Web Advertising and the Small Business: Do I Need a Middleman?

Web advertising is becoming an increasingly self-serve business, allowing SMBs to run their own web campaigns. Now that anyone can purchase keywords on search engines and pay per click advertising, do SMBs really need a company to help them advertise?

Although the new age of advertising does offer unparalleled flexibility and affordablilty, wading through the sheer amount of options and technical lingo can be overwhelming, and many SMBs still find it worthwhile to have someone to guide them through the process, sift through the options, and find the most effective and economical strategy for their advertising dollar. Techniques such as search engine optimization, and organic SEO though simple in concept, can be tricky to implement.

For the unsure, online ads can be as simple and old-fashioned as the online yellow pages ad. Any business owner familiar with yellow page advertising can wrap their head around this one, but the technique is still the same as print advertising, visibility is determined by the size and placement of the ad. Local search sites like city search add such features as customer reviews, but not much else.

Search engines, considered by many the most effective form of online marketing, also bring a wide spectrum of options and increased complexity along with them. The goal here is the highest rankings, but truly effective search engine optimization is far more than popping up first under a particular search. For example a search for “plumbing” versus “plumbers” or “plumber” can yield far different results. This complexity has created a niche for companies like Emarketed to help SMBs plan SEO campaigns more effectively.

The irony is that as web advertising becomes more accessible to the small business owner, the complexity of effectively running these campaigns increases as well, meaning that at least for the present, SMBs will find themselves best served by consulting these middlemen for their online advertising campaigns.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

How to work with a search marketing company or consultant

I thought this topic would be relavant to our customers as well as others out there that work with a search marketing company or consultant. I recently spoke to one of our paid search and search engine optimization (SEO) customers today and discovered some interesting data. The orginal intent of the call was to followup on a new 800 number to better track the calls coming through. The customer went on to discuss what keywords are most effective for their paid search and SEO campaigins. This customer surveys all potential customers to find out what search engine they found them on, what keyword was specifically used to find them, and what state they’re calling from. With these 3 pieces of data we were able to make adjustments in real time to their paid search campaign. The SEO campaign does not have this flexibility but when it’s time to renew thier SEO campaign we can add some of these words to their campagin. So make sure to keep your search marketing company up to date on what’s working for you. The more information you can provide, the better the company or consultant will be able to fine tune the search marketing campaign. This could be done through a weekly phone call or a weekly email. If you’re not already tracking this information, start today. It’s your money so you might as well get the best value out of your marketing spend.

Here’s a list of some helpful things you can do yourself to get the most out of your search marketing campaign:

  • Track site traffic through free Google Analytics
  • Use free Google Webmaster Tools (You might need some help from a webmaster to get this initially setup)
  • Track your data on a spread sheet (what search engines you were found on, what words, was it organic or a paid search ad?, etc.)
  • Stay in touch with your search marketing company on a weekly basis
  • Stay current with search marketing trends by reading blogs like ours and one or all of these: Search Engine Land, Search Engine Guide, or SEOMoz (I currently subscribe to these and 6 others through Google Reader which is a nice way to feed all of these sites into one reader.
  • Request your paid search log-ins for Google, Yahoo, and MSN and log-in yourself to see what’s working and what words are being advertised. Some search marketing companies will not give this information out and provide generic reports. At emarketed we give access to your accounts if you request this information. You can login and run all types of reports to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Well that’s it for now. I will post more tips to this post in the future so stay tuned. Please also feel free to comment if you have some ideas that can help.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Google AdWords Editor Update

Google is at it again with another update for the Google AdWords Editor. I look forward to testing this out. First page bid estimates for your keywords is now used in this version while the minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bids are no longer used. The quality score is now displayed for your keywords. You can also now change the language and location for the Keyword Opportunities tool within the Google AdWords Editor. There are some other updates but these are the biggest.

Here’s a quick recap for you newbies out there that aren’t sure what I’m talking about. This tool allows you to manage your Google AdWords account offline through a software interface. If your managing 100 words or less than this tool might not be for you. It’s really geared for larger campaigns and is idea for search marketing companies or consultants that manage multiple accounts. Some of the more tedious work such as updating your ads online can be done fairly quicking with the editor. All you need to do is download the software and install. It will ask you for your user and password and then it will download your AdWords account info so that you can start editing. Your changes are pushed through to your account when you save your data.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

What is Search Engine Marketing?

Search Engine Marketing (commonly abbreviated as SEM) is the term used to encompass all the elements involved in using search engines as tools for online marketing. The more often heard abbreviation, SEO, stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is a very effective tool used in online marketing. Coming in a close second in terms of effectiveness is Paid Search.

Both tools attempt to allow a particular website to be “found” easily by the most popular search engines, and rank highly in the search results. It stands to reason that when a prospect is searching for something your company sells, they aren’t going to look through dozens (or perhaps even hundreds) of pages of results. The most desirable place to be is at, or near, the top position in any given set of search results. That way, your prospect sees your website’s address above any number of competitors in the listings.

Search Engine Optimization attempts to accomplish this task “organically,” by manipulating the content of your site so search engines find it highly relevant in relation to specific search terms or keywords. Paid Search attempts to accomplish the same goal by paying for the privilege of being rated as highly relevant. With most search engines, the “sponsored” results (which is just a nicer way of saying “paid for”) are displayed most prominently, appearing above or alongside the main search results. How this is accomplished will be explained in a later chapter.

For now, it’s enough to know these three things:

Search Engine Marketing is a term for all the tools that allow a website to be found more effectively by search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is usually the least expensive way of enabling a website to achieve higher rankings in search results, but it takes time.

Paid Search is the quickest and easiest way to become highly ranked by search engines, although it can be expensive.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.