SEO & SEM: The Dynamic Duo of Website Traffic | Content Strategy Basics

Batman & Robin SEO SEM

The Dynamic Duo of SEO and SEM

Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are essential techniques for driving users to your website properties. These core tactics are similar, but not the same.

SEM and SEO are often confused, particularly since these acronyms only differ by one letter. Of course, if they were the same thing, we wouldn’t name them different things. Plus, it’s the acronym that’s different, not the underlying meaning.

I’ve found an easy way to remember these different tactics. These may help you differentiate for your extended strategy teams. If you’re a content strategist, it is essential to know how SEO and SEO work together.

SEM: Paid Advertising for Driving Traffic to Your Website
For SEM, the “M” may as well stand for “money.” That’s a nod to the fact that this includes an out of pocket (OOP) expense.

SEM works for a wide range of click traffic to websites, mobile properties, YouTube, apps, and more. Google and Bing give brands many options for driving traffic. For simplicity, let’s just talk about website traffic for now, even though your specific needs may be in a different channel.

It has been pointed out that this isn’t marketing at all. That’s true. SEM is primarily paid advertising. At some point, there was an effort to rename this search engine advertising, but the name didn’t stick.

The dominant player in SEM is Google. Their Google AdWords platform accounts for the majority of their billions of dollars in income. Google earns money each time someone clicks on a paid ad, which is why SEM is also referenced as pay per click (PPC).

Google AdWords and Microsoft’s Bing Ads both work from a similar auction-style model. There are limited ad slots and users bid for top slots. The highest qualified bidder (more on this later) will get the top slot. Continue reading

How Chevrolet’s Ads Played It “Safe” & Failed a Safety Story

Chevrolet had me at “safety.” Sure, it was a print magazine ad, but the topic of safety has become increasingly important to me. The started with “safety” and then added “story,” and I wanted to know more.

It may seem odd to talk about a print advertisement on my blog about digital content marketing, but it’s not at all. Content strategy needs to connect the dots across all channels — print and digital alike — to ensure the best possible user experience. Continue reading

Marketing Tesla & What It Says about Us

2016-tesla-modelsAs if enough praise hasn’t already been heaped upon Tesla Motors, here’s a bit more. This time, it’s not about the car. It’s about the marketing of the car and what it says about us.

The Tesla is just another car. When you get down to it, it’s a manufactured to serve a utilitarian purpose. It gets you from Point A to Point B. All cars are designed to do this, and so is a Tesla. Continue reading

KPIs & User Journey Metrics for Marketers: Part 1

In marketing, we can measure so much that in many ways, we aren’t measuring anything. We are drowning in data. And the worse part, it may even be the wrong data.

There are ways to ensure that the data that we analyze is actually useful to the brand. Of course, this all starts with a content strategy. Which, of course, starts with a persona. Which, of course, starts with data and insights about your target user. Of course.

Starting with a data-informed persona, you can determine what actions are important to that user. Remember, if you are marketing your brand to a human, you need to figure out what that human needs from you and your content to complete their own personal user journey. Remember, inside every “persona” is a “person.” Continue reading

Would Paid YouTube Accounts Reduce Pre-Roll?

YouTube Skip Logo

Would you pay to skip ads on YouTube?

In the online world, it’s rare that we’re willing to pay for anything. We almost never want to pay for content, which is understandable considering how long we’ve been getting it for free.

But as of today, I am ready to pay for a premium version of YouTube. Yup, I am prepared, PayPal in hand, to give Google my money for something they provide for free.

Anything to stop the pre-roll. Or at least require only premium-level pre-roll that is relevant to my tastes. This is worth paying for.

Freemium Upgrade to Premium
So you’re familiar with the concept of “freemium” right? Sure you are. That’s where you can get most of the features for free, but to get the “extra special awesome bonus stuff,” you have to pay.

For example, I’m an avid photographer, so I pay for Flickr Pro. Even though Flickr is free, I pay $25 a year for the upgrade. It’s not much money and I feel like I get some good value from it.

