SEOEveryone uses a search engine! And yet, not everyone in marketing understands the difference between SEO, PPC, metatags and keywords. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. I know it can be confusing but…

To be a successful marketer today, you need to understand how to show up in the search results of your buyers’ search engine activity. To do this you must understand keywords and content and how they interact with each other to gain that coveted top spot in the search engine results.

This is not just about being a successful marketer. This is about driving real business results in the form of traffic to your website, getting more consumers of your content and ultimately to obtaining more paying customers…

Keyword Research Is Important To The Whole Business!

Last week, the folks at OpenView Venture Partners launched A Business Guide To Keyword Research: Better Keywords, Better Customers.” I was honored to have a quote included in the guide because of the passion I hold for this topic.

I truly believe that understanding the elements of search engine marketing and keyword research goes beyond just good marketing, and even successful digital marketing – all the way to being a dependency on running a successful business.

The quote they used:

000000;">“I often talk about the importance of putting our audience at the center of everything we do and creating customer-focused marketing plans. Keyword research is fundamental to that process because it allows marketers to get inside the minds of our buyers – not just in understanding what they are looking for, but the  actual words they are using. Magic happens when businesses create content that maps directly to their needs and uses our buyers’ own language.”

And what I’m talking about is the fact that keyword strategy and keyword research start with the fundamental belief that our businesses exist at their most basic level to simply fulfill a customer need.

They own the need. And they decide when and how to go find a solution.

The Right Keywords = The Right Content

Knowing how people search for solutions is just the first step. You have to then build that knowledge of your customers into an effective Content Strategy.  If Search Engine Marketing is knowing how your buyers search, then Content Strategy involves having the content they are looking for.

And of course these go hand-in-hand. Having the right content isn’t enough. Your content needs to include those keywords so that it can be effectively indexed by the search engines.

Getting indexed for the right keywords means getting found by your buyers.

Search Engine Marketing is Really Hard!

While this all sounds so simple, the fact is that search engine marketing is really hard. The reason for this starts with the fact that buyers don’t always search for the terms we think they do.

Additionally, you cannot buy your way to the top of the list (like with most traditional marketing.) You have to earn your way there (with both paid and organic search) due to a little something called the “quality score.” The quality score is calculated by the search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo in the US) and requires that you have the content your buyers want and that this content includes the keywords your buyers are searching for.

You also need to be a credible source. Credibility is often determine by the number of other people who link to you, the relative size and credibility of those sites and a whole bunch of search engine “secret sauce” that only the brilliant minds at Google and the other search engine giants know.

Last but certainly not least, in order to master the art of search engine marketing, you need to understand SEO concepts like tagging, url composition and anchor text. My advice: outsource this piece to the experts.

Better Keywords, Better Customers

The Keyword Research Guide from Openview includes:

  • An Introduction to Keyword Research
  • The Benefits of Keyword Research
  • How to Customize Your Approach to Keyword Research
  • Top Challenges
  • Getting Started
  • Keyword Research Checklist for the Project Sponsor
  • Checklist for the Keyword Researcher
  • Keyword Research Checklist for the Online Content Marketer and Social Media Marketing Manager

It also includes a foreward by freelance blogger and marketing consultant Kristi Hines (@kikolani) and some extra quick start guides, sample frameworks and more…

Another Great Example of Content Marketing

If you’ve read this far, you must be interested in Search Engine Marketing, Content Marketing and, well, running successful marketing campaigns.

The Search Engine Marketing and Keyword Research guide that OpenView produced is on a topic that I am really passionate about because I think it is fundamentally important to being successful in finding new customers for our businesses. But it is also a great example of content marketing!

It seeks to answer the important questions on the minds of their target audience in the form of Thought Leadership, it curates content from multiple sources, it validates the fact that traditional marketing push tactics can be supplemented with a content strategy that ultimately puts customers first.

So congratulations to OpenView Partners for producing such an excellent guide on an important topic. And a huge “thanks!” to OpenView Labs‘ Amanda Maksymiw and their team for the offer to participate.

But now it’s your turn. What do you think: right topic, right approach to content or both?

I would be honored if you follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog.

Photo Courtesy of Wordle

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Vice President of Global Marketing for SAP where he leads content strategy and serves as the managing editor of the company’s award-winning Business Innovation thought leadership blog site. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

10 Comments

  1. Jeff Riddall said…

    Good article Michael and yes, SEO is so very important to all businesses today. Here is another blog you may be interested in http://www.gshiftlabs.com/seo-evolution-blog/ along with a Keyword Workbook we offer at gShift Labs with a similar focus – http://www.gshiftlabs.com/resources/getting-your-keywords-right. Keywords do need to be the starting point in any effective SEO campaign.

  2. Eric Wittlake said…

    You nailed it. Search isn’t just about search, it is about understanding your audience’s language and needs. It may start with search, but it reaches so much further.

  3. Nick Stamoulis said…

    If your site can’t be found in the search engines, you’ll have a very hard time growing your business. While most SEO tactics may be “free” to implement, it’s a very time consuming strategy. If you don’t have the necessary time to handle it in house, it’s a smart idea to outsource the work.

  4. Kira said…

    Hi Michael, can you recommend any exceptional (and affordable) agencies that do stellar SEO? I’m looking to outsource this function, but have a limited budget. thanks,

  5. Zac said…

    Great Article! As an SEM Specialist, it amazes me how a majority of companies still avoid the SEO part of the business. Like you stated about the difficulty of SEM in general, this could be one of the reasons on why businesses avoid it. However it’s worth it in the end for the companies that manage to learn the trait.

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