5 New Year Resolutions for Search Marketers in 2010

New year’s resolutions is usually about going back to basics, but it should not be reserved just for your personal life. Here’s some search marketing ones to consider.

1. Be a Nice Link Builder
Stop bulk emailing people. Instead, commit to contacting them directly with genuine points of interest. Offer sites you’d like to be getting links from, something genuinely useful for their sites. Think pimp. Other webmasters want bling websites, so offer simple but impressive enhancements in return for a link. For example, make a widget with a newsfeed. A salary checker, mortgage calculator or a countdown timer are all useful gadgets. Whatever you do, always be driving value in your discussions with other webmasters. Freely offer useful information and insight in your correspondence with other webmasters – help them with their own stuff.

2. Invest in the communities that support you
Do real ‘link bait’ by making something cool. A marketer might fund some research, or just do it themselves, and publish the findings. Or commission a blogger or journalist to conduct an investigative report about something that matters to the communities you are in. A business owner could encourage their developers to contribute back to the development community – and create an awesome firefox plugin for example. Lots can happen for a company when it broadens it’s work ethic. For example, Google’s 90/10 policy of encouraging employees to allocate 10% of their time to ‘blue sky’ and innovation projects – led to their latest collaboration product, Google Wave.

3. Get others to make sense of analytics data for you
To achieve this, you’ll need to stop wasting your colleagues time with data they are not interested in understanding. If you can perfectly match the data to their needs, you might have some amazing discoveries as they start to bring their own insight and experience to web analytics conundrums. So, aim to give them only the choicest golden nuggets sifted from web analytics data, rather than taking them to the river and just giving them a pan. Meet with them immediately and find out exactly what they’d like to know. Go and find out a bit about their role in the company. Talk to them about their job, but with the explicit aim to REDUCE the amount of data you send them again. Below are the type of questions you might ask every stakeholder in the project.

  • (Director) Do you care about offline sales? If yes, would the online sales metric be useful to you?
  • (Marketing) Do you need to know why people buy your products? If so, would keyword analytics or paid search campaign metrics be useful to you?
  • (Sales) Do you need to know how people find your products? If so, would website referrer report be useful to you?
  • (Web Development) Do you need to know how people are consume the site? If so, would a browser/operating/screen resolution report be useful to you?

4. Promise yourself a fun year ahead
Be content, create great content. Start posting regularly, or at least schedule some “creating great content” opportunities on a calendar. Build an audience through regular updates, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly or just a special event of the year that you always engage with, such as Valentine’s day, Easter or Advent. Failing all other ideas, blog that new year’s detox you promised yourself!

More clues as to how you might schedule your content is to look at the seasonal traffic patterns of your website. Divide the year up into 4 quarters of 3 months each and see whether site usage peaks in summer or winter. Do any days stick out? Think laterally and creatively about what days could be an opportunity to “create something great” for your website that features just for a single day- for example, mother’s day? Birthdays? Word of the day? Thought for a day? Even something simple like planning ahead and scheduling a daily thought for the day from writers you love, could do great things for your twitter account, let alone your blog!

You could also reflect on the year by making your own website performance audit. Think about how much was achieved in a single year, both ‘on stage’, namely from what events and changes occurred on the website, and ‘behind the scenes’, namely the internal operations of your company, and see what insights emerge as to how project time could best be spent and which people are the best people to deal with in 2010. Get them involved in your idea now.

5. Give free training to your clients
Having empowered team mates in your search marketing campaign plans is the difference between success and massive success. Teaching someone to do your job as well as you is not talking yourself out if your role in the company or your clients’ business. It’s actually expanding your own role AND finding them the talent to meet the next generation of challenges ahead. It shows enthusiasm and passion for your work and is what “being indispensable” is all about. Unshackle yourself from the chains of command!

Here’s something quick you can do right now, to free the knowledge and expertise in the team:

Make an email mailing list or Google Groups thread dedicated to a topics and resources that are useful to the project at hand (or the company as a whole). E.g If your business sells virus software, then have a ‘virus update’ mailing list for any news on the subject relevant to your business or your customer.

Such a mailing list keeps conversation alive in the company and makes it easy for team mates to have a safe place to send stuff that is not directly relevant to the project at hand, but might only be vaguely useful or maybe really useful one day. A mailing list saves everyone in the team from worrying about interrupting other people’s workflows by bