Targeted Search Engine Marketing for Web Developers

By Scott Clark

Analysis has shown that search engines bring more traffic to your site than any other mechanism. Targeted search engine marketing can be a very effective way to bring visitors to your website, as this tutorial will show.

What is Targeted Search Engine Marketing?

Targeted Search Engine Marketing is essentially marketing or targeting your site to a narrow, specific audience, and doing so using search engines themselves. So what are some ways you can utilize vertical marketing, i.e. targeted advertising for search engines? Well, let's be more specific--for Google, after all, it is by far the most important search engine to be listed on (although these techniques will also be effective with other search engines such as Yahoo, etc.).

Using Google Analytics to Increase Keyword Awareness

If you don't already have a Google Analytics (GA) account, you need to sign up for one asap. We have a great article called Getting Started with Google Analytics that will help you get your site up and running with GA.

Without turning this article into a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tutorial (which we have many of), you need to make sure that the words you are targeting for Google are actually being used by your site's visitors to find your site. GA enables you to verify which keywords are being used by people coming to your site via the search engines. For instance, visitors coming to HTMLGoodies are using the following top 10 keywords to get to our site:

  1. html
  2. html goodies
  3. javascript onclick
  4. javascript print
  5. onmouseover
  6. html link
  7. html basics
  8. onclick
  9. html text color
  10. javascript onmouseover
That makes sense, as our most popular articles discuss those topics. It also means that our content features those keywords, either in the content itself, in the titles of the articles, or in the headlines within those articles. By using GA, you should be able to "test" your own site to ensure that the keywords you are hoping to attract visitors with are actually pulling in visitors. The more broad the keywords, the more competitor's sites are also going to be using those keywords, which lowers your search engine rankings, thus bringing you less visitors.

Can Google AdWords Enhance My Site's Visibility?

Another tool, Google AdWords, can be used to effectively bring visitors (i.e. customers) to your website. Here's how AdWords works:
  1. You create the ads and choose keywords--words or phrases that are related to your business/website
  2. Your ads appear on Google's search results - when people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ads appear next to the search results
This allows you to target those potential visitors who are already searching for the specific keyword you are using, and these results usually appear above or beside the normal search results. The thing to keep in mind is that if you are using a keyword that was searched for 60,000 times in a month, as the term "html coding" was according to Google's Keyword Tool, there are likely to be thousands of results with that phrase, not to mention each time your ad pops up, you are paying for that honor. More successful would be the approach of using carefully targeted adwords. If, for instance, you looked up "HTML 5 tutorial" you would be among 8000 others who searched for that term in a month. Narrow it even further with "HTML 5 Canvas Tutorial" and 320 people searched that term in a month.

What you can learn from this is that if you are trying to attract people who are looking for glow-in-the-dark polo shirts, you don't want to be using keywords/adwords such as "shirts"--even using "polo shirts" brings up 1,830,000 searches within a month. "Mens polo shirts" narrows it down to 74,000 searches. You get the picture.

Social Networking and SEO

Unless you just crawled out from a hole where you've been hiding for the last five years, you know about social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Social networking isn't just for kids anymore--in fact, search engines are actively using "real time" content from social networking sites within their search results listings. In fact, social networking results are often closer to the top of the results than other listings, as they are often more current.

In the very least, your site should have a Facebook page as well as a Twitter page, and you should post links and discussions about your relevant content on those pages as often as it merits. Don't be afraid to make it a bit personal, after all, social networking sites aren't popular because they list the latest stock trends, they are popular because they are, well, social. That doesn't mean you need to post everything you do, or even every article you publish, but if it's something worthwhile, mention it on your social networking pages. Stop by other popular sites that are in your focus group and join in the discussion there, and leave links when appropriate (nobody likes spam, so don't be obnoxious about it).

Just How Effective Can Targeted Search Engine Marketing Be?

While all the tips mentioned above can be effective, don't expect to see overnight results. It takes time to see results, but again, by using Google Analytics, you can gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. Make adjustments, stay on top of the game, keep your social networking sites current, and you will see your efforts pay off! For more details about using Google's tools for web developers, check out our SEO Class for Web Developers: Google's Search Engine Optimization Tools.

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