A “Push or Pull” Perspective on Social Marketing

Not long ago, I wrote about the marketing limitations of Social Media. Today I want to note certain advantages of Social Media.

But first, let me tell you what inspired this post.

A fellow technology professional that I’ve known for years (and partnered with on occasion) has developed certain niche applications for very specific vertical markets. These niche applications are quite useful when understood and applied. But they are so innovative and unique that few if any prospects would ever search for them on the web.

I’ve written about this phenomenon in the past, citing Daniel Burris’ “New Golden Rule”.

Give your customers (and prospects) the ability to do what they can’t currently do, but would want to… if they knew it was possible”.

The above referenced applications do exactly that. The problem is – prospects don’t search for what they don’t know is possible – so search engine marketing can present some real challenges here.

But targeted B2B marketing, to the degree that LinkedIn provides, at least gets our message out to that niche market, right down to the niche persona. So LinkedIn may offer an advantage over search marketing in this regard (as well as in filtering out undesired prospect types).

Then we have Facebook. While it will never have the reach of the wider worldwide web, it does an incredible job of local marketing for the business owner who is actively social by nature,  but doesn’t have the logistical means to talk his or her venture up to 10,000 locals in a week. Facebook marketing can do that.

Push or Pull Marketing
Push out a targeted message when you cannot “pull in” an existing intention.

To recap from my earlier post, Social Media is still a “push” vs. “pull” medium. By this, I mean that you are pushing your message out to an audience vs. the audience searching for your product or service.

While you can limit search marketing geographically, you cannot target your message to a specific social network or business niche persona with the effectiveness of Facebook or LinkedIn. So … credit given where due … social marketing strategies have certain advantages over search marketing, despite the incredible reach, popularity and success of “inbound”  marketing.

We hear a lot about “inbound vs outbound” marketing in the digital space, but “push or pull” predates “online” by centuries. For example, when a consumer visits a mall intending to buy a sweater, he may enter a clothing store with no direct marketing enticement at all. You could try to “push” a pair of pants on him, but you’re more likely to ring up a sweater, since that is what he was intending to buy. His intention “pulled” him in of his own accord.

Search engine marketing is so successful because it replicates this long standing “fulfillment of intensions” online.

But it cannot fulfill a “really useful unknown”, and it cannot raise awareness of a business “you’d choose to buy from because of the owner’s good standing in your community”  – not like social media can.

Digital marketing offers a platform for every situation. Good strategy is the deployment of the right platform for the situation that fits it best.

Understanding Today’s Modular Website Design Strategy

Modular Website Design StrategyOver the years,  web design strategy has changed.

The “new strategy” gives us the latest technologies and most appealing design elements possible — at a fraction of the costs involved using the “old design strategy”. This post tells you how and why.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE

It would be nearly impossible for one individual to design, modify, host and secure a world class website (with complex applications) within a reasonable time frame and at a reasonable cost using the old strategy.

But today, with the help of a global community of expert designers, graphic artists, programmers, platform architects and database application experts, it’s not only possible, it’s well within reason.

HOW MODULAR WEBSITE DESIGN STRATEGY WORKS

PHP is the scripting language of WordPress, which works well with HTML and CSS (the foundation of modern web design and layout). But it also enables back-end MySQL functionality for practical, preconfigured “plugin” applications which power interactive forms, e-commerce, member communities, calendars, calculators and many other useful tools.

In a modular design world, one set of specialists can focus on the design and layout “module”, another set of specialists can focus on plugin application “modules”, while another (customer facing) specialist brings it all together to meet a project’s specific “final assembly” and marketing needs. We are that customer facing specialist – and your local business partner for web based marketing.

A good analogy is a musical trio of keyboard, percussion and string instrumentalists. Each musician is a focused specialist, yet the final product of their collaboration (the music) is of a higher form than the sum of each individual part.

