A Business Case for SEM

ISBNs are unique 10-digit identification numbers assigned to every printed book. On January 1, 2007, they will become 13 digit numbers. Doubtless, the sheer volume of books on SEM (define) published since 1996 greatly contributed to making this exponential augmentation of publishing standards a necessity.

Search “search engine marketing book” in Google, and you’ll net over 2,00 results. A search for “good search engine marketing book” nets just one: “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.” by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt. (Don’t bother searching “great search engine marketing book.” According to Google, there are none.)

The difference between a good book and a great one is how the reader utilizes the knowledge. In “Search Engine Marketing, Inc.,” Moran and Hunt put forth a solid argument to add yet another SEM book to your library.

The Search Is Over?

Moran is an IBM Distinguished Engineer with years of experience in search technology. Hunt is CEO and founder of Global Strategies International, as well as a contributor to volumes of marketing journals and books. Both are tenured speakers at Search Engine Strategies events. I took the opportunity to sit down with Hunt in San Jose last week and discuss the new book.

It was born from a 300-page handbook, routinely issued in a customized format for clients. That’s not to say writing the book was without challenges. “We tried to keep the material from growing stale or irrelevant,” Hunt said. “Search changes so quickly that we realized our greatest challenge in putting the book together was to make it timeless, keep it from growing stale or irrelevant.”

Hunt and Moran manage to do just that by focusing on making a business case for search marketing. The book focuses on why SEM is important to the average site owner and how to develop and execute an SEM program.

“Unlike other niche publications focusing on singular elements of search engine marketing, be it Web site design and usability, linking strategies, or paid advertising, we wanted to put together a business case for search marketing,” he said. “In the book, we talk about the 10 questions any business executive might ask about a search marketing proposal, the key question being, ’Why should we do this?’”

This is precisely where the book breaks away from more sensational titles touting “search engine marketing secrets.” Hunt and Moran present valuable fundamentals, not so-called “secrets.” They help readers transform undisciplined Web presences into tractable, unified search strategies.

“Very little has changed since 1996 for people who know how to do this. We get accused of not giving any search secrets away,” Hunt said. “Most algorithmic changes made by the search engines are engineered to counter over-optimization. Executing the basics will produce slow and steady growth.”

Increasing slow, steady search traffic without clandestine code and curious inbound links isn’t sexy. But an algorithm change won’t trash a company’s search results if it follows the Hunt and Moran program.

Parting Words

When a company makes SEM part of its business process, it attains a level of synergy from uniting once-disparate groups into a search-focused operational entity. Successful in-house SEM gurus earn their keep not because they understand how search engines work, but because they understand how to mainline SEM into business processes specific to their industry.

Hunt and Moran get it. Now, you can too. Whether you’re just getting started in SEM or you are a tenured search marketer, you still need to manage change.

The greatest challenge of building a successful SEM program doesn’t include knee-jerk reactions to algorithmic shifts and indexing fluctuations. It resides in managing expectations among an ever-undulating pool of corporate personalities and business priorities. Hunt and Moran’s book will help put your SEM program on target and keep it there by empowering you to set expectations wisely and execute a timeless search marketing plan.

Want more search information? ClickZ SEM Archives contain all our search columns, organized by topic.

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