Today’s topic is how to use Search Engine Marketing or SEM (that’s different than Search Engine Optimization or SEO) to increase the visibility and potentially the traffic of your online presence. The simple answer is to no longer wait around for your web site to draw in traffic. That’s a passive approach, and there are just far too many web sites now for it do any good. Instead, engage in active marketing by writing high value content on an ongoing basis, and distributing it through other internet venues, separately from the content on your site. Make sure each piece has a link back to your web site, so people can get there when interest is peaked by the content.There’s a bit more to it, but that’s really the core concepts. You spend money or effort building a web site that’s impressive, inviting, and has solid marketing content that appeals to a broad range of prospects. But then what do most people do after that? They wait. And they wait. And they wait. Not only is the competition not waiting, neither are the prospects themselves – they’re expecting us to leave the outfield and come into the stands to engage the audience and make fans out of them. Search Engine Marketing adds value to prospects *before* they visit your site, so when they click through to it, you’re already positioned as the local area expert in your field. Ten years ago, when there were fewer web sites, all you had to do was some traditional search engine optimization. But not only has the number of web sites multiplied exponentially, and SEO become basically standard, the search engines have actually changed their algorhythms to favor web sites with high quality content linking back to them – in other words, SEM is as important these days as SEO was 10 years ago. Key advice for today. Get outside the box of your web site. Certainly do blogging there, but put some of your content creation efforts off-site in other web venues to give search engines a reason to send people to your site in the first place, and to peak the interest of visitors before they get there.