Search Marketing is the process of acquiring traffic or customers via search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and others.

Search marketing generally involves two disciplines: SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing).

The former focuses on acquiring customers via visibility in natural/organic search results, and the latter focuses on acquiring customers by placing paid ads on search result pages.

Marketing Land covers major search marketing news and strategic advice in the area. Our sister-site, Search Engine Land provides in-depth news coverage, analysis and lots of tips and tactics.

The Return Of The Google Dance

Google Dance! Old timers in the SEO world will remember the "Google Dance," if not fondly, at least with some nostalgia. It was when Google's rankings went through a change each month, sometimes dramatically, when a new algorithm was launched. The Google Dance eventually disappeared. Who'd have thought it would ever return? But it sure has, and we're likely to be dancing even more. The Days Of The Google Dance The Google Dance took its name from how the results at Google seemed to "dance" around when it unleashed a new search algorithm -- Google's recipe for ranking web pages -- on the world. A sear [...]


The Tippy Toes Of Performance Marketing; Boosting Your Efforts To The Next Level

shutterstock_86370691-internetmarketing When we gather to talk about search marketing, we don't just talk about search marketing anymore. In fact, the agenda is broader 100% of the time. Search keeps its cornerstone within the now much broader and more intricate scope of performance media and marketing. It's a foundational discipline and plays a critical role within the arsenal, but it's not the only important element. What else must that conversation and our scope of understanding include these days? The Fundamentals It doesn't make a lot of sense to uphold the pretense of "doing search" unless you are willing to keep your com [...]


Google To Strip DoubleClick AdPlanner Of Significant Functionality

DoubleClickAdPlanner If you've been using DoubleClick AdPlanner to research anything other than sites on the Google Display Network, you're about to be out of luck. Google this week has been sending out notices to AdPlanner users telling them of dramatic changes due to take effect September 5. Folks in the digital marketing space have grown accustomed to using DoubleClick AdPlanner to research sites across the web (including their own), gathering information on everything from traffic, to household income, to demographics, to other sites frequented by the site's visitors. The data may not have been exceptionall [...]


How Google Went From Search Engine To Content Destination

Google Play Gift Card Of things I imagined when I first started writing about Google as a hot new search engine in 1998, the idea that about 15 years later, Google would buy the venerable Frommer's travel guides or sell "Google Play" gift cards weren't remotely on the list. From Search Engine To Content Engine How did we get from Google being a search engine that pointed to things, like travel guides or gift cards sold by other companies, to being a content company? It's a position that more than ever before makes it hard for Google to assure other companies that it won't play favorites with its search listings [...]


Google Bows To Pressure, Will Penalize Sites Accused Of Copyright Infringement

copyright-piracy-cd Beginning this week, Google will be penalizing certain sites that are frequently accused of violating copyright laws. In a blog post Friday morning, Google explained the change this way: Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily.... Rights groups such as the Recording Industry Association of Americ [...]


The Dog Days Of Summer

Dog Days of Summer [caption id="attachment_13726" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Summer has a way of making us all a bit lazy"][/caption] This article is late.  Very late.  Like late enough to where my editor should probably fire me (now might be a good time to point out how amazing, smart, talented, and, did I mention amazing, she is). But it’s not my fault.  It really isn’t. You see, every year as summer starts to roll in, a relaxed complacency starts to set in both personally and marketing-wise. Holiday 2011 is a distant memory, but Holiday 2012 is still too far off to talk about. [...]


Marin: Search Spend And Click Volume On Tablet Ads Rising

tablet-ipad-money-featured In just the last few months, the percentage of search ads being clicked on tablets, and the percentage of spend dedicated to the devices, has grown by several points. That's according to the latest report by Marin Software, which regularly examines trends among all the ads placed by its 1,500 clients. When it comes to click share and spend share, ads on smartphones remained the same between March and June 2012, but tablets grew from 6% click share in March to 8% in June, taking clicks from computers. Spend share for tablets grew from 5% in March to 7% in June, while smartphones remained sta [...]


The Search Time Warp

shutterstock_32988730-ATM Search advertising is easy. You just pop up a couple of bids and drop in some text and you are off to the races. Search ads are a cash machine and you really only need about 20 minutes to really start spitting out ATM goodness. Of course, none of the above is in any way true. The simple reality for those managing search advertising is that the process and development of a truly intricate initiative is a bit more complex than what you can learn in (loosely) 30% of an hour. While most advertisers spending $250, 000 dollars and above -- in the top tier-- seem to have embraced the complexity [...]


ROI: The Most Dysfunctional Metric In Digital Marketing

Ok, so maybe the title of this article is a little dramatic for ratings' sake, but, seriously, ROI conversations are the bane of my existence. Not because I have an offline background where the idea of having to prove value from my campaigns seems ludicrous. Not because I am some brand-happy marketer that believes impressions are the best way to judge success. Heck, it’s not even because I am just being extra cranky today (although that might be the case -- I have been known to be a bit ornery in my old age).  It’s because we all get it wrong, and there is no one to blame but ourselve [...]


Battling Baffling Search Marketing Afflictions

shutterstock_48900127-biohazard The evolution of the digital marketing universe is sometimes quirky and funny, and sometimes it’s just downright sad. Ten years of writing op-ed for various publications, well in excess of 15 years working in, around, or at the helm of agencies in the digital marketing sector, and it still surprises me when I see odd behavior in the client, vendor, trade press or demand funnel. Search marketing has always been its own animal. Abject bad behavior aside, I’ve assembled a short list of afflictions and disorders I’ve witnessed over the years (not necessarily ordered chronologically or [...]


