The process of search engine marketing can be defined as a strategic game of quickly implementing strategies that will increase your site's exposure and conversion rates, while also patiently waiting for the fruits of your efforts to bear out.
Sometimes you're doing one or the other, but most often you're doing both at the same time. Taking action here, while waiting for results there. Then taking action over there, and waiting for the results here.
The battle for rankings, exposure, traffic, improved usability, and conversions is never ending. When starting an SEO campaign, we always take a look at the big issues first, but as we identify and resolve those, the rest is largely about baby-steps. I always find it amusing when SEOs declare with absolute certainty that such-and-such tactic doesn't affect your rankings. As an isolated incident, maybe. But, when you look at each tactic as a piece of the whole, I'm not so quick to rule things out.
(Clearly there are SEO tactics that hold no value, and others that have a very minuscule value, likely not worth the time or effort. But these things must be thoroughly considered and tested before completely ruled out.)
The list of changes you can make to your site are virtually endless, but making too many changes without testing or comparing the results against each other will often lead to less than optimal results.
There is almost always something that can be done right now on or for your site that will help you get better results. But, at the end of the day, you have to take a measured approach to the changes you wish to make. Sometimes you have to make a change right away, sometimes you have to know not to make any changes at all, and other times you have to know that it's not the right time to make a particular change, until you get more results.
When managing your online marketing campaigns, patience can often be just as important as making quick and necessary changes. Patience is a lot more difficult (especially when you have a client breathing down your neck for results today!), but after any change or group of changes is made, it's important to hang tough and wait to see if the changes have had any sort of impact on achieving your goals.
In any search engine marketing campaign there can be many unique goals operating simultaneously. What are yours?
There is no direct route to increased profits. Don't we all wish there was? But, we do know that you can reach that goal though any number of ways: improved rankings, higher sales, increasing conversions, driving more traffic, etc.
Once you have established your goals, and some of the paths that can help you achieve them, you then have to make sure that your marketing campaign is focused on delivering. As you send your visitors through the conversion process, you'll want your visitors to reach certain pages that reinforce trust, build credibility, provide quality assurance and, of course, ensure the visitor will get exactly what they expect from a purchase.
As you make changes to your site, and your marketing campaigns meet your marketing goals, it's important to implement proper tracking and testing strategies. As you do this, you'll find that you will get both positive and negative results (or a combination of both) from each effort or change. If you're not careful, you won't be able to pinpoint which change was effective and which wasn't.
Let's say you made two changes to one of your ongoing marketing campaigns. Could be PPC ad changes, landing page changes, SEO changes, whatevs. If you saw nothing but increase after checking the results of those changes, you probably have two winning changes, right? Not necessarily!
It's entirely possible that one of your changes was positive and the other negative. The positive change was enough to overshadow the result of the negative change, creating an overall net positive result. The problem is, because you made two changes and the result was positive, you have no idea that one of the changes is actually hurting you!
Had you performed these changes separately, you would have been able to determine which change helped and which hurt. Then you undo the bad one and keep the good one.
Of course, it's not always that black and white. Sometimes a single change may both help and hurt. You might see an improvement in rankings but a decrease in conversion rates. Or you might see a reduction in traffic but an increase in sales. Not all results are equal, and it will be up to you to determine what the ultimate net gain (or loss) for each change is.
Making changes to your site and your online marketing efforts should be ongoing, so too should be the improvements being made. While you make changes and wait for results, you should see a continuous net increase in overall performance and achieving your goals along the way.
Search engine marketing is no different than life in general. You can wait for problems to find you or you can be working to make everything better as you go. And, and once a problem is presented, you can sit on your hands and do nothing, or you can find and implement the best solutions possible.
But, in the same vane, once you find and implement a solution, there is no such thing as a quick fix that makes everything instantly all better. Solutions take time to work themselves out into visible results.
In business, doing too much at once can have negative consequences. Taking decisive action is always good, but don't forget to monitor and track your results to ensure every effort, and therefore every dollar invested, is well spent, proving the best benefit possible.
Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.
If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.
Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.
Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.
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