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?
HOW do search engines
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.
Some websites need to cater for many stakeholders. These
may include share holders, direct customers, wholesale customers
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
Grasso of e-channel