Resolutions. We all make them. And some folks actually keep them. But regardless of the outcome, each year we have the opportunity to start fresh. As you commit to improving your personal lives by eating healthier, spending more time with your family, or finally doing the one thing you’ve only dreamed about, I’d like to encourage you to think about making a few changes in your professional lives as well. Specifically, I’d like to see B2B search marketers make the following resolutions for 2008.
Commit to providing the best user experience possible. Yes, this means that you will need to create content. And by content I mean information that your audience would actually be interested in and find of value. You should also aim to get your content to users on their terms, such as via RSS, newsletters, podcasts, and blogs. Also, strive to create an ongoing relationship with your audience where they desire to hear more of what you have to say. Sure, this is more work—and it’s a bit more difficult to do—but ultimately it leads to a more satisfied audience.
Commit to taking advantage of what the engines give you. The major search engines deserve a huge pat on the back for the new functionality they now offer. They have invested resources to provide us with better online help information such as the Google Webmaster Central. They have also provided us with new sitemaps functionality where we can prioritize top pages, check inclusion and crawl status, remove pages, and select which pages we do not want to serve as sub-links. Personally, I see significant value in all of this added functionality, yet I continue to be surprised at clients and prospects who are not leveraging it. Their reason? Often they claim that this type of functionality is geared toward huge product-oriented sites, and that it doesn’t really help them. While this may be true to some degree, the bottom line is that more marketers should be using them.
Commit to integrating your organic and paid search efforts by leveraging data from each. Maximizing the value of integrating your paid and organic efforts requires leveraging data between the two. To start, review keyword data between campaigns to understand which terms are performing best. Most likely you will find that it takes more time and effort for certain terms to rank organically. During that time, be sure to leverage paid search to purchase your laggard terms. You can also capitalize on your keywords that are ranking well by running tests to determine the impact of organic combined with PPC. You should also run a test to improve your click through rate (CTR). To maximize the speed of your test, run different PPC creatives to determine which produces the best mixture of CTR and conversion rate. You can then apply the learnings to the meta data that you are using for PPC (note: apply the learnings, but not the actual word, as such a creative has been shown to cause user confusion). Last, make sure that you are using other data—including clicks and conversions by engine and keyword—to drive the work you are doing to improve your overall performance.
Commit to trying at least two new things this year. With all that is available in the search marketing arena, marketers need to be more aggressive about trying new things. Now, I am not asking you to be reckless and bet the farm by pouring a huge amount of money and resources into a project. Rather, I am asking you—and maybe even begging—to think about two areas where you can push the envelope without breaking the bank, and give them a try. Of course, you’ll need a plan and the proper measurement before you can get going. But remember that even if your efforts aren’t successful, you will still generate numerous learnings which can influence your future search efforts, and maybe even provide valuable audience insight which can benefit other areas of your business.
There you have it—four worthwhile resolutions that you can commit to. Smart B2B marketers will seize the opportunity and make the most out of this year. Here’s to you making—and ideally keeping—these resolutions in 2008 and beyond. Happy New Year!
Brian Kaminski is managing director of search engine marketing firm iProspect in San Francisco, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Strictly Business column appears Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.