1. What is Search Marketing? Search Marketing is a form of digital marketing that attempts to capitalize on the first step of most Internet users, searching for information on a major search engine such as Google, Bing or Yahoo! Search. Search Marketing techniques typically fall into two main buckets:
A. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or Paid Search - SEM is considered online advertising and requires an interactive media buy that may include keyword buying, pay-per-click and paid inclusion.
B. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or Natural Search Optimization - Focuses on the techniques required to help improve the ranking of your website in the natural search engine results. - Natural Search Optimization requires that you optimize all of your web content to increase the likelihood that your website will be found within the Natural Search results. - Natural Search results are the links that appear in the central non-sponsored section of a search engine results page. - They are determined by spiders or web crawlers algorithmically calculating the accuracy and probability that the term you are searching for is within the results.
2. Why is Search an important part of marketing communications
Traffic - The closer you are to the top of the search results page, the more traffic your site will receive
Credibility people perceive natural links as being more credible because they know the company did not pay for the link placement - People are 6x more likely to click on a natural than a paid ranking. - 80% of people won't click to second page of rankings. (They're more likely to type in a new keyword.)
- Efficiency - Paid search spend continued to hold strong in Q3 2008 despite the economic climate, SearchIgnite president Roger Barnette said in a statement. The strength of this ad market in today's economy suggests that paid search continues to be a highly profitable and efficient digital marketing channel for brands.
- Competitors Your competition has been working on SEO for years now.
- Info source People are getting their news directly from Yahoo/Google search engines, as well as traditional means.
3. What are best practices every brand manager should follow to ensure strong Search Marketing results?
The ultimate goal of Search Engine Optimization is to ensure that the first page of natural search results have all positive brand stories, this is referred to as a roadblock. To reach this ultimate goal requires a few key steps:
1. Ensure that Your Site is Search Friendly
2. Ensure that your sites design, architecture and html structure works for today's search algorithms
3. Thorough Keyword Research and Development --Your site(s), press releases, advertising and digital marketing materials must be designed and tagged with the proper keywords
4. Site Content Creation and Reorganization -- People and Search Engines tend to look at the same key things on sites: headings, bold text, hyperlinks, keywords, and short paragraphs. -- It is crucial to organize your site content in a way that maximizes theses key pieces, always including the proper desired keywords and tags
5. Link Expansion Campaign -- The key to your sites search ranking is to have other credible and influential sites linking to you and you to them. -- A third party link endorsement establishes credibility and increases your ranking
6. Content Development and Expansion Campaign -- Social Media sites, including blogs, news sites and social media sites are consistently in the top search results and are a great place to garner advocacy and credibility. -- By providing them with accurate content and brand approved messages and links, you strengthen your ability to garner better search ranking
7. Monitor, Refine and Keep Your Campaign Fresh
4. How should Search Marketing be integrated with other marketing communication elements? - Public Relations plays a vital role in the Natural Search Engine Optimization Strategy. To ensure strong search marketing results focus on these SEO tactics:
- Optimizing your sites content for search spiders - Keyword Selection Strategy - Utilizing understanding of common vernacular and not brand category business speak - Search Engine Copywriting - Proper Linking and Tagging Strategy - Active Blogging - Blogger Outreach - Image and Video Optimization - Press Release Optimization - Social Media Newsroom Creation - Social Media Site Optimization
When launching any campaign you can enhance the reach and increase the search rankings by utilizing some key PR techniques on external sites
1. Build a Social Media News Room a. Tag properly and fill with links to brand pages and emerging news articles and blog posts 2. Release the traditional press release over the newswires a. Tagged, linked and written in Search Friendly vernacular 3. Targeted Blogger Outreach to Influential Bloggers providing them with accurate and proper information and links to ensure positive coverage 4.Blog about it on an external blog the more places the content exists the better 5.Submit news articles to Social Media sites though the Addthis.com tool that connects you to social sites like del.icio.us, Reddit, Digg and Netscape 6. Add the content to Mega Forums such as Yahoo! Answers, Google Groups and Facebook Groups. 7. Engage in a Link Sharing campaign through a Digital Word of Mouth Campaign that spreads the links and content to chat rooms, web forums, message boards, social networking sites and personal blogs to ensure that as many links are distributed on relevant content sites. a. Be sure not to link spam and make sure you always are transparent about who you work for. 8. Syndicate the content through RSS to content sharing/distribution networks to maximize the reach and be sure to include links
- Both SEM and SEO should be executed synergistically for optimum results. - Nielsen ReelResearch found that when a brand name appeared in both natural search and paid search results, the brand attracted 92 percent of the total clicks and without paid search, the brand name from natural search results attracted only 60 percent of the clicks.
5. How do you suggest a brand manager should measure business impact of Search Marketing? Measurement depends on the objectives of the campaign and should be agreed upon prior to launch but here is a list of data points that you could measure:
- Total amount of Web traffic - Total sales - ROI from search marketing - Search engine ranking - Number of clicks (search referrals) - Return on advertising spend - Customer acquisition costs - Number of leads generated or products sold online - Brand impact - Number of leads generated or products sold offline - Number of links to primary site content - Number of stories or blog posts on external sites - SEO typically has a higher ROI than Paid Search because once you stop paying for the media buy the ads disappear and that channel is immediately dark. A proper SEO program of spreading links, stories, keywords and tags across a multiple channels (blogs, Social Media Sites, chat rooms, message boards and online news sites) is a more efficient way to keep you message influencing the natural search results because theses elements will live on and continue to influence you search engine ranking.
6. How should a brand manager organize for Search Marketing?
- Create a multi-disciplinary search group to instill best practices and act as search experts in your organization - Ensure that SEO and SEM are being carried out in a coordinated effort simultaneously to maximize impact. -- This includes linking campaigns, keyword buys, blogger outreach, site tagging, digital word of mouth campaigns, iMedia and content syndication -- Understand keyword usage an encouraging keyword associations at all levels of the process. - Establish best practice bench marketing to use establish success metrics (see success metrics in previous section) - Invest significantly in SEO techniques across all marketing channels (PR, iMedia and Site)