A few years ago, it wasn't uncommon for a client to say, "I want to be at the top of the list when someone types my keyword into Google." Now, most people know that the #1 position in the search engines can be costly, and perhaps unattainable.

Fortunately there is help available. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has evolved from an afterthought into a specialized industry. There are consultants available who keep up with the latest trends and tools, and have learned through experience what works and what doesn't. For businesses that see search engines as a major lead generator, a good SEM consultant is a valuable partner. iMarks can recommend a professional, full-time Search Engine Marketing Consultant that can get the exposure you want while retaining the design appeal of your site.
-- Doreen Jeffers


Search Engine Marketing (SEM) can be daunting. Every business wants their web site to be listed at the top. When the web was new, that wasn't such a tall order. Today, there is fierce competition for that #1 position.
Is SEM Right for Your Business?

Search Engine Marketing is just one of many advertising mediums you can choose from. It's not for every business. While it's a good idea to register your site in Yahoo and Google so that the site can be pulled up by name, search engines may not be the best place to invest a lot of money.

For example, if you have a mortage company (a highly competitive industry), it will be much harder to get the visibility you want than it would be for a company that sells a unique item. On the other hand, if no one knows about that "unique item", who is going to search for it?

Think through your customers' behavior - are they likely to look for your product using a search engine? If they are, can you afford to compete with the other listings? For some businesses, search engine marketing can be very lucrative. For others, referrals, direct mail, newspaper, radio, TV, or even buying a link on a highly visible site may be better investments.

Search Engine Marketing comes in 2 major flavors: Optimization and Per-Per-Click.
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    SEO involves making changes to your web site to make it "keyword-friendly". The changes can include putting more keywords into the text on the web pages, META tags, TITLE tag, file names, ALT tags, HTML comments, domain name, and URLs. SEO can affect HTML formatting, the arrangement of the HTML code, and more. This can be a very technical process. After your site is optimized, it needs to be registered with the search engines. There are no guarantees that your listing will appear, however SEO is the most popular way to obtain natural search engine visibility.

  2. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
    PPC involves setting up accounts with search engines where you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your search engine listing. The fee can be as little as 10 cents or, in rare cases, more than $100 - you decide how much you are willing to pay by "bidding" on the position you want (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.). PPC comes in a variety of forms and can involve a variety of tools. Unlike SEO, PPC guarantees that your listing will appear in the position you want, if your bid is high enough and you have enough money in your account.

Getting Help

Most of us could use a little help in getting started with Search Engine Marketing. You can hire a consultant to do the whole job, or do it all yourself, or use a consultant just to get you started on the right track.

SEM Consultants. If you are serious about Search Engine Marketing, you may want to hire a consultant. A good SEM consultant will generate keywords that are likely to convert web searchers into paying customers without a big ongoing cost investment. Some businesses use hundreds of keyword combinations - a consultant can help you manage these. When it comes to optimization, a good consultant will preserve the integrity of your site's design, rather than cluttering it up with keywords. And they can advise on the numerous tools, trends, rules and "gotchas" that are prevalent in this industry.

Do-It-Yourself. If you have a lot of time, there is a lot of information published on the web that you can learn from. Be careful about spending money - some offers do not pan out. For Pay-Per-Click, you can start with Yahoo Search Marketing and Google AdWords.

Once your site is found by a web searcher, it needs to be well-designed to close the deal. iMarks can design a complete site, or special-purpose landing pages, that will compel your web visitors to take the action you want. Call 303.979.0873 to discuss your site's design options.
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Search Engine Consultants   Web Site Checkup   MIVA Features Site by iMarks  
  iMarks has teamed up with these companies to get your site exposed on the major search engines:

Lutze Consulting provides Pay-Per-Click and Search Engine Optimization services for general-purpose web sites.

iSynergy Web Design specializes in MIVA Merchant Search Engine Marketing and Optimization.
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  MIVA Small Business, a leading supplier of e-commerce software, recently featured iMarks' newest online store in its December newsletter. BestFriends General Store sells hundreds of unique and unusual toys for your dog. Find out why store owner Candy Blakeslee chose MIVA Merchant and iMarks.

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