New to search marketing? Start here!

Are you ready to start search marketing, attract more visitors to your website thanks to good content? Read how you can get started.

Sam van Houten
December 1, 2022
7 min read

So you have a business and you want to attract more visitors to your website. Maybe even create some buzz around your brand. You have heard some things about search marketing and you want to look into it. Does that sound familiar? If so, keep reading.

Search marketing is getting more popular by the day. Even if you have never heard of it, you are in the right place. Simply put, the goal of search marketing is to optimise your website and its content to achieve a spot in the top rankings of Google's search result pages. In the end you want to attract more people to your website.

This article will break down the basics of search marketing, the reasons behind choosing it, and how to begin your journey:

  1. What is search marketing?
  2. Why is search marketing important?
  3. How to start with search marketing?
  4. How to keep track of search marketing performance?  

So, what is search marketing?

Search marketing is a marketing technique to reach people through search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo etc.). Either by paid or unpaid strategies, it is used to: promote a brand in order to increase traffic, rank higher in the search engine results page (SERP), or gain more online visibility. In other words, it’s a means by which companies optimise for search engines and their algorithms to obtain more customers.

Types of search marketing:

  • Organic – unpaid optimisations that earn higher rankings on a search engine; often through SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Paid – through strategies like pay-per-click (PPC) or paid advertising

Organic search marketing

To earn more traffic and higher ranking through unpaid optimisations is the cost-effective option of search marketing. With search in social media platforms as most popular, it’s a way to increase your online presence and, ultimately, bring you to the doorstep of new visitors. Another way to effectively adopt an organic search marketing strategy is through SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).

With organic search marketing, SEO, you try to improve your site to rise through the rankings of a search engine organically. The known ways through which you could rank higher are:

1. Have a good quality website when it comes to user experience

  • Fast load times
  • Easy to navigate
  • Well readable fonts, buttons, etc.

2. Adopting an effective content marketing strategy

  • Cover topics and subtopics, be an expert
  • Logical and understandable content structure

These two are divided in two types of SEO marketing:

On-page SEO

Optimising elements of your website that affect your overall rankings in the search engine. These elements include: page speed, quality of content, accessibility, mobile friendliness, ease of navigation etc. The factors of your website that you can control directly are part of on-page SEO.

You have good on-page SEO when you make sure the search engine can crawl (discover & investigate) the contents and index them. The quality of your website's content is most important here. Answering the user’s questions, providing the sought information helps the search engine decide that your domain is worthy of scoring higher in the ranks.

Off-page SEO

The authority your website has and gathers over time from covering a complete topic and being mentioned in other websites. You can compare this to a research paper, it gains credibility when cited more often. Your site is considered to have more authority when it meets certain criteria, such as:

  • Your brand is strong – it is well-known, gains visibility and expertise
  • Your site has backlinks – they are a very important way for Google to determine how authoritarian your website is. The more links there are from third parties that direct readers or clients to your site, the more valuable it is considered by Google.
  • You make use of social media marketing, inbound links, influencer marketing etc.

More organic search marketing resources: 

  1. Digital Third Coast: On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?
  2. Woorank: On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO: What’s the Difference?

Paid search marketing

Paid search marketing is widely used, more and more frequently in recent times. The process works like this: marketers pay for their advertisements to be shown on the top of the result pages of search engines. Different methods for paid advertising are used, such as pay-per-click or pay-per-view.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

PPC is a method of advertising through which businesses pay a certain amount of money for each person that clicks on their advertisement. PPC ads are placed on search engine results pages in the hopes that users who click on the ad will return the ‘click cost’. For example, if you want to buy a leather jacket­, the first thing you see on the Google results page are advertisements of shops that sell leather jackets. Those ads are most likely PPC-promoted. The owner of the advertisement that you click on will pay a small fee because you clicked on it.

PPC is aimed to increase the brand awareness, sales and therefore company’s placement on a search engine’s results page resulting in increased visibility.

PPC-related acronyms:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – a form of digital marketing on any search engine (paid or unpaid)
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – what you pay per click on your ad
  • Cost-per-mille (CPM) – what you pay per a thousand impressions on your ad
  • Cost-per-engagement (CPE) – what you pay per action on your ad (e.g. signing up for a newsletter, buying something etc.)
  • Click-through rate (CTR) – the number of people who actually click on your ad divided by the number of people who are have seen the ad or your website

More paid search marketing resources:

Why is search marketing important?

