Online Marketing Review for 2012

Before they decide, the go online.  Your outbound marketing touches a buyer, but before they move ahead, they do their homework. They go online to see what they find about you and your company. The reason for this is that we no longer trust advertising. Research consistently tells us ads are trusted by only 14% of those seeing them.  What people do trust is online ratings and reviews, videos and articles that inform and case studies with real numbers in them. Buyers worry endlessly about making a bad decision. They look to your online marketing presence for reassurance.

So first they have to find you online, and  search engine optimization isn’t what it used to be. Once the dominion of the marketing department and a few technical staffers, SEO now requires full participation from nearly every corner of the enterprise — from customer support personnel to social media teams, all the way up to the C-Suite. 

Thats the advice from SEO Consultant Peter A. Prestipino, who writes that  few chief executives or their fellow chiefs in tech, marketing, operations or finance may understand how a brand’s SEO strategy impacts the bottom line and even their own day-to-day tasks. While it is certainly possible for a company to exist with poor SEO practices aligning current SEO best practices with business objectives will greatly improve your online marketing.

Broken Links Abound

How did Google take over it’s industry? By deciding to rank websites based on Authenticity, which required links to other relevant websites and internet traffic that came from relevant places. So, do the links on your website work?  Are there links to other sites relevant to your industry,  and are other sites relevant to your industry linked back to your site?

Now in 2011, not only are these links key to successful Search Engine Optimization, but new weight is given to  links to and traffic in social media.

Here’s more from a recent article by Prestipino:

Keyword Relevance & Targeting

While it is obviously important to make sure that visitors can access the website
and find its content by ensuring, for example, that there are no broken links, the CSuite and its teams of executives also need to analyze and audit what is found
when visitors do arrive. The focus, therefore, should be on keywords and phrases
— the virtual blood that courses through the veins of the Internet.

What needs to be answered in an audit of keyword relevance and targeting is how
the pages being optimized accommodate the search terms and phrases in use by
prospective visitors and how they relate to an organizationʼs specific objectives. For
the most part, keywords can be separated into three distinct types — navigational,
informational and transactional.

Navigational queries tend to be brand specific (e.g. “Facebook login” or “Fedex
package tracking”). It is highly likely for most companies that some percentage of
their traffic will originate from these query types. Informational and transactional
queries, however, are what drive new business and sales and should be what are
audited and monitored most aggressively.

Informational queries are those which aim to uncover specific information. Keyword
modifiers such as “tips”, “how-to”, and “list” are just some examples. These query
types lead consumers deeper into the site and support both awareness and a
sense of trustworthiness. If it is information that your website visitors want, it is
information they shall have — so answer their questions and youʼll earn some
friends and customers along the way. One valuable resource to understand the
types of questions site visitors ask through search engines is WordTrackerʼs
Keyword Questions feature (http://wsm.co/q1vFid).

The SEO-aware C-Suite also needs to analyze whether the keyword choices on
landing pages are helping fulfill the ultimate aim — transactions and conversion.
Understanding which terms and phrases have commercial intent can make the
difference between high and low visibility on the search results pages, as well as
determining a Web propertyʼs ability to generate revenue. It is diffi cult to identify
which keywords have the most commercial intent, but visitors typically tend to use
“long tail” keyword phrases to help fulfill their immediate needs.

Content & Design Quality

An interesting research study was released by About.com in September 2011,
revealing that users searching on the Internet exhibit three distinct human behavior
search patterns: “Answer Me”, “Educate Me” and “Inspire Me”. People in an
“Answer Me” moment (46 percent of all searches) want exactly what they ask for,
delivered in a way that allows them to get to it as directly as possible. Marketers
should feature product benefits front and center and align content in a way that
presents quick, easy to- find answers. For the “Educate Me” search mindset (26
percent of all searches), marketers should aim to create messaging that is
informative and provide ways for users to learn more about topics from multiple
angles, aligning content that presents in-depth information and resources. Finally,
for the “Inspire Me” search mindset (28 percent of all searches), marketers should
develop content that inspires creativity and offers endless choices. These users
have an open mind and want to be led, so expect them to consume content in
multiple formats.

Peopleʼs behaviors, needs and preferences in the offl ine world drive their
behaviors and preferences online. Understanding how human behavior affects
patterns in search behaviors can help marketers know and connect with the people
who use their products. The right formula for your brand is critical to reaching your
consumers in a relevant way.

In 2012 successful Search engine optimization in the enterprise requires more
oversight from the C-Suite. Auditing the general accessibility of a website, links to
your social media marketing platforms, the relevance of keywords, and the quality
of both content and design is fundamental to todayʼs enterprises looking to
capitalize on search engine traffic. The good news is that Search Engine and
Content Marketing Support is becoming more available outside the major cities
with established internet industries. Even mid sized cities such as Scranton PA now
has an SEO/Content Marketing support firms.

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