I’m also using the free version of Evernote more frequently, so I am considering an upgrade there. Maybe Dropbox too. Both provide good free services, but the extra stuff on the premium may make it worth the few bucks.

To be honest, I use YouTube way more than any of these other services. Google invests bazillions of dollars running YouTube and charges us nothing for it. A few moments of our attention (for a paid advertisement) is all they ask. Seems fair, right? Continue reading

Use a Facebook Fan Page for Book Marketing

Facebook Fan Page

Facebook Fan Page for Comic Book School

About a year or so ago, I started to experiment with a Facebook Fan Page. It was an based in a desire to “meet” the people who were buying my books.

It was a little slow getting started, since it took some time for me to really understand how Fan Pages actually worked. As an author of very niche books, I am really excited about the passion and energy that people bring to the Fan Page.

Now that I have been running this Facebook Fan Page for a while, I thought I might share a few observations: Continue reading

Defending Your Creative Ideas

Defending Ideas Sketch

Defending Your Ideas - A little sketch from the corner of my notebook, as we were brainstorming new ideas.

If you want to get into the business of marketing, you’re going to need to develop (a) a thick skin and (b) a strategy for sharing your ideas. Neither of these tasks are easy, but trust me when I tell you, they are necessary.

Many people think that marketing is easy, since just about anyone can come up with one good marketing or advertising idea. The real challenge, of course, is to come up with multiple ideas. Ideas that adapt to evolving strategic direction and new media channels. That’s not quite as easy.

In a brainstorm, there are some good ideas that everyone agrees is on target and makes sense. If there’s a whiteboard, it gets written in big bold letters as “an idea.” Kudos to you if you were part of that brainstorm session.

If you’ve ever been part of a brainstorm session, it can be fun and exhilarating, but it is also a little scary. Why scary? Well, if all of the ideas are safe, the group may not be trying hard enough. There may be fear in the room. Nobody wants to share their best idea, only to be rejected by the whole room. Making it to the whiteboard builds confidence. Not making it to the board is depressing. Continue reading

DTC National 2011 – Optimizing Websites Panel

DTC National 2011 in Boston“Content is king” — that was essentially the unwritten theme of my panel at the Direct to Consumer National 2011 conference.

And, I am proud to report, that none of the panelists actually uttered the phrase “content is king.” (We’re too cool for that.)

Last week, I spent a half day at the DTC National Conference 2011 in Boston to participate in one of the pre-conference workshops. We were arranged panel style in the front of the room to talk about pharmaceutical marketing related topics.

I was on the panel “Optimizing the Brand Web Site” with some impressive panelists:

While the conversation was focused on pharma brand websites, it was a conversation that could have easily been about any industry. Basically, if I had to summarize it in a few words, it went like this. Continue reading

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery Fails

StumbleUpon Logo

If you’re a new blogger trying to figure out how to get more traffic to your site, then you’re not alone. Everyone wants new traffic. Yet it’s not enough to get traffic, you want to get the right traffic. Qualified readers. Right?

On Word+Pictures=Web, I am usually trying to attract readers interested in technology, marketing, photography, new media, gadgets, comic books, and fun stuff like that. Digging into my stats, I noticed that I was getting some good traffic from StumbleUpon.com.

Note: For blog analytics, I use a combination of Site Stats from WordPress and Google Analytics. Both packages are free.

StumbleUpon Paid Discovery became available in March, 2011, so I guess I am an early adopter here. It required a new sign up and some basic information, all of which was quick and easy. Paid Discovery offers three pricing teirs, which includes Light, Standard and Premium.

  • Light – 5 cents per visitor
  • Standard – 10 cents per visitor
  • Premium – 25 cents per visitor

At this point, I selected Light because I was just getting started and there really wasn’t much information out there. There is a lot more information about how to run search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns on Google AdWords and Yahoo Search Marketing, but not much on Paid Discovery.
Continue reading