RollerCoaster.pngI took my daughter and two of her friends to Dorney Park in Allentown PA on Sunday, about two hours from our house. It's an amusement park and a water park with roller coasters and lots of other exciting rides.

But, you see, I have neck and back problems. So while the three girls rode everything in sight, I didn't get on a single ride all day, instead sitting and waiting for them each time. The girls began referring to my day as "riding the bench" (which sounds a lot like how I got through Little League. My daughter decided to memorialize my day riding the bench with the picture below.RidingTheBench.JPG

Now, when you look at that picture, at one level I am doing all the right things. I am excited. I am throwing my hands up in the air in exhilaration. But you might have noticed the problem—I'm still just sitting on a bench. (I believe those two girls next to me might have noticed.)

When I saw that picture, it reminded me of the way some people approach search marketing. (I think that almost everything reminds me of search marketing, which is an issue for another venue.)

I've seen plenty of people study search marketing. Get all the right training. Put together the right keyword lists. Test the right copy. In fact, they've got everything under control.

But that's the problem. It's all under control.

If you're really doing search marketing (or just about any Internet marketing) the right way, it's not under your control. It's under your customer's control.

Sure, you could research the keywords, but searchers could start using new ones any time. Yes, you can test the copy, but that doesn't mean you won't need to keep changing it. Truthfully, no matter how much under control you try to get, you eventually need to let go.

You have to let go of the idea that you are in charge and start recognizing that the feedback from search engines and from customers is what you must respond to. Your copy is good when it ranks highly, and when people click through, and when they buy something—not before. And you have the right keywords when you are drawing the right traffic to your site, not when you've got a comprehensive list. And you have licked your indexing problems when all your pages are indexed, not when you believe you've followed best practices. It's only by getting the feedback from what you do that you can decide what to do next (or that you've done enough).

If you really think about it, you can control only one thing: whether you get on the ride. Once you commit to get on the search roller coaster, you have to adjust to whatever it dishes out. You must accept the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, and you must allow it to be what it is.

But if you just decide to get on the ride, it can be fun. And if you are willing to respond to the feedback you receive throughout your campaign, you'll get something better than control. You'll get success. And that can be a thrill ride all its own.

July 9, 2008

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.


At least on a roller coaster you stay on a track (if all is going well, that is).

Sometimes search can feel more like when you were a kid and you decided to take your bike down the hill that you knew was really unsafe. You know the one, it has a bridge at the bottom that's really narrow so the slightest miscalculation will land you in the "drink". That's search in many cases. You do all the stuff so your bike (or search campaign) is perfectly equipped. You KNOW you are ready. The you push off and start down the hill. You hit some loose gravel and the handlebars shake and the back tire starts to fish tail. This is the search equivalent of when you see that your spend is not turning into bottom line results. Do you hit the brakes and possibly fly over the handle bars? In other words, do you just get scared and stop your campaign and just take the pain? Or do you go on further, going faster and getting more out of control?

Well, you get the point. Search ain't easy and if you go in thinking it is, and that you CAN control everything, you may end up in the Emergency Room and have a wrecked bike.

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Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > Search Marketing Is a Roller Coaster