The best search marketing must be complete search marketing.
To be clear, as a search marketing professional, my experience tells me that the more complete a search marketing strategy and plan is, the more effective it will be. Maybe that is nothing more than common sense to some but others don't seem to be clear about the various elements that are available when creating a comprehensive search marketing project.
Use the search marketing checklist below as a basic road map for your search marketing project. The more of these components you have included in your plan, the better. Remember though, don't just include them, pay them attention and develop them consistently.
Best Search Marketing Checklist:
- Compelling content: Make sure you offer the visitor what they were searching for in the first place. This helps your efforts from both the visitor and the search engine's perspective.
- Blog: This is critical for developing your timely content, attracting links and increasing the total number of pages on your web site.
- # of Indexed Pages: Pay attention to the number of your web site's pages that are indexed by Google. The more, the better.
- Readability Level: Make sure your writing and the content is developed for your target market and not too difficult to understand or too elementary.
- Meta Tags: Make sure all the HTML tags on each of your web pages have been optimized for the relevant keywords or keyphrases. These include title tags, description tags, header tags, image tags and keyword tags at a minimum.
- Domain name renewal term: Make sure your domain name is renewed for more than 2 years into the future. The search engine see this as a component of stability.
- Domain name redirect: Make sure you have a permanent redirect for the http://domainname.com portion of your sita as search engine may see this and the www.domainname.com as two separate web sites.
- Inbound links: The more links from other web site's that point to your web site the better. One way links are your goal as reciprocal links don't carry weight anymore. You also want links from related web site's with good traffic.
- Directory listings: Secure as many free and certain paid directory listings as you can. Ex. Yahoo Directory
- Linked In account: Especially if your products or services are business to business related, this is a good social media web site to connect and promote.
- Twitter account
- Facebook or Facebook Fan Page
- Utilize del.ico.us bookmarketing
- RSS feed: Make sure you make it easy for others to receive your developing content
- Landing pages: Be sure to have your web site configured to provide targeted information to targeted markets and keywords.
- Conversion forms: Make sure you have conversion forms in place to convert traffic to leads.
- Lead generation software
- Lead tracking software
- Lead nurturing software
- Comprehensive search marketing software: Manage all of these and other elements of your search marketing plan with a complete software application.
These elements have much more detail than what I have listed in this best search marketing checklist. My recommendation is to use the advice of a search marketing professional coupled with search marketing software. There are other components of a comprehensive search marketing strategy but this best search marketing checklist is a great place to start the analysis of your project.
What is search engine marketing software and how can I benefit?
Search engine marketing software can come in many forms, formats and price tags. For most web site project managers or web site owners, search engine marketing software is a collective menu of separate and independent applications developed to handle a single element of the search engine marketing process. For example, here are some general terms and descriptions of search engine marketing software used today:
- CMS (content management system) like Word Press or Joomla for web page management and development.
- Blogger.com is blog Development software used to create, manage and develop your blog activities.
- Wordtracker to research and build your master keyword database.
- Web Position for certain analytics and reporting and other SEO activities
- Google analytics to help analyze traffic
- Twitteriffic to help post tweets
- Many others...
All of these applications (search engine marketing software) can help a web site owner get found, promote, convert and report on the productivity of a search engine marketing campaign.
In 2010, efficiency goes hand in hand with effectiveness. What do I mean? Other than the obvious reasons, any business or web site owner trying to harness the increasing power of inbound marketing (Internet marketing) needs to understand how fast thing have been changing and will continue to change in the world of search engine marketing and search engine marketing software. This is why finding a more complete suite of search engine optimization or search engine marketing software is becoming more critical.
Think about just some of the components that a good search engine marketing software package can address and help manage:
- Keyword research and evaluation - usage, competition and difficulty
- Web page development - design and presentation
- Web page optimization - configuring title, description, keyword, header and image tags
- Blog management - creating new article posts
- Social media optimization - updating status and message out reach
- Lead Generation -internal software that configures lead generation
- Lead tracking - lead management
- Lead Nurturing - communicate and nurture leads through sales cycles
- Linking strategies - developing inbound links from other web sites
- Content development - expanding, advancing and managing your growing content.
- Evaluation - specific measurement of all inbound marketing strategies
- Reporting - creating real time data as needed for critical decisions
Even if you find this partial list of search engine marketing elements daunting, not to mention the underlying complexities and detail that make up each element, it ultimately can make the difference between Internet success or failure. Comprehensive search engine marketing software can equate to a much higher degree of efficiency and effectiveness. This is easy to see when you understand that:
Inbound marketing now delivers the #1 ROI (return on investment) when compared to all other marketing mediums.