Our theme developers create the first leg of this “modularity” by creating visually appealing design layouts, incorporating various creative scripts to enhance visual appeal. They will sell “single use” licenses to many “final assemblers” for, say, $60 each and a few unlimited use licenses for perhaps $1600 each, all from the creation and marketing of a single well-developed theme.

So, for example, a world class WordPress theme developer can easily sell 300 single use, and 12 multi-use licenses in two years for a top notch theme. That comes to $15,000 in revenue for a single theme.

So businesses could have a world class theme as the foundation of their web presence that would cost maybe $15,000 to be “theirs exclusively”, vs $1600 or less to have a final assembler customize that foundation to their specifics. Is there anything on the web today original enough to warrant that price difference? Probably not, but that’s for customers to decide.

So the first leg of today’s modular design strategy is a given: acquire a world class foundation for your web presence at a fraction of what it would cost to have it developed exclusivley for you. Then, let an experienced local developer customize that theme to your organization’s brand / image.

We install and modify elements and applications to your specifics.  And from an inbound marketing standpoint, we apply advanced SEO skills (plus years of practical sales and marketing experience) to make good things happen for your business.

As applications are updated, and new applications become available, we are able to “plug them in” rather than redesign the entire production (as the old strategy would require).

Clearly, the new modular design strategy is far superior to the old. There is no longer any real benefit to paying thousands of dollars for a unique design that becomes obsolete in a few years (or less).

Just as global corporations are migrating their old mainframes to ” dot net open source” for economies of scale and modularity, small businesses can take advantage of similar open source benefits – with today’s modular strategy.

You should expect no less from your local web presence partner.

Change Overdue for “SEO”

Back in the late 90’s the idea of mywebmarket.com was beginning to take shape. We started using the term “Search Engine Optimization” back then, before it really caught on – even before Google went public.

In those days it was all about studying the search ENGINE (its algorithms) and how it indexed and ranked pages. Eventually, the terms Search ENGINE Optimization, and then Search ENGINE Marketing, came into widespread use.

Today, things have changed. We pretty much know, almost intuitively, how the engines operate. Though we hear a lot about the horrors of pirates, pandas pigeons and penguins, we haven’t seen anything unpredictable from these algo changes at all.

Search engine algorithms are a basic form of artificial intelligence, and like all A.I., the objective is to gradually become more organic. It was only a matter of time, for example, before social signals informed Google search of human preferences on the web.  With popularity and link authority so well established already, this was no surprise.

Algo changes will come and go, but the trend is clear. Search engines are becoming increasingly humanized. We even personify them in voice generated mobile search (Help me to … Show me where … How can I …)

Clearly, it’s not the engine we need to “figure out”, it’s the searcher. Algos are becoming more natural, but human motivation remains complex. This realization has been a recurring theme in my posts about SEO and SEM. Both are terms that I am gradually changing in my own personal lexicon, and in my discussions with clients.

In our upcoming rebranding, I will be referring to OSO (organic search optimization) and PSM (paid search marketing). I feel these terms reflect the current state of search engine intelligence more accurately, as it becomes “more natural” in its evolution.

SEO is CLEARLY becoming OSO
Taking the ENGINE out of SEO

And with this new focus on the SEARCHER, instead of the ALGORITHM, we can see that the engine is secondary and the searcher is prime.

Search engines are a means to an end, and they will always become more organic, more social, more natural if you will, and more “human-like”. With that in mind, everything we need to know about the engines just naturally falls into place. Our social instincts will do the rest.

What we need to know about searchers is more complex, and more significant.  Analyzing actual search queries (made by humans of course) and fully understanding what motivates those searches is challenging. But it’s worth doing, since that is in essence what the algo’s are beginning to do, and to improve upon over time.

Certain situations arise which compel us to perform a search. They aren’t always the situations we predict, but as we follow the journey of a searcher, who becomes a prospect, and then a customer, we tend to learn more about those situations and apply them to our search marketing strategy.

