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What’s the real goal of search marketing?

Great post by Melissa Burdon at grokdotcom on the real goal of search marketing—conversions. If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know how much I agree.


Melissa makes exactly the right points. Your goal is to sell stuff, not to get high search rankings. Obviously, if you can get more traffic with same conversion rate, then great. But the relationship between rankings, traffic, conversion rate, and conversions is fluid.
You might get lower rankings for more popular keywords and get more traffic with the same conversion rate and therefore more conversions. Which would be good. Hmmm…lower rankings are good? Yes, they can be.
Or you might get lower rankings for less popular keywords and get lower traffic but have a higher conversion rate (because that keyword is a perfect match for your target market) and get higher conversions. Which would be good. Hmmmm…lower rankings and lower traffic are good? Yes, they can be.
As my Little League coach used to tell me, “Keep your eye on the ball.” (I still couldn’t hit the ball, but oh well.) Your focus should be on conversions, not conversion rate or traffic or rankings. Even better, your focus should be on Lifetime Value.
If you’re looking for a search marketing book that helps you keep your eye on the ball, then check out ours. We make sure that you focus on sales first (which means converting your customers) and search stuff second. Anytime you think search first you end up doing the wrong thing—either spamming the search engines or annoying your customers or both.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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