Understanding how to market to search engines: much more than traditional SEO

I’ve talked to or heard of a variety of people lately who are offering Internet marketing services to their clients due to the tremendous demand that has developed in recent years.  What’s always funny/sad/disappointing is how many consultants are out there giving just plain bad advice to their clients – and charging them for it!

There are plenty of great articles about Hiring a search engine marketing company so, at the very least, do your homework and ask a lot of questions if you’re looking to hire. Here are some basic things you need to understand:

Massive Change in Internet Marketing

Image by websuccessdiva via Flickr

Marketing to search engines is an absolutely crucial piece of being successful online, but there is much more to search engine marketing (or even just SEO) than doing some keyword research and then changing page titles, meta, content, and ALT tags. Thinking that these efforts alone will drive massive change in your rankings is foolish, at best. It can be very costly and even damaging to your site’s effectiveness in the worst cases.

Search engines have evolved a lot over the past decade; they simple have to.  Google’s search market share is somewhere around 65% according to Comscore, and considering that Google’s market capital is $153.4 billion as of October 5 2009, let’s just suffice it to say that they have a vested interest in you and I continuing to use their engine.  What does that mean for us?  Well, we all find what we’re looking for in pretty short order on Google.com, right?  If you didn’t, then you would probably begin using another search engine, which is why Google has to keep their results accurate.  In order to do that, they have to figure out ways to rank more than 127 billion web pages by relevance.

What’s that got to do with search engine marketing?  Ask yourself this:  do you really think that some minimal effort and changing up the language and some tags on your site is going to put you at the top of those 127 billion for your market or industry?

Search engine marketing goes well beyond just “SEO” that inexperienced internet marketers (read: web designers who decided to call themselves internet marketers because they knew they were missing opportunities) will tell you is going to influence your rankings.  The fact of the matter is, truly marketing to search engines is a long-term plan that will involve content creation and syndication, social bookmarking, developing a robust link profile, and much more.

Don’t let that discourage you!  If you’re thinking about ways to drive more traffic to your site, this is still #1 on the list. Traffic that comes from search engines has a much higher potential for conversion than many other methods.

Here’s how it works – a great graphic from the brilliant minds over at SEOmoz.org:

SEO Pyramid from SEOmoz

Seems straight-forward, right?  Well, in the most basic terms – it is!  Of course, it helps if you have the experience to know what works and what doesn’t.  Here are some guides to help you get started: