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Lessons from the Presidential Primaries

Jun 14, 2008
There are some important lessons to be learned from the presidential primaries that relate directly to search engine marketing:

1. Successful search engine marketing requires diligence.
2. You must make the most of the visits to your web site.

For example, in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama ran an ongoing paid search campaign so that his marketing message was constantly seen. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, ran ads sporadically. Obama consistently collected names, email addresses, and donations for months on end, building a huge database of voters and bankrolling his campaign with millions in small donations.

And now we know the outcome.

Obama has won the Democratic nomination and will be running for President against John McCain. McCain himself has done a good job of consistently using paid search ads to build mailing lists and collect donations. Even though he had no competition late for the Republican nomination, McCain wisely continued promoting and building momentum. Chances are excellent that both candidates will continue to use search engine marketing all the way up to the election.

How can you use search engine marketing to gain an advantage over your competitors?

If you sell physical products in your local geographic market, you absolutely should use search engine marketing (both natural and paid) to give your web site visibility for searches related to the products you sell. Your competitors probably aren't doing this.

Not too long ago I was shopping for gas fireplaces in Nashville. I found almost nothing in any search engine results related to businesses that sell these items. I know they exist. I see their ads on TV. But only one of these businesses gave any thought to using pay per click ads or optimizing their site to appear for searches related to their products (and its site was very unimpressive). If a single business in Nashville that sells gas fireplaces will optimize its web site for searches in Nashville related to gas fireplaces, it will immediately gain a competitive advantage over every other business selling the same thing.

Do a search in Google for the products you sell in your city. Does your business appear? Do your competitors?

Search engine marketing allows very small businesses to play on a level field with much larger, better financed competitors. If you compete in an industry with reasonable click prices, you can immediately begin running paid search ads right next to multinational corporations. Even if click prices are exorbitant, you can still compete if your landing pages are very compelling or if you only need to convert at a very low rate.

But no matter how expensive paid clicks get, nothing can stop you from getting your site to the top of the natural search engine rankings. The key is focus. Decide exactly what keywords you want your site to rank for, and proceed with an aggressive, multi-pronged search engine optimization campaign. You may not be able to outspend your competitors, but you can outwork them. Optimize your home page for your top two keywords and begin a linking campaign, with the text of the links containing your primary keywords. Do this religiously. Your rankings and your traffic will rise.

So take a cue from Obama and McCain. Use search engine marketing as a competitive advantage for your business.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of PPC management and SEO firm Work Media, based in Nashville.
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