- Inbound marketing now delivers the #1 ROI (return on investment) when compared to all other marketing mediums.
- Search engines are now the #1 resource used by consumers to find goods and services.
This issue reflects the fast moving world of inbound marketing. Many businesses can now see (in one form or another) that inbound marketing and it's related components are becoming more effective and more affordable than the 40 year old methods of outbound or "interruption" marketing. It's as if a light is slowly getting brighter in a dark room and we are all scrambling to gain internal control so we can take advantage of this marketing revolution.
Whether you hire an SEO professional, employ your own team or even do some of these tasks yourself, a comprehensive search engine marketing software package will make the job easier, more productive and ultimately could be the difference between Internet explosion or a complete business implosion.
Securing the right search engine marketing software and being able to manage all the details of search engine optimization, search engine marketing or inbound marketing should be on the top of every web site owner's to-do list.
Free Search Engine Marketing Report
In my industry (inbound marketing), the term search engine optimization is getting very over used and perhaps even a little boring. But, that doesn't change the fact that it is still an extremely important component of successful Internet (inbound) marketing. The easier you can make it for the major search engines to find a given web site, the better. If you're trying to build a steady and increasing traffic flow, better position on the major search engines can only help the cause.
Search engine optimization explained: As I have explained in some previous blog posts, search engine optimization is the process used to make a web page "search engine friendly". This process has many elements but they all (usually) breakdown into 2 areas:
- On Page Optimization
- Off Page Optimization
The details of which I will discuss and and outline in upcoming blog posts, however, this particular blog post is specific to search engine optimization in general. The concept of:
One thing I have learned in my many years of helping clients gain better search engine position is this... when in doubt, use your common sense. What I mean is this:
Search engines have one main function and they take it very seriously. That function is to find the best web sites, with the best content and information in relation to the keyword or keyphrase used. Over the years there have been many SEO professionals and companies that have tried to "beat the system" and apply shortcuts, tricks or "creative techniques". Even if these techniques sound cutting edge or make sense at the time, you always need to ask if the major search engines would approve and evaluate this method in a positive light.
Search Engine Optimization Conversation: I had a conversation today with a self proclaimed search engine optimization expert and after I had a chance to absorb the details of that conversation, I decided to write this blog article.
It seems that this SEO professional has a background in programming and has spent a lot of time developing software that has the ability to create thousands of pages of content automatically. My first reaction and thoughts were:
- This is a great idea.
- Since content development is something I am always preaching, this might be a great resource.
- The more pages under a given domain, the better.
- 5000 unique pages would take months or years under the traditional methods.
- What an opportunity to reflect many keywords and keyphrases.
- What a time saver.
After I had some time to process this long conversation, some other considerations took hold:
- Could this be considered a "black hat" technique?
- Would the search engine approve of this "shortcut"?
- Does this pass the "common sense" checklist I normally use in these situations?
- Is the cost worth the risk?
- Will the time (and money) invested in this process ultimately be wasted?
My conclusion is simple. If it doesn't make sense, and appears to be a shortcut technique, it will be seen for what it is by the king of all search technologies... Google! There have been countless methods of shortcuts and advantages created over the years and I can tell you from first hand experiences that they all get discovered and some times worse, a site gets black listed. In this case, it doesn't make much sense to me to fast forward the content development phase of site development. Google always wants to see original, well thought out content so they can then provide high quality search results to the Google user. As each blog article should be hand written and original, I apply the same rules to the pages of a web site. This common sense rule seems to be broken in this case.
I think that even though many site owners are not search engine optimization experts, they can always apply this rule of common sense. If you are interviewing an SEO (inbound marketing) professional and you are asking about methods and techniques, you must always evaluate these by asking yourself it they make sense in the eyes of Google, Yahoo or MSN.
Free Site Analysis
It's a new decade and by now, anybody (any business) that is paying attention can see that to ignore marketing their products or services by way of Internet (inbound marketing) can be death sentence.
I can vividly remember that not much more than one year ago, I had conversations with many businesses that had inbound marketing on the back burner. This was explained to me using many different reasons.
