Strategic Planning Pays Dividends
Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the hottest trends in marketing and advocacy today. It’s a combination of art and science and the rules are changing daily. Some companies are mining the organic search results, while others are embracing the pay-per-click (PPC) model. Although we are big fans of PPC, we won’t let our clients overlook the importance of earning your rankings on Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others.
The days of slamming and spamming to build backlinks and other quick tricks are gone. The days of meaningful, useful and unique content are here to stay. As you consider ways to improve your company’s online visibility, break it down into two schools of thought–on-page optimization and off-site optimization. The content that you post and the words that you use are more important than ever.
Secondly, there are off-site optimization techniques. This strategy involves social media, traditional media, link-building and more. The search engines want to generate search results for websites that are well-connected and influential.
The search engines are looking for the leaders, which means that you need to act like one and look like one across the Internet.
1. Content is king. Offer unique and useful information on your site. This will draw and retain prospects. It will impress the search engines, too. Post news and updates regularly that your customers and prospects will find informative and helpful. If your website is stale, boring and only sales oriented, it’s tough to attract the eyes of the world and keep them.
2. Encourage engagement and sharing. Include a blog on your site and post original information. Include a “share” control panel so that people can share your articles and website with others via email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
3. Be consistent and constant. Keep your website fresh with new information. Google rewards ongoing updates with greater authority and higher search rankings.
4. Social media matters. Many businesses are still experimenting with social media as a marketing tool. Frustration is setting in with many because they can’t measure the results or ROI clearly for an activity that takes a significant amount of time. Social media is not a great tool for everyone in terms of generating sales. However, it is a relationship-building tool and a networking tool that can’t be ignored. Most importantly, however, your online presence and influence will impact your search rankings–your website becomes more searchable and more findable. Google rewards sites that are backed with an active and influential social component.
5. Think video: Video is a valuable tool for many reasons. Posting videos to YouTube, Facebook and other social sites will help separate you from the competition in the eyes of Google and other search engines. Most of your competitors have probably not taken this step and you can become an industry (or local) leader just by posting a video of some sort. The more interesting and useful the video is, the more it will be viewed and shared, which will make you even more influential in the eyes of Google.
6. Traditional news: The value of news placements is more important than ever. Thanks to digital channels, a single media placement can become viral around the world. You can send out the clip via email and social media. You can post the clip to your website. Articles can be used as handouts. Most importantly, Google and other search engines reward news placements with higher search rankings.
7. On-site optimization: If you want your website to rank highly in searches, make sure that you are using the right key words in your web text. Make sure that you have web pages titled to match some of these key words. (What words are prospects using to search for help? Google Ad Words platform can help you find out which words are the most searched terms.)
Don’t try to do everything all at once. It will overwhelm you and it might penalize your rankings.
Search engines might penalize you and your search rankings if they sense that you are trying to “fake” or “spike” your activity and influence.
The majority of purchases today involve an online search. When your prospective customer is looking for a solution that you offer, you can’t afford to be invisible. SEM is worth the investment.