search engine marketing

Top 7 search engine marketing myths for 2014

January 15, 2014

search engine marketing

Search engine marketing continues to evolve

Search engines like Google, Bing, and so forth, are continually altering their algorithm to serve up more relevant content to people searching, and because of this constant grooming of how search engines work, many businesses develop a strategy and stick with it for years, without understanding that their strategy is outdated.

In other words, what you learned in 2011 may no longer be true in 2014, so what has changed and what myths are floating around? We asked David Rodnitzky – CEO of 3Q Digital to tell us what all has changed in just a short period of time.

Rodnitzky is not only the founder and CEO of 3Q Digital, but previously held senior marketing roles at several Internet companies since 2000, including, FindLaw, Adteractive, and Mercantila. He currently serves on advisory boards for several companies, including Marin Software, MediaBoost, Mediacause, and a stealth travel start-up. He earned a B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago and a J.D. with honors from the University of Iowa.

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With that experience, he shares with us the top 7 search engine marketing (SEM) myths as it stands right this minute in history (in his own words):

1. SEM works for all businesses.

WRONG! If users aren’t searching for your product or services, SEM is useless (imagine trying to market TiVo on SEM when it launched – what would users search for?).

2. SEM success comes from buying tens of thousands of keywords.

WRONG. The “long tail” of keywords is largely dead. Top advertisers typically have less than 100 keywords that drive 90%+ of their traffic (exception: travel and large ecommerce sites).

3. SEM is easy to do.

WRONG. While it is easy to set up a basic campaign on Google or Bing, there are a lot of hidden advanced features that separate the beginners from the experts and drive a lot of profit for the pros.

4. It’s always best to be in first position in paid search results.

WRONG. Keywords that have very high intent (e.g., the user is very close to making a purchase decision) can often perform well in top position, but more exploratory searches tend to get a lot of browsers (e.g., non-buyers) which can cost the top position a lot of money.

5. The advertiser with the highest bid always shows up first.

WRONG. Google calculates position by a combination of max bid times click-through rate time Quality Score (an opaque metric Google uses to determine the relevancy of an advertiser).

6. There’s no point advertising on any search engines other than Google.

WRONG. Bing/Yahoo still own about 20-25% of the search engine market and can often have cheaper cost per click prices.

7. Since higher click through rates reduce your cost per click, you should always optimize ads to the highest click through rate.

WRONG. Ads with high click through rate but low conversion rate do nothing but make money for the search engine. Optimize to a combination of click through rate and conversion rate.

The takeaway

Whether operating on assumptions or old information, businesses are at a disadvantage when buying into search engine marketing myths, so pay attention to Rodnitzky’s advice above and adjust your strategy accordingly before your competitors do.

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