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The Who What & How of Search Marketing

by Frank Grasso

Don’t optimise your site or pay for search engine traffic unless you can answer.

1. WHO is your website for?
2. WHAT do you want them to do?
3. HOW do search engines fit in?

When you can answer the 3 questions listed above you can plan a search engine campaign that will meet your needs.

1-WHO is your website for?

Customer segmentation, market positioning, differentiation and geographical location are the main points to consider when you are deciding who your website is for.

Customer segmentation

Some websites need to cater for many stakeholders. These may include share holders, direct customers, wholesale customers and governments.

Market positioning

What place are you going to take in competitive cyberspace? Are you a low priced retailer, a specialised service provider, a charity or government authority?

Differentiation

Google lists 4.5 billion web pages. A search for flowers finds 44.5 million web pages, sport, 162 million and health finds 232 million pages. What makes your website stand out? Differentiation does not mean that you need to discover a new variety of flower, invent a sport or find the cure for cancer. You can sell the same product as your competitor and differentiate by offering better after sales service or by specialising on a particular customer segment.

Geographical location

What country and state do your customers live in? What language do they speak and do they say potato or potahto, tomato or tomahto.

2-WHAT do you want them to do?

When you know who your customers are you need to work out what you want them to do. In the case of a retail site it may appear to be simple enough – you sell stuff and you want people to buy your stuff. Most retail websites have traffic to sale conversion rate of below 2% and therefore should also be using their website for purposes other than direct sales. Not all websites are transaction based and some sites may only play a small part of an organisations communication strategy. Before you optimise a website or start paying for search engine traffic you need to be absolutely clear on how you expect your search engine traffic to interact with your site.

Typical functions of websites include :

  • Product and services sales
  • Brand awareness
  • Sales lead generation
  • Information distribution
  • Customer service

Remember that the internet is a channel that allows you to reach millions of people but it does not mean that millions of people are interested in you. With so many website crowding cyberspace your websites objectives must be clear and relevant to your target audience.

2 HOW do search engines fit in?

Search engines can provide a flood of relevant visits to your website. People search the internet trough search engines to find products services or information. The problem is that the web is crowded with websites that all promise to do a similar thing. The word that the advertising world uses to describe getting noticed in the crowd is “cut through”. In the advertising world cut through is achieved by creativity, big ideas, good media placement and the WOW factor. In search engines it is only about customer needs and relevance. Customers search the web with self interest.

The best way to “cut through” and stand out from the crowd is to give them content that is relevant to their search.

Please note that good creative and copywriting is still important part of the process.

How the WHO fits search engines

You must know who your target customer is. This affects the keywords you choose. Say for example you run a recruitment company and want to target employers. You would have more success targeting the keyword “human resource consultants” rather than “job search”. Your market positioning can then help you to convert the traffic to sales. Let’s assume our hypothetical recruitment consultant specialises in executive recruitment. In this example we could use the words executive recruitment in our web page, Meta tags and search engine ad descriptions. This will position us as executive recruitment specialists and also differentiate us from the general recruitment consultants that we are competing with in the search results page. You may also want to use a geographical location in the ad and Meta tags to further qualify the search visit.

The geographical location also has an impact on what domain extension you should use when optimising for natural search traffic. If you want to mainly target the USA you should have a .COM extension and if you want to target Australia you will be better off with a .COM.AU. The domain extension is not as important if you only plan to buy traffic on a cost per click basis.

How the WHAT fits search engines

When you know what it is that you want a visitor to do you can then measure the action and associated with the search engine referral.

Software is now available to measure visits from search engines and if the visit resulted in direct sale or customer enquiry.

What about non financial objectives?

When your objectives are non-financial or not related to a sales cycle you need to be absolutely clear on what you want to achieve. Counting visits is simply not enough. The problem with just counting visits and page views is that you don’t know if the visits were from your target market.

Non financial objectives can include distribution of information and brand awareness. These kinds of objectives tend to be intangible and difficult to measure unless there is a clear strategy in place to do so.

You must make sure that what you measure is valid and reliable.

  • If your objective is to increase your brand awareness, how do you know if the level of awareness has increased?
  • If your objective is to distribute information, are you reaching the right people with this information?

Clearly there is no simple answer to these questions but an approach to measurement must be developed before proceeding with search engine marketing campaigns.

One easy way to do it is to build a mailing list

This tactic can be useful if your objective is to distribute information. There is no harm in asking visitors to join your mailing list. During the join up process you can ask a few brief qualifying questions to validate that you have distributed the information to the right person. You can then use your mailing list to keep your visitors updated of any relevant changes to your site.

A mailing list will give you a clear action point to measure the effectiveness of your search engine optimisation and search engine marketing. Specialised software can then tell you which search engine delivered the sign up and what keyword they used to find you. This information can be fed back into your search marketing strategy in the form of copywriting adjustments for ads and web pages.

This search engine optimisation article has been prepared by Frank Grasso of e-channel online.

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