Apr 19 2011
We’ve been talking a lot about SEO and social media around Level343, lately. Partly because it’s what we do, and partly because there’s always room for learning better strategies for higher returns.
But, what are the returns?
You read on all these blogs and articles how social media returns are XYZ. SEO returns are ABC. SEO mixed with social media brings A-Z. Yet, have you ever noticed how the experts seldom agree with each other? How many times have you followed the experts, only to be frustrated because what they suggested didn’t work?
It didn’t work because what they suggested didn’t match your target market and website offerings.
Each business needs to customize their SEO and social media advice. SEO is not a cookie cutter solution.
We recently put out an article: Building Campaigns Around Keyword Phrases: SEO, Marketing and Social Media. The way we laid out how to build campaigns around your chosen keywords is straightforward, simple, and will work – for most online business owners that visit our blog. However, following these tips does not necessarily mean success even if you followed them step by step.
Our article does not take into consideration, for example, heavy e-commerce sites. It is simply a guideline. Our readership ranges from real estate agents to beginning SEOs. We have people selling eBooks and people creating information hubs to monetize them. In other words, we can’t target the strategies we describe for every instance.
Doing As An Expert
Even as SEO specialists, things change from site to site. Here are two examples:
Our client was receiving… a little bit… of traffic. She got comments on her blogs and a strong following on social sites. However, her main products – services and a related eBook, were being lost in the fray.
Our strategy was a two-parter. One was onsite. We changed the home page layout to provide better click through rates and added better search snippets for marketing purposes. We also changed her interior sales pages to have stronger calls to action. They weren’t big changes, but the goal was to increase how many actually clicked into those interior pages and then bought.
The second part was a comprehensive social media campaign, tying in the blogs, social and products/services as outlined in the article above (yes, we’ve used these steps!).
Since these things were implemented, she’s seen a constant improvement in traffic. Compared to the time previous, her visits are up by 123% and her page views are up by 87%. Although pages per visit are down, we can look at this as a positive number. People are coming to her site and finding what they’re looking for instead of having to search for it. The best part, her sales are up.
We had a potential client come to us whose site was losing in the SERPs. Although traffic was visible, it limped along. Unfortunately, this potential client had heard tons of great things about social media and believed a social media campaign would do all the things the needed to bring in traffic.
Now, we could have gone along, picked up a new client, done what they wanted and darn the results. Here’s the problem. People just weren’t using regular social channels to talk about it. Instead, they were discussing the potential client’s industry on forums and blogs.
Therefore, the strategy outlined in SEO, Marketing and Social Media wouldn’t have worked for this client. His target market just wasn’t in these spaces. We offered proposed a different strategy, one that matched his site’s actual needs.
He didn’t agree, we wouldn’t waste time on strategies we didn’t’ believe would bring results, and we went our separate ways.
The moral of the story: Not everything you read will fit your site.
Doing As a Reader
Putting what you read into practice should always be a five-part process:
- Ask yourself if the advice you’ve just read will fit your target market. For example, if you cater to CEOs, you might be better off focusing on sites like LinkedIn i.e. you want to be where the CEOs gather. Their social media water cooler, as it were.
- Ask yourself if the advice you’ve just read will fit your site. Think about it. Is this advice fit for an ecommerce site? Is it aimed towards informative sites? Perhaps this is for a service site. Mentally apply it to your site before physically applying it.
- Test everything. Just because guru A says this will work, doesn’t mean this will work for your site. Moving your content layout around, for example, may severely damage your conversion rates rather than enhance them. Don’t make changes site wide without testing on a single page. This is what A/B testing is for.
- Put what you’ve learned works for your site into action.
Much of what you read from SEO specialists comes from proven results. SEO, Marketing and Social Media, for example, was based off of strategies we’ve applied time and again. However, we do not automatically say, “This is the strategy we’re going to use,” because each site is different.
We may have to tweak the strategy.
We may have to change it.
We may have to leave social media out of it all together.
As you read, understand that each bit of advice needs to be changed to cater to your precise audience. Otherwise, you’re betting your entire online business to an SEO specialist who’s never seen your site, and might offer a different solution if they had.
Have you suffered frustrations from using someone’s advice and it not working? Have you found that tweaking the advice for your particular site works better? We’d love to hear from you – share your experiences in the comments!
For the past fifteen years Gabriella has held positions as a consultant, web developer and creative director until she decided it was time to open Level 343, an SEO and copywriting company. She fancies herself an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. She loves singing in the shower and keeps a notepad next to her bed.
More Posts By Gabriella Sannino
- http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis
Excellent advice! I’ve had clients come to me and say “our competitor is doing this and it works. We want to do it too.” Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. What works for one company isn’t always applicable to another, even if they are in the same industry.
Great article! So many times prospects come to me and say they “need” to do social media “because everybody does it.” It takes a lot of time to go over their industry, do some research to determine if social will work or not, and if so, which medium.
Thanks for sharing your strategies!
- Talton Figgins
I love articles that give people a wake-up call on social media. Everyone is saying “We know it’s big but how to we use it?” without first asking themselves “Does it make sense based on our goals and demographic.” Play where your customers play and be smart about investing time in social media.
I commend you guys for not taking the easy money and entering in a race you couldn’t win or one that could have hurt your reputation in the long run. I think it was definitely the right choice.
- http://twitter.com/mmhemani Moosa Hemani
Excellent post and i think very much on time… most of the time and mostly with small businesses what they do is read and try to implement. The test experts usually do may not work for other niche and there is a very common phrase that i usual quote and that is ‘What works for you may not works for me’ i think readers should consider this while implementing any strategy on their website.
- http://twitter.com/ConnieMcKnight Connie McKnight
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to anything in this world, even a franchise.
Thanks for pointing out the facts about Social Media. Even after you do all the basics, it still takes time and commitment.
- http://www.andreamoro.eu/ Andrea Moro
Love this phrase … “This is the strategy we’re going to use,” because each site is different”.
Unfortunately customers think it differently as they believe sites are all the same 🙁
- Adam Humphreys
Every site is indeed different. I’m always astonished at how very different each audience is when I drill down and segment the data. It’s learning to fit and qualify those needs that makes us effective at our jobs.
- http://blog.karlribas.com Karl Ribas
As Talton mentioned above, I too appreciate when social marketing providers are up front and honest with regards to the effectiveness of specific social media strategies. I work with mostly small businesses, and often at times, due to location and product/service, social media marketing just isn’t going to work.
Andrea, indeed. We have turned away a few clients that insisted the strategy they had in mind would work. When we looked at their numbers and 0 social media interactions we were dumbfounded. I’m still amazed how many clients don’t even look at their numbers. Just because their cousin or another agency told them that’s where they need to be…. mmah
Hey Talton, I cannot tell you how many times we have had to consider these questions “Can we do this? Can we show them results within their time frame?” Sure, it’s about reputation but it’s also very challenging. Social media takes time, strategy, plus you have to measure and tweak along the way.We would need a full time social media person on staff, period. But then we get clients that have deep pockets and don’t mind creating the first steps of their social media presence. Those are challenges I don’t mind helping them with. Especially if they have an ORM issue. One of my favorite challenges 😉 lolol thanks for your input!
- http://www.zippycart.com Zippy Cart
Doing things by rote without looking for ways to innovate and adapt isn’t being a Search Engine Optimization professional – it’s being a robot.