You know something’s not going great when you search in Google and you need to go to the second page. That is the best place to bury a body. Just kidding - but it’s actually kind of true. How often do you still go there?

If you focus on the SERP…

95% of all web traffic goes to websites that are on the first results page, with only 5% left for the other pages. We could say that ranking higher in a SERP is the ultimate goal for every company; studies have shown that more than 90% of people are likely to click on something on the first results page. Moreover, they don’t even look past the first few results! This is why there is a constant battle for the first spots on a results page, and why it is extremely important for a business to start its marketing journey in the right way.

Reaching a higher position in a SERP will help your business tremendously. If you focus on the SERP, you will undoubtedly see results over time, so your efforts are worth it.


Besides, search marketing is more cost-effective than other forms of marketing. As explained earlier, not all search marketing is unpaid, but even PPC methods and such are less costly than influencer marketing. Plus, some forms can provide valuable data about how the return on your efforts are. You can assess your progress and immediately see whether your budget is being spent where it shouldn’t be, or if you could (or should) invest more money to get a higher ROI (return on investment – the profit a company gains as a result of marketing efforts).

Become an expert in your own business

Finally, search marketing helps every company to elevate their website. What we mean by that is creating the most effective, pleasant, and enjoyable user interface – because that’s what search engines look for when they crawl any webpage. Improving your on-page SEO will not only help with site quality, but also with rankings. Then, your off-page SEO will also yield higher authority, because of the on-page SEO… it’s a chain reaction towards success.

How to start with search marketing

Decide whether you are going to use organic or paid search marketing methods, or both.

  • For organic methods: create good on-page content and push your off-page optimisation (in the forms of optimising content, creating a good user experience, consequently increasing the number of backlinks to your website etc.)
  • For paid methods: decide on your budget, the maximum bid you’re willing to pay per click and a good landing page for people that are interested.
  • Find a good balance between your paid and unpaid strategies and ensure they empower each other.

Side notes

Before you jump head-first into this new world of opportunities, know that there are some side notes:


We know it’s very easy to wish something had instant results (we all wish that sometimes), but something that needs to be understood about search marketing is that it takes time. It isn’t a campaign that you design once, you publish, and then leave it to fate. You need to be committed to it and follow its progress, altering and fixing things as you go. This brings us to the next disclaimer:


Search engine algorithms are perpetually changing. It’s no secret that if you want to succeed you need to be open to last-minute changes, keeping up with the trends and preparing yourself for anything. It can cause much stress if you’re not ready or don’t know what to expect, or where to start, which is why it can be a good idea to have a mentor or hire a professional, either to ease your way into your work or to do the work for you.

How to keep track of search marketing performance?

Ok, you got it. You know how to get started. Let’s say you have created your first blogs… But how can you actually tell if you’re doing a good job? How can you assess your progress at the end of the day?  

KPIs are ways of measuring the performance of your business.  Some examples of KPIs are:

  1. Number of keywords ranking in the top 10
  2. Number of visitors on your website
  3. Number of conversions (when a visitor of your website completes a desired action, like signing up to the newsletter, making a purchase etc.)

For instance, you have brand visibility in search KPIs, which lets you know about your brand’s overall representation in a search result. 

You can also consider both new users and returning users to be KPIs. When you look at new and returning users separately and analyse their behaviour or actions, you can gain understanding of what triggered them. You can see the proportion of new and returning users on your website and their conversion rate. You can learn which type of users is more important for you, and you can also create content that better suits user intent.

If you need more details, here is how to analyse search marketing performance.

Other resources:

You have reached the end of this article, so now you hopefully know the basics of search marketing. Do you want to kickstart your search marketing journey? Try out KeyWI's personalised marketing assistant 14 days for free and see how you are doing. Start your free trial here or schedule a 30 min product tour. Do you have any other questions? Ask us anything via the chat on our site or in the app.

Sam van Houten co-founder KeyWI
Sam van Houten

Sam van Houten is Co-Founder of KeyWI, has an educational background in data science and is always eager to learn new stuff. Together with the KeyWI team he has been busy developing SEO software and understanding how to use code to automate and smarten SEO tasks.

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