Search Engine Marketing – connecting with your customers at the moment they are looking for your products and services to buy. It is a $16 billion per year industry and there are a plethora of opportunities and trends to follow within the industry. So what do you pay attention to, what do you participate in and what do you spend your time and money on? Here are some suggestions to keep in mind.
Your presence in searches online can influence offline purchases. From Forrester Research: “In 2009 $917 billion of retail sales were “Web-influenced” compared to $155 billion of consumer goods sold online in the same year…online and Web-influenced offline sales combined accounted for 42 percent of total retail sales and that percentage will grow to 53 percent by 2014. ”
What does this mean? Your business needs to pay attention to what your customers are searching for online just as much as it does the in-person experience. Even though online sales are still growing steadily it’s important to remember more and more research is completed online while buying is still done offline.
Diversifying your search engine placements. Yahoo & Bing have their advantages too – WebVisible showed that Bing click-through-rates for small businesses grew 109 percent and Yahoo 123 percent, compared to Google at 32 percent between Q4 2008 and Q4 2009. Bing, in particular, has specific extremely functional sections (Travel & Shopping) in which your ads can appear and, for some verticals, perform much better. Also, expanding and promoting beyond Google can help with your organic placement – you are diversifying your in-bound links in other areas besides Google.
Mobile marketing – smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. It’s clear the Internet has gone beyond the personal computer and search results are increasingly specific to the consumer’s location. Are you showing up within local search results and map results? Many mobile trends are impacting consumer engagement on the search engines:
- Mobile social networking
- The “touch Web” – your website should work on mobile phones
- An enhanced location awareness and proximity
- Broadband – mobile video is HUGE
- Buying online/on your mobile phone (Paypal)
Advertising on Social Media sites. Facebook surpassed Google as the world’s most visited website for the week ending March 13, 2010, and with over 400 million registered users – Facebook cannot be ignored. Sites like Facebook give incredibly targeted advertising opportunities that can work parallel to other paid search programs. Plus, the visitors of Facebook generally are from higher income households. And “Facebook’s ad system serves Social Ads that combine social actions from your friends – such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant – with an advertiser’s message. This enables advertisers to deliver more tailored and relevant ads to Facebook users that now include information from their friends so they can make more informed decisions. No personally identifiable information is shared with an advertiser in creating a Social Ad.”
Be sure to use both SEM and SEO. If your business is showing up in both the paid AND organic placements, click through rates have been seen to increase significantly and if you are utilizing accurate tracking technologies you will be able to see if this works for your business as well.
From the basic PPC ad on Bing or Google to ensuring you are optimizing your online presence with SEO, there are many trends to stay on top of in the search engine marketing industry. As a marketer, I can recommend a few sites to watch for the latest trends and industry news: SearchEngineWatch.com, ClickZ.com and TopRankBlog.com. Also, for advice on Search Engine Marketing visit the VEM Global website to learn more about VEM Global’s services.