We humans are still vastly superior than any form of A.I., in the intricacies of understanding one another – our behaviors, our motivations and our impulses. But over the past 15 years, the algos have gotten exponentially better at it. They still have a long way to go, but time marches on. If you write content as though a human being was your audience, not a machine – you’ll do just fine.

This is NOT to say that certain technical problems resulting from bad practices don’t hurt organic rankings. They do. But from a standpoint of content alone, “natural” trumps “artificial” and that trend will continue.

As marketers, we’d all love for prospects to seek us out directly, and to have us solve their problems … but they don’t. They ask the search engine instead. And if we’ve done our job right, the search engine leads them to us. In that way, the engine serves as a “bridge” between us.

Search engines are indeed acting more like information advocates than robots. And I expect this trend will only increase in the future.

It’s time to change the way we think about “SEO”.

We’re not optimizing for the engine. We’re optimizing for each other.

The Limitation of Social Media

Will social content ever be able to compete with well optimized landing pages for search engine position? Not any time soon in our opinion, due to the massive growth and meandering of tweets and posts.

Limits of Social Media

This is why well optimized blog posts differ so much from social media. They are easily  index-able (partly due to their permalink structure). They usually contain much more relevant content than a tweet or post. And finally that content is published on platforms which facilitate keyword optimization.

While social media giants seem to be creating their own “web within the web” frame of reference, including their own internal search engines (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) relevant search results are limited to their own domains. Facebook does offer outside search results through Bing (but that’s an entirely separate matter).

With Facebook, post addresses are somewhat convoluted and not SEO friendly. Facebook does occasionally index and return individual posts (even to users not logged in) but these have little chance of competing with well optimized content from relevant site pages.

Generally speaking, you cannot create a static, indexable permalink from content that does not have an address (like social likes or replies). Just this year, Google and Twitter revisited their “deal” to have Google index the Twitter feed. But as this article indicates, it may be a while before tweets rank well.

We do see some LinkedIn Pulse artcles being indexed due to their post-name default link structure, and the general business type length and structure of certain posted content. We think that LinkedIn has a good chance of competing with “average” page content, and may set the search friendly mark for social a bit higher.

Social media, as it exists today, does not appear to be trying to replace the utility of the broader search engine universe.

As an adjunct to other web-based marketing tools, social content has a long way to go before it begins to compete with the search results of well optimized page or blog post content.

We should understand and view social media as the very useful tool for “immediate impact” and “targeted distribution” that it was designed to be. In a world of constant, rapid change, social media is the utility of “real-time, right now updates” for a given audience that is a bit more intimate than “the world at large”.

Search engines on the other hand index content that is available to the global audience outside the social network’s circles. They capture updates of page content –  but keeping up with Social tweets and posts may be too much for even Google to handle.

Even if the search engines chose to index all that explosive user-generated content, from adolescent teens to recipe posting Grandma’s, would they really want to with PPC being their lead revenue source?

Social media has its place in the world. A good place indeed. But it also has its limitations. The key to social media is to understand both its utilities and its limitations – leverage the strengths, and don’t fight againts its weaknesses.

“Tallahassee Web Design” – Does it Matter?

For years web designers in Tallahassee have attempted to dominate the top SERP (search engine results page) in order to attract local business.

But do people who search for “web design” really need web design?

Map for Tallahassee Web DesignWe tend to search the web today based on past searches and past results. As long as our expectations are met, those results become a feedback loop. In the 1990’s, people searched much like they do today, even though the role of a local “web designer” has changed significantly in recent years.

Back then, small businesses needed someone to get their business name and value proposition onto the world wide web. This was a basic need, during a time when search engines were less complex, and the web was far less crowded. Good navigation and layout practices (along with nifty software like “Flash”) were used to create an appealing experience in contrast to the multitude of amateurish sites springing up.

Today, small businesses still benefit by meeting with a local web presence developer, but is “web design” really an accurate description of what’s being provided? In some cases perhaps it is, but quite often, there’s much more going on than that.

Is “Tallahassee Web Design” What Searchers Really Need?

