Friday, July 18, 2008

SEM vs. SMO Part 1

Today marks the beginning of a two part series that outlines how Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Social Media Optimization (SMO) practices can help produce a well rounded campaign that generates great response numbers and leaves a lasting impression in search engine indexes. Let’s dive right in with a brief conversation about Search Engine Marketing.

SEM: Bang for the Buck!

Search Engine Marketing is one of the best ways a company or campaign can raise its profile on a tight budget. As with most things advertising, you can find ways to spend every dime of that precious budget, but few things are as measurable and actionable as a good paid placement plan. Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft offer their respective paid placement products, but most experts (and the stock market) agree that Google provides the best offering through AdWords and related products.

Andrew McMains of AdWeek offers a poignant reminder of how underutilized paid placement can be. The kicker – he is talking about interactive agencies! Why an interactive agency would not engage in a paid placement campaign is beyond me. I suggest you read Mr. McMains’ entire article and learn more about some of the fundamentals of getting your name (or the name of your client) to the right audience.

The paid options aside, my favorite topic when speaking about SEM practices is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. SEO gets into the gray area of advertising on the internet. The major search engines guard their search algorithms from the public eye to keep SEO experts from “cracking the code” and circumventing the hundreds of data points a search engine uses to calculate the ranking of a page or site. When am asked about SEO strategies and the best ways to increase page ranking I always recommend using the natural tendencies of search engine spiders to generate a successful result. What do I mean by, “natural tendencies”? Generate relevant content!

Page titles and Meta Tags are the most basic – but also often overlooked – aspects of SEO. Make sure your titles and tags are relevant to your audience on every page and update them as your campaign evolves.

Frequent updates are important to search engines. Old content that has gone stale will be replaced by newer indexing. The best way to keep things fresh and on the top of everyone’s list is to update your page content weekly with relevant information. This may mean a blog or a news/press release section. How many times do you go to a company’s website and find their last press release is two years old? Shameful! If the contract is a one time revenue stream, build a simple method into your project that allows your client to update the page on their own without you (or your agency) helping.

Linking between sites is critical to generating great search results! Make sure your client has active links to their new project on all their websites. Conversely, make sure you link to your client’s new project on all your agency sites. Research professional and industry associations that may be interested in your client’s campaign or project and solicit links from those organizations. Ask your client what companies or relationships they maintain with vendors, business partners, etc… and network to build a solid base of links.

FLASH! The new player in the SEO world. As ADMAVEN covered in a previous post text within Flash SWF files is now available for indexing on the major search engines (Microsoft excluded). Place relevant words and text in your Flash projects to ensure proper indexing. Remember – indexing of Flash files does not apply to ActionScript text, Library names, or any convention not readily viewable by the end user.

Keep reading for the next article in the SEM vs. SEO series, when I delve into more detailed information on SEM as well as graze the virgin territory of SMO!

Nicholas Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years. He is the Digital Strategy Lead and founder of Chicago-based digital marketing firm lonelybrand, where he directs the creation and execution of digital marketing programs that generate measurable signups, conversions and sales.


Nick McGivney said...

I am such a dinosaur. I'm your trad ad agency copywriter, but apparently there's this internet thing that everyone's raving about. Better get me skates on!
Thanks for this. I find it informative, chewable and most useful in helping me shed these dinosaur blues. Keep it coming...

kurtnirvana said...

A Nice article on current scenario. I work for an ad agency and i do know the future is webbed.

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