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Six Steps to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Success

Six Steps to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Success. Presented by Liz Jacobson, Online Marketing Specialist AutomationDirect.com Cumming,GA. Six Steps to SEM Success. Relevant content and user-friendly Web site.

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Six Steps to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Success

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  1. Six Steps to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Success Presented by Liz Jacobson, Online Marketing Specialist AutomationDirect.com Cumming,GA

  2. Six Steps to SEM Success • Relevant content and user-friendlyWeb site. • Identify the most popular online search engines, directories and other sources used by your audience 3) Be diligent with your keyword research. Identify negative keywords. 4) Develop a set of “landing pages” suitable for use in online promotions and “pay-per-click” campaigns 5)Decide how much you can spend for online campaign programs 6)Track campaign performance indicators. Remove poorly performing keywords to avoid wasting money. All traffic is NOT good traffic

  3. Step 1: Relevant Content / User-Friendly Site • Do not use obscure brand or jargon terms, slang, or acronyms typically used internally. • Use keywords & phrases used by your prospects & customers(Don’t guess) • Include detailed product descriptions, color photos, technical information or application examples suited to your audience. (Provide enough details to support a purchase decision). • Prospects want solutions to their problems, not a lot of advertising about your company. (Beware of “banner blindness”, use of pop-up ads, too much flash, or too many graphics) • Have a clear mission statement or unique value proposition featured prominently on your Home Page & other site pages (What do you offer? What makes you better or unique?) • You have 8 seconds or less to keep a prospect interested. If they don’t see keywords they are looking for, they hit the “Back” button & find your competitors. If users don’t see relevant information within 3-4 mouse clicks, they leave. (Provide the “scent of information”) • Search engines may assign you bad page rankings, or disqualify your keywords due to poor content. You can be “blackballed” for using unprofessional techniques. (Keyword stuffing, hidden text, doorway pages, linking farms) • Don’t use “click here” links. Use keyword rich text links. • Phone number & contact information should be readily available. Home page and/or Site Map should include popular keyword text links(e.g. Customer Testimonials) to cover all major areas of your Web site. (Easy navigation). • The best SEM campaign in the world cannot overcome a poorly designed Web site!

  4. Step 2: Identify traffic sources used by your audience • There are hundreds of search engines. Focus only on the ones that serve your target markets. (Be aware of global vs. regional vs. local) • Google is currently the #1 most popular search engine. Yahoo is #2. MSN is #3. This can change at any time. • Identify business directory sites, shopping comparison sites, or other sites used by your customers. (HINT: Do a Google search on your competitors, see where their results show up.) • Subscribe to Search Engine Marketing newsletters or visit sites that rate search engines (See the list of SEM resources I’ve provided) • Do a survey of some of your best customers. Ask them which search engines and other Internet resources they use most often. • Focus on the most popular sources first, or you will spread yourself too thin and waste time & money on unsuccessful campaigns. YAHOO! MSN

  5. Step 3: Keyword Research • Many tools are available to help you identify words & phrases used by your customers. (Some are free, some are not. Do a Google search for “free keyword tools”, also see the resource list I provided) • The words you think are best may not be words or phrases used in search queries. Avoid acronyms. Do research using the source you plan to use. (Google, etc.) • 2 and 3 word phrases are best. Avoid single word keywords that are too broad. (Very expensive, competitive, & will drive bad traffic). • Make a note of unrelated keywords that crop up during your research. These should be used as NEGATIVE keywords to prevent unwanted traffic. • Use your Web log reports to identify the keywords currently driving traffic to your site. • Keep a master spreadsheet of keywords and phrases, along with the URL of the associated content page where traffic will be sent. (Also known as a “landing page”) • Keep a list of keywords you delete due to poor performance, so that you don’t add them back later. WARNING: You can bid on trademarked terms, but you CANNOT display the trademarks of others in your advertising copy.

  6. Step 5: How much to spend on SEM? • Exploit good results from natural searches & SEO (free traffic); Supplement with paid programs as your time & budget will allow. (Natural results typically have a higher click-through rate & conversion rate. Divide your efforts between SEO & PPC) • It can take 10-90 days for search engine spiders to visit your Web site & start displaying new content results. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns & other online advertising can produce more immediate results. • A Google AdWords campaign can be created very quickly. You can control your daily spend, when your ads display (dayparting), and to what countries and languages. You can get traffic and cost estimates based on your keyword list. • Test a PPC campaign on Google first. (Or other popular source you’ve identified). After your test campaign has been fine tuned, try similar campaigns on other popular sources. (Keywords & ads will NOT necessarily perform equally well on all sources). • Do not get into “bidding wars”. Page ranking is competitive, but don’t make it a personal competition! • Don’t pay more for a keyword than it is worth. If you have a profit margin of $5, you shouldn’t spend $6 for a click-through. Every visit will not convert to a sale. More targeted terms are less competitive & less expensive. If a keyword becomes too costly, leave the bid at a comfortable level. Do more keyword research to find additonal keywords and phrases.

  7. Step 6: Track SEM campaign performance Many factors influence SEM success: Keyword choices, page rank, bid amount, proper traffic sources, good ad copy, relevant content, good Web site design. You will have to monitor your PPC campaigns closely. (Daily or weekly for new campaigns, less often for well-tested campaigns. Constant maintenance is required). You may have to test several variables before eliminating a keyword or traffic source. • Clicks: How many prospects click through on your sponsored ads? This is an indication of keyword popularity and the relevance of your ad copy and an appropriate audience. • CTR: Click Through Rate. 2-4% is average. Less than 2% indicates a problem. No clicks after 100 impressions is a bad indication. • Bounce Rate: Web site visitors leave immediately from the first landing page without viewing other site pages. Bounce rates of 70% and higher are suspect. 50% and less are good. • Page Views: If visitors view less than 3-4 pages on your Web site, there is often a problem. • Conversion rate: If keywords produce no goal conversions (new customer registrations, content downloads, newsletter subscriptions, information requests, product sales) something is wrong. You may be attracting the wrong audience, your Web site design is poor, your ad copy is ineffective, you may need to add more NEGATIVE keywords, or different keywords. • Page Rank: Where your ad is displayed among search results. If you are not in the top 1-15 positions you will not get as much traffic. Top 1-5 positions on the first page of results are best. Most Web users do not look beyond the first 1-3 pages of search results. You may have to increase your maximum bid amount, test new ad copy, or do additional keyword research to get good page ranking positions. (You do not have to be #1 to get good results).

  8. Summary • Your Web site must provide a firm foundation for success. Make sure it’s in good order before beginning a PPC campaign. Functionality and content is more important than appearance. • Know where your prospects go on the Internet. Pick the right traffic sources. • Don’t guess, do the keyword research! • Design landing pages relevant to your keywords. Don’t make visitors search too hard for related content or special offers. • Set realistic goals and budgets for your PPC efforts. Use PPC as a supplement to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). • You must evaluate PPC performance based on many variables. Performance data is critical to determining ROI. You will have to test many different factors. Just counting clicks is not good enough.

  9. SEM Resources I’ve compiled a list of some recommended Search Engine Marketing resources. (It was too lengthy to provide in a single slide). I’ll make arrangements with Mike Schinkel to get it distributed to the attendees.

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