IT intelligence: Search engine marketing

Sue Fidler shows how to take advantage of search engine marketing.

The term 'search engine marketing' is used to describe a paid-for listing on a web page of an internet search engine such as Google. This is also referred to as a cost-per-click listing.

Generally, when you click on a search engine results web page, several blocks of text appear. The main listings are the central block of the page, but at the top and down the right-hand side of the page are sponsored search results. In these areas, organisations have paid to be listed against the keywords or search terms that have been entered.

When using search engine marketing, think first about the most important words you want people to locate you by. This might relate to the work you do or a key marketing message. Then think about where you want your ad to be shown - whether in search results in the UK or globally. Ideally, the body of the ad should have a strong title of roughly 40 characters, a short description consisting of about 70 characters, a long description of approximately 190 characters about your charity or offer and a specific web address to which users can be directed. A display URL can be shown on the ad, but make your link short so it is easy to remember.

Think about how much you want to spend and whether it will be per click or per day. If you set a daily limit, the search engine will stop showing the ad once it has been reached. Then open an account with search engines such as Google AdWords or Yahoo! Search Marketing. The search engine will need to be provided with a credit card account.

Be sure to check which keywords work, how many users are visiting the site via the ad and how much is being spent. The Google Analytics application is available free online and enables you to merge and track data from adwords and analytics.

- Sue Fidler is an independent charity ICT and internet consultant

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