We always talk about and encourage advertising online here so perhaps it’s time we take a little bit of a deeper look into the idea and where and how to do it. Search engine marketing should really be common sense. We always tell each other that being where the customer is when they need your product is the way to get more customers. Well, what better place to be than where they are searching for your products?

The trouble with websites for many small businesses I have worked with and observed is that you think if you build it they will come. What people learn very quickly is that people are actually not coming after you have done all the building. A website is a big investment for many small and new businesses so you ideally want to get the best mileage for your outlay. Search engine marketing is all about getting traffic to your website.

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy used to increase the visibility of a website on search engine results pages (SERPs). Search engine marketing is also alternately referred to as paid search or pay per click (PPC). We will focus on the paid search as the pay per click concept requires an article of its own. There is a saying that goes “the best place to hide something you don’t want to be discovered is on page two of search results “. A bit cheeky perhaps but this is very true. You’ve surely noticed when you’ve searched for things that the top results are increasingly adverts. That is search engine marketing.

How it works

Search engines are like a vast encyclopaedia of Internet content. In search engine marketing you are paying the search engine company to attach your business or products to a keyword. If you sell jackets for example you would pay the search engine to refer all searches that contain the word jacket, in your chosen geographical radius to your website or products. So you are not only where the customer is but you are right there when they need you.


There are a few ways to look at what to put on your search engine advertising. You can advertise the business as a whole, which is useful. You can also advertise your products which I think is a whole lot better. For best results, these products would have to be on your website or another online resource already. The key to getting the best out of this is associating your products or business with the keywords.


With Keywords, you need to be very careful what you choose. There is no such thing as a wrong keyword but there are words that attract more search attention than others and therefore widen the prospective customer base for you. In addition to that, you need to be cognisant of how users search for what you’re offering. As an example, my business may make cherry almond conserve but people may commonly search for it as cherry almond jam. As much as they may try to make it appear so, search engines are not intelligent. There’s a reason there’s artificial before intelligence in artificial intelligence. What I mean the search engines are not capable of figuring out what you’re thinking but they match words and phrases with related words and phrases. So be mindful of your keywords and also do keyword research on the popularity of keywords before committing.

Customer acquisition cost

As I pointed out earlier there is no point in investing in a website and then fail to drive traffic to the website. We need to get used to the fact that customers have a cost of acquisition attached to them. The beauty of the online world is that we can much more accurately trace customer acquisition costs.

One final thing. While I have spoken about online-based businesses there is no reason why businesses that generally transact offline cannot take advantage of search engine marketing. You can make search engine adverts even in the absence of a website to direct people to your business. So it is really something all people in business should at least have an idea about, you may just work out a way to use it for your business.