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The Seven Secrets of Search Marketing Success
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By Dean DeBiase

In the past few years, search marketing has evolved from a tactical exercise about finding search engine keywords to the center of the marketing universe.

Because of search marketing’s unique ability to test, adjust and pinpoint customer preferences rapidly, it is becoming the organizing principal for marketing and advertising budgets. Equally important is that the knowledge gained online is fundamentally improving the return on investment of offline advertising, direct marketing, telemarketing and other marketing initiatives.

As search marketing moves front and center, organizations both big and small can maximize their marketing programs by adhering to the Seven Secrets of Search marketing:

One: Never Pay More Than Necessary: The golden rule in purchasing keywords is to never pay a single penny more than necessary to appear in the top positions in a paid search. That’s easier said than done because market prices for keywords fluctuate widely. Prices are set by a continuous online auction operating 24/7, 365 days a year. The only way to succeed is to have a strategy that executes keyword purchases based on actual performance. That intelligence from monitoring and adjusting is critical for determining when keywords are on sale and when the market is overheated. Without a clear discipline and process, it’s easy to overpay.

Two: The Right Search Engine Mix is Critical: Identical keywords sell for different prices on different search engines – and produce different results. Just like each television network offers advertisers slightly different demographics, each search engine offers a slightly different product. The challenge for marketers is finding the right mix to achieve the highest return on investment. Should the money go to Google, Yahoo or MSN – which account for eight in 10 searches? Or, should the money be spent by combining one of the Big Three, plus second-tier firms such as Ask, Miva or Kanoodle? Or should it be invested in specialized search engines by industry or topic? Or all of the above? The answer requires continuous testing and adjusting until the optimal mix is reached.

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Dean DeBiase is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fathom Online.
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