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Developing your search marketing strategy in a social world

Search engine marketing isn’t simply about the creation of well-optimised content and/or a bit of Pay Per Click marketing any more. To succeed in an increasingly competitive, often global market you’re going to need to factor in other activities including advertising, PR and social media.

To do this successfully you’re going to need to follow a structured plan.

An overview of the search engine marketing planning process

Here we share some thoughts on the process you might follow to develop and implement a search engine marketing strategy in a world where social media is increasingly important.

1. Research

Audience research

Your first port of call should be your target customer. Get the facts straight about them, their challenges and how/where they like to buy will be gold dust as it will save you both time and money in the long run. If you don’t have existing customers to talk to, you can easily conduct some desk research to see what they’re taking about online for example.

Keyword research

Write up a list of keywords and phrases that you want to be found for. Find out how competitive they are, and how expensive they might be if you need to pay for them. Don’t forget that the ‘longer tail’ terms will often be cheaper and, as they’re more specific, will generate lower traffic volumes but that traffic is likely to include more qualified leads

  • Problem-related terms (e.g. “How can I…?”)
  • Solution-related terms (e.g. “I want…”)
  • Industry-related terms (i.e. what field you/your customers are in)
  • Product/service-related terms (i.e. what you do)
  • Brand-related terms (i.e. who you are)

Competitor research

Find out what the competition are up to, and see if you can benefit from their experience. What marketing initiatives are they undertaking in your market? Are they appearing for your keywords? Are they active in social media (if not why not)? Are there any competitors you weren’t already aware of?

2. Planning & strategy development

Armed with all your research you’ll be much better placed to decide on your next steps, both in terms of where you are, your objectives and where there might be any yet-to-be-exploited opportunities.

So you’ll need to create a timetable for this activity and outline who is going to deliver each element.

3. Implementation

With a clear vision and a plan to implement you can engage the necessary resource to deliver that plan – either in-house or by engaging specialist agencies. You’ll need to factor in the following:

  • Platform creation (e.g. a website to house all your content!)
  • Content creation
  • Content publishing
  • Content dissemination
  • Promotion & engagement (advertising, online PR, RSS, email, social channels, etc.)

4. Analysis, review & revision

Once your campaign is live, you’ll need to keep an eye on how you’re progressing. Your audience’s needs and the web in which they’re engaging is a constantly changing landscape so you’ll be making constant updates to your strategy. Here are some of the things we'd advise keeping a close eye on:

  • Website stats (e.g. Google Analytics)
  • Search engine results
  • Page positioning
  • Inbound links
  • Social buzz
  • Online PR performance
  • Paid performance

We hope that you found this post useful. Have we missed anything?! We’d love to hear your thoughts and/or hear about your successes in search and social so please do get in touch and share them with us...

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