A Dozen Dos And Don’ts For Successful Search Marketing

Search engine optimization (SEO) continues to be a highly effective form of Internet marketing, but companies can easily slip up and squander their investment. Here is a checklist of the 12 most important dos and don’ts to keep your SEO campaign generating a solid return, year after year.

  1. DO select the right SEO agency. Vet firms carefully to confirm they have the talent and bandwidth to handle your campaign with care and efficiency. Be sure to check references prudently, because many agencies do not walk their talk.
  1. DON’T under budget. SEO campaigns have a lot of moving parts and must be sustained over months and years to maximize return on investment. Operating SEO on a shoestring budget trips up many a company.
  1. DON’T get hung up on rankings. Companies may get an ego boost from a #1 ranking – but rankings don’t necessarily correlate to ROI.
  1. DO focus on lead generation. Sales leads pay the bills, not rankings or traffic. A well-designed and well-executed SEO campaign delivers a steadily increasing stream of leads.
  1. DO pay attention to your internal follow-up process. If your staff fumbles SEO-generated sales leads, your SEO gains are wiped out. Make sure form and phone leads are handled quickly and professionally.
  1. DO validate leads. Many SEO agencies lump form and phone inquiries together and call them “conversions.” This is a very common blind spot, and leads you to think your campaign is succeeding when it is not.
  1. DO set up thorough lead tracking. To validate leads, the first step is capturing them – all of them. Precise tracking of phone and form lead sources requires technical expertise; without it, you will never know where your leads are coming from, and as a result, you will be unable to continuously improve your campaign.
  1. DON’T confuse SEO with content marketing.  Much is written about how SEO and content marketing are “merging.” Don’t be misled. On-site and off-site content are certainly part of a good SEO campaign, but only one part. Leave out the rest, and your campaign will fail.
  1. DON’T confuse SEO with social media marketing.  Having vibrant social media communities is a plus for your business, but not a necessity for SEO. In many cases, a company can rely on external social media communities to share its content. However, creating or ramping up your social media properties simply for the sake of distributing content is probably a poor investment, and certainly not required for excellent SEO ROI.
  1. DO build a responsive website. Responsive website design enables your site to automatically adjust for optimal display on desktop monitors, tablets and smartphone screens. Besides the fact Google is gearing up to reward mobile-friendly sites, lead generation suffers mightily if mobile users have a subpar experience.
  1. DO evaluate results and strategy regularly. An SEO campaign should never be left on autopilot, even if you are working with the best agency or internal staff in the world. SEO best practices, your business strategy and the competitive landscape can change quickly and drastically. If your campaign is not evolving, it is dying.
  1. DO be patient and persistent. As mentioned earlier, an SEO campaign can take months or even years to kick into gear. Companies sometimes give up too early, changing agencies or strategy when terrific ROI is only a month or two away. Both Google and people are influenced by consistency and purpose.  If those two attributes form the foundation of your campaign, SEO is bound to succeed.