- No Internet marketing budget
- No marketing budget period
- They get all business by word of mouth (interesting comment in 2010)
- They have enough business
- They are not a "computer person"
- Their funds are all tied up in the Yellow Pages (or other outbound methods)
- My brother in law's ex-girlfriend manages my web site
As I'm sure many of you will agree and maybe not from your own experience but maybe from only the common knowledge and common sense that tells you that in 2010, a LARGE portion of the population turns to their desktops, laptops, and mobile devices to get information about pending service/product purchases. I believe my point is an obvious one that if you want to grow a business, keep a business or save a business, you MUST pay attention to this exploding trend of what we professionals are calling... Inbound Marketing
Other terms for this process are:
- Internet Marketing
- Pull Marketing
- SEO Marketing
- Search Engine Marketing
Components of Inbound Marketing include:
- Keyword research
- On page optimization
- Off page optimization
- Blog development
- Social media optimization
- Social media bookmarking
- Content development
- Traffic conversion
The other observation I have made as an Inbound marketing professional is that the amount of work has increased dramatically. As little as one year ago, a well executed search engine optimization strategy would provide traffic that would convert and translate into sales. Although this will still occur in many situations and for many businesses, it no longer enough for long term growth and exposure.
If you fall into any of these categories, my first suggestion is to go through the process of determining the condition of your web site. What are the Inbound marketing or search engine marketing assets? Where are the weaknesses? What do the search engine and social media sites see when they look at your site?
As a high level Inbound Marketing Consulting Firm and a partner of HubSpot, we offer our clients a series of reports that uncover this valuable information. If you would like to understand more about the condition of your web site, call us for a consultation. We are happy to educate and assist.
Search Engine Ranking & SEO Analysis Reports
As SEO or search engine optimization become more important and a critical cornerstone of many Inbound marketing (Internet marketing) projects, I offer the SEO check list below. These are items that need to be a part of your "on page" SEO execution.
1. On-page Optimization:
Keyword Research/No. of Key phrases Optimized - Keyword Research is very important and can literally make or break your SEO campaign. Most popular mistake people make is to select one word or two word keywords to rank on. The whole idea of keyword research is to select realistic keywords which can bring in significant amount of traffic. We use paid version of Word Tracker and Google Keyword Research tool and involve our clients in keyword selection.
Optimization of Titles and Meta Tags – Title tag appears at the top bar of your web browser. Based on the keywords in this tag, search engines list the site relevant to a search made in their engines. It is one of the important aspects of getting rankings in search engines. Since this title also appears in search engines’ result pages, appropriate use of keywords in promotional language may result in more clickthroughs. We optimize the Titles and Meta Tags since these provide information about your Web page to search engine robots so that the search engine can better understand what your site is about. Meta tags provide this information in a format that the web crawlers/spiders that visit your site can understand.
Robot.txt Optimization - This file allows you to hide files or directories that you don’t wish the search engine spiders to find. You can let us know which files or folders you do not want spiders to crawl they will be disallowed. Here we create Robots.txt file. This file is created so that your site can be crawled and added to the search engine database. Using this file, you can also allow or block a search engine from crawling specific parts of your site such as the cgi-bin folder, images folder or any folder containing critical information.
W3c Validations - The Markup Validation Service by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) allows Internet users to check HTML documents for conformance to HTML or XHTML and is also a quick method to check for errors in code. We validate your sites as per W3C guidelines. This is done to make the source code of your web pages clean and concise which allows the search engine spiders to move more efficiently through your site. When it comes time for a search engine to add your page to its results, it’s going to have a much easier time understanding the page if it’s been validated. This will often get you a higher ranking in the results.
Editing Content for SEO - Copywriters will work on modifying existing content based on the keywords being optimized. Keywords will be strategically used within the content based on various keyword densities.
Image & Hyperlink Optimization - We incorporate keywords in Alt text of image tags and title attribute of hyperlinks. This helps to a certain extent in search engine rankings.
One way to evaluate the condition of a given web site is to have an search engine optimization consulting firm run an analysis and provide the related reports. For example:
Web Site Analysis Report
Search Engine Ranking Report
Ask us for a no cost report that might help you measure the SEO condition of your web site
Virtual Support Systems
There is no denying it, there is no avoiding it, Inbound marketing is here, and it's here to stay. As I tell anyone who is interested, either get on board with the new world of inbound marketing, or get run over. Andin 2010, you may get run over rather quickly.
The old or traditional method of marketing (outbound marketing) is being replaced because it has fallen down on the job. That's what happens to anything when it becomes inefficient, ineffective and there is a better way to do it. Don't misunderstand me, traditional marketing or outbound marketing still has a place in an overall marketing strategy but it is being out-performed by the new configurations of inbound marketing.