Today most small businesses have a web site of some sort, with many others competing for the same customers. In a few cases, a start-up business is in need of a brand new web presence, but in most cases businesses are looking for better results from an existing website that isn’t meeting their expectations.

They may really be looking for an “effective online business strategy” or an “online lead generation system”. But they’re not always searching for that. Searchers looking for these things will probably search for “Tallahassee Web Design” because:

  1. Feedback loops of the past still inform search behavior
  2. That phrase will get them better results than a more detailed and complicated query.
  3. They still want to meet and work with someone locally.

Local web design firms compete to be found for that phrase, partly because it establishes that they can optimize their own websites, but also because they know how prospects search.

We find that businesses who search for a local web design firm are often looking for:

  • a defined online business objective
  • an articulate value proposition
  • a content marketing strategy
  • web-apps that add helpful functionality
  • a successful social media strategy
  • an optimal promotional message
  • an online lead generation system
  • an ecommerce or similar fulfillment platform
    (and so on …)

Notice that the words “web design” do not appear in any of the above,  and yet … many business owners hope to find all or some of these features by performing that search.

Websites That Meet Search Result Expectations

It’s not always exactly what you do that matters to searchers, it’s what searchers expect to find based on the simplest way to express what they need.

We examine search queries to determine how search behavior applies to an advertiser’s specific strengths. We look at what you’re really good at, what you want to do more of, and what helps your bottom line.

And then we analyze the behavior of searchers looking for those three things. And then finally, we develop content that draws that search demand to you, in a relevant way.

We wouldn’t call that process “web design”. We wouldn’t even call it “search engine optimization”.  What would YOU call it?

A Value System – Truth Sells, Honesty Pays

Selling is an honorable Profession - ZigOver my many years of sales and sales management, I’ve noted a fairly common widespread trend. People tend to “get into sales” with a preconceived notion that it’s not an honorable job – they believe that the prime objective is “making lots of money, which is probably going to require deceptive tactics – all salespeople do it (they think), it just comes with the territory.”

The tendency even shows up in the semantics of our typical sales-speak, where conversations about “attacking” a segment (as though customers were enemies) is all too common.

I completely disagree with this long-held  newbie-notion that customers “need to be manipulated to be sold”. And while some people nowadays might consider the late Zig Ziglar dated or “corny”, I feel I’m in good company to agree with his comments on the subject:

Selling is an honorable profession. Sales professionals are held to a higher standard than other professionals. Why? Because salespeople are trained in the skills of persuading and influencing. Therefore, they must hold themselves to the highest ethical standards.

Unfortunately though, we live in an age where unethical behavior has been egregiously rewarded, especially on Wall Street (and elsewhere).  I suspect that leaves the wrong impression on many young professionals as they embark on their careers, but that model is becoming obsolete, and the world is changing again (though not soon enough for me).

It’s all about our VALUE SYSTEM. And while the leveraging of our debt-based fiat money system is far too complex a topic for me to go into here, it reflects upon our value systems elsewhere – in our personal lives, and in our professional lives – which brings me back to the subject at hand.

It’s easy for new salespeople to get lost in the popular notion of “deceiving customers to get them to do what you want them to do”, because they haven’t yet developed the power of persuasion yet.

Once that power is developed, if any form of conscience is their guide, they’ll be more than a little wary of abusing it. The repercussions can be life-changing.

And therein lies THE POWER OF TRUTH. There is no more powerful a tool of persuasion than the TRUTH, and part of that TRUTH is the knowledge that your company has a viable value proposition  (it better had – if not, get the heck out of there as fast as you can) that makes it the right choice for certain prospects in the marketplace.

Now, NO company can do all things for all people. So the job of the sales professional is to clearly understand what differentiates his or her company, and its products or services, from those viable competitors in the marketplace, who are also striving to carve out their niche.

And then … go forth and engage those prospects that your company “owns” by virtue of its value proposition’s particular relevance to their business model. Then look them in the eye and tell them the TRUTH, with all the conviction that understanding brings.

