By Jeff Kline


Search Engine Marketing for Chambers

Thursday, July 12, 2012


The temperature has reached the upper 90s, you’ve traded coffee for iced tea, and there’s a lounge chair at the pool calling your name.

It’s summertime. The season for lazy weeknights and watersport weekends. But if you are anything like me, you are very aware that business doesn’t stop just because the sun’s shining. During these summer weekdays, we all have to find a way to keep focused (and maybe even grow membership!). 

Allow me to offer you some thought provoking ideas during The Summer of Search a comprehensive new blog series on search engine marketing for chambers.

This summer, you will learn how to optimize your digital content for better search rankings, stay informed on the latest Google and Bing updates, and discover your audience’s Zero Moment of Truth.

But this is just Week 1, so let’s start with the basics.



Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is the practice of making your website more visible within search engine result pages (SERPs). SEM has two components: search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search. 

In recent years, some people have begun to use the term “SEM” to mean “paid search.” To prevent confusion, Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan published an article clarifying the definition of SEM. During The Summer of Search, I will be using SEM as Sullivan defines it – as an umbrella term that is composed of both SEO and paid search.



SEO is a big buzzword in the marketing industry. But it, too, can be difficult to define.

First of all, don’t let the name confuse you. Though we call itsearch engine optimization,” what you’ll actually be optimizing is your chamber’s digital content.

Here’s the short definition:

     SEO is the process of optimizing digital content in order to improve performance within search results.

Still confused? Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the SEO definition:

     SEO is the process of optimizing (improving and promoting) digital content (your website, YouTube profile, tweets, etc.) in order to improve performance (increase the number of clickthroughs your content receives) within search results (organic search results).

Stay tuned for upcoming SEO blog posts, where you’ll learn how to optimize your website for search engine crawlers, identify target keywords, and generate quality inbound links! If you want to get a head start, check out SEOMoz’s free Beginner’s Guide to SEO.



Do a Google search for “small business loan.” Do you see that yellow block of links at the top of the page? And the links in the right side column? Those are paid search results.

Paid search allows an advertiser to target specific keywords. When those keywords appear in a search query, the ad appears. And because most paid search platforms follow the pay per click (PPC) model, the advertiser is only charged when someone clicks through to the website. The most popular online advertising platform is Google AdWords.

Next week’s blog post will focus more on utilizing search advertising for your chamber – don’t miss it!



Search engine marketing is beneficial to your chamber for two big reasons: 

1. You will drive more traffic to your members’ businesses, increasing the value and credibility of a membership with your chamber.

2. Your chamber website will better target potential new members who are already so interested in the benefits offered by your chamber that they are Googling it!

Basically, SEM supports some of your chamber’s most important goals – to increase business activity in your local community and ultimately grow membership.   


So there you have it – a light and breezy intro to SEM for chambers. My intent was to provide you with a basic understanding of the what, why and how of SEM. 

Now it’s time to get geared up for the next two months, because as the summer gets hotter, these blog posts will, too! 



Need to refresh your memory? Download the SEM Menu, a reference guide that includes a brief description of SEM, definitions for SEM terms, and key takeaways – everything you need to make learning SEM this summer a breeze!


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