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September 26, 2008
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October 13, 2008

SEM – Emphasis on the “M”

We often speak with clients who want to be #1 in Google for a wide range of keywords that describe their business, but really don’t have enough traffic to justify working on. It sometimes is hard for them to understand why we would not recommend going after the key phrase that perfectly describes their business – in some cases. After a lengthy discussion, we’re able to explain to them that getting to the top of the search engines for a group of keywords won’t do them any good at all, if there is absolutely no one searching for those keywords. This is basically the reason it’s called “Search Engine Marketing “, and not “Search Engine Positioning “. We’re “marketing” your company and trying to increase sales through your website, not just trying to make you feel warm and fuzzy that you can type in some obscure keyword and come up #1 in Google.

A lot of SEM companies really don’t focus on the marketing aspect. They get the list of keywords that the client gives them, don’t make any recommendations, and then just work on getting them to the top for those keywords. If they get them there, they’ve done their job. But is that the way it really should be? We don’t think so, and neither do most of the reputable companies in our industry. The only real way for us to measure the effectiveness of our work is by looking at how much we’ve increased the traffic to a site. Increasing traffic (and your bottom line!) is our “real” job. Getting companies up to the top of the search engines for higher-traffic’d keywords is just the one of the ways we do it.

Here’s a good SEO marketing example:

We have a new client that provides an amazing alternative to Lasik eye surgery that gives you perfect 20/20 vision through wearing special contacts at night while you sleep. It’s called Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K. Ever heard of it? Neither has anyone else, but people are interested when they do hear about it. So instead of going after the word “Orthokeratology,” which has an extremely low amount of traffic, or “Ortho-K,” which isn’t much better, we’re going after high traffic terms related to “Lasik Eye Surgery,” which has a huge amount of traffic, plus it’s relevant to the people searching for it. We are making the site relevant for being a Lasik Alternative, rather than making it solely relevant to Orthokeratology. It would be much easier to get to the top of Google for the Ortho-K based keywords, but they wouldn’t produce anywhere near the results that the Lasik based keywords would, which means the more effective marketing decision, in this case, is to use the Lasik based keywords.

SEO Basics: Pop Quiz

Which is better:

A #8 position for the word “Mexican Food”, or a #1 position for the word “Mamacita’s Authentic Mexican Tortillas?”

How about this one:

A number #10 position for “iPod Accessories,” or a #1 position for “Portable hard-drive music player accessories?”

Here’s a little bit harder one:

A #22 position on the word “financial planner,” or a #3 position on the word “Los Angeles Financial Planner?”

The first 2 are pretty clear cut, but on the last one, if you’re a financial planner in L.A., it might be better to have a #3 in the L.A. area, rather than have a number #22 nationally. Being able to discern and understand which keywords will be the most effective and bring the highest amount of traffic is what makes the difference between Search Engine Positioning, and Search Engine Marketing, as well as being the difference between a good SEO firm, and a great SEO firm.

It’s all about marketing. The emphasis is on marketing. This entire industry is about marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing… marketing. The search engines are an amazing way to drum up new business and can be effective for almost every company, as long as the focus is on marketing and not just getting high search positions.