So Search Marketing as we know it is anything to do with online marketing, and the main areas are Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Pay per Click (PPC), but what are the important factors to consider if you are heading into a search marketing campaign. Day to day I deal with many enquiries that we get for search marketing work, some that we turn into clients, some that can’t afford our services so opt for a cheaper route (btw, I believe you get what you pay for) and some that I actually tell them that SEO or PPC really isn’t for them.
Firstly as a business you need to think about what customers or visitors that you can handle. If you are a photographer for instance in an area there really is no point wanting to rank for “wedding photographer in Reading” if you can only handle perhaps around 100 customers throughout the year as you won’t get your money back, and be constantly dealing with enquiries you can’t cope with. Also you may get a number 1 position but will generally appear below the fold underneath the mass of local listings. You’re much better at opting for PPC so you can switch it on and switch it off as you need bookings. Another consideration is that if you were say number 1 for “beds” can your logistics cope with the number of orders that you will receive from the traffic? If you can’t then your business will suffer as you will end up with very poor customer service and a bad online reputation. So it’s important to work out what amount of traffic you can realistically handle as it’s harder to turn off organic SEO ranking than it is PPC.
Another consideration is of course the cost, but more importantly the return on investment. You need to work out what you can afford as a cost per conversion or cost per acquisition and this equates for both SEO and PPC. You need to be selling a profitable product or service that allows for there to be marketing spend to generate orders. Often people will get a lovely site built but it doesn’t make any sales as no one knows it’s there, and people don’t always plan for the marketing spend after launch.
Metrics are very important to monitor the success of online marketing. I don’t know how many times I have had to correct people who “just want to increase the traffic to the site”. Any SEO will tell you that it’s easy to increase traffic to a site, but it’s all about getting the right sort of traffic. The traffic that is “warm” and that is likely to convert. Another metric that people love to look at is the conversion rate which has been brought about by Google Analytics becoming more and more powerful so that you can get nearly every statistic about your web traffic. But what is more crucial to look at if the site has conversion funnels on, is the conversion rate by keyword, so you can work out which keywords are actually doing well and which ones need more work.
Keywords to a search marketing campaign are a really important factor especially at the start of a campaign, but also throughout. There are businesses online that don’t have a defined set of target keywords as it may be a new online service or product and for this type of thing we would suggest a “burn and learn” PPC budget. It’s the same methodology as placing an advert in a magazine and seeing what enquiries you get from it. There is no guaranteed result; you are just spending some marketing budget to gauge the response. Once you then have the converting keywords you can ramp up the PPC spend to get more sales / enquiries, as well as targeting them organically.
As the keywords start to come in organically you have to continually review them to make sure that what were initially chosen are the best for the site. You can do this by tracking the rankings, analytical data and the conversions. You may find once you have mashed up all of this data that you are getting some traffic to a keyword phrase that is not on your target list, but it is getting good conversions sitting at position 18. Imagine what that keyword could achieve in the Top 3, so that’s one to target. As well as identifying the good keywords, you also need to be reviewing the keywords that don’t perform, especially those in a PPC campaign, and setting them as negatives. If you have a PPC campaign running with no negatives set up then you need to get it sorted – or kick the PPC agency as budget will be being burnt.
SEO and PPC is all about getting traffic to a website, and the aim is to get good qualified traffic to a website that is likely to convert. The client though will want to see sales and enquiries but there is a limit sometimes to how conversions can be improved. Of course there is the multi variant split testing that can be done to get the calls to action in the best place, the right messages and good usability, but if a site is selling a product that is more expensive that the competitors they will struggle to get a good conversion from the traffic no matter how much is sent to the site. There may also be limitations to the site in terms of what can be changed to improve usability so there may be an issue if you are targeted on conversions.
After a site has built up a good SEO and PPC campaign and are happily dealing with the increase in sales and enquiries, the final part of the jigsaw is often neglected which is online reputation and brand awareness. Ideally you want to build the website up to a point where the top search terms referring traffic is the brand name itself so that you are solid, but you also have to watch out for any sites that are also appearing on the first page of Google for your brand that may not be so positive. It revolves around to customer service again (as many things in business do), that if you give a visitor a bad experience, either on the website or once they have placed an order or made an enquiry then it doesn’t take long for complaint sites to spring up and maybe even Google Suggest pick up on the negative keyphrases.