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Search Engine Visibility

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Are you successfully climbing the search engine ladder?

Rather than offering up the usual random top-10 SEO tips (where’s the value in that?), we decided to go straight to the source asking 24 business owners, "Where are you on the search engine ladder? and "What is your biggest search engine marketing challenge? The results are in!

We asked our poll takers to consider search engine traffic volume compared to referrals and direct traffic, search engine revenue, and impression share on targeted keywords, then posed the question, "On a scale of 1 to 5, where are you positioned in terms of visibility based on your priority keywords?"

Search Engine Visibility Poll Results
Search Engine Visibility Poll Results | Discuss this chart on Flickr

Twenty-one percent reported zero search engine visibility. These results confirm our own internal analysis of prospects and customers—marketing executives have yet to grasp the importance of search engine marketing and its impact to their companies' bottom line. While SEO and PPC awareness seems to have improved over the past few years, it's clear that search engine marketing has not yet made it to the top of the priority list.

Next we asked, "What is the most challenging area you face in search engine marketing?"
Search Engine Marketing Challenges Poll Results
SEM Challenges Poll Results | Discuss this chart on Flickr

These results suggest that businesses are struggling with more than just one challenge when it comes to marketing through the search engine channel. The first and most challenging seems to be "achieving high rankings for competitive keywords". There is a reason that measuring SEM performance by the position in search engine results pages is becoming less reliable - it's because search engines are serving personalized results skewed to searchers' past activity, location and possibly other factors.

In this case, we propose an attitude shift. In a highly competitive market filled also with increasingly personalized results, we suggest that businesses focus on conversions and traffic quality rather than just rankings.

The second biggest challenge is, "defining a SEM strategy that fits the business model and industry". Many businesses are implementing SEM tactics without a proper execution strategy and without an accurate understanding of what search engine marketing involves. While SEM is not rocket science, it is not a cookie cutter approach either. Successful search engine marketing requires dedicated resources, web analytics, expert knowledge, and a continuous learning curve.

Top 10 Steps to Help You Successfully Climb The Search Engine Ladder

  1. Whether you’re redesigning or launching your website, include your SEM consultant in the early stages of strategy.
  2. Allocate your search engine marketing budget to include both SEO and PPC. Integrated SEM campaigns generate a higher ROI when targeting organic and paid results.
  3. Audit in-house SEM procedures to ensure adherence with search engine guidelines. If unsure of a particular practice, ask a second opinion from a trusted source.
  4. Publish fresh and relevant content regularly. Be informative and persuasive.
  5. Optimize for users first, and search engines second. Users are your source of revenue.
  6. Educate your employees who publish online content and manage your website in SEM best practices. Organizational consistency helps stakeholders focus on their vision, and avoid inter-department competition.
  7. Measure the performance of all your SEM efforts.
  8. Continue optimizing post-click and spend equal time converting your traffic. Test and optimize your landing pages, checkout process, and lead generation funnel.
  9. Build your social presence. Networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn will drive relevant traffic to your website and increase your visibility in search engines.
  10. Unleash only your profitable keywords. Test on a regular basis and leave enough time to aggregate meaningful statistics.
Stay ahead of the curve by contacting Single Entry Point - get the experts working for you.
Mike LascutMike Lascut is Principal of Single Entry Point® Marketing, focusing on the search, email and analytics practice and leading the development of the Single Entry Point Email Marketing next generation product. Mike's professional career spans over twenty years, including twelve years of intelligent search and email marketing and over a decade and half of software architecture and development. When he's not pointing businesses in a smarter direction, Mike spends his time pointing his lens at wildlife. Connect with Mike on Linkedin, read his Nature Research Photography blog, or reach him via email or phone.