Seeing through Search Marketing identity crisis

Search Marketing is experiencing a personality crisis. Two siblings are wrestling for dominance. The first is a purely tactical approach used for running a search optimized campaign. The second is based on older SEO best practices, focusing on website optimization to create high organic search results. This post is here to settle the score with the only verdict I’m comfortable making, one where the customer wins.

Tactical Campaign SEM

Here is a typical magical recipe:

  1. Figure out what your optimal campaign search keywords are.
  2. Create custom campaign landing pages and strategically optimize them for your keywords.
  3. Create YouTube videos to embed on your landing pages and increase search scoring (including strategically selected keywords in the YouTube video).
  4. Shack and Awe of laser targeted Google AdWord ads pointing to landing pages… tested… re-optimized… and ready to kick the socks off your competition.
  5. Spice things up with Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Blog posts, and sponsored Facebook posts… all pointing to the landing pages.

If all things go well, you’ll not only get an amazing PPC, you’ll also score really high on organic search results. I know many companies that tie this engine to a conversion funnel (CRM or sales based) and generate consistent ROI. It becomes a self-contained money-making formula. Does that sound familiar?

Holistic Website SEM

The tried-and-true search marketing based on SEO principles:

  1. Start with properly building a cross-device website with all content being crawlable by Google and other search engine spiders
  2. Make sure your pages have unique titles, use natural language URLs, have proper meta tags, etc.
  3. Write great unique content (be it blog post, product info, or anything else your customer desired) and complement it with engaging photos, YouTube videos, infographics, etc.
  4. Promote your content via social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.
  5. Supplement the above with an ongoing adwords buy, especially when dealing with competitors that organically score higher on specific keywords.

The above must of course be constantly monitored, tested, and constantly tweaked. Nothing that Google Analytics and Webmaster tools couldn’t help you with.

The Third Way

I don’t think the solution is simply to separate these two kids make them share their toys. I believe the best way to solve this problem is to focus on the customer and the content they want. As it stands now, tactical campaigns often suffer with high bounce rates, websites often suffer from stagnant content, and the customer suffers from being bombarded with the content they don’t really want to see.

At the end of the day search is still about an easy way to find great content. Yes, you can use many techniques and a large advertising budget to get noticed. Why not just use that money to make the content truly extraordinary? If you have great content, search marketing focuses on making it easy for your loyal customers to share the message, product, or service. You don’t need to convince them or chase them or even remind them. Truly unique and extraordinary content will always stand out. Google, Bing, and social media reward superior content because it generates more readers and ad views.

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