February 16, 2011

Spotlight

Maximize Your Search Engine Marketing SuccessThree Tips

Beyond a solid, ongoing strategy of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), there are ways every business can maximize the results of its Search Engine Marketing (SEM) efforts. Here are a few tips to help you reach potential customers and get the best exposure for your money—or for free.

1. Be social, think special.

  • Social media participation generates buzz, traffic, and large numbers of links to your website. Since quality links improve your search ranking, a well-planned social media campaign will enhance your SEM.
  • Specialty search engines only index very specific types of pages, instead of the entire Internet. As the Web continues to expand, more and more users are turning to these specialty searches to focus their results. Consider targeting niche markets via the free results of a specialized engine, which can be an easier and cheaper strategy than using competitive pay-per-click ads.

2. Pay-per-click (PPC) and then pay attention.

SEO and PPC work together to improve your Internet marketing results. For a cost-effective and successful PPC campaign:

  • Make sure your ad copy is well-written and enticing, and that your ad groups contain tightly related keywords. Write and test multiple versions of your ads to find the best ones.
  • Optimize your keyword selection and bids. Use the detailed monitoring tools available to ensure that your campaigns are focused and effective.
  • Ensure the quality of your landing pages, which is an important factor search engines use to determine your relative ranking and pricing for particular keywords.

3. Keep your sights on your site.

SEM is all about driving traffic to your site—and your site needs to deliver when customers finally get there.

A poorly designed, marginally relevant, or outdated page can undermine your marketing efforts in two ways. First, a bad page can decrease your search-engine quality score, which adversely affects your PPC ranking and what you pay for placement. And second, if customers do see your ad or listing and click through, their annoyance with the page will likely send them back to the search results—and on to one of your competitors.

To make sure your site provides the best possible user experience:

  • Adhere to the principles of user-centered design.
  • Update pages regularly with compelling content.
  • Check that landing pages are relevant to keyword search results and ads.
  • Capture and analyze customer behavior on your site, then make improvements.
  • Hire an expert if you need help with web development or SEM/SEO.

A well-coordinated SEM campaign involves constant optimization of your site for search engines and users, of your social media participation, and of your pay-per-click advertising. But the reward for all that effort is higher rankings of your web pages and ads, more links to your site, and an increase in customer traffic that improves sales.

For applications, professional services, and experts that can help with your SEM strategy, see the Spotlight Related Links.