Every now and then you have to get back to the basics. You may be learning the ropes and turning in some pretty good results with your search engine marketing efforts. You might be seeing higher rankings, more traffic and tons of links. Of course you might not be seeing an increase in sales. If that's the case, there's a good chance you've made one of three common mistakes with your search marketing campaign.

Mike Moran spells out these three mistakes in a post on the Yahoo! Search Marketing Blog.

Here's the super-quick-slimmed-down version:

1: The Rank Amateur Error
Rookie search marketers often fixate on the rankings of their ads, thinking that getting a #1 position on an important keyword is the road to success.

2: The Traffic Report Error
Well, if it's not rankings, it must be traffic, right? After all, the purpose of search marketing is to drive traffic to your site. That's true, of course, but the business value of search marketing stems from buyers, not lookers.

3: The 24/7 Sales Pitch Error
It's natural for you to emphasize information about your products, such as advanced features, special deals and capabilities that differentiate your wares from competitors'. However, that information targets people who already know they need to buy something—folks who know that your product (or your competitor's) solves their problem. What about the people who know they have a problem, but have no idea what to do about it?

What Mike offers really is basic level marketing strategy. It doesn't matter how many people visit your site (or see your ad) if they're the wrong people or your offer isn't appealing. It doesn't matter what your rank is in the listings if those rankings aren't producing quality traffic.

Search marketing isn't a magic marketing bullet; it is simply another way to get your products and services in front of your audience. Unless you take the time to make sure your message is targeted and your offerings are clear, all the rankings and traffic in the world won't make up for the time and effort it takes to get them.

If you're sitting there scratching your head wondering why your super successful SEM campaign isn't driving sales, you might find the answers in Mike's post.

January 15, 2008

Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.


As an old reforming ad man, I'm especially vulnerable to error #2 -- thinking that traffic is the be all and end all.

It is such an obvious -- but easily overlooked -- point that what really matters is having the right kind of traffic. You need to know who you are trying to reach and make sure your message has real value for them.

My problem is that what I want to do is to teach people how to be successful and success is such a general phenomenon as to be meaningless. It's like selling air: everyone wants it, everyone needs it. I'm kind of at a loss at how to narrow my focus.

Somehow related here is that I ran across the most terrific blog tonight -- a name something like Dosh Dosh. It had a -- for me -- mind blowing post on how to create a wildly popular blog. It stressed the importance of building a core group of supporters. That's about all I got out of the first read. I'm going to chase it down again and re-read it.

Ahh, yes, it's a tough one to overcome. Especially for old-style marketers that are used to eyeballs as measurement.

And Dosh Dosh is an excellent blog. Well worth adding to the list for anyone interested in learning more about things like blogs and social media.

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Search Engine Guide > Jennifer Laycock > Three Key Points for SEM Success