I advocate SEO for the generally sensible reason that I do a lot of it. And the reason I end up doing a lot of it is that it works. But search engine optimization works best when it’s combined with other kinds of marketing. Not to reprise yesterday’s post too slavishly, but: why not try SEO and…
Every good SEO campaign is built on a foundation of research: which keywords are being searched for, which searches turn into visits, and which visitors turn into customers? It can take months to rank well for a high-traffic term—and you don’t want to spend tens of thousands of dollars getting your site to rank for “luxury watch” when you should have been targeting “timepiece”.
A quick pay-per-click campaign can be a great way to instantly test out lots of keywords to see what converts and what isn’t worth pursuing.
SEO may bring in lots of visitors, but it takes longer to build brand value. Someone searching for a product category often doesn’t have a brand name in mind, which means they’re not necessarily anyone’s loyal customer (yet).
Fortunately, the disadvantage of banner ads (people see them but don’t click on them) can be an advantage: you get a chance to cheaply remind people of your brand name, even when they’re not actively buying the product. Maybe next time they won’t search for “notebook” and will search for “moleskine” instead.
If you know what makes them tick, you know what makes them click—but running the numbers alone will give you only a rough estimate. You can dive deeper into the sales process by listening in on what people say before they buy (or when they decide not to buy after all).
Not every demographic uses “Google” as a verb. If you want broad-based interest in your product, SEO just isn’t enough. And although traditional advertising venues still charge a lot for ads that are hard to analyze, SEO can add some extra punch to a traditional campaign: it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what turns up when people search for your company and your brand name (I’ve seen at least one national campaign that got a lot of air time and print space—but if you searched for the name of the product being sold, it wasn’t the #1 result).
PR and SEO have a lot in common: they both take a while, they both meld advertising and information, and they both work by providing compelling content, not just buying an audience. They require an overlapping skill set: an ability to judge useful content and infectious media outlets.
This is an increasingly popular choice. In my experience, companies with an existing marketing budget are loathe to cut it (“will customers forget about us?”) and certainly not interested in raising traditional spending—so if they have extra money, they’ll often invest it in SEO. This can be a good way to dip a toe into the water. With search engines encroaching on other kinds of marketing, it’s a safe bet.
This one may not be the best decision, actually. I’m pretty wild about SEO, but I’m also pretty wild about not burning bridges, not giving up on a good thing, and not throwing money at the next big trend. The budget for a search engine marketing campaign has to come from somewhere, but all else being equal, I’d rather complement a larger marketing campaign than replace it.