In the last few years, many traditional agencies have tried and failed to dip their toes into search marketing. Others have tried to find partner agencies but experienced limited success. Either way, it has left a bad taste in both the agency and their client's mouth. Here is a list of common mistakes and a few ideas for the agencies to consider before partnering or investing in search.
1. Search is the last piece. “We will just add it to the website after we are finished.” -Famous last words. Sorry, but SEO isn’t a shot you inject into your website. Success in the search engines is a collaboration of many parties within your organization and outside of it. It takes a great deal of research and strategy. Optimizing a website for Google extends beyond the technical upgrades to a website. It now includes adding supportive content to the site that answers consumers’ questions and (bonus!) features keywords for which it aims to rank. A website is not much different than a physical store where most transactions still take place. SEO improves the user’s experience when navigating a website. Pushing these efforts to a later date or half-assing the work prevents a website from earning valuable search engine real estate. Here’s the icing on the cake: The limited number of customers that reach the site are likely unsatisfied with the on-site content if the brand hasn’t utilized keyword research as a guide for solving problems. 2. Lowest person on the totem pole has the responsibility of managing or implementing. It isn’t that this is an inherently poor idea. Often these positions can afford the time for massive amounts of learning. The problem starts when the reporting and requests come in. The lowest folks on the totem pole can’t always move the needle when it comes to resources; they do not have the authority to spend the budget or allocate a team members’ time. The other issue is the lack of experience they can bring to the project. To be successful in search marketing, it isn’t enough to just have an understanding of the technology – there must also be an understanding of the consumers’ needs. This critical awareness typically comes with time and experience (although not always). 3. More time is spent in analytics than on the campaign. The tools and the information available to us are amazing; it is vital to review and understand the data for future success – but it’s easy to get distracted or discouraged by the constant fluctuation of traffic or SERP positions. Action is typically more valuable than contemplation. It is absolutely important to spend time setting goals and creating a meaningful report – one that gives specific direction and tangible steps. That is when the investment of time will pay off. Logging into Google Analytics every day will not change the results.
4. They just do not believe in it. There isn’t much an agency can do when there is not a belief in the power of the search engines. Like it or not, it happens. When the decision-makers of a brand haven’t experienced SEO success firsthand, they’re not likely to consider future efforts worth the required time and budget.
The ideas below aren't just points to consider – they're also part of the practice. 1. The big idea doesn’t always come from you, the agency. In a previous life I worked at a branding agency. I would constantly hear statements about “the big idea” and “that doesn’t feel on brand.” While I completely understand the need to build a brand and maintain the integrity, it seems that agencies like this miss the point and power of search marketing. They are looking at a website as a static extension of the brand. While that is true to a degree, a website should help you learn about and mold the brand ¬– and in large part, lead it. Improvement is a core concept of search marketing that agencies need to understand. The improvement should come from consumer feedback and data. 2. Function, then form. While aesthetics have and will continue to improve online, the simplest of sites still prove to be successful. Function rules. Consumers have a job to do when they are searching, even if it is something mundane. If the best attribute of your content is the design, it will only be as successful as the trend.
3. A consumer search = A consumer need. What is the starting point for online success? Consumer need. Think about the volume of search for an industry combined with the value of a transaction. Those two factors greatly contribute to what industries and companies are willing to invest. 4. Bounce rate and conversion rate = consumer satisfaction Learn what content and messaging people respond to and optimize the format in which you present it. Search might be the most effective way to test messaging and conversion paths. If you have a low bounce rate, your ability to optimize for conversion is greatly improved. May not a novel concept to all, but there are those out there who haven’t looked at this way.
Search marketing involves more than keyword-enriched metadata and 301 redirects. We scratch our heads when companies don’t see the value of investing in efforts that yield results almost instantly. Google is a digital matchmaker; it aligns customers with potential solutions to their queries. Maybe that’s why we and so many other internet marketers have chosen to come into work every day and follow Google's rules blindly; we see that it’s an opportunity to improve Evolve’s and our clients’ processes. Search tactics and trends shift over the months, but the basic motive remains the same: to meet potential clients halfway and win them over with an effective on-site strategy.