Most experienced marketers tend to think of anything Internet-marketing related as new, cutting edge, and/or unproven. But a funny thing happened on the way to Google’s $180 billion market capitalization – search has become a commodity.
To wit, a site like GoodSearch. GoodSearch is a search engine, except it’s not. It’s really an advertising platform that donates 50% of its revenue to charities (“You search, we give”) that leverages the commodity of search, in this case Yahoo (which itself is powered by Microsoft Bing).
And, of course, GoodSearch is not unique in this respect. There are many businesses built on the commodity of search. Perhaps we’ll soon see a search futures market develop so it can be traded right along with pork bellies.
The paradox of search commoditization
Now here’s the rub. When most product categories achieve commoditization, innovation dies (think generic drugs) in favor of merciless cost cutting (since once a product is perceived as a commodity the only difference becomes price).
Search has been the opposite – innovation is still occurring at a breakneck pace. So we’re left at an interesting crossroads. Social media marketing is new enough that most marketers recognize the huge learning curve, print advertising is established enough that experience in itself is quite valuable, but search is a shade of gray. As the financial services ads (must legally) tell you, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.”
When it comes to search, you need a GPS system, not a map
Along with her peers, she is constantly delving into hot-button marketing topics to help you discover how to best use these ever-changing tactics. So what you get is an ever-changing GPS system that helps you navigate this new terrain, not a map that shows you best practices from several years go.
Jen and her team have launched a new research project into search marketing, and she was kind enough to update us on the latest developments in search…
What has changed in search marketing since your last Benchmark Report one year ago?
Any search-engine marketer knows how quickly things change with search, and the past year has been no exception. Between social media’s growth and search innovations such as real-time search and personalization, there are a lot of unanswered questions for search-engine marketers.
How are marketers perceiving and reacting to these new changes in search? This year’s Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report will be stacked with a wealth of information on balancing search and social media to achieve optimal success, as well as sections dedicated to search innovations.
You mention that the rocket-like ascendancy of social media has had an impact. So how can social media help with search engine optimization (SEO)?
One of the most effective, and most difficult, SEO tactics is generating inbound links. With social media, you can generate highly relevant inbound links to your site by attracting links from blogs, forums, social networking sites, and other social media channels.
Another great benefit search engine marketers are reaping out of social media is increasing the number of listings that get displayed for their brand in the search engine results pages (SERPs), pushing their competition to lower rankings and increasing the click-through rates on their own listings.
How can you use social media to optimize for multimedia and universal search, from blended listings to focused multimedia search such as Google Images?
When optimizing multimedia content for search engines, you must strike a balance between traditional SEO tactics and social media integration.
For starters, whether you’re optimizing a video, an image, or a slide presentation, you need to make sure you have good, relevant, link-worthy content. Additionally, check to see that your multimedia sharing site has options to add title tags, description tags, etc. and then optimize these tags for your target keywords.
You can then utilize social media to generate inbound links (not to mention traffic) to your content.
Has social media made universal search more competitive (i.e., harder to get towards the top of listings)?
The search landscape is growing more competitive in nature over time, and this is partly due to social media. Social media has added another venue for marketers to up their SEO ante, so to speak. As the competition is stepping up their game, it continues to be a challenge to keep up.
MarketingSherpa has recently published Social Media Marketing research. In that research, did you find that SEO was the main reason most marketers are using social media?
There are a number of target business objectives that can be achieved with social media, and search engine optimization is a popular one indeed.
Other popular objectives include increasing website traffic, lead volume, sales revenue, and improving brand reputation and awareness. These objectives, of course, can also be achieved with SEO. The key is to balance your SEO efforts with social media in order to achieve success towards these common objectives.
And perhaps as the flip side to that, how can you leverage search to best get your social media content (like blog posts) some traffic?
Whether it be a blog, a Facebook fan page, or a Linkedin profile, leveraging search to attract traffic to social media content starts with good, link-worthy, keyword-targeted content. And a lot of it. You will naturally generate inbound links by creating social media content, and the search engines will take notice.
For your blog, it’s important to use the same optimization techniques you would use for your regular website – and definitely link to your blog from your homepage (or the page on your site with the highest page rank) using optimized anchor text.
Again, the goal here is to achieve balance in your SEO and social media efforts to achieve success.
What are some possible tactics to help more traditional media, like PDFs, get good SEO results using social media sharing options (as opposed to just keywords, etc)?
Taking advantage of social bookmarking sites is a great way to get more traditional media, like PDFs, ranked.
For one, the search engines crawl social bookmarking sites at a high frequency, so the likelihood that your content will get indexed quickly increases as you generate bookmarks.
Social bookmarking sites can also help get your PDFs well-ranked because of the inbound links you will be generating. You can increase the likelihood of generating inbound links by adding social bookmarking icons to your content so that visitors can instantly bookmark or share your content.
Share your search marketing insights
Jen and her colleagues at MarketingSherpa want to hear how you use search marketing in your day-to-day job. They’ve created a quick, easy-to-answer survey to help you add your insights to the search marketing “GPS system” they are creating for the industry. As a special thank you, everyone who participates in the survey will receive a free executive summary report. Survey participants will also be invited to an exclusive webinar covering a review of the results.