When you encounter that prospect who is “close” to being your company’s ideal prospect, but not quite the hands down candidate that your company truly owns, can YOU yourself add the extra value that makes doing business with your company the deciding vote?  if so, then tell THAT TRUTH, with the same conviction.

Why does the TRUTH work in a world where so much wealth has been created (in part)  by telling lies?

Just look at the success of social media, and see how the marketing concepts of the digital era sync up and align with this same over-arching sales truism of honesty and transparency.  Opening up a business’s online presence to the TRUE POWER of social media means being 100% vulnerable to the 100% transparency of an online customer relationship policy for all the world to see.

Showing how you treat customer interactions transparently, on a daily basis, is the TRUE POWER of social media, because it represents the unvarnished TRUTH about the character of your company. If your company deceives customers to make unearned sales as a standard operating policy, that customer regret is going to haunt you on social networks to the point of failure – such is the power of social. Those who fear it will avoid it, and lose the benefit as well.

But again, I mention our value system as the backbone of everything we do, and it affects social media as well.

Facebook for example has been the topic of much discussion online lately, as it’s value system projects the same skewed reward mechanisms that most Wall Street IPOs are enriched by today. It’s founders and early investors are the benefactors of a get rich quick scheme to “bait and switch” followers into paying for something that was once free – so that a few people can become immensely wealthy, disproportionately to the true valuation of the service.

That is to say that if Mark Zuckerberg was making about 300 grand a year and investors were making a decent return instead of “a killing”, we wouldn’t have our feeds throttled back to the extent that Facebook is nearly completely monetized now, with “Like Farms” springing up, and more and more people gradually using it today for the wrong reasons (self-aggrandizement, popularity contests) than the right ones (transparency and altruism).

Even the digital model of Facebook and others (give it away for free until you have so much satisfied user mass that charging for it yields a windfall profit) is being challenged by the UBER type model, leveraging user mass in a much more democratized, socially distributed way.

So there is always gravitational pull from the dark side of human nature that tempts us to take shortcuts for the easy rewards today – in sales and elsewhere – rather than making the long committment to the TRUTH, and it’s tendency to prevail.

That prevalence gradually causes people like me (and others) to become tired of Facebook’s increasingly self-serving premise, and drop off in interest and usage, until something more honest comes along.

It’s a fairly relevant analogy. The salesperson who is self-serving will likewise find their prospects becoming disinterested and “drop off in interest and usage” until someone more honest comes along.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Part II

In Part I of this series, we hinted at a website search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that involved getting website owners or employees in the business of digital marketing.

That may seem like a good way for a digital marketer to plan for retirement. But believe me, there are more technical roles for the digital marketer to undertake than posting on Facebook, or a blog.

Naturally, I post articles related to my business and my profession for certain reasons. Take this post for example. Within a month or so, it will be found by people who are interested in, and searching for website search engine optimization. Some of them may contact me for help in this area.

But no matter what I write about. If it’s interesting and well written, and if it is well optimized for its subject matter, and if there is ample demand for it, it will be searched for and found. That’s a simple fact of modern life.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With WordPress SEO by YoastSEO is a big part of my business and my value proposition as a consultant and service provider. So I tend to write it about it more than, say, pizza (something I love even more than SEO).

So what about you? What about your business? What about your value proposition? Is that something you can write about? Do you love it? Do you at least like it enough to write something interesting about it, or would you rather try to make your living eating pizza?

Now, as an SEO professional, I have a little bit of an edge over the average blogger – I understand WordPress SEO, I have it installed on this blog, and I know how to use it, optimally.

Some of our customers also have blogs, but most just post on Facebook. After all, doesn’t everybody? And that’s great, because it proves that YOU CAN PUBLISH TO THE WEB. We couldn’t say that 15 years ago when I had just started forming the concept of mywebmarket.com, a web based marketplace that YOU operated from your own WebAds account (with a little help, when needed).

