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Trust me. I know the right way to do organic search marketing. I know that you start with metrics. I know that you must measure the traffic that comes to the site and see how many people convert. I've even written a couple of books that have a strong metrics focus to Internet marketing, organic search marketing in particular. But when I talk to small businesses, I am more and more wondering if search metrics are optional, at least at first.
Yeah, I know that this is crazy talk. Blasphemy against everything I stand for. I know.
But I've found myself chatting with several small business owners recently who have no idea how to do search marketing and I found myself reluctant to make metrics the first step for search marketing, as I always do for a larger firm.
I spoke with one small business owner that asked, "What should I do first for organic search marketing?" And I knew that he has very little money to spend on consultants or fancy tools. And he has less time than money. So, could I, with a straight face, tell him to figure out his conversions and implement Google Analytics? He has no chance of being able to do that on his own and no money to pay someone to do it. So, is that really the first step?
I'm forcing myself to say, "No." We need to tell people how to do something tangible that might cause money to roll in.
So, I found myself asking him what keywords he thinks his customers use. (No, I didn't suggest keyword research, because he doesn't know how and can't afford someone who does.) And I found myself suggesting that he change the titles to emphasize those keywords. And just putting a new phone number on the Web site so that anyone who called it he would know is from the Web.
These are things he could do. And some money would start to appear in the cash register. I know that my advice was "wrong" but I hope it was wrong in the sense of "do it wrong quickly." Let's get started doing it wrong to drive some value and then later we can come back and invest more to really do it right.
So, if the boss is already convinced search is a good idea, do you need to start with numbers that prove it? Or can you start by doing some of it and only later coming back and investing in measurement (and keyword research and all the other important stuff we do)? Or is that new phone number enough of a measurement that we can live off that for a while? I don't swear I know the answers, but I continue to realize that if the advice given doesn't reflect the real client needs, it doesn't matter how many best practices you know. The ultimate best practice is to give clients something that they can do.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, text analytics, and web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include Text Analytics World, Rutgers Business School, SEMRush webinar, ClickZ Live.
Mike also founded and writes for Biznology, is the co-author of Outside-In Marketing (with James Mathewson) and the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (now in its 3rd edition, and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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