This list of search engine marketing strategies will hopefully enable you to dominate not just the top rankings, but the bulk of the search engine results page with your material and sites. Look at how Apple do it.
Before you look at forming a strategy for ‘owning’ a search engine results page, it is important to understand what pages are going to ultimately answer the users question – where are the goal posts? What page specifically, the URL and even the location on that page?
This is important, since it can be all too easy to set up a search engine marketing campaign and the end results directing users away from the goal-converting sales page/sign-up form. You need to structure your campaign around that page – and ideally have it ranked highly for the specific keyword.
Second, we need to understand what causes users to click through, and ideally craft a campaign that appeals to an overall broad range of prospects. Simply engineering a monotonous series of pages won’t necessarily engage everyone/ Think of specific demographics. Is a mum in a hurry necessarily going to look at your funny YouTube video – is the bored teen not going to look at the YouTube video?
We can change the appeal of each results with a list of search engine marketing metrics:
• Popularity ratings
The first two are standard SEO and PPC principals; make a compelling title with a call-to-action. Give a reason for a user to click through. Although the text on results pages are uniform, image, news and video results will display screenshots which is a big opportunity to grab eyeballs. Look at how to
get more traffic without ranking higher.
Third, you need to factor in the cost-to-convert each visitor via each medium. If a user does look at the YouTube video, what are the chances of them clicking through and viewing your end goal-converting page. What is your ROI – return on investment.
Any search engine marketing campaign will cost you time and resources – and usually money. Although it may not be clear at the start, you will have to identify which results will be most cost-efficient in every sense.
Fourth, understand the structure of a search engine results page (SERP) and how Google and other search engines arrange them (and why). If you want a short primer, watch this video by Matt Cutts – Google Engineer.
Finally, consider how easy it is for a competitor to replicate, or at least “mimick” your strategy. Can they have an equally dominant ranking, or even surpass your rankings? For that reason, your third-party pages should be places only you can get. Perhaps you’ve sponsored a charity for disabled babies, so an article has been referenced on Wikipedia.
This is probably the most important thing to consider – some of these strategies will seem easy; too easy! How long until everyone else cottons on to complete search engine results domination?
Okay – that’s the serious waffle over. Now the list of search engine marketing strategies! I’ve categorized them, and then listed them in an approximate order of importance.
** Only those who have a commercial interest in the keyword will be really trying with their Adwords campaigns. You need to partner with those whose interests align with yours to take on the paid results.
#2 - Ensure affiliates rank high - Without ranking too high! This is best avoided on branded terms as well since the conflict of interest over copyrighted terms could break relationships. But why not offer affiliate partners some tools and primers on paid search results?
#3 - (Shopping) Comparison Sites
Users can use familiar brand names such as Kelkoo, also having the psychological effect of ‘I’m getting this cheaper’. However, your listings will return next to your competitors.
#4 – Third-party marketplace
If you’re selling hard goods on eBay or Amazon Marketplace, sometimes ads may show up (not necessarily your listings). The pros are the brand trust and security, the cons being the exposure to competition on another results page and the cost of selling somewhere else.
#5 - Other search engines
This is rare on competitive keywords, but other search engines can try and compete for cheap traffic. If you’re performing well on other search engines, this can ultimately yield a response. Why they wouldn’t click through on your original results on a page however is relatively unknown, and this kind of traffic course is difficult to track.
Natural (Own) Listing Tactics
#6 - Indented Listings
When Google ranks two or more pages from the same site within the top 10 results, both results will appear in the top ranking position. This covers a larger area of the screen, and also breaks up the listings, drawing user attention.
When a site is large enough and Google can track trends of people going to specific pages after visiting the main result, Site Links can sometime appear. These allow users faster access to the content they need. Like indented listings, they maximize the space covered on the screen.
The danger with both these strategies is that they may lead visitors away from your perfected money-making page. Out of observation, site links are fairly typical on Homepages – so in that respect, due to the generalized nature of homepages, it is a good thing.
#8 - Multiple sites
This tactic works better for sites with less ‘uniqueness’. E-Commerce stores for example are highly replicable, even on a limited budget. You’ve already produced your site, so why not do it again. You could target different keywords and broaden out, or go after the same keywords for SERP domination. Either way, the net result should be more traffic and more earnings into your pocket.
This tactic can be seen as spamming if done to excess. If you for example duplicate a site a hundred times with the same host under the same name etc. Google will ban your entire ‘empire’. Each site should have unique content (I didn’t say it would be easy) and enough difference to ‘add value’ to Google’s own listings.
Remember, you’re only there to help Google’s users – and not because they love YOU.
