Guest Blog by Tiffanie Honeyman, OpGo Marketing
As a refresher, we’re talking about five essential digital marketing trends your business should be paying attention to. Be sure to check out part one here.
Today we’re talking Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
Search Engine Optimization
You’ve probably heard the term SEO many times, along with SEM and PPC etc. To clarify, SEO is “search engine optimization” (organic search) and SEM is “search engine marketing” (paid search). Another common reference for paid search is PPC (pay-per-click). SEO is number two on this list because buyers are in charge of the sales process, taking advantage of Google to help them seek out all options available vs just the ones being pushed out on paid ads. Google has the majority of search share, so Google sets the bar—the chart below was provided by comScore March 2016.
So what do you measure?
- Pay attention to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and their one-page SEO Guide. If your web developer doesn’t understand SEO, contact a resource that does. There are several companies doing SEO audits and they can provide your webmaster a list of actions to make your website search engine optimized.
- All marketers have heard it, content is king. So how do you measure content? It can be overwhelming when you consider Google determines “relevancy” by over 200 factors, but the best rule of thumb is to just think logically. Put your customers’ “intent” first. How does your site help them accomplish what they are trying to do? (learn, explore, purchase, compare, make contact, sign up for more info, connect on social, etc.) Once you have outlined your website objectives, think about search queries. Put the terms and phrases your prospects will be searching for into your website. Be proactive in answering their questions to save everyone time. You want to pre-qualify your leads and they want to find the right fit for their needs. There are many tools to do keyword analysis; Google’s Key word Planner is one of them. And if you sign up for Google Search Console, you’ll be able to see which terms your site is being shown for organically. If you don’t like what you see, make changes and monitor monthly.
- Links. There are on-page and off-page links that play a role in When it comes to optimizing your site from an off-page standpoint, links are important (p.s. Moz has a blog about links with more info here.)
If you have invested in a website, you want Google to be able to find it. If Google can find it, you need Google to make sense of it so they can serve specific pages of your site to their users. Your website is not just a pretty face; it is a marketing investment that can deliver consistent ROI. If Google cannot index your site, they will not be able to process all of the content on your site the way you intended and your competitors’ sites will be served over yours.
Google Paid Search
SEM (search engine marketing) is paid search. When you sign up for Google AdWords, you are able to appear on search engine results pages (Google, Bing, Yahoo). It’s free to set up an AdWords account and it can be a cost effective way to advertise because you are paying for relevant clicks. Paid Search is a great interim solution to show up on Google when your site isn’t ranking organically. Get an expert to manage your SEM campaigns (someone certified with Google) or at least have them do the monthly report to make sure you’re not just paying for clicks, but you are getting relevant conversions (leads).
So what do you measure?
- Keyword quality score. Campaign performance is driven by keywords and their associated ads. If your keywords have a low quality score, Google may be serving your ads less and when they do serve them, they are more likely to charge you a higher CPC (cost-per-click). Keyword quality scores are associated with the ads and the landing pages (customer journey). It all ties to search intent and your ability to provide content relevant to each search.
- One of the biggest errors is monitoring “clicks” and not “conversions”. Clicks can drain your budget…unless they are converting. If your clicks are converting to transactions, you have a successful campaign. The performance of an AdWords campaign takes time to optimize, but Google offers recommendations that can speed up the process. When measuring success of a paid search campaign, always monitor the cost-per-conversion. As you optimize your campaign, the cost-per-conversion should go down.
- Do not forget to check on “search impression share”. If you are seeing the campaign deliver relevant leads, review your budget and bids. By increasing the budget with a campaign that has delivered results, you have an opportunity to increase the volume of leads by increasing the budget. A low percentage of search impression share is an indication there is missed opportunity.
- Optimizing an AdWords campaign requires adding negative keywords, testing messaging, recommending updates to landing pages, competitive bidding and knowing the platform settings. When trying to benchmark cost-per-click, cost-per conversion, click-through-rates, and conversion rates, know that bids are contingent upon your target audience and the amount of competitors targeting that same audience with the same content. The best benchmarks are the ones you set after starting your own campaign since each campaign is a custom set-up and performance is tied to your website.
Insights from a paid search campaign give you real-time info on what products and services are most competitive. You can also see which sites are winning search impression share over yours. You’ll also be able to see which locations (geography) are performing the best and which devices (desktop, mobile) so you can start investing in other tactics with more confidence. When you look beyond the “clicks,” you can see better insights that will help you make better marketing decisions.