The state of the economy today, particularly in the marketing world, leaves little room for ineffective programming. Marketing budgets that don’t produce the desired result are primed for the slash of the eraser, never to be heard from again.
As we move through the second month of 2009, take a moment to “see the forest through the trees” and set the stage for your B2B SEO Marketing Campaign. With a little advanced planning, you can align your SEO strategy with your company’s bottom line and demonstrate how you are moving the dial against that bottom line. And while you’re at it, you can prove the value of your program beyond a shadow of a doubt and lock in that marketing budget.
So what’s the magic formula for success? Setting realistic goals, measuring the right thing, and establishing a baseline will get you halfway there.
Set realistic goals
What! What do you mean we aren’t on page one of Google?
Does this question ring any bells? We all know that SEO isn’t simple. A myriad of elements affect position with the search engines, and moving toward those top listings takes time and effort. You understand this, but do your stakeholders? Although SEO is an effective long-term investment, its results are not instantaneous like those of PPC. Setting realistic expectations out of the gate about how search engines work and the types of results you can realistically expect to achieve will do wonders in shaping perception.
Page One rankings rely on elements such as content volume, keyword competitiveness, industry, and link popularity – just to name a few. Is your B2B site’s “marketing software” listing guaranteed a Page One result in the SERPs? Not on your life. Ask your SEO partner to provide detail that you can easily pass on to your stakeholders to help them understand the ins and outs.
You know that you can’t just “move” your organic listing to page one. Make sure the person who approves your budget understands that as well.
Measure the right thing
Is search engine traffic the best measure of success for your SEO Program? Although increasing the number of visits driven from the engines is a logical goal, should this be the only data point you measure to prove the value of your campaign?
As you lay the foundation of your SEO plan, take some time to identify your Calls to Action and pinpoint each “conversion point “along the path to completing that Call to Action. What is your company’s bottom line? Sales? Then measure each conversion point within that sales funnel. Possibilities include brochure downloads, requests for more information, newsletter sign-ups, application submissions and email address captures. Not to mention the all-mighty sale. Tying that data back to other reference points within your SEO program will help prove the value of that increase in search engine traffic.
And remind me again, how did you increase that traffic and attain all of those conversions? Looks like you’ve just proved the value of your SEO Campaign Budget.
Set a baseline
One element of measuring success in any SEO campaign is time. Now that you’ve established your Calls to Action and identified all conversion points along the way, setting a baseline to measure progress over time couldn’t be more important.
Remember that search engines need some time to index your newly revamped web pages. Month to month comparisons tend to provide more realistic insight than day to day dips and spikes. Although daily changes can be interesting (and even slightly addictive) to note, be cautious in your reactions. Stay true to your SEO plan to understand the month to month implications of your SEO efforts. Don’t pull the plug on a well-thought SEO plan if you noticed a slight dip yesterday in the SERPs after you changed your heading tags.
Be sure to maintain a log capturing the implementation dates of each SEO activity within your SEO program. Correlating web analytics data and search engine rankings to these activities is an additional way to understand what’s working and what isn’t.
Any data you can tie to your SEO activities will help justify that big site redesign or content overhaul. Soon, key trends such as seasonality, market saturation, usability and more will also become apparent.
Pulling it together
The longevity of your SEO Campaign is based on a multitude of factors that are typically rolled up into two outcomes – success or failure. Setting realistic goals, measuring your performance towards those goals over time and identifying conversion points all help paint an accurate picture of your SEO campaign.
Setting and managing expectations – your own as well as those of your stakeholders – will work wonders as you move through your SEO Program and prove your value.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.