with a unique experience and to deliver the most relevant pages every time a search is executed. Search engines accomplish this with the help of spiders that "crawl" through millions of sites deciding which ones should be placed at the top of the search engine rankings.

Frequently changing algorithms determine the relevancy of a site. Algorithms vary as you navigate from one search engine to the other, however best practices to achieve high rankings in the top search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) are similar.

Why is SEO important? SEO is about understanding which elements search engines look for on a site, and modifying the site accordingly. SEO offers a way to add details to your site which ultimately help it rise to the top of the search engine results page. A study done by iProspect shows that 62% of users click on a search result within the first page and 90% of users click on a result within the first three pages of the search results.

Without SEO, there is a chance that your site will not have the necessary details needed for higher rankings, and could get lost in the crowd. Because SEO requires considerable amounts of time due to frequently changing algorithms, many companies are choosing to outsource this service.


Pay-per-click (PPC) is an equally important component of search engine marketing. Paid search listings appear at the top and the right side of the search results in most search engines. Growing at a rapid rate, paid search has the highest return on investment and the lowest cost-per-lead of all online media.

Pay-per-click produces quick results and added benefits including:

* You decide where your ads appear.

* You control your marketing message.

* You control your cost-per-click and budget.

* You can determine your exact return on investment.

* PPC is not intrusive advertising.

When determining budgets, it is a good idea to allocate money to implement a PPC and organic campaign simultaneously. PPC can either supplement where organic campaigns lack presence, or it can be used to reinforce your message.

For example, if a user types in the term "soybean rust" in a search engine, your site might not appear in the organic results. "Soybean rust" in Google alone prompts 803,000 Web sites. Yet, if this is a keyword you desire presence for, a PPC campaign would allow your site link and customized description to appear for that term. If your site does happen to appear for the term "soybean rust" in the top 10 listings, a PPC campaign can help reinforce your message. As in all advertising, it's always recommended to secure as much real estate as possible in a cost effective manner.


Marketers are starting to understand the benefits of online advertising, in part due to the advanced tracking technology that is now available. Marketers can see how and if their ads are resulting in sales, leads, traffic (their desired ROI goal), and targeted ads based on specific demographics. Down to the keyword level, campaigns can be quickly modified and adjusted to achieve maximum results.

For example, if one specific keyword is bringing the majority of the traffic to your site and resulting in the desired ROI goal, Web analytics offers that detail and allows you to modify the campaign to increase visibility for that term. Tracking software also offers insight into the most popular pages and links within a site. Implementing an organic or PPC campaign without tracking is comparable to driving blindfolded.

Search advertising is expected to grow from $4.2 billion in 2005 to $7.5 billion in 2010, according to Jupiter Research. More companies are realizing the importance of search engine marketing and devoting more of their marketing budgets to the cause. This year alone, 66% of marketers plan to increase search spending. It's time for companies to get on board and hop on the search marketing bandwagon.

by Allison Garriga, Osborn & Barr

Allison Garriga (garrigaa@ is the Online Optimization and Media Manager at Osborn & Barr Communications.
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Author:Garriga, Allison
Publication:Agri Marketing
Date:Nov 1, 2006
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