That concept is more viable today than ever before. And yet getting business owners to write about their businesses is still a struggle.

But it’s my job to help! So our customers (and our newsletter subscribers) will be receiving a special offer to have a WordPress blog installed, with the WordPress SEO plugin included.

The offer will include a hands-on screen sharing tutorial via Google Hangout that clearly shows how I optimize posts using basic SEO optimization strategy (in conjunction with WordPress SEO) using real post by post examples, including this one.

But most importantly, I’m going to show the results, in my Google analytics account, that prove beyond a shadow of doubt, how well these techniques can work.

And these business owners will see how to apply these same techniques to their business, and to their website optimization strategy, to achieve the same great SEO scoring, and results.

I’ll even do a little of the heavy lifting and optimize their first few posts so that they can have a template for success to look back upon going forward.

The offer is going out once in October and once in November, and it’s only going out to newsletter subscribers.

There’s only so much I can convey in a blog about website search optimization – what we’ll convey in the coming live, interactive Google Hangout will go far beyond a single post – but if a single post gets you there, that’s good enough for now.

Inbound Marketing – 4 Keys To Success

Bruce Sutter's Split Finger Fastball
An Effective Inbound Pitch

I recently read an article that questioned the validity of Inbound marketing based on the financials of a company that is probably considered the “poster child” of inbound.

Without getting into that discussion at all, let me just say that the validity of inbound marketing success rests upon one of the most solid foundations of our information age, namely that:

“Prospects are findng your solution at the peak moment of interest – when they are actually searching for it.”

It’s pretty hard to seriously question the logic of that premise, both from a common sense standpoint, and from a financial one.

To truly comprehend the superiority of search engine marketing (SEM) and other forms of inbound over the outbound “spray and pray” methodology of times past, it helps to be a sales veteran of the pre-digital era.

Those experiences will help to inform an effective “digital sales strategy” for today. But we still have to fully embrace and understand inbound marketing to leverage its superiority.
Part of that understanding is that:

  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions
  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions very well
  •  not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you
  •  those who do find you, may not like what they find

These are “givens” within the realm of inbound. Once you address them in your strategy, your success will probably increase on an order of magnitude relative to improvements you make in each of these areas. Let’s take them one at a time.

Not everyone searches the web for solutions

That’s why email marketing is still considered a viable component of any inbound strategy  – to convert non-searching email users (a big number to factor into your “sales numbers game”) into potential customers – by directing them to your landing page through a relatively effective means other than search..

Not everyone searches the web for solutions very well

Here’s where it really gets sticky – and where SEO expertise comes in handy.  In my last linkedIn article I covered this in some detail. Of course it’s all about relevance, but it’s about perception too – your prospect’s perceptions – you have to capture those perceptions on their terms , yet relevant to you  (set your expectations accordingly).

Not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you

Another given, yet you can minimize this factor in several ways. Email marketing , as mentioned, is one. You may also want to engage in display network advertising if it’s the right venue for you. With display networks, people are not “searching for your solution at their peak moment of interest”. Ratherthey are being “served your message while doing something else online” … based on certain online behaviors which profile an interest in your solution type.

 Those who do find you, may not like what they find

And why should they (after all ) unless you’re rewarding them for being  smart enough to engage your least expensive sales channel (in a very price – sensitive and competitive environment) ?

You owe it to your inbound prospect to at least acknowledge their expedience in the form of a tangible reward of some type – exclusive to customers acquired online.

And if you do, you’ll gain a competititve edge over those who do not. Creativity usually earns dividends here.

Cover these 4 key strategies if you aren’t today, and I would expect your inbound success to grow accordingly. Just measure and monitor to continually reach higher.

Next time, we’ll cover the follow-up outbound call strategy (you’ll eventually have to call about 90% of inbound leads at some point anyway). Here’s where the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing BUT the Truth actually pays off in your outreach approach.

