Total Search Marketing, Part 2
In the first installment of this series, Total Search Marketing, Part 1, I wrote about the eConsultancy research showing that natural search (SEO) was the most frequently used online marketing tactic for lead generation. Yet, most marketers put the bulk of their search marketing budget into paid search. Many of these marketers felt their company wasn’t exploiting search marketing as effectively as it could be.
Because it’s important for in-house search teams to be effective in all search tactics, we emphasized the need for “total search marketing,” covering organic natural search, paid search advertising, paid inclusion, international search, local search, vertical search, social search, mobile search, universal search and search personalization. We discussed the first five tactics in Part 1. Below are some tips for exploiting vertical search, social media optimization, mobile search, universal search, and personalized search. Your in-house team should be proficient in these tactics to extend your online reach, generating more traffic and conversions.
Vertical search engines
Business users who need industry-specific information, as well as shoppers and consumers seeking information on niche topics, are increasingly using vertical search engines. You may recall the 2006 Outsell study reported a 31.9 percent failure rate among business users on general search engines. Jupiter also did a study showing 41.2 percent of professionals found irrelevant search results on general search engines. Since then, vertical search has been on the rise, so it pays to get a listing or advertise on B2B vertical search engines like Business.com, depending on your industry and site goals.
Check out audience demographics to see which verticals might be of value for your business. Selecting the right vehicle for vertical search advertising is key to success. It’s important to inquire about the engine’s user base and income level, bid management tools, and click fraud protection policy. Potential verticals should also be tested for ROI before committing large sums of money. Below are some of the advantages of advertising on vertical search engines:
- Lower per-click costs than Google, Yahoo and Microsoft
- Less competition for competitive keywords
- Easy to test ad copy and suitability for your business
- It can provide an additional source of traffic and conversions
- Because they’re smaller, you’ll get personalized customer service
- Because they serve a niche audience, you’ll reach highly-targeted audiences
Social media optimization (SMO)
In its simpliest form, SMO is the process of driving traffic to your site from social networking sites and online communities. By leveraging large social news sites with millions of users, you can make your story popular enough to be noticed by hundreds, or even thousands, of bloggers looking for such content as fodder for their own site.
Social media optimization can drive huge amounts of traffic to a site, making it possible for your site and ideas to be noticed. You’ll be driving traffic through new channels because search engines are no longer the only way to drive traffic. From an SEO perspective, your objective is to create hot content that will spread virally and naturally collect links. The top social news sites include Digg, Mixx, Newsvine, and Reddit, to name a few. Tips: Post hot content on your blog, make tagging easy, reward linking, and participate on related blogs.
Mobile search marketing
By 2009, over 95 percent of the US population will have a mobile phone, and there will be more mobile phones than PCs. As smartphones proliferate, it’s important to develop and optimize a separate site for the mobile screen. Don’t transcode your wired site into mobile because it won’t provide the user experience needed for the small screen. Tips for creating your mobile site:
Design: Place navigation buttons below important content, displaying content above the fold while making nav buttons visible to users. Put text links on top for main navigation. Provide a site map. Keep important inner pages within three clicks of the homepage.
Coding: Write correct code in XHTML, avoiding unnecessary code. Use external CSS and ensure correct display across multiple devices. File names should be short and keyword-rich.
Mobile SEO: Traditional SEO best practices with targeted keyword copy, meta tags and links to accommodate the small screen. Keep in mind that mobile queries are shorter when selecting keywords. Avoid pop-ups, frames, and Flash. Solicit links from relevant mobile sites. Go easy on embedded objects (images, scripts) as they don’t download well. Test across devices and validate your mobile site with mobile code checkers. Submit to mobile search engines.
Universal search rankings are advantageous because you can get more visibility by creating and optimizing content in multiple formats resulting in multiple search listings. Below are some suggested formats you can use to create and submit content for increased visibility.
Google Blog Search: Communicate with your customers and stakeholders through your blog. Tag your posts and submit to Google Blog search.
Google Image Search: Create and optimize relevant images on your site to demonstrate products and services. Optimize images with descriptive, keyword-rich file names and ALT tags, using accurate descriptions.
Google Video: Create and optimize relevant video content using descriptive, keyword-rich file names, title tags, description tags, and a video site map. Create a web page to launch your video, optimizing content for organic rankings, using anchor text wherever possible. Submit to video search engines, directories, and video sharing sites.
Google Maps: Give your site a local presence through the Google Maps Local Business Center where you can get a free basic listing and increased visibility in the SERPs.
The impact of user-generated content in search results has increased since the advent of Web 2.0. Google introduced personalized search, using information from users’ location, search history, bookmarks, personalized Google homepage, and Google services to personalize search results for Google account holders. Personalized search results are more relevant because Google infers intent by looking at previous behavior, eliminating much of the information that makes general search results irrelevant.
Search personalization creates an opportunity for you to gain rankings by optimizing for long-tail keywords. Personalization also minimizes the importance of ranking reports. It’s more useful to rely on relevant metrics rather than on keyword rankings. Web analytics can provide more granular information for optimizing a search marketing campaign, and your site can gain insight by setting up a dashboard of key performance indicators (KPIs). You can then track performance to improve your search rankings, web site performance, and ROI.
Taking advantage of online lead generation is important for many businesses. Don’t be among those who fail to exploit this marketing tactic. Ensure that your in-house search team is knowledgeable in and takes full advantage of all the SEO, SMO, and PPC tactics covered in Part 1 and 2 of “total search marketing.”
Paul J. Bruemmer has provided search engine marketing expertise and in-house consulting services to prominent American businesses since 1995. As Director of Search Marketing at Red Door Interactive, he is responsible for the strategic implementation of search engine marketing activities within Red Door’s Internet Presence Management (IPM) services. The In House column appears on Wednesdays at Search Engine Land.
Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.