Jump-Starting Keyword Demand

The vast majority of SEM (define) revolves around targeting keyword demand that already exists. In other words, companies typically use SEO (define) and PPC (define) to climb the results page and surpass other sites that already rank for words and phrases long established within an industry.

But what if you could create demand instead of just responding to it? This is more like building a hill instead of climbing it. The benefit of building your own hill, even though it’s a lot of work, is that you start out on top of it.

Get Your Foot in the Door

Paid ads such as Google AdWords are one of the most effective ways of interjecting your perspective into an existing online conversation. For example, if you have a new sort of high-definition television technology, you could buy ads focusing on existing high-def, LCD, and plasma terms: “Confused About High Definition? Discover Why SarahVision Is the Answer.”

Even if you don’t get clicks right away, you get visibility. When enough people associate SarahVision with plasma and LCD TV confusion, having seen it for multiple queries on multiple engines, they’ll begin to wonder what the fuss is all about.

Similarly, become a reliable, authoritative part of one or more online communities. I spend time in the Audio Visual Science Forum and constantly see users recommending vendors to each other because of how helpful the vendor has been in answering specific technical questions. Remember, this has nothing to do with whether the vendor’s signature link passes juice or whether it has a “nofollow” attached. The most successful vendors don’t say, “You need cable X; come visit my site.” Instead they say, “You need cable X,” and their affiliation is noted in their signature.

Get Offline and Head Outdoors

The birth of online marketing initially made a lot of people sigh with relief because it appeared that such annoying activities as getting dressed and talking to people on the telephone would no longer be necessary.

While it’s possible to conduct a successful marketing initiative on the Web only, it’s foolish to ignore other media when they can bolster your online presence and the interest in your project.

Television is a natural complement to online advertising. But not all of us can afford 30 seconds during act two of “The Office.”

My friend and outdoor advertising expert Brent Bolick pointed me to a fantastic study performed by Reagan Outdoor. It showed that in a telephone poll, only 1 percent of the greater Austin, TX, market knew that Calvin Coolidge was the 30th U.S. president. After a 60-day outdoor saturation campaign (billboards said simply “Calvin Coolidge was the 30th President” and showed a URL), that number rose to 24 percent of the market. As a control group, 30 percent of the market also knew that Rick Perry was the state’s lieutenant governor before the campaign ran. After the campaign, those numbers had not changed.

The traffic numbers were impressive, too. The site logged over 36,000 unique visits, with 5,400 people visiting the registration page. And 2,500 of the registration page’s visitors actually registered, getting a chance to win a T-shirt and a personal billboard run.

Bolick also shared some interesting data regarding the overlap between heavy commuters and search engine use. Using Arbitron data, he looked specifically at people in his market (metro Jacksonville, FL) who regularly use search engines. Nearly half of search engine users (46 percent) are considered “heavy” users of outdoor advertising as well, due to their commuting distances. So before you look askance at offline advertising, you’d be smart to figure out how it can help you.

Conclusion

Before you spawn massive amounts of search demand for new query phrases, be completely sure you’re ready for the traffic. I don’t mean your server; I mean your message. When your coverage starts to reach a tipping point and consumers start looking for your words in droves, what’s your organic search visibility like? Do you answer all the questions they have? Are your corporate blog, Web site, press releases, and social media assets properly organized, crawled, and indexed so that when the queries start, you control the message? Or are you leaving gaps in your message that an eager blogger or competitor will jump on?

What’s your paid search visibility like? People lie in wait to jump on a keyword bandwagon (remember the Pontiac “Google us” campaign?), so make sure you continue your paid ad campaign even after natural search takes off. After all, someone else might want to offer users an alternative to SarahVision.

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

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