The Cost of Viewing Business

This text might be more appropriately posted as a comment to my colleague Sarah’s post, Unique Visits Aren’t Everything from June 19th, however I feel so strongly about the subject that I thought that we should revisit it.

This time, however, let’s look at the right-hand side of the search results page. You guessed it, paid search advertising.

I’ll start by saying that the days of considering your company’s website as nothing more than a billboard on a highway or a quarter page ad in the telephone directory are now, thankfully, behind us. Well, most of us.

Truly savvy marketers recognize the amazing potential that lies in having an interested party browsing around their web content, and are retooling that content with the goal of converting that interested party into a qualified lead or, even better, a new client.

There’s no question about it – a well established & well managed SEM campaign will drive traffic, however without relevant content, strong calls to action, and highly visible & usable conversion points a good portion of those site visitors may end up thinking, “Hmmm, this is nice” before moving on to a competitor.

As far as campaign keyword selection is concerned, Sarah made the great example of the Burlington, Vermont flower shop by explaining why a local flower shop in northern Vermont wouldn’t want to optimize solely for the keyword “flower shop.” Well, the same reasoning holds true for paid search; nationally targeted broad keywords like “flower shop” typically come with a sky-high CPC & a lot of poorly qualified traffic.

Sure, Google AdWords’ geographic targeting allows advertisers to pinpoint specific areas to which their ads can be served. Yahoo & MSN aren’t there yet (but that’s a topic for another post). As a result, keywords & ad creative that speak to location & service area are must-haves.

At the end of the day, it’s not enough anymore to simply have a website, and bring in as many visitors as possible. It’s time to shift paradigms, time to stop buying impressions like it’s 1976 and start buying targeted, highly qualified traffic, AND converting that traffic into leads/clients.