This research attempts to obtain business firms’ views on search engine marketing. It gives valuable implications to both business and search engine marketing firms.
The research collects findings from 121 Hong Kong trading firms involving in foreign trade through telephone interview. Also, a separate focus group was held with 8 marketing managers and 1 search engine optimization (SEO) specialist. We believe the implications also apply to other geographical areas.
We have extracted part of the results to present in this article.
Another 8 marketing managers were invited to a focus group interview. 4 of them had experience in employing search engine optimization firms, and another 4 considered using search engine optimization services but finally had not taken action. An SEO specialist was acted as a moderator in the interview.
In the interview, they generally agreed that search engine marketing could help them to generate business leads. For those who did not use SEO service expressed that they abandoned to pursue as they could not make up a decision. First, they were not familiarize with how to achieve good search engine ranking. Second, the pricing scheme offered by different SEO firms varied greatly from US$19.99 to US$5,000 up-front fee, and some also required US$500 to US$5,000 monthly service fee. However, the SEO firms could not express clearly the deliverables that clients could obtain and they also refused to clearly explain the methodologies that they would use. These facts made the interviewees very difficult to persuade their boss to use SEO service.
In addition, the interviewees expressed that they feared that SEO firms would require many website changes, and some changes like keywords stuffing in Alt Tag or put too many texts and too little graphics in web pages make the site looked unprofessional.
Another point made by interviewees was very interesting. For those who have employed SEO firms, some of them perceived that they were being kept in the dark as they did not know what the SEO firms were actually doing! When they scrutinized the changes made by SEO firms, they found that the SEO firms have just written some keyword phrases in Alt Tag, Title Tag and repeated them in Meta Tags. Then, the SEO firms only ran reports for them in the subsequent months and asked them to wait for the results. Finally, they found that they had not got any extra traffic from keyword phrases suggested by SEO firms while the SEO firms claimed that they had achieved more than what was written in the guarantee clause (e.g. 20 Top 20 rankings in major search engines). Only 1 interviewee felt satisfied to the chosen SEO firm. This was because they knew the deliverable, got desirable number of top rankings, and a piece of link building software called Automate Link Exchange [http://www.linkautomate.com] free and they could continuously manage link building themselves after the project end. The SEO firm also provided suggestions for them to maintain ranking afterwards.
Also, participants voiced out that they also wanted to know their search engine rankings against their rival firms.
Implications to SEO firms
SEO firms should spend time and clearly explain to clients the SEO techniques and methodologies that they would use. Some SEO firms might fear that they would expose their top secret techniques. However, you could not get business if your clients could not understand the SEO processes and failed to persuade their bosses. In addition, SEO firms should apply optimization techniques with a consideration of usability of websites. Do not make the site look silly or unprofessional. Also, clients would not mind your using of optimization software such as Webposition Gold and they do want to know how you would serve them.
SEO firms should assist clients to devise a measurement matrix for the campaign. This helps the decision maker to make judgment and explain to his/her colleagues and boss. Clients would feel more comfortable to do business with you.
Moreover, SEO firms should define clearly what would be delivered to clients and the delivery schedule, e.g. how many ranking reports, keyword research result, etc. In addition, SEO firms should contact clients frequently and report the progress. Clients would then understand that you were indeed working for them and you could help to set or adjust their expectations.
Finally, SEO firms should offer assistance for clients who want to terminate the relationship and to maintain rankings themselves. The idea looked ridiculous but the clients would be satisfied by such offer and would probably recommend you to other firms. After all, clients who ceased to work with you might be due to many other reasons but not your performance. Why dont you give them another candy and maintain a good relationship?
Written by Jimsun Lui, from Asklui.com, an internet marketing and ecommerce service company located in Hong Kong [http://www.asklui.com]. It offers search engine optimization service as well as other internet marketing services. Website visitors can subscribe to their weekly newsletter and get internet marketing advice and learn how to start your own internet business.
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Article Submitted On: January 17, 2005
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