what the web strategist should know about seo and sem

Jeremiah interviewed me briefly on SEO and SEM yesterday. He’ll be posting the video shortly The video is here, and here’s how I would answer his question in a longer format

Jeremiah: So what should the web strategist know about SEO and SEM?

Brian: Know your goals and make sure you can get there with the resources you have, and consider all your options for who to work with to accomplish those goals.

Know your Goals
Different SEO goals include:
1. Get high rankings for a specific key phrase
2. Increase traffic from unpaid search
3. Increase conversions from unpaid search

Each can be a good goal in some situations and a poor goal in others. Know your goals before you start, or have defining your goals be the first part of what you do.

Different SEM goals include:
1. Spend your budget to get the most visibility
2. Spend your budget to get the most conversions
3. Get a certain return on ad spend (such as $4 of revenue for every $1 spent on ads) and spend as much as possible while attaining that return on ad spend

The last two are usually best. Again, get these laid out at the start of your campaign. Maybe the first month or two of SEM work is figuring out what a reasonable return on ad spend would be. 3:1 to 4:1 is typical for our company. Just make sure this is a discussion you are having at the beginning.

Know your resources
You have three basic resources- money, time, and focus.

You may not have enough focus available to pay close attention to what the SEO company you hired is doing. If you don’t, then admit this to yourself up front and plan to deal with it.

SEO can be a one shot deal or a long term engagement. Good SEO is long term, but if all you can afford is a one shot deal, fine- accept that and find the best one shot deal you can.

How long are you willing to spend before you see results? SEO typically takes 6 months to a year to show results. SEM can take just hours…

Make sure your goals and your resources are aligned before you start spending a lot on SEO and SEM. Or, make it the first priority of the firm you are working with to help you align resources and goals.

Decide who to work with
For SEO and SEM, there are 4 options for who to work with:
1. Do it internally with the team you have
2. Hire an employee(s) to do it internally
3. Hire a single source/specialist company
4. Hire a full service agency

Good/bad parts of each:

1. Do it internally with the team you have
Good: Cheap
Bad: they are busy with their current jobs, and they probably don’t have the experience required to do a top-notch job

2. Hire an employee(s) to do it internally
Good: can be cheap, you have a lot of control
Bad: Hard to find one person who can do everything you want

3. Hire a single source/specialist company
Good: Experts at one thing tend to be… experts at that one thing. A SEM-only company may have better laid out reports than an agency that does SEM, SEO, emails, etc.
Bad: Focus on one area leaves the big picture behind

4. Hire a full service agency
Good: Strategy talks can take into account all areas of web strategy to help you decide where to invest your energy.
Bad: Big firms don’t necessarily know what works for small to mid sized companies- eg, SEO for Ford and SEO for you aren’t the same

So get started
You need to address the SEO/SEM issues above. But don’t let that stop you from starting soon. You can figure a lot of these questions out as you go along. Good luck!

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2 Responses to “what the web strategist should know about seo and sem”


  1. 1 Linda Keith September 27, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I heard this today from a very successful business owner:

    “Our website is really very outdated and as with most small firms, we work so hard on behalf of our clients it is tough to make the site a priority. As our first book comes out in January we will also be revising our site to make it more interactive and updated. Frankly the last time we did a makeover was about 6 years ago.”

    I relate to how busy he is which is why I hired an internet marketing agency to take care of this. I agree…don’t let not knowing enough or not having enough time keep you from finding the right agency and getting started.

    Oh…and yes, I suggested he give you a call, Brian.


  1. 1 Video: Brian Keith tells you find out what you should know about Search Marketing Trackback on October 11, 2007 at 2:58 am

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I'm now blogging about internet marketing at RedBeardConsulting.com.

Red Beard Consulting

At Red Beard Consulting I work on internet marketing primarily for speakers. I also work with Infusionsoft.

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