I often am asked to explain search marketing to people with no digital marketing background, and it helps to have some shortcuts. I've found over the years, that an especially helpful kind of shortcut is to categorize a particular kind of technique in terms that veteran non-digital marketers understand, because once you do that, they bring
all sorts of knowledge to a subject that they thought they knew nothing about. One of my favorites is to explain how search keywords are market segments.

If you know search marketing, this might not strike you as the first way you'd explain keywords to the unversed. I mean, isn't it better to explain that keywords are the things that get typed into the search box, and that Google shows pages and ads in response to the ones that were typed, and that you need to know which keywords that your customers are using so that your marketing message will be seen?

An exploded pie chart for the example data, wi...

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Well, yes. You should explain those things. But after you do, you have only enlightened the neophyte a tiny amount.

But when I explain to them that search keywords are their primary means of market segmentation for search marketing, they bring a enormous amount of knowledge to the party. Because marketers know what market segments are. And they know what to do with them.

You might have to explain it with a few examples, because they are accustomed to market segments being demographics or firmographics (for B2B), and they might never have thought that segments could be anything else. But you can give them an example, such as how the owner of a bed and breakfast might target "lodging" as their keyword rather than "hotel"  because his customers are expressly looking for alternatives to hotels, which is why that segment of searchers uses the more unusual word.

Then the marketers get it. And they understand why some segments (keywords) might be better targets than others. they know why they would want to analyze conversion rates and click rates and other metrics by segment, because they are always doing the same thing when they use market segmentation for any other reason.

Don't overlook the need for people to latch on to what you are talking about by bringing to bear a concept they already know. You might find that they start to teach you ways of looking at the subject that you had missed before.

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May 18, 2011

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.


Depending on the clents:

Video Explanation (If you client doesn't have an ego)
Organized PowerPoint type slides

I know clients don't like to sit through presentations about explanations, but, sometimes it is best to have a short 3 or 4 minutes prepared to get the "boring" but important stuff out of the way.

If it's done quickly and creatively, it is very easy to get anything you want out of the client.

What a great way of explaining keywords! When dealing with a client who has never done any kind of SEO (and sometimes very little in the way on Internet marketing in general), you have to find a way to get them to understand the basics. Sometimes this means changing up the way you explain things. As an SEO expert, it is you responsibility to make sure your client fully comprehends what is going on.

I like this. When dealing with SEO clients, the hardest thing for me is to set realistic expectations while simultaneously bidding a profitable price. When using too much lingo, even if that lingo is as simple as "keyword", the client's eyes glaze over. I totally believe that in order to explain things to people I need to equate concepts to their frame of reference. All business people are familiar with demographics, and demographics make an appropriate analogy to keywords. I'm sure to use this with my next client. Thanks.

I always find it easy to use illustration when trying to explain seo concepts to potential clients. For example, when trying to explain how seo fits with a website I say that seo is like an engine...if you take it all apart, the parts do not work on their own but put it all together, fine tune it and it does go places. Sounds kinda lame but it gets the point across.

Thanks for sharing this Mike - I have been involved with SEO now for around 10 months and sometimes struggle to explain the 'basics' without going too deep - but you have summed it up well. I have spent about 40 minutes on the site now and am working my way through all the resources - very informative.

I'm going to have to agree with Jake on this one, I sometimes find myself having a hard time explaining the concept of SEO to clients. I often times get the feeling that they are under the impression it is a push button quick fix to get their websites to the top of the search engines.

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