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If only it were that easy. Used incorrectly, SEM programs can be inefficient. For example, if your ad attracts browsers instead of buyers, you’ll find yourself paying for traffic that doesn’t generate sales.

SEM Guidelines Use these guidelines to help avoid some possible pitfalls of search engine marketing.

Set your budget It may seem obvious, but don’t bid more than you can afford for a keyword. Defining what a visitor is worth is as much art as science, but as a start you may want to estimate how much a typical customer nets you in profits, and multiply that by the likelihood that a site visitor will become a customer. In most SEM programs, the advertiser paying the most shows up highest in the results. But paying for the top position may not have much affect on how often your ad is clicked. For popular searches, users may go several pages deep, so having your ad featured on the much less expensive second or third page can still get results. Depending on the search engine you use, it also may be possible to set a daily budget for your search advertising, helping to control your campaign costs.

Think like your target audience What search terms would a hot prospect use when looking for your business online? It’s easy to know what you would search for, but what about everyone else?

Optimizing Your Site

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of developing your website so that it ranks higher in the natural (i.e. free) search results of top engines. Although all search engines work differently, there are basic steps you can take to help your site show up correctly in search results.

Use the right keywords: Knowing the terms customers use when they search is the starting point for any SEO effort.

Put keywords in the right places: Your site is full of hotspots that search engines check regularly for keywords. Make sure they show up in context in headlines, subheads and the body text of your pages.

Keep keywords in context: Integrate keywords as naturally as possible into your copy. A simple list of keywords won’t work

  • they have to be in context.

Keep your content fresh: Frequently updated, relevant content can have a positive impact on your site ranking.

Build links: Reputable, relevant sites that link to your site can further improve your ranking.

WARNING! Beware of “black hat” optimizers: Certain SEO “tricks” may yield higher short-term rankings, but these techniques may actually get you banned from search engines. Unethical SEO practices include:

  • Packing long lists of keywords onto your site

  • Putting keywords in invisible text (white text on a white background)

  • Using software to copy content from high ranking sites and representing it as your own

  • Creating multiple pages just for the purpose of being indexed by search engines (rather than for viewing by site visitors)

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