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Ask your customers what search terms they would use. Go online and run a few sample searches yourself. What keywords bring up your competitors?These may be the ones to consider.

Create limits To find the most qualified buyers, make your keyword choices highly specific by using descriptive phrases instead of individual words. For example, “shoes” may be too general; “women’s Italian shoes” is better. Also, many SEM programs have ways to limit your ad delivery, which can keep it from showing up in inappropriate searches. “Exact matching” makes sure your ad shows up only when there is an exact keyword match. “Negative keywords” keep your ad from being delivered when there’s a term that could have two meanings (for instance, the word “virus” can be used by both computer-software and flu-symptom searchers). Geographic limits allow for regional or even city-level targeting.

Test and retest Consider varying your keyword purchases, your rankings and your ad language to see what generates the best results. For example, try combinations of broad keywords with low ranking, or and run split tests with different ad copy.

Don’t forget second-tier search engines Keep in mind that you’ll be competing with a lot of business owners for keywords on the leading search engines.There are quite a few search sites on the Web; look for those that cater to a particular industry, interest, geography or other niche.These options can be more affordable and still have a sizable impact.

When to Call in the Hired Guns

Search engines are complicated and constantly-evolving programs. Maximizing your search engine marketing and optimization effectiveness may take more than just an employee with an aptitude for the Web.You may decide it is necessary to hire an experienced partner. Use these criteria to make an informed choice:

Trust Remember that you are first and foremost establishing a business relationship. Does the company answer your questions honestly and completely, or does it avoid certain topics or give vague answers to your questions? You should feel completely comfortable that you are dealing with a knowledgeable and ethical vendor.

Experience Does the company have experience in your industry? If not, how does it intend to learn about what’s important to your customers?This is especially important for SEO consultants, since they’ll need to make sure you’re highlighting the right keywords on your site.

Credibility Ask for a list of references. When you call them, ask these referrals how the projects were run and what kinds of results they achieved.

Metrics Whether you gauge success by site visits or sales, how will your consultant help you measure your success?

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