OK, so normally when I write columns, it takes me about 4 drafts to get something I really like, and each draft takes me about an hour. Not this time. I got home on a Wednesday, put the kids to bed, and realized I had a deadline. That night. So, I poured a tall scotch, sat down at the computer, and banged out 800 words in about 45 minutes. Funny thing is, I’ve gotten more positive feedback on this column than any of the others. Maybe I’m onto something?
My New Year’s Search Marketing Resolutions
I was in a meeting this week and someone was talking about her New Year’s resolution to eat healthy, and how it was already making her miserable. I think her exact words were “I’m ready to eat my desk”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Never have. Always seemed to me that New Year’s resolutions just represent things that people know they should do, but don’t want to do, so on New Year’s they say they’ll do them and they try for a while, knowing deep down that by February or March they will be back to their old habits. Which got me thinking about search marketing, of course. I mean, how many things do you routinely ignore, that you know you should really be doing with your search marketing efforts? So I decided that even if I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, perhaps I should start making New Year’s search marketing resolutions. That way it wouldn’t be so personal, and maybe I could keep the momentum going past Valentine’s Day.
Resolution #1: This year I’m going to set and standardize an SEO-friendly URL strategy for my company. I don’t know about you, but the thought of standardizing URLs across a jillion pages on dozens of web properties makes me want to run screaming for the exits. So many different conventions in play, redirects, different product groups and platforms, I mean what a nightmare! On the other hand, URLs are probably our biggest Achilles’ heel where SEO is concerned, so if I’m going to do something meaningful, this would be it. Yes, indeed. I’ll set up standards about depth of directories, naming conventions, and server-side rewrite technologies. Then I’ll get the CTO to back me on it and mandate it at the next all-hands meeting, and at his next staff meeting. I’ll insist that he ties his product managers’ bonuses to the successful implementation of SEO-friendly URLs. I’ll get started on this right away. Should be a snap.
Resolution #2: I will establish a single source of truth for web analytics and marketing metrics for the whole company. This one is going to be great. I will be able to create beautiful dashboards for upper management from a single interface, rather than cobbling together excel sheets from 5 different data sources that couldn’t possibly agree. That way I won’t be double-counting conversions, and I will be measuring each property’s success accurately and easily. First I’ll interview 3 major vendors, pick one based on at least 10 evaluation criteria, sell the idea to all the Marketing VPs in the company, negotiate a contract (with favorable terms, of course), and get my boss’ boss’ boss to mandate that everyone in the organization adopt this single standard for SEO and SEM analytics and implement it immediately. I should be able to get this done sometime in Q2.
Resolution #3: I will update my SEM creatives at least once a quarter for all campaigns. This one is a no-brainer, and I have no excuses for not doing it. Come on, though, who really likes to bang out like a thousand creatives a quarter just so you can say you adhere to industry best practices? What’s up with SEM creative anyway? It’s like writing freaking Haiku, for Pete’s sake. Only harder. I mean, who decided that 25-35-35 was the magic number, anyway? On the other hand, if I just do a little every week it won’t be such a big deal. If I get rolling next week and keep at it, maybe I can keep up on this and make sure my CTRs are somewhere north of 1%.
Resolution #4: I will de-dupe my SEM keyword lists across groups. I really have to start doing this. I know multiple properties are bidding on the same keywords, and I can pass it off in meetings that it’s no big deal because different properties inherently derive different value from the same keyword (blah, blah, blah), but last Sunday at 3:06 a.m. I woke up in a cold sweat from a dream where Yahoo! Shopping was outbidding Yahoo! Personals on the keyword ‘Yahoo Personals’, so if for no other reason than I need my beauty rest, I just have to get this done. Pencil it in for Q3.
Resolution #5: I will make myseld the foremost expert in my field. I will be sure to stay on the cutting edge of my industry by speaking at every conference I can find, schmoozing with all my competitors, exchanging best practices and industry developments, attending all the breakfast seminars, webinars, and insider summits I can find to sharpen my skills so I will be the best search marketer on the planet. I will be an expert on optimization strategies for AJAX and Flash, an SEM quality score ninja, and a targeting Guru. This will likely take all year, but I’ll do it in my spare time, so it won’t impact my daily responsibility.
See why I don’t do New Years’ Resolutions?