Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tactics acre activities which align and support the overall SEM Strategy. When someone makes a search in google - they are looking for an answer to a question. Google attempts to match the best answer to the question. The search engine results page (SERP) displays in descending order the answers that google thinks are most relevant to your question. Ranking on the SERP is a function of Trust and Authority.
So, how do you achieve Trust? Trust is the component of ranking that is most directly under your control, Trust is something that you can impact today. Trust involves three main components - User Experience (UX), technical architecture, and the content on your site.
One quick way to measure Trust is to google your keywords and see where you land on the search engine results page (make sure you are signed out of google). Is your competitor ahead of you? Next go to Google's Webmaster Tools and have a look at the dashboard. In this case - you can see right away a couple of technical issues that need to be addressed - no site map submitted, 404 pages (pages that are indexed by google, but no longer exist)
If you have optimized all of the components of Trust and you are still not ranking well, then next you must examine the components of Authority.
Trust is what you are saying about yourself. Authority is what others are saying (euphemistically) about you. If a website with high trust and authority is linked with your website, you will achieve higher authority. Examples:
- Your website listed in online directories such as Yelp, YP, Google Plus, etc.
- Your website listed as a preferred or recommended vendor within your category.
- Citations from News organizations -
- Social Sharing -Here are some examples:
- Including facebook, twitter, linked-in, google+ "like" buttons on your blog, photo galleries, etc
- Sending out links to your blog articles over social media channels
- Sending email content with links to your website to your customers or prospects
SeoMoz is a really good tool for measuring yourself against your competitors. Here are two competing websites ranked on SeoMoz.. You can quickly see that website A has a lot of work to do to catch up with Website B. SeoMoz is considered one of the industry leaders for analyzing Authority. It costs $99/month for the basic subscription, but you can also get a free 30 day trial (as of this blog post date). The detailed reports are incredibly insightful and offer a very good roadmap for improvements.
Search Engine Marketing Strategy
The first step in developing a SEM Strategy, is walking backwards to introspection. Remember in the 1980's, people would walk around with a giant boom box. The job being done by the boom box satisfied the need of "I want to carry my music with me". Doing the job better ( I want to take my music with me ) propelled the innovation of Sony Walkman, to ipod, to what-ever-is-next, . So the introspection is: What is the job that my customers want to have done? How can I answer the questions about the job better than my competitors. How can I help the customer do his job more perfectly.
The Customer Path
For every sales funnel, there is a customer path that is followed. So, for your product offering, think back to the trigger which propels the search. I will use the example of "roof repair". Here is a possible consumer path - on the left are the steps the customer has to follow to get the job done (job=fix roof). On the right are the questions he/she may ask along the way.
Next, google the question - example "how much does it cost to replace a roof?" Here we see the google answer: - note the forums directly under the paid ads? These are the most authoritative answers in google's algorithm. These are places you want to go to answer the question ( with a link back the blog post you made about it!)
When building content, and devising strategy always think of the customer path, and what questions he/she may have along the way. Answer the question better and help the customer do his job more perfectly, and you will win Authority, SERPrank, and ultimately, you will get the sale.
Customer Experience (Getting the job done)
Once you get the customer to your site, how can you use your site to help him/her get the job done more perfectly. There are essentially three components to the customer experience - content (text, images), tools, and utilities. Content informs the customer (answers the question), tools help the customer get the job done, utilities are innovations that dramatically change the way the job is done in an exponentially more efficient manner.
In the example of the roof repair paradigm - a tool might be a way to schedule a roof inspection online without needing to phone a person or fill out a inquiry form. A utility would be something that probably doesn't exist, such as instigating a satellight picture which automatically generates an estimate without the need for an inspector to visit.
I hope you find this information to be insightful and useful. We all pretty much know about the tactical aspects of on page SEO, but to be successful online in the future, you must employ an effective SEO Strategy, or you will get left behind. It's really quite simple: Answer the question better. Help the customer get the job done more perfectly.