Integrating Search Engine Marketing with Your Inbound Marketing Efforts
Search engine marketing describes the processes and technologies that manipulate search engine results to help your web site get ranked higher than your competitors, establishing trust with your brand or offering through authority.
When you search for anything using a popular search engine like Google, you begin your search by typing something in the search box. The words you enter in the search box are referred to as keywords by search engine marketers. Keywords establish the point on which search engine optimization and marketing pivot. The results that Google and other search engines show you are obviously based on your keywords, yet the ordering of the results on the search result page plus even the inclusion of some sites versus others is determined solely be the search engine’s algorithms, or software. As a result, keywords are considered the gold-standard in search engine-based marketing campaigns. Capture the right keywords with your site high on the search result page, and you end up with lots of sales! That’s how the story goes anyway.
As a result of the gold-standard – keywords – a web site’s placement, or ranking, on a search engine result page (SERP) for specific keywords is the most commonly and bragged about metric in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry. Yet SERP ranking is really only part of the complete picture and companies that focus only on SERP ranking are undermining their own marketing efforts.
Search engine result pages contain both organic and paid results. Organic results appear on search result pages due to their relevance to the keywords, or search terms. Search engines like Google spend a lot of time and money researching the keywords users type along with the links that they ultimately click. Google assumes, in part, that the link a user clicks on a search result page is likely the most useful link. As a result, the more users that click a link on a search page, the more likely it is that the link satisfies the user’s search and is therefore more trusted than other links on the same result page. This story was absolutely correct in 1996 – in early 1996 to be more accurate.
The story today is completely different. About 200 factors are rumored to factor in a site’s ranking on a SERP. The quality of search results is Google’s differentiating factor, without quality results advertisers would not pay to have their ads there, nor would Google enjoy the large user base it has today. As a result, Google is very secretive about its ranking factors and the first time someone tried to figure them out was somewhere between 2006 and 2007. Figuring out Google’s ranking factors amounts to the job of an alchemist (someone that transforms cheaper metals into gold) – and you know how well that profession turned out! SERPs include paid results too, so if organic search is too hard, could paid search results be easier?
Paid results are advertisements that generally target a set of keywords, so when a user types your target keywords, your ad could appear right beside the search results. But it’s not a free ride to the top.
Paid search results are very effective – you only pay when someone clicks your ad; this model is referred to as Pay Per Click, or PPC. With Google’s advertising program you select keywords for your ad and essentially place a bid for a position in a series of ads that appear on the search result page. Everything is automatic, so you set your daily spending limit, keywords, ads, and Google handles the rest. Just like organic search, selecting the right keywords is an important factor. So is your bid amount, the user’s location, the user’s preferred language, and a range of other factors.
Paid search results obviously work well – advertisers spent $7.3 billion dollars on online advertising during the first three months of 2011. The $7.3 billion figure is 23% higher than was spent during the same period of previous year, and represents about 30% of the total spend for the previous year. Yet paid search results often focus on the purchase phase of the buying cycle – when was the last time you saw an ad that simply said something like “Visit our site and browse for a while”?
The commonality with both approaches – organic search ranking, and paid search ranking – is that ranking higher than your competitors for specific keywords attracts more traffic to your site, because people are more likely to click a link on the first page of a search result. This is consistent with a recent study that shows a large percentage of sites get about half of their visitors through organic search results. The problem with visitors from organic search results is that the visitors are in various buying stages of the buying cycle..
Buying stages are steps in the buying cycle: when shopping for something, a consumer begins with awareness, followed by consideration, and finally purchase. Visitors to your site could simply be browsing, becoming aware of products and services that might interest them. They may also research a product or service by looking for reviews from past buyers, looking for product information, and maybe even news articles. During the purchase stage, consumers are likely to shop around for price, yet factors like delivery time and cost of shipping play a big role in the decision-making process.
While many organizations measure the success of their SEO campaign based on sales, they are ignoring the other two phases and missing opportunities to establish trust and build brand awareness to potential clients. Organizations that focus only on the buying step of the sales cycle report conversion rates of about 10%, and they report that leads generated as a result of organic search are poor quality in terms of conversion rates. Search engine marketing clearly provides its challenges and opportunities.
The experts at PostingMuscle can help you identify and take advantage of opportunities to build trust and establish your organization as an expert in the niche. Among the tactics the pros at PostingMuscle recommend to for some clients is referred to as lead nurturing.
The goal of a lead nurturing campaign’s to increase the quality of leads generated by organic search results by establishing a rapport between the prospect and your business, product, or service. A lead nurturing campaign includes in-depth articles, product reviews, testimonials, and other forms of information about your products and services – all of which target the prospect’s awareness phase of the buying cycle. There is a hybrid approach that combines outbound and inbound marketing that’s proven to dramatically boost conversions, or sales, over time; the SEO experts at PostingMuscle.com can incorporate the tactic into your company’s search engine based marketing plan.
In this article you learned about keywords and how they relate to the results a search engine like Google displays to users. You also learned about factors that play a role in determining the sites that appear on a search results page and the factors that go into determining their ranking in organic search results. You now have a better understanding of paid search results and how they are related to keywords. This article also revealed tactics that help your brand during the critical awareness phase of the buying cycle. With all of these factors, it’s easy to go wrong because not only are there many moving parts, but also measuring and interpreting results is also a challenge.
The experts at PostingMuscle.com help organizations become a trusted source of information about their products or services while providing measurable results. Don’t experiment with your marketing campaign – contact PostingMuscle.com today.