If nothing else on digital, stay on top of your search strategy

August 2010

My last month has been dominated by one very important digital marketing discipline – search. I’ve had one client who is all over it like a rash, another who hasn’t quite grasped the importance of it and is also being let down by their web agency who aren’t on top of their game, and a new client who totally gets the importance of it but doesn’t understand the science of it (no problem – he doesn’t have to). Added to which, I’ve been using search to learn more about the finer points of, well it’s obvious really…search!

Search is probably the single marketing discipline that has high importance, at least in my mind, for all my current clients. Be it successfully achieved (or not) through SEO (search engine optimisation) or PPC (pay per click), I can’t currently think of anything more important to help my clients get right. But actually the reasons vary for its importance from simple B2C ecommerce sales on relatively low value products, to being the first stage in creating brand awareness for a complex one-off high value B2B sale – an automated steel sliding gate (not the sort of thing most of us search for every day, but if you’re the architect for a new distribution centre in Manchester you just might, so I want my client to be right up there when that event happens).

My monthly comment (and note I call it ‘comment’ not ‘blog’ because I’m not inviting readers to interact with it – what a proper blog should do) is not the place for me to tell you all the rules and tips for fantastic search results and, anyway, I’m not an expert on a technical level. But I will say that if search has a role to play in any aspect of your business model (and if you think it doesn’t then you’re business model is probably 10 years out of date), then put it at the top of your agenda to get it right.

My own role in helping clients with search is perhaps a slightly unusual one, in that I typically act as the catalyst to make it happen – which isn’t the unusual bit – to writing copy which not only takes account of keyword analysis, but also keeps the tone of voice aligned with the brand – which is the unusual bit because it’s where many copywriters fail. So either what they do reads well but nobody will ever do so because the website won’t be found due to keywords not used or not used properly, or all they think about is keywords and any rules on tone of voice go out the window – assuming, that is, they know how to create a tone of voice aligned to a brand’s values and positioning.

I attended a networking event in Inverness earlier in the year and one of the people I ended up talking to was a copywriter. So sensing both a good contact and a potential competitor, I quizzed him on how much of his work ended up on websites. He told me: “I don’t get very involved with that sort of thing.” “Really?” I replied (and, in truth with a look of exaggerated astonishment on my face). “No” he told me “and most of the copy I read on websites isn’t very good because they say too much and keep repeating words.” “Ah” I came back “there’s a very good reason for that…”. So perhaps a tad frightening that this particular chap (and in fairness he did look like he should have long retired) didn’t understand such a basic aspect of modern day marketing and its relevance to his own business offer as a copywriter, but then I comforted myself in the fact that he wouldn’t be a competitor because if he did have a website (I didn’t ask as was keen to move round the table and find a new target) nobody would ever know about it.

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