But Keywords Are Lead-Generation Tools

John Sumser had an interesting commentary in yesterday's ERN entitled Keywords Are Not Demographics where he makes the case that SEO and SEM techniques in the job board, corporate job board and recruiting software spaces are a waste of money and time.

As much as we like and respect John Sumser, we must disagree with this assessment.

The argument John makes against SEO and SEM is like criticizing McDonalds for placing a billboard ad on a high traffic highway advertising their hamburgers at the next exit. Sure, 99% of traffic will read the sign and not make the stop (not hungry, vegetarian, only eats organic, no time to stop, etc.) but to say that the sign "wasted the time" of the reader is silly. When I take the Yellow Pages off the shelf to look for a landscaping service, I may look at several landscaping ads before I find one that is relevant to me, but that does not mean the other ads are spamming me, wasting my time or making me angry.

While these are consumer examples, it is really no different in the B2B space.

Like the above examples, when I search for B2B solutions on the Web (e.g., CRM software, which I did recently for a specific need I had) and start to click the results, I may spend a few seconds on a site that isn't exactly what I am looking for. So I move on. And it is on my terms. I chose to do the search and I chose to click the results. Hardly spam. I'm interested in researching something and I accept the fact that not every click will be 100% on target. That's OK. But I rarely, like many buyers, ever go to page 3 of the search results so the companies that did not show up on the first few pages missed the entire opportunity.

The whole point of SEO and SEM is to drive "qualified" traffic, to the best extent possible, to a website with the end goal of generating leads and closing deals. To do this effectively, one cannot rely on keywords alone as successful SEO and SEM is a combination of web development work and ongoing marketing and PR tactics, which includes content offers, social media releases, blogs, etc. – what we call Marketing PR – all of which include a consistent message that resonates with your buyers.

Once a visitor arrives at your website, the SEO essentially steps aside and at this point it is up to your website (messaging, layout, design, features, ease of navigation, etc.) to help further qualify these leads to "opt-ins" at which point a dialogue / conversation begins and relationships are built. And sales are closed.

And it works. The metrics we use to measure its effectiveness are online visibility, site traffic and qualified sales leads.