By Amy Causey, Russell’s Group Internet Marketing Analyst
It’s a hard habit to break for many businesses when they expand into internet marketing: the impulse to exercise complete control of the marketing message. Unfortunately, the World Wide Web is crawled by cyber spiders and probed by ungoverned masses that impose their own ideas about who you are and what you are selling. In order to market successfully on the internet, it’s wise to take as much time as you need to let the differences between internet marketing and traditional media marketing sink in. Many of your competitors have not yet mastered the new concepts and a clearer understanding can give you the competitive edge.
Think of conventional marketing as a kind of a beauty contest. You groom your product to make it the most attractive contestant. You minimize any flaws and put its greatest talents on display. Then you wait and hope that the judges are paying attention.
The internet, however, is no beauty contest. Success depends on knowing how the consumer and the search engines are looking for you before you focus on what you want to show them. Say you have an agreement to meet a consumer, Pearl Diamond, for the first time at the airport arrival gate. You’ve done some demographic homework, so when you get off the plane and walk into the terminal you scan the waiting area for a wealthy senior woman. There she is, standing behind a big guy holding up a hand-written sign that says, “John Smith.” You know that sign was meant for you, but if you think you are going to get past Pearl’s beastly body guard with a wallet full of IDs for “Jack Smythe,” you may as well start looking for a comfy place to camp out in the airport lounge.
Try this experiment: type John Smith into your browser’s search box. Now, count how many results for Jack Smythe show up on page one. Not many, I’ll bet. That’s because the search engine is like Pearl’s body guard. Using an algorithm, it analyzes many millions of searches and bounce rates to determine what results satisfy consumers in response to a specific search query. Only if your web page’s credentials measure up will you get a chance to introduce yourself on the search engine results page (SERP).
So keep this in mind when you receive recommendations for content revisions which seem oblivious to the color and cleverness of your copy-writing. It doesn't matter how delightful the copy is if the search engine isn't serving it up high on the results page. Optimize first, to make sure people are finding the desirable landing page, and then you can dazzle them with your glittering repartee.