Today, B2B marketers have many choices when implementing a successful search marketing program. Should you be using SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMO (Social Media Optimization), or PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising to generate traffic and new leads? Should one method be used without the others or should they always be combined in order to realize your greatest benefit online? The answer is… it depends.
A full-blown B2B Search Engine Marketing (SEM) program starts with a well thought out strategy and typically combines all of these approaches to create total online market domination. However, if you must crawl before you run, in this article you will learn:
- when to use SEO
- when to use PPC
- when to use SMO
- when it’s time to get serious and combine ALL of them!
Prioritize marketing goals
This may seem oversimplified, but the first thing you must do before deciding on the best strategy is to determine what your goals are. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are you primarily interested in generating leads? Do you sell directly to the consumer or do you wholesale to retailers? Do you have an informational site where you want someone to download a whitepaper or something similar? What is your end goal? Phone call, email, download, live chat? Have you clearly identified your paths to conversion on your site? Is it clear to the site visitor when landing on the home page who you are, what it is you provide, and is there a clear call-to-action that causes them to click to the next page?
3 steps to get started
- Step 1: Determine the best strategy to accomplish your business and marketing objectives. Lead generation, sell direct to the consumer, live chat, download, etc.
Step 2: Determine the actions (conversions) that make the most sense for your website, deliver value to customers, and move you closer to your goals.
Step 3: Determine your available budget. Let’s look at a few instances of when you might use SEO vs. PPC vs. SMO…vs. the full enchilada!
Best times for B2B SEO programs
Here are some perfect examples of when to focus first on SEO:
You have a new website
SEO should be one of your first considerations when building a brand new website! Please do not consider SEO as an afterthought. It pains me to have to inform new clients of mistakes they’ve made in their site development or, worse yet, choosing the wrong CMS, and now it’s going to cost them a lot more time and money just to get their site to be considered “search engine friendly.”
When you’re building a brand new site, be sure to optimize it correctly from the very start. The important thing to know is that all new sites need to be optimized effectively for search, in order to be successful long term.
You’ve made major revisions to your site’s structure
Once again, if you’re making revisions to your site, be sure to conduct a rigorous quality control check upon completion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen money thrown out the door due to changes being made to a site and all the previous optimization efforts thrown out the window. Doh! Don’t forget to connect the dots! Broken code and server errors can and will doom your site.
You add or delete a significant portion of content from your website
Perhaps you need to change a page’s location or you need to remove information that has already been indexed and ranked by the search engines. You now risk losing search rankings and more if you don’t inform the search engines of your new forwarding address. Remember to follow the rules related to 301 permanent redirects.
Considering B2B PPC programs
Here are some scenarios when PPC makes the most sense:
Time is more important than money
If you feel you don’t have the time to wait for significant organic improvements, then PPC can give you the instant gratification you desire. The beauty of PPC: within several minutes, you can immediately begin generating traffic to your site. Still though, you must follow the 3 simple steps above or you’re likely to bankrupt yourself through a PPC campaign that generates traffic, but no leads!
The perfect testing ground
Most B2B marketers simply see PPC as a way to generate traffic and leads. True! But what’s more compelling about PPC is the real-time gathering of data about your site visitors and being able to test in real-time different messages and calls to action.
Utilizing ad copy and landing page testing, you can pay for traffic, measure, track, tweak, and test again in a much more timely fashion than with SEO. It’s a continual process that you should always be undergoing. What you learn from PPC, you then implement into your organic SEO efforts.
When to implement B2B social media programs
Finally, examples of when to use social media:
To manage your online reputation
Social Media is here to stay, or at least it appears so! The people have spoken. Large brands like Comcast, Zappos, Dell, Cisco and more are embracing Social Media as a way to quickly respond to their customers’ complaints and develop, new, long-lasting relationships. Social Media is a way for organizations to put a name, face, and a personality to their organizations. You don’t have to embrace it, but I promise you your competitors will!
To develop brand awareness
Create a fun, engaging blog. Tweet your blog posts. Share with your friends and fans on Facebook. Be creative and develop a video related to your post. Share on YouTube and the multitude of other video podcasting sites.
But remember…if all you’re doing is trying to sell something right out of the gate…you’ll fail!
To enhance your SEO efforts
That’s right! Need more incoming links to your site? Of course you do! Utilizing the power of Social Media…Brand Awareness…Online Reputation, you can stand out in the crowd and watch your incoming back link profile skyrocket as you get new followers, friends and fans.
Implementing multi-channel marketing
When to combine SEO, PPC, SMO, and more…
The best search marketing campaigns are a happy marriage between SEO, PPC, SMO, Conversion, and Analytics. As you can see above, there is a definite time to use one or the other…and at times, both.
A comprehensive Search Marketing strategy will give you the best of all worlds and multiplies your chances of having a successful search campaign 10 fold. Success is truly all about balance. If budgets allow, it makes the most sense to execute a comprehensive strategy where each component is tied to the next.
Want to dominate your business niche? Implement a long-term comprehensive search marketing strategy that combines optimization, paid search advertising and social media.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.