It is without a doubt that online shopping is growing more and more popular as the years pass. In line with that, online shoppers are becoming wiser when it comes to shopping or transacting business online. Using the internet, smart shoppers conduct research about a product or a brand in forums, blogs and websites before making any decision. More often than not, when these online shoppers cannot find enough information about the product or the brand, they will not make any purchase.
That basically is one of the many reasons why you need to have strong online presence and visibility. These can be gained in a myriad of ways. For one, you can start an account in Facebook for your online store and tap into the millions of social media users. You can also start email marketing campaigns with links directing recipients back to your online store. Finally, there is the most important driver of traffic to any online store or ecommerce site – search marketing.
What is Search Marketing
In its simplest terms, search marketing refers to the different processes involved in improving your online store’s or website’ visibility and searchability in the web. When potential customers are searching for products or services or businesses on the web which is relevant to yours and your competition, you naturally would want your site to come out on top. After all, majority of internet users only click on the first three links that appear on the search engine results pages. The lower you are in the search results, the less likely it is that internet users will click on your link, and of course, the less likely it is that you will make any sale or profit.
Search marketing can be categorized into two: search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). Although they are both search marketing in general, there are very big differences that sets these two apart.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Search engine optimisation (SEO) refers to making your online store site search engine friendly in order for it to attract organic traffic. This involves both onsite SEO (e.g. keyword optimised content) and offsite SEO (e.g. backlink building).
The thing about SEO is that it takes more time to implement as compared to search engine marketing. It need not be as expensive as well. Big companies offer SEO services for a hefty price, but there are many freelancers who can help you out for a minimal fee. However, online store builder Shopio comes with an integrated SEO feature so you need not spend any extra for such services.
In addition, having good SEO will help keep your online store site on top of search engine results pages for a long time. This is different from search engine marketing where you can suddenly disappear from listing once your advertising budget runs out. The problem with SEO though, is that it can be affected by algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird, which can bring your search rankings back down.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
One of the distinguishing factors of search engine marketing is that instead of organic traffic, they drive paid traffic to the online store website. This is why search engine marketing is referred to as paid advertising or the more common pay per click advertising.
Its biggest and most appealing benefit is that it instantly places your online store website on top and right-hand side of the search engine results pages, the so called “hotspots” that attract a lot of clicks. In addition, it is much easier and less complicated to set up and implement compared to search engine optimisation efforts. If you want to jumpstart your online store’s web presence and have a fairly large budget, you should definitely consider SEM.
The problem with search engine marketing though is that it can be pretty expensive, depending on the keywords that you will be bidding for and the length of time that you want the ad campaign to run. You will have to bid against other ecommerce businesses for the keywords, and if they have a bigger budget, they will get the keywords. In addition, if you don’t have a steady stream of cash flow to keep your ad running, it will be removed from the listings and devastate your online presence.
SEO or SEM? Which One’s for You?
Both search engine optimisation and search engine marketing have their own strengths and weaknesses, and more often than not, it can be difficult to which of the two will work best for your online store. However, there is no rule that says that you can’t use both at the same time.
You can apply both SEO and SEM for your online store as a part of your marketing strategy mix. You will have to keep track of how well each performs though by looking at your organic and paid traffic. These metrics will tell you which of the two is effective, and help you decide whether to continue using both or give the other one up.