Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a marketing tool

Companies want potential customers to learn about their products and services.
The corporate website is one of the marketing tools that companies use.
In order to lead traffic to their website, companies must make sure that search engines such as Google and Yahoo can find them.
Therefore, SEO must be added to the marketing mix.

How should the company handle SEO?

Formulate the goal of engaging into SEO
The company needs to define its goal such as: generating more qualified leads, reaching new market segments, product launch, branding, attracting potential investors.
If generating more qualified leads is the goal, the company must define how many it wants to generate (compared to the existing number) and from which regions and industries.

Conduct market research
The company needs to find out how SEO is used in its industry and how its competitors handle it.
The main practice can be generic SEO or PPC (Pay Per Click).

Identify target audience
The company must identify its potential website visitors and what they are looking for. It is also important to know in which languages potential customers surf the web and which search engines do they prefer.

Define strategy
The company has to define how potential customers can contact: by email, via a contact form.
It also must decide which web pages should be visited: new products, special offers, demo, downloads, investor relations etc.

The company must allocate resources to make SEO happen.
First of all, the corporate website must be search engine friendly.
This might entail website redesign and update.
Often, companies don’t have the internal resources for SEO.
When hiring a SEO company, it’s important to realize that no tangible results will be seen for the first three months when opting for generic SEO.
A PPC campaign generates quicker results, but is more difficult to manage budget wise.


Implementing a SEO campaign is not easy.
Many decision makers are not familiar with SEO and are confused by all the "techtalk".
PPC campaigns are fairly common in the consumer sector.
(Example: Type “Spa Resort Hawaii” in a search engine and look at the sponsored links on the right)

The internal webmaster or external SEO company must ensure that the company shows up high in the search engine results with relevant key words and phrases.
The phrases should not be too specific – it must be the sort of phrase the average surfer would type in.
(Example: If you are for a PLC chipset manufacturer, you will find the company DS2 when typing in “powerline communications chipset”.
When typing the more general and far more common search phrase “powerline communications”, DS2 will not appear on the first results page).

SEO is dynamic – not in the least since search engines such as Google keep changing the rules.
A contract for generic SEO is normally 12 months; a single PPC campaign takes about 3 months (depending on budget).
Marketing and sales must closely monitor the generated leads:
where are they from, what opportunities do they represent, what are the cost per lead and what will be the revenue.
Those results must be compared with the ones generated in a similar time period before the SEO campaign started.
Only then will the company know if the energy and resources invested in the SEO paid off.
If so, SEO should be permanently added to the corporate marketing tools.
Even if the SEO campaign didn’t meet expectations, it is still a useful way to perform a “marketing audit”.

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