Q?What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

It’s a well-known fact that many people use search engines to find the Websites of Hotels in destinations they would like to visit, particularly when they have not yet visited those places or are unfamiliar with them.

One of the most popular Search Engines is Google. Pretty much everyone on the planet has used Google at one time or another.

Google’s search engine database contains many billions of records related to a very large fraction of all the Websites that exist – it’s not 100%, but very high.

In order to provide “relevant” results when you search Google, and to put the results in order from most relevant to least relevant, Google’s software (called a “bot”) periodically “pings” Websites and reviews all the text on each Website, looking for words, phrases, and other data so it can assign a “rank” to each page.

The rank is related to specific search terms that users might enter into Google’s search bar.

And as we all have come to realize, being on the first page of Google search results (and the higher up the better) is very valuable.

So Search Engine Optimization is the practice of fine-tuning the keywords, descriptions, and plain text content of your Website (as well as HTML tags behind the scenes) so that your site and pages get the best rank/score for frequently used search terms, thus helping to increase the likelihood that your Website and pages will be presented to users in the first page of results, close to the top.

A couple caveats:

1. It can take quite some time to see SEO efforts produce higher rankings, and there’s no guarantee those results will persist (after all, competitors also engage in SEO), and so it’s a constant effort to get and maintain high rankings.

2. Some companies engage in unethical SEO practices to artificially boost rankings, but Search Engines such as Google have strict policies against such unethical practices, and may even ban your Website from their results if they find unethical practices have been used.

Q?What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

Like anyone who has used a Search Engine (such as Google) you’ve undoubtedly noticed ads at the beginning/top or on the right side of the results.

These ads change depending on what you’ve searched for, so the ad is more relevant to your such, on the theory that you may be interested in finding ou more or buying something related to what you’re searching for.

Each time an ad appears when you search, the advertiser has a chance to make an impression – therefore, the appearance of the ad is called an “impression”.

But impressions don’t do much – in order to signify true interest and understanding a user would click on the ad to find out more.

Clicking on an ad is called a “click-through”, since the user clicks through to the page the advertiser really wants them to see. This page is often referred to as a “landing page”.

So, since click-throughs are the real measure of the effectiveness of an online ad, big search engines like Google don’t charge for ads unless a user clicks on them, thus the name Pay-Per-Click.

Interestingly, the cost per click to the advertiser, in Google’s Pay-Per-Click advertising program, is based on a bidding process. So while the cost per click can be estimated, it is not known 100% accurately in advance.

Google’s PPC system allows advertisers to set limits on how much they are willing to pay for each click-through, how much they want to spend per month overall, what search terms they want their ads to appear for, and provides extensive analytics capabilities so the advertiser can calculate Return on Investment (ROI) and understand what is working and what isn’t in their online advertising campaigns.

Q?What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing is a term that encompasses SEO, PPC, and a wide range of other activities involved in promoting products online. For example, it includes submitting Websites to search engines to ensure that the Website is properly indexed (stored and ranked) in a search engines database, developing online marketing strategies, the management of PPC Campaigns, sharing links with other Websites to increase visibility, and so forth.

Q?What are Social Media (SM) and Social Networks (SN)?

The common denominator between Social Media and Social Networks is of course the word “Social”. While online Social environments have been around for a long time as chat rooms, forums, wikis, blogs, and so forth, in the past 5-10 years use of social systems has blossomed as social Websites and devices used to connect to them have matured.

These days, we are used to seeing the familiar Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Pinterest, and Google Plus icons on most Websites. And we know that sharing conversations, reviews, photos, videos, and timelines can be an important factor in “getting the word out” about new products and services, or generating a buzz.

So an understanding of and management of an advertiser’s SM and SN pages and content plays a crucial role in making the public aware of and building a positive perception of an advertiser’s offerings.