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Perspectives by GMU Internet Marketing Students

Search Engine Optimization: “Meet Them Where They’re At”

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Blogger: Topher Hall

In the marketing world, it’s a tried and true (albeit extremely played out) strategic philosophy: “Meet them where they’re at.”  The phrase implores marketers to put and keep their product or service in plain view of their target audience.  It suggests that the marketer’s job is not to prod people into changing their mind about a particular product or service, but rather it’s to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time.  Online, the right place is on the very first results page on Google, Yahoo or MSN search.  The right time is the instant a member from your target audience submits a keyword string related to your product or service.  If you sell little black handbags for tweens, and a young consumer types in “black purse” into Google’s search bar, your company had better be in front of her seconds later. How is this accomplished? Even after years of continuous innovation online, the answer has largely remained the same.

Get optimized. Stay optimized.

“Organic search still continues to be the number one way people find content and websites,” according to C3 search industry conference host, Conductor. (D’Amico) This search conference, held in New York City, explores the trends, challenges and opportunities that exist in the web search field.  Even with all the advances in Pay Per Click advertising and social media presence building, the moral of the story at the end of the conference was, SEO is not declining in importance. Organic search engine optimization, and relevant destination content makes a successful web presence.

If digging into your site to surgically place keywords into lines of metadata seems like a lot to handle for business owners, it is.  But there are now thousands of specialist that can help optimize a website in iterative steps, to allow small businesses to play with the big boys on search. While some companies spend thousands of dollars and hours of manpower on SEO, there is room for smart marketers to pinpoint their target audience and work with SEO specialists to make a site visible.

In Aubrey Beck’s article about hiring a specialist, she suggests asking three questions in an interview with the potential SEO partner. Beck tells us to ask SEO specialists if they use “White Hat” organic techniques. This is important. Black hat operations (cramming in tons of repetitive keywords, or other means of cheating the system) are looked down upon. They will eventually get you in trouble with the search engines.  Don’t hire someone that may use those techniques. Stick with one who uses above board activities like link-building, clever keyword use and establishing great site architecture.

Beck also says to ask, “Are they technical and creative?” (Beck) Technical expertise is fine, but if your specialist can’t think outside the box, you’ll be steps behind your competitors. Lastly, Beck would have us ask our SEO specialist, “Do you use analytics-based approach for running ROI-focused campaigns around concrete earnings models?” (Beck) In other words, is he or she tracking success of keywords? Is a he or she monitoring search success throughout different steps of the customer’s path to purchase? Will there be an established baseline on which to measure traffic, rankings and linkbacks? Measurement is key. Without great measurement practices, it’s difficult to tell what’s working and what’s not.

Know these important focal points of good SEO. Also know that SEO is here to stay. PPC and social media presence building are viable online activities, and they certainly have their place in your integrated marketing, but stay on top of the best practices of SEO and keep your site in plain view of your target audience. This is acquisition marketing. This is your conversion plan. SEO is how the consumer finds you, assesses you and buys what you’re selling. Make their experience effortless.

As stated by Christie Nichols of Performance Solutions, we want to make sure we give customers what they need, at the right time on their journey through the brand eco-system.”

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One thought on “Search Engine Optimization: “Meet Them Where They’re At”

  1. Topher,

    Great blog post! I loved your statement “Get optimized. Stay optimized.” Very powerful and great advice. SEO is definitely something a company needs to stay on top of.

    Thanks for sharing!

    -Diane

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