Identifying Talent For The New Performance Marketing Culture

shutterstock_73076395-hiringchecklist On the list of things we discuss in this industry, talent is one of the most persistent. Our expectations for our businesses transcend financial objectives and translate to high and sometimes restless standards for the talent we seek. In today's performance marketing culture, the ideal talent profile is complicated and ever-changing. It's not as straightforward as recruiting, hiring and training a straight line of talent across client services, marketing or media services, creative, production and analytics. Our performance planning culture can no longer afford to be linear. And, the silos [...]


Will Siri And Voice Search Change Mobile Marketing?

Mobile phones are, after all, phones, so it's natural that they respond well to voice commands. So it's no surprise that voice search has grown dramatically given advances in the technology. According to Google, speech inputs have grown 6X in the past year, as shown in the graph below. As voice technology continues to improve, voice search is quickly becoming more important in mobile content discovery and site optimization. [caption id="attachment_10016" align="aligncenter" width="554" caption="Source: http://www.blindfiveyearold.com/search-trends-to-watch-2011"][/caption] The fanfare [...]


Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces “Paid Inclusion”

google-good-evil-featured Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business model called "paid inclusion." Indeed, paid inclusion was one of the original sins Google listed as part of its "Don't Be Evil" creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and searchers alike. What Is Paid Inclusion? There are two main ways that companies show up in Google's search results. Companies either buy ads or hope that Google decides that their content is relevant enough to appear in what ar [...]


Getting Ready For A Post-Search World

Search is no longer just one thing. At minimum, it's two things: organic and paid. But, as the marketplace that holds it has evolved, search is so much more. It's a composite of methods; it's an ingredient; it's a mechanic; it's a mindset. While it's not yet unrecognizable, even marketers who once deemed it a silver bullet or their performance-marketing drug of choice must acknowledge that we have somewhat moved beyond search in its pure form. It's ironic that the very folks who perhaps took a bit too long to adopt search marketing in the first place than they should have, and who now c [...]


Yahoo’s Nose Dive. Pull Up.

shutterstock_65064280-nosedive The foundation of search lies in the definitions of what people want and what makes them click to find what they seek. In other words, search is the foundation of digital commerce. Yahoo’s latest drama is only the tip of the iceberg for the stressed Internet company. Since former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz officially threw in the towel on search nearly three years ago, it seems odd to be mentioning the words “search” and “Yahoo” in the same sentence, but smart search knowledge is exactly what will fix Yahoo. That, and a little less drama. Yahoo’s core business was in ruins as its [...]


Embrace Science And Big Data: The Attribution Revolution

shutterstock_78692773-math Recently, the topic of attribution has been taking some heat, as agencies and clients try to determine the best way to assign value to various advertising channels. While some are more willing to accept different models than others, all marketers must embrace this movement immediately. I’m going to focus here only on digital media -- which, as we will see, is hard enough. Figuring out an attribution model that works across all media is the real nirvana. Given that an advertiser knows if you see their ad, click on it, visit their site, and buy their product, you’d think that measuring [...]


The Worthless Battle Between Direct Response And Branding

shutterstock_41664208-boxing “I don’t get why you keep saying ‘direct response.’  I don’t get that term -- it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Everything we do is direct response.  There isn’t a single piece of marketing we run that is not designed to get a response.” And with those few words, I felt dumb.  For more than a decade I had focused on “direct response” digital campaigns, and with that one exchange, a client of mine was tearing it all down.  My immediate response was to chalk it up to semantics -- we were saying the same thing just in different terms. But when that didn’t stick, [...]


Mobile URLs vs. Single URLs: Making The Right Decision For Your Company

mobile-web-url-featured The Bing statement about mobile SEO last month, which followed Google’s announcement about the new smartphone crawler in December, has sparked some discussion, and given mobile SEO some time in the spotlight. The debate has been interesting, but all of it seems to focus a bit too much on the wrong question. The search engines all emphatically instruct webmasters not to make decisions purely on the SEO implications, but to also consider the user experience. While I always take this suggestion with a very large and suspicious grain of salt, I do think it is important to consider the [...]


Google’s New Anti-Spam Algo Causing Anger, Frustration Inside Marketing Industry

google-logo If the 130+ comments on Search Engine Land's article are any indication, search marketers are reacting with a mix of frustration and anger toward the anti-spam algorithm change that Google announced yesterday. Many search marketers are saying low-quality sites are continuing to do well in Google's search rankings, and sometimes even having better visibility than before Google's changes. Search marketers probably won't understand anything more after seeing a first "preview" list of winners and losers from SearchMetrics, a company whose visibility index has pretty accurately identified win [...]


Fear, Reverence And Drama: The Enemies Of Integrated Search

In one eye-opening moment recently, I was thinking about Search Marketing in the context of our industry -- and the collective programming of all the conferences, roundtables, panels and workshops that take place. Thinking about how search is reflected in these environments, I found myself looking back over the past two years and realized just how many times I'd been led to a table to facilitate, walked into a room to participate, hopped on the phone to contemplate or stood in front of a class to illuminate -- the merits and practices of integrated search. Yes, search, in its various for [...]


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