Laurie Baldwin, who is represented by Aquent’s Richmond Office, has spent the last five years running a successful search engine marketing company with clients like Wrigley’s, Lumber Liquidators, and the Christian Children’s Fund. A self-proclaimed Web marketing “addict” — she named her dog “DotCom,” her license plate reads, “GOOGL ME,” and even tried to name her family’s gecko “Google,” until her children rebelled — she has been doing work in and around the Internet since 1995.
Everyone knows that SEO and SEM are important components of contemporary marketing, but there is so much advice out there about how to do it right, that it can get pretty overwhelming. In the interest of cutting through the noise, we asked Laurie to tell us the five things that people most frequently forget about SEO and SEM. Here’s what she said:
1. Content Is Still King
When trying to optimize their sites, companies too often spend a lot of time focusing on technical things like metatags. They forget that if you have an authoritative site that talks about relevant stuff, you will be ranked.
The technical elements that matter to the search engines are always changing – the importance of content remains constant. Your site should talk about who you are, what you do, and who you take care of. Forget the “leading edge, highly competitive, committed to innovation”-type copy. People are looking for specific things so you should say specific things.
2. Think Like Your Customers
We had a client who sold fake eyebrows for cancer patients going through chemo. These folks weren’t looking for “cancer solutions” or something like that, they were looking for FAKE EYEBROWS. You’ve got to show up where people are looking and that means you have to know where they are looking and what they are looking for. Ask them.
And while you’re at it, ask them, if they did happen to find you, did they find what they wanted? If they didn’t, make sure that the search terms you are optimizing for and the actual content of your site match.
3. Traditional Media Still Matter
Let your different marketing pieces talk to each other. Use your keywords and the key marketing ideas from your website in your radio, tv, and newspaper advertising. People will often Google the words, characters, etc. that appear in your ads. In fact, they will generally Google before they go to your site or your store, so make sure you are taking this into account when you are buying search terms.
4. Track, Track, Track
Traditional marketing did not give you the trackability afforded by the Web. Use it! Whatever you do on your site, or with banner ads, or with email, set a metric and count it. It doesn’t matter specifically if you’re tracking phone calls, sign-ups, downloads, or uploads, so long as you have selected something that is meaningful to your goals and can be counted.
You should also be testing. If you want to show up under “fake eyebrows,” run some searches and see if you do or not. More than that though, test your assumptions. If you are getting traffic, take a look at your top referring keywords. Let what’s really coming in guide your ongoing optimization efforts.
Because the amount of data that Web campaigns throw off can be overwhelming, make sure you are looking at the data at intelligent intervals, say, a month at a time. There may be cases where you’ve made a change and you want to see if it has had an immediate impact, in which case you would look at the numbers more frequently.
Generally speaking, though, what matters most are the trends, not the daily or hourly stats.
5. There Is No Silver Bullet
It’s not going to be one piece of SEO that gets you traffic; it’s going to be the complete strategy with all the pieces put together. This means that, in addition to integrating your on-line and off-line efforts, you need to ensure that individual parts of the strategy are integrated and consistent in themselves. You can’t have your headlines talk about telephones and your body talk about chairs. It doesn’t fit. Similarly, you can’t have every keyword you care about in the metatag but nowhere in the content of the site.
Finally, things have to work in a very basic way. Labeling your images doesn’t matter if they won’t load. Optimizing your site is pointless if you have a Flash intro and the search engines can’t get past it. There are a lot of moving parts with SEO and SEM. If you don’t pay attention to all of them, it’s going to be hard or impossible for people to find you.
And that, after all, is the whole point: to be there when they look for you.