Search marketers everywhere are now beginning to feel they have a sound understanding of search and have moved on to other more exciting vehicles-- like branding. But heading off to start trouble half cocked or with less than complete equipment doesn't tend to work all that well.
Here are the three biggest search blunders to avoid.
1. Apathy in tools
All tools are not created equal. If there is an area of search engine advertising that is more misunderstood than campaign management, I really couldn't name it. For the most part, the attitude of search marketers in this arena is simple; "We have one of those bid management tools; we have it covered; let's move on to the next thing."
Right. Of course that makes sense. Much in the same way, burning coal was a great source of energy and the world should have just checked the fuels box and moved on with their lives.
There are a few tiny insignificant details that emerge when one is considering the process of bid management selection and maintenance. First, the search industry is quite volatile, management and ownership changes occur often. Second, the tool doesn't always work the way the sales guy told you it would work.
Consider for a moment the delicate irony of Google's proposed purchase of the largest third party ad serving company in the business when Google has been staunchly opposed to third party ad serving.
If you use DoubleClick's SEM tool, your search engine may soon own your bid management tool and campaign tracking device. Does that sound like a good idea to you?
The second tiny detail lies in those who expect the world from a tool. For the record, it will not sing and dance: it is merely a device to make managing search across multiple search sites easier.
The criteria for building SEM bid or campaign management tools as established by search sites have not been standardized and are in a constant state of evolution. That means how your tool communicates with the search engine's interface changes often, and if you are letting the tool make all of your decisions, chances are it is making some bad decisions.
2. SEO is finished
Another common area of distressful ambiguity for marketers lies the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The value of SEO services from agencies and consultants efforts lies in dispute. Those arguing against SEO services say marketers are paying for common sense or hocus pocus. Those offering services claim to contribute value by preparing websites for the world of natural search.
The debate as to whether SEO is a valid business model for professional services firms will continue in an endless loop. However, I have noticed a large portion of marketers viewing SEO as a single task that must be completed in order to move on to more pressing marketing tasks.
Whether you pay someone else to help you or you decide to bear the responsibility of search optimization efforts on your own, you must remember this: SEO efforts never end.
Once your site is optimized, there are ongoing labors to keep track of changes in user behavior, the impact of public relations efforts on search listings and rankings along with changes in ranking methods.
3. The context of directive
Content search represents a tremendous opportunity for placing your brand in front of a target audience that far exceeds the limited capacity of directive search. Since you are not limited by a searcher looking for information, content or contextual search also offers targeted placement opportunities in or near everything from email to news content.
Content search is more akin to traditional advertising vehicles than search. Yet, because contextual search placements are offered by search providers marketers often use content search in the same way as directive search listings.
Sure, they look the same, you can buy the listings the same way, and you can even use the same interface to manage content search listings. Just because you can manage these listings the same way that doesn't mean you should.
Consumer behavior is different in the content environment. Response rates are lower. If you are thinking of content and directive search in the same way, in a word, don't. Your audience isn't. Chances are that you are leaving large amounts of cash on the table.
Kevin M. Ryan is Chief Executive Officer at Motivity Marketing. .