Bruce Sutter image source

SEM: The Challenge of Technical Keywords

In our increasingly complex and technical world, we take for granted many new technologies and related terms that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Because searchers on the web have varying degrees of familiarity with these terms, their ability to find what they are looking for varies as well. To say that technical keywords present a challenge in digital marketing would be something of an understatement.

As technical terms and keywords grow continually, so grows the necessity to distinguish the nuances of our technical lexicon.

PPC, SEM and SEO - the challenge of technical keywordsEven in the practice of SEM / SEO , we have growing permutations of technical jargon. So when we market a client’s technical product or service, we should be equally sensitive to the many variations of terms that could  veer quality searchers away from our content. We should also be on the lookout for close match searches that bring the wrong kind of searcher to our online destinations – because we can be paying dearly for “clickers” who bounce away (leave our destination) quickly – which has negative consequences beyond just an irrelevant visit.

With SEO, we look at webmaster tools and analytics to determine what search terms are attracting visits, and we make a judgement call about the value of those terms – and based on that, we adjust.

With SEM, we use AdWords Dimensions to track terms that trigger paid clicks, and fine tune with negative keywords and keyword matching options. Let’s talk about that for a moment, and try to close the gap between what we think Google is supposed to do, and what we observe it actually doing in practice.

If you’ll look at the link above, at the way Google defines phrase match and exact match, I think you’ll find that in practice, query matches tend to be much less restrictive than those simple explanations provide. And this tendency is greatly magnified in the realm of technical jargon, due to the burgeoning of technical terms that correspond to similar (in the mind of the searcher) yet irrelevant (in the mind of the advertiser) offerings.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of high tensile strength coated fibers that are superior to steel cable in bridge suspension applications for the construction engineering industry.  You may need to avoid being confused with fiber optic cable manufacturers who supply a completely different product to the telecommunications industry.

Or you could be a service bureau who provides optical scanning services to convert contracts and invoices into digital format for a line of business workflow database – and somehow be confused with providers of digital converters for analog television sets.

I know it sounds absurd, but I’ve seen both, and I’ve seen searchers click on Ad text that has NOTHING to do with what they are searching for. In fact, I’ve literally seen them do this in droves (to my complete dismay) partly for the reasons cited above.

Clearly, as the complexity of your offerings increases, variations of exact matches will need to increase as well.

We have to remember that in our technical world, there are many levels of acumen and understanding. These levels range from novice searchers just beginning to learn how to effectively find their target destinations on the web, to advanced searchers who are far more likely to search more narrowly and click more precisely.

And keep in mind also that search perspectives can vary by measures beyond intellect or sophistication alone. A CFO will not search using the same terms as a CIO – but both can be influential in a complex enterprise technology sale.

Objective: Quanitity of Clicks or Quality of Searcher?

In our Adwords campaigns, when we see a keyword beginning to dominate impressions and clicks, it’s generally a good indication that the term is too broad. That’s when we peer into the Adwords Dimensions tool and look at the keywords that are generating clicks.

When we do that, we begin to see a whole new dimension of what is being searched for, relative to our marketing intent. And as with any other metrics tool, we adjust accordingly. Then we begin to ask ourselves, “Who are these searchers?” Are they decision makers, influencers, or even obstructionists? Are they employees of our target accounts, or are they our own competitors, or perhaps industry analysts?

They could even be potential partners searching for ways to support their clients, who in turn support our efforts (as partners – which sometimes occurs) in our high-dollar complex technology sale.

The term “Dimensions” is quite fitting for this AdWords feature tab. I highly recommend exploring it, along with each of the 12 drop down views below, especially “search terms”. Using Dimensions, you’ll be able to fine tune your matching and decide where exact matches need to be used.

But you’ll gain more than that – you’ll begin to gain the perspective of your searchers as they arrive at your content. And that perspective is invaluable.

Redefining Your Keyword Strategy

As businesses mature they tend to spend a lot of time refining their keyword strategy. This approach includes looking at existing keywords and measuring their performance in various ways.

