With the growing number of searches across the region (estimated 20 percent increase in search volume), search remains a challenge as it is treated as a silo or almost ignored element of a digital marketing plan beyond campaigns. While the veterans who have been doing paid search marketing i.e., e-commerce players, telecoms, technology brands, and consumer brands have started to come on board with their digital plans across mobile, display, social, and somewhat search.
A few things we as marketers should keep in mind for 2012 when it comes to search marketing are:
Conduct a search audit: Whether you are a pro SEM advertiser or just starting off with a search campaign, it's all the more important to cleanse your existing account by running basic keyword audits. This will bring you annual savings of more than 10 percent on your search spends. If you've never been on search, it is a good time to audit your website or social pages to be ready to adapt to the changing search landscape. Almost one out of 10 brands that go online with their social platforms are never searchable! And most of us are stuck with the challenge of driving organic traffic to the website. Given that 80 percent of the users start their journey from a search engine - search marketing strategy becomes all the more important to implement.
Go mobile: Going mobile doesn't always mean that you need to have a mobile ready website. Listing your exclusive or distributed business locations within the online index gives you a start to bridge the offline and online gap. Most of the research conducted concludes that mobile search happens on the go; which reaffirms the approach of getting your business listed when someone is searching for you. These addresses can be of your customer support location or your business retail outlets. This however is just the start of mobile. Google is poised to change the way they are going to index pages for smartphones as well as feature phones. But mobile search strategy is a whole different topic.
Capitalize the organic sitelinks: With Google providing natural site links to most of the top search results pages, it is now all the more important to build a strong navigation structure on your website. Use your website data to analyze where people go the most on your site and have it moved up the navigation hierarchy to improve user experience. Natural sitelinks are a great tool to list out all the hottest touch points on your website combined with the latest information that you want to share with your audience at the first click.
Get rid of long-tail keywords: If you are not an e-commerce portal or a travel aggregator, move away from the long-tail keyword strategy. If not used properly, long-tail keywords are known to plague your search campaign. Instead depend on your website analytics data to identify keywords that are not listed in your search campaigns are core traffic drivers.
Stay within context of your brand territory: In the marketing world, the brand territory is going to be a creative set of words that a search engine cannot relate to. While they are great in the offline world and for defining your brand, they do not work in the search engine marketing space. Instead, use the brand territory to build context for your brand and use that to generate keywords that are relevant to your brand and product offering. For example, if you are an apparel brand that believes in the "being cool youth brand," buying the word "cool youth clothes" won't be as advisable as "latest clothes" or "cool t-shirts" will be. Yes, this is the nitty-gritty of the search campaign, but it is important to remain within the context of your brand on search. Use the same approach to tie back the content of your site with your SEO strategy.
Don't run search in isolation: Whether you are running a campaign to acquire new customers or to increase brand awareness, it is now all the more important to understand the crossover effect of different channels. This not only gives you a strong direction of the user behavior online, but also helps you to maximize your media investment online. There are plenty of platforms available now that allow you to do attribution modeling or exposure to conversion tracking. By combining data from different online touch points, you can improve your online media planning. This improvement reduces investments over time, something one can struggle with in the offline world.
If we have these factors taken into account for your search marketing campaigns, rest assured your search marketing strategy would deliver more insights and insights driven decisions for future marketing plans.
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Prabhvir Sahmey (Prabh) heads the Media Platforms Business at Google India. In his current role, he is driving scalable growth for advertisers and agencies as well as efficiencies with their digital marketing efforts. This includes the entire DoubleClick stack for advertisers as well as the Real Time Bidding platform. With 10 years of experience in digital marketing, Prabh spent six years in paid search across various clients and industry verticals. He was previously with Mindshare leading the mobile and search practice for Singapore and established the Mindshare Center of Excellence for Search Marketing to enable attribution modeling and help clients understand digital via data driven marketing programs.