Are You Asking The Right Search Marketing Questions?

One of the great delights in my job is the ability to help clients shape conversations they are engaging in specific to intention marketing, including the search space. Often, clients have questions about strategy and execution, but they are questions that serve their day-to-day needs. These are essential to our business, yet because clients are so frequently heads down, they don't get as much time to think about bigger questions that matter to their success as well. This is where I get to come in and align their long-term needs and questions with their immediate plans.

With search marketing, there are more questions than time -- or in this case copy space -- allows, but here are a few for your radar.

What's in it for me?

Every quarter, the Sales Stormtroopers from Mountain View descend on clients to show them just how much more they could be doing in search. These conversations also point to shortcomings in YouTube, content and everything else where Google has a stake. Now, few clients are every truly maxed in their spend, so these cases have a depth of validity, but they also come as a "you need us, so spend more now" feel. The question here is, what can Google do for you that extends beyond search? No longer are your search dollars the only interest from Google. Use your broader spend to influence better data and insights in areas Google has historically kept silent, like search.



Where's the advertiser innovation?

With every product launch, like Google Instant, the advertising community is reminded of the well-established pecking order or search engine innovation. Bing was created as a response to customer satisfaction, but with minimal ad creativity changes. Instant is designed to speed up consumer searching, but our early research at Mindshare, one of our agencies, shows long-tail queries have dropped by 10% on Google in the first week since launch.

Yahoo suggests that 24 elements make up a SERP, but only two are being handed over to Microsoft for delivery, leaving 22 for Yahoo to enhance and maintain. In every case we remain tied to a standard text plus experience. Yes, ads are getting "rich," but the overall scale of opportunity for advertisers has not kept pace in any way with the user experience. The question remains, what more are search engines willing to do to innovate on the ad format front to create better relevancy.

Is your content a gift or a curse?

SEO is a heavily buzzed-about and debated topic for many brands. What to do, how to do it and what it will produce are all scrutinized. Less queried is the who's going to make it happen question. Is SEO an extension of a media strategy? Is it an extension of user experience? What does it take to truly be successful? SEO is as successful as the elements being optimized. As the saying goes "You can put lipstick on the pig, but it is still a pig." Is your SEO strategy designed to optimize the sow, or are you truly giving people content in a format they want? Top rankings are rewarded by an engine, and rewards only go to those who know how to ask themselves the question about their own content and the proper approach to having more of the right things.

Yahoo + Bing = What Exactly?

By the end of October, Yahoo and Bing will be a single platform serving search listings across two distinct networks. Advertisers from both pools will be thrown together into a single hot tub of fun. The question at large is what impact this melting pot of buyers will  have on your campaign costs and performance. Do you truly know who your competitors are in each, and have you prepared for the potential volatility that has historically come during a transformation project like this?

These are key search marketing questions highly relevant at present. What are the right questions for your business -- and are you asking them
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