Third Party 'Authorities'
#9 - Wikipedia
The ‘unbiased encyclopedia’ of the net, you will never be able to be commercial with Wikipedia, assuming you get featured at all. Not everyone deserves a Wiki page, no matter what your mum says. A listing is best put up by someone else (anything self-serving is frowned upon) and based upon fact and not marketing spin – so use it to your advantage.
Create some controversial social media campaign and ensure someone references it on your Wikipedia page. The number of clicks (i.e. SERP > Wiki > News report > Product page) is likely longer, but Wikipedia is statistically very popular.
Influencing Wikipedia in any way is difficult given it’s sheer mass and editorial policy – that includes negative reports. They are supposed to be an unbiased medium, so if you’re caught doing something bad, even your competitors can link to a slamming blog post. It’s the publics right to know!
#10 - News Results
If you’re like Apple and can float a lot of media talk about you, then news results (which typically perform well in rankings) can direct users to raving reviews by professional journalists.
#11 - Thy Blogosphere
Bloggers love to blog about each others blog posts; so gaining one or two influential bloggers references can explode across the blogosphere. Blogs, because of the frequent unique content and ‘pinging’ updates, also perform well in search results. Why not offer a blogger in your niche an incentive (not necessarily as blunt as cash!) to post about you – free product to try out etc.
#12 - Link Partners and Affiliates
Those webmasters that have linked into your content can also provide another landing platform on search results pages. This (coupled with bloggers) is a great low-risk strategy since it’s not so much dominance from your own registered sites. The targeted inbound links will also drive the rankings of your own results.
#13 - Directory Listings
Where a directory has particular strength in a category, your listing could also provide an easy platform for driving traffic, particularly if you can and have tailored the listing to a specific keyword and
to the page.
Other Search Media
#14 - YouTube and Google Video
Video is increasingly popular – and whilst it requires all of the viewers attention, it is great for getting detailed messages across. Marketing with video online isn’t as simple as TV ads (you skip through those right?) – come up with something innovative
(introducing Samsung’s new LED range).
#15 - Google Images
Searchers may be looking for a detailed picture of a product, a profile picture of the owner etc. Images are frequently neglected as a traffic source, but provided their alt tags are relevant and they appear on a ‘sticky’ highly-converting page they can add something extra to search results.
Both image and video results add extra colour to the results page; this will naturally draw the users eye. And the key to sealing the click is a compelling headline – such as
'Snake swallowed a hippo'
#16 - Google Maps
Possibly the most important thing if you’re a local business is being featured in Google Maps - listings almost always appear at the top and users can see on a map where you are located. In a world where mobile computing is on the rise and people are using netbooks, smartphones etc. to search - this is more and more important. The listings are typically massive too - so they will grab eyeballs!
#17 - Flickr
Photo sharing giant Flickr can drive lots of traffic, particularly from Google Image results. The natural results aren’t to be ignored however – you could target some specific keywords in your title, but beware of Flickrs’ anti-commercial stance. Meantion your purpose in your ‘interests’ but leave it at that.
#18 - Facebook Pages
Unlike profiles, Facebook Pages can be indexed by Google and can typically rank highly thanks to the link juice pointing to Facebook.
#19 - YouTube Channel
As well as offering potential for video results, your YouTube channel (if keyword optimized) could be another potential landing page for results. The advantage here is that you can be as commercial as you like.
#20 - Yahoo Answers
In my experience, Yahoo puts greater weight on Yahoo Answers users and results – a simple answer demonstrating your expertise (working in relevant keywords) and a helpful link can win over users. Given the brand association, user trust can also factor in.
#21 - Forum postings
Like above, displaying your proficiency in your field with correct keyword targeting can result in great forum rankings. Just be wary – whilst titles are important to SEO, don’t create your own ‘SEOed’ thread just to get listed. The chances are what you actually write in the thread won’t necessarily please the community – overly self-promo – and this would reflect if the page did indeed rank.
#21.5 - and then Tweet about it!
Whilst not necessarily performing well themselves, Twitter users can collectively drive lots of targeted traffic to a site. Retweets and the resulting popularity is also (possibly) picked up by Google if the volume is big enough.
The same principles applies to other social bookmarking and social news sites such as digg, delicious etc.
Hopefully with all that, you’ve got some ideas how to complete dominate the search results. Obviously, Google’s interests go first – and those interests are with there users and shareholders. Some of these tactics will take a heck of a lot of work, because they’re engineered only to let in the best (editorially and democratically) most relevant results in – and of course it can only work if you can do something with the resulting traffic that funds it all!
List of Search Engine Marketing Strategies – Ed Fry
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