Keywords are the name of the game when it comes to search engines. There are three basic search engine strategies (with very different tactics): 1. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) 2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 3. Local Search. The search engine strategy you choose to undertake depends on your high-level business and communication goals.
How does your site rank naturally? Locally? Regionally? Nationally? Does your site rank the same on Google as it does on Bing and Yahoo!? Do you have an Ecommerce website? Are you a local service provider? Are potential customers encouraged to call your business directly from your website? There are many questions your organization should ask itself when it comes to adding a search engine strategy to your mix of communication strategies for your business.
SEM, SEO, and Local Search are very different strategies to fulfill, each requiring a very unique skill set. Vagary works with each client to determine if one of these strategies should be included in an overall mix of communication strategies. Should the decision be made to add a search engine strategy to your mix then keywords will be the underlying component of your strategy.
SEO is the process of optimizing your online presence so that your site, or brand, renders favorably on a search engine result page (SERP) for your selected keywords. Originally, SEO was the practice of optimizing your website for a SERP. Search engines have evolved. Now, strategic businesses have many web properties in their communication ecosystem that are interconnected with each other. Modern SEO strives to optimize the business web ecosystem, not just a website, for a positive SERP. You can’t boil the ocean. Realistically, your business will only be able to compete for a few keywords or keyword phrases for an SEO strategy; but, this really depends on the strength of your brand. Generally, your brand will need to focus on a few keywords or keyword phrases for an SEO strategy. The most common error with an SEO strategy is attempting to compete for too many keywords.
Your site won’t rank high for many of keywords, which is why your keyword selection needs to be thoroughly researched. What keywords, or keyword phrases, do you want to be synonymous with your organization? For example, many people consider the brand term Coca Cola to be synonymous with soft drinks but search engines don’t automatically make this association. The fact that the Coca Cola website ranks very high for the search query soft drinks is no accident; this is the result of months, if not years, of SEO tactics. Most businesses don’t service an entire state, or even the entire world, like Coca Cola.
The majority of business entities are only looking to connect with their immediate local or regional audience. Local search optimization is the strategy attempting to render a high SERP position for local search queries, for specific keywords. For instance, a local bike shop in Austin, Texas probably doesn’t need to render a high SERP result for search queries made in Portland, Oregon. In this scenario, the Austin bike shop will probably want to rank high for a search query like Austin bike mechanic. This may sound very similar to SEO, but in practice many of the tactics are very different.
SEM is the strategy of actually bidding for specific search queries, keywords, and rendering text ads for those queries. With local search and SEO, sites are ranked naturally, meaning the client does not pay Google, Yahoo!, Bing or other search engines to be included on a SERP. SEM requires an entirely different skill set than local search or SEO. SEM is a sub-component of pay-per-click advertising. Platforms like Google Adwords allow you to manage many different types of pay-per-click tactics like display ads, click-to-call ads, shopping campaigns, video ads, retargeting ads, search text ads, or otherwise. Ultimately SEM is the practice of paying for traffic.
At Vagary, we are confident that we can help you identify the correct search engine strategy for your communication plan. The most appropriate search engine strategy for your organization will be based on an analysis of your business goals, your competition, your site, your web properties, etc. We work with you to help you understand how to best conquer search engines, or if you should even undertake one of the search strategies at all. While SEO and local search strategies take time and expertise to plan and implement, they don’t require a direct investment with search engines; as such, they would be classified as public relations efforts. SEM is an advertising strategy that requires a budget to get in the game.
UTILITY: SEO, local search and SEM are invaluable for local businesses. Getting in front of potential customers when they are in the act of searching for a market solution can be the key for its success, or failure.
DIFFICULTY: Rendering in a high position for your target search queries/keywords with an SEO or local search strategy is difficult. These strategies are no small undertaking. They take time. They require expertise with search engine algorithms, which are a moving target, and a very specific skill set. With SEM, a search account can be created easily but this strategy can be difficult to manage efficiently. In short, setting up the ads is easy, managing them for your key performance metrics can be more difficult, but this really depends on the scope of the account.
CLASSIFICATION: SEO and location search, Public Relations. SEM, Advertising