What is outbound marketing? Outbound marketing is the way we have created our marketing strategies and activities over the past 40 years:
- Direct mail
- Yellow pages
- Cold calling
These and other "shotgun" message delivery methods have become more expensive while handing us decreasing results. Enter the new age of inbound marketing.
What is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing is the methods of delivering your message that you see exploding all around us. Elements of inbound marketing include:
The difference inbound marketing provides is simple. The use of the components above (and others) to get your message in front of those businesses and consumers who are already interested and actively searching for you, your products and your services. Doesn't that make sense? You only need to speak to those who are qualified and in need.
Although the principles may sound straight forward, it is usually not a cake walk to create a comprehensive inbound marketing system. In fact, it is getting harder as more competition enters the game. In 2008 and 2009, SEO or search engine optimization might have been enough to gain position and establish significant traffic. That however, is not the case in 2010 and beyond. Although common sense will tell you, competition plays a major role in dictating how arressive your inbound marketing campaign should be, know this, in most markets, competition is increasing monthly.
What to do? Learn, learn, learn... This doesn't mean you need to stop and reschedule your to do list and become an expert in this new discipline. It just means that the more you understand the basics, the easier it will be to find your specific solution.Educate yourself on what is available in terms of consultation, software and strategy development.
Virtual Support Systems
Which strategy is best for my Business? Is it PPC Campaign or SEO (search engine optimization) and Link Building or Both? If both are important then what is the right mix? How much should I spend on PPC and how much on SEO? Which one has the high success rate? Which one is easy to manage? These are the questions which almost all business owners ask to themselves or to the experts while developing their online marketing strategies.
But before that, in case you don’t know the difference between PPC and SEO. Let me explain it to you. As the name imply in PPC, You pay to search engines or any other publisher for the clicks you get on your adverts in others word the traffic you are getting is Paid Traffic. On the Other Hand, In SEO you work on your website to improve its organic rankings in Search engines for your keywords and to get free traffic for your website (Free traffic here does not mean that SEO is free as you might have to spend money on SEO Experts and link building.).
Now the Question is which one is better? So, before jumping to a conclusion let me tell you the Pros and Cons of both PPC and SEO.
FREE SEO White Paper
Pay Per Click Campaigns
Pros - Do you have a new site and need some quick exposure? PPC Campaigns can give you quick results. You can launch your campaigns within hours and start getting traffic on your website.
PPC campaigns are easy to monitor and allows you to do more specific testing, providing you with detailed analysis of important things like how many times your ad had been shown, How many people clicked on them, Which ad got maximum clicks, what is the conversion rate etc.
PPC Campaigns are easy to control. You can control the placement of your ads, location where you want your ad to show, stop your campaign anytime you want.
PPC campaigns are also very effective to test the impact of changes in site architecture on conversion rate.
PPC campaigns are great if you are going to promote some seasonal items and when it is not feasible to wait for improvement in organic rankings.
Cons - PPC campaigns don’t have long term value. Your ads would disappear from search engines and content networks if you stop spending money on them
A big budget is required to run PPC campaigns if your niche is highly competitive and you are competing against big brands.
Paid ads get only 10% of clicks whereas organic search results get 90% of total clicks.
Search Engine Optimization
Pros - Organic Search results get 90% of clicks as compare to paid ads which get only 10% of clicks. It means you can get much more traffic if you can get top positions in organic results.
You don’t have to pay for extra traffic you get due to improvement of your website rankings in organic search results.
You can stop your SEO (search engine optimization) and link building campaigns for few months once your rankings become stable in Search results and can enjoy free traffic.
Proper SEO and Link Building would help you to increase the overall authority of your website.
You can easily beat the big brands without spending huge amount of money if your website is of high quality.
Cons - SEO and Link Building is a time consuming process. It usually takes 6-8 months or even more to achieve the top results in organic rankings depending on the quality of your website and competition in your niche.
No control on the Rankings of website and no guarantee of results because organic results are very unpredictable.
You may need to change your complete website architecture if your website is not user friendly as a part of onsite optimization.
As you have seen the pros and cons of both marketing strategies, the selection of the SEO or PPC depends on the purpose of your campaign. If you are looking for quick exposure for your new business then PPC campaign is your best option but if you are looking for long term solution then focus on your SEO and link building campaigns. Business owners need to maintain a proper balance between their SEO and PPC activities. While, Money spent on SEO should be considered as long term investment for your business, PPC campaigns should be used only to fill out the gaps which cannot be achieved with SEO like running ads on content networks, for doing research of proper keywords or to test the new design of website.