Don't overcomplicate your keyword strategy ...Inspecting and managing keyword performance is important, but in our ever-changing world, defining (or re-defining) your keyword mix can be equally important.

In fact, this may just be the most important part of “refining” your strategy, especially in our ever-changing world of technology.

How Did You Originally Define Your Keyword Strategy?

Assuming you did it correctly, you probably originally established your keyword mix by answering  a few simple questions, like:

1) What are we really good at?
2) What do we want to do more of?
3) What makes us successful?

Now there are more questions we could ask, like “what is really profitable for us?” or “what do our customers love?” and these are good sub-questions to ask. But in essence, they pretty much fall under the three questions above, or some variation of those.

The objective here is not to limit yourself to three questions, but rather to take a sometimes overcomplicated idea and make it simple.

In the world of B2B software consulting for example, a system integrator might have a difficult time just answering those three questions (believe me, I know) because the answers are pretty much in a state of constant flux.

Software partners are constantly changing their licensing or pricing structures, new versions and new features constantly come to market. New acquisitions can come into play, new talent appears, and opportunities for new business (along with prospect focus) can change fairly regularly.

Keyword  Content Gets Indexed More Quickly

In the early days of SEO, the time it took to for spiders to index a new page or keyword change was typically about 60 days. But today, with the prolific growth of search engine spiders, databases and algos, content changes or additions can take effect in search results much more quickly.

In the case of social media,  ideas or offers can be seen immediately, and promoted across multiple networks. And, in our webmaster tools accounts, we can ask Google to “fetch” our changes literally on demand.

Today, it’s a matter of days, even hours (not months) for content to be indexed, liked or shared.

How Will You Refine Your Keyword Strategy?

While some businesses stick to a branding strategy of consistent keywords that speak to their unique and enduring strengths, not all businesses are so lucky as to have earned the status and brand recognition required to rest on their laurels.

There is no truer proof of this than in the very competitive realm of technology development – because inevitably (and by definition) technology is always changing .

So we always have to re-evaluate our original questions, with our emphasis placed on the context of “TODAY”.

What are we really good at TODAY?
Our business has probably evolved (even traditional businesses do, to some extent) since we established our original keyword mix. We have probably hired new people, developed new talents, created new offerings and opened up new markets as a result.

This is an excellent time to practice the art of story telling on our company blog, which articulates that evolution – rich with those new keywords. Who are the champions of these positive changes? Can we tap into their expertise to really tell the story accurately and credibly?

What do we want to do more of TODAY?
We ask this important question because the reasons behind “why we want to do more of this” can be many, and not so obvious. There may be strategic partnerships that could be strengthened, there could be new, high margin opportunities available, or certain strategic rewards could be enabled, that are beyond the surface.

Again, leadership within the company deserves to be aware of the power of a refined keyword strategy toward furthering these goals – both those that are apparent, and those which have a deeper long term purpose. We can guess at the obvious, but we have to ask the question before the answer “either surprises us or not”. If we are surprised, even a little, the question was well worth asking.

What makes us successful?
This open ended question is meant to be more thought-provoking than the knee-jerk response of “making money”. Sure, the profit motive is a very important consideration, but what gets us there? Happy customers? Happy employees? Happy partners? Happy regulators? So when we put some thought into this, it’s again worth devoting some time to the less obvious answers.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with devoting a  blog post or a social mention to something that indirectly contributes to your success, especially if you want to build that enabler and grow that aspect of your business.

By starting with a simple foundation when defining your original keyword strategy, and by asking the right key people the right questions TODAY, you’ll have an organic, evolving keyword strategy that always taps into the relevance of your evolving business strategy.

Refining your keyword mix is certainly pertinent to the larger SEO strategies we talk about in other articles. In fact, you’ll probably notice a common thread among all our articles which support the larger idea of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

In that comprehensive strategy, each component strengthens the other, so that you are leveraging specific best of class techniques to support the broader strategy.

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