David Kirkpatrick

Google as a Grocery Store: Use SEO and search engine marketing in tandem to boost lead generation

September 13th, 2011

The week before last, I attended Dreamforce, along with more than 45,000 marketing and sales professionals, as a guest of HubSpot. I’m still sorting through all of the notes and information I gathered that week.

One breakout session I found interesting, and thought you might too, was on using SEO and search engine marketing (SEM) tactics to improve lead volume, and featured Todd Friesen, Director of SEO, Performics, and Bill Leake, CEO, Apogee Results.

Combine SEO and SEM efforts

Friesen is considered a pioneer search engine optimization strategist, but he said SEO and SEM provide the most impact when combined. The main benefit is visibility in both paid and natural results, and the combined effort creates a greater opportunity to increase revenue because it reaches the entire audience.

It’s important to improve organic search results, he added, because some people simply don’t trust ads and won’t click on them. He cited Nielsen research that found a 32% lift in clicks when a brand name appears in both paid and organic search.

Friesen also said insights gained from both efforts can be used to “inform the other” and leads to smarter decisions and better campaigns.

For example, use paid search testing to perform keyword gap analysis and identify strong-performing keywords that are missing from PPC campaigns. Also, find out what works on paid search and apply that learning to SEO.

Sharing landing page and ad creative materials across both SEO and SEM is another way to combine the two disciplines. If advertising content is drawing clicks, use that material for SEO, including in website metatags.

Friesen offered a testing framework for SEO data-based paid search:

  1. Identify top ranking organic keywords
  2. Select keywords for test and control groups
  3. Define success metrics and duration of test
  4. Actually run the PPC test
  5. Evaluate test results
  6. Go back and identify top performing keywords
  7. “Wash, rinse and repeat,” to create a testing and optimization cycle

Look beyond your website for optimization

Leake said that more and more of the interesting things on the Web are happening off of your website. These things are happening on blogs, news articles and Facebook. To take advantage of this, create a cluster of content in many places, and optimize that content.

One example he provided was a client that had a press release picked up by CEO.com and re-posted to that site with a CEO.com byline. The client maximized this “earned media” win by running paid search campaigns on the CEO.com URL for several months.

The reasoning behind this effort was the reposted press release gained third-party credibility, and the paid search campaign allowed the company to gain full SEM and SEO value from the CEO.com content.

Google as a grocery store

Leake described Google as a grocery store with limited shelf space, and organic search results and paid search results as taking up page real estate. He said your goal is to be like Proctor and Gamble and command multiple slots on Google’s “shelves.”

A good way to accomplish this is by integrating paid search with “earned media,” such as the CEO.com example above, and also with “paid media.”

He outlined three places to use paid search to increase the benefit of content:

  1. Favorable articles or analyst pieces about your company
  2. Press release mentions
  3. Third-party blog posts about you

When your paid search and organic results all show up on a SERP (search engine results page) you will command a lot of that “shelf” space.

Use names and events for paid search campaigns

Another often overlooked area for paid search is campaigns around events (like Dreamforce) and actual names of high-value individuals you are marketing to.

Leake said ad buys based on event names can be found relatively inexpensive and that you should spend 10 to 20% of your event budget online.

Advertising based on people’s names integrates online marketing with more traditional direct marketing.He said to buy keywords on people’s names with highly targeted offers and build microsites that are name-branded for each campaign. If the targeted individual searches for their name, your ad will appear on the SERP. He added the microsite should include a “never buy my name again” button to allow the targeted individual to opt-out of the campaign.

One more insight Leake offered was to integrate your SEM data with other datasets, especially CRM and your customer purchase history list.

Related Resources

Measure Paid Search Advertising’s Contribution to Offline Sales: 4 Steps

New Chart: Search Engine Marketers Rank SEM Challenges

Top Seven Search Engine Marketing Q&As with Fredrick Marckini (Includes Paid vs. Non-Paid Metrics)

SEO: How to launch a website redesign without hurting search rankings and traffic

PPC Marketing: A look at analytic and monitoring tools

David Kirkpatrick

About David Kirkpatrick

David is a reporter for MarketingSherpa and has over twenty years of experience in business journalism, marketing and corporate communications. His published work includes newspaper, magazine and online journalism; website content; full-length ghosted nonfiction; marketing content; and short fiction. He served as producer for the business research horizontal at the original Office.com, regularly reporting on the world of marketing; covered a beat for D/FW TechBiz, a member of the American City Business Journals family; and he provided daily reporting for multiple LocalBusiness.com cities. David’s other media and corporate clients include: USA Today, Oxford Intelligence, GMAC, AOL, Business Development Outlook and C-Level Media, among many others.

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