S…E…What? Know the Lingo

Alphabet Soup — There’s an Acronym for Everything Search Engine Related:

We know that people come into your store all the time attempting to sell you various search engine related services. It can be downright impossible to distinguish the helpful practitioners of a difficult but effective art and the snake oil, especially when everyone speaks in acronyms they expect you to somehow already know and understand.

We want you to be a better consumer of business services. Step #1: Know the Lingo. Here’s the “Cliff Notes” on what all these terms mean.

Search Engine:

A Search Engine is a software system that is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web. Of course, the most popular Search Engine by far is Google, distantly followed by Bing, Yahoo, Ask and AOL.

It’s the first place almost all consumers go when looking to buy something. And of course, you want to make sure your business shows up here when local consumers search for the products you sell.

Not so sure if this is true for the types of products you sell? We weren’t either! So we asked nearly 2,000 end consumers specific questions about the first thing they do when shopping for each of the four types of products below. Hands down – consumers perform an internet search before they do anything else!

Internet Search90.96%88.72%89.20%94.44%
Phone a Friend2.94%2.94%3.00%1.74%
Yellow Pages2.09%2.55%2.90%2.08%
Drive Around0.84%1.39%0.70%0.69%

For more information about our insightful end consumer research study, click here. Ok, back to making sense of this S…E…mumbo jumbo.

SERP: Search Engine Results Page

This is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a search.

Paid SERP Listings:

These are also knows as “sponsored links”. These are the search results that are returned as advertisements. Website owners pay search engines to have their web pages listed in these sections in response to certain words, sometimes even within limited geographic regions.

This is typically done via a bidding process. For example, Company XYZ may pay Google $0.89 to show up first every time someone within a 50 mile radius of their location searches for the word “sofa”. Company XYZ would only pay Google when this happens, and the surfer clicks on their website in the Paid SERP Listing.

Paid SERP Listing

SEM — Search Engine Marketing:

This is the process of increasing visibility in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) through engaging Search Engines in paid advertising. Money is paid by the advertising website to the search engine to secure placement in the Paid SERP Listing.

According to Digital Strategy Consulting, $1,341,300,000 was spent on Google AdWords in 2013…by just the 25 companies with the largest AdWords spends! By the way, 20% of those top 25 spenders were appliance, electronics and/or furniture retailers.

Organic SERP Listings:

These are also known as “natural” links. These are the search results that are returned based on their merit (how relevant the search engine believes it matches the search term). It is prohibited and impossible to buy placement within the organic results.

It is very important to the search engines to return high quality, relevant organic SERP listings. These results are determined via complicated, every-changing and super-secret algorithms. In The Zen of Social Media Marketing, Shama Kabani says, “Google, as well as other search engines, uses more than 200 factors in their search engine algorithm to rank webpages.” Though search engines will publish best practice guidelines, they never disclose how exactly to achieve relevance.

Organic SERP Listing

SEO — Search Engine Optimization:

SEO is the process of trying to get the best visibility (highest ranking) in search engine’s organic (aka natural) search results. Remember, there is no “how-to” guide for SEO; it is very purposefully kept mysterious.

SEO is, by nature, a slow process. That keeps “black hat” SEO techniques from polluting the relevance of organic results overnight. There are no black and white answers when it comes to SEO. What works in one instance may work poorly in another.

Keep an eye out for our next installment of S…E…WHAT? to be released in late April 2015.

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