SEO and the company marketing strategy – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is subject that causes many a wrinkled forehead in boardrooms today. Most executives have got past the stage of worrying about what it actually means, they are now worrying about how much they need to spend to either; 1. Keep their website onto the front page of Google (a very nice problem to have) or; 2. Place their company onto the front page of Google. Given, on average, there are only 10 unpaid for front page slots for any particular search, this is clearly very important.
As specialists in business performance management we are often asked about the inclusion of ‘Position 1 in Google Search’ as a valid strategic objective. If ever there was an innocuous comment that can turn a company’s strategic thinking on its head, this is it! The first question we ask is “what search term are you thinking about?” and inevitably the answer is “the company name, of course”. We all like to believe our company name has great importance, rightly so as in many instances a vast sum of money has been spent promoting the brand. However, this is of little interest to our potential customers. If they are searching for the best high-speed lightweight laptop, then the search terms will be “best high-speed lightweight laptop”. It is highly unlikely the search term would be Apple or Dell or HP. Even if the customer were pre-disposed to say Apple, why go to a search engine, why not just go straight to Apple? Having said that there are good marketing reasons to ensure a company name appears first on Google, it does give the company ‘weight’ and ‘credibility’.
Once past the ego stage, the next question is always about the actual search terms. Those words and phrases that when entered will result in the company appearing in position 1 or at least on the front page of Google. As a small digression here, think about the last time you did a search, when the results came through, did you just look at the first result? Did you go to the second page of results or the third? Page one on Google is the nirvana, position 1 is a nice to have. It is at this point that the strategic value of understanding SEO kicks in. SEO is a long-term activity, it relies on the search engines (and really we mean Google, Yahoo and Bing) undertaking automated on-line investigative activities (know as crawling) to asses the contents of your website and compare it to others. The search engines then create huge indexes that are referred to before displaying an outcome. Why is it important to know this technical detail? Simply to realise this all takes time (and indeed includes time as a SEO index element). Therefore, this mechanism is not particular useful for short-term marketing campaigns, it should be used for much longer-term marketing activities around search terms or “Keywords” that are associated with products or services that will have longevity within the company or around those things that define a company. For example, if you were looking for a hi-fi system, you might enter “sound systems” as a search item which would result in Richer Sounds as the highest placed search result. However, if you entered “high quality sound systems’ it would come as no surprise that Bose appeared as at the top of the page.
The activity of examining “what the company stands for” is of greatest importance and nowadays it is the seemingly simple activity of looking at Search Engine Optimisation that is driving this activity. The next question, of course, is once the strategy/keywords have been defined, what do we do next to get to page 1 of Google? We will look at that in our next blog entry.