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To run a comprehensive search marketing program, you will need to use both organic search and pay per click advertising. Before investing heavily in either area, I'd like to show you how you can save time, money and effort by allowing these services to compliment one another.
Tip #1: Record & Review Web Analytics Regularly
Run, don't walk to get some analytical reports that record data on your site visitors. You will need to use your web analytics tool to locate the following data:
- What pages convert the best?
- What is the most common path through your web site?
- How are visitors searching for you now?
- What are your average conversion rates?
(There is other data that will prove to be helpful, but the above represent the standards that apply to all sites and all markets.)
Once you have access to this data, you need to make it a point to record it and review it on a regular basis. Doing so will open your eyes to critical trends in your visitor behavior.
Armed with this information, you can then monitor the effectiveness of future tests in PPC spending (like different keyword targets, ad groups and landing pages) while also providing insight to how successful your search engine optimization is performing.
Tip #2: Smart Execution Requires Patience
Many of our clients come to us wanting to see an overnight success, but the truth is that results take time to develop. While we may stumble upon a needle in a haystack overnight from time to time — there is a wealth of work and effort that goes into each successful marketing plan.
In order to evaluate success with your SEO and PPC efforts, you must test a large enough sample of users and time ranges.
Never consider a PPC campaign a success by reviewing less than 1,000 visitors. Doing so will skew your data, and leave you susceptible to many potential oversights — including the following which tend to be the most common:
- Time of Day: Users act differently during business hours than they will at night. Likewise, search based traffic on the weekend is much different in origin than during the week for some markets.
- Origin of Traffic: Google AdWords by default can send you traffic from search based pages as well as from content-matched third party sites. The patterns that develop between each source of the referral are incredibly different.
- Changes in Ad Copy: Subtle changes in your ad copy or the placement of the ad on a page will many times dictate how your users act and react once they arrive at your site.
In all of these cases, sampling a small audience will result in data that provides a false sense of security for you. If your test only lasted through business hours on one day — we would strongly advise you to activate that ad full time on a much more conservative level. You can't expect to set the ad spend through the roof and just let the ad run… because you could be wasting your money quickly and end up with nothing to show.
Tip #3: Use PPC Success to Dictate SEO Goals
Once you have identified some strong areas of performance and conversion for your pay per click efforts, we recommend revising your organic search efforts accordingly. For example, you may find a dozen keywords that are converting into sales on your site like crazy — but you also know that PPC is the only vehicle you have to reach those potential customers.
Well, change things up! The beauty of SEO is that you are able to make changes, adapt your keyword targeting and test a number of items without ever spending more than your own time.
The end goal of this exercise is to rank well for the terms that you were once paying for. Once you can earn your way to the top, you can then refocus your ad spend and approach other markets.
Tip #4: Scalability Is Key!
The final tip we would like to offer up is the importance to keep things scalable. For many of our clients, successful search marketing campaigns result in a big time commitment on their end. Be sure that you have the manpower to accommodate more calls, emails and leads through your site.
Having a systematic approach in place will allow you to quickly get things done and continue to grow your business out using the engines to your advantage.
When you pay for traffic, you always feel more committed to the end goal of improving your ability to generate business online. Do not allow yourself to become complacent with your progress. The most successful efforts exist when you revise data regularly, adapt to your visitors needs, and minimize the amount of work that your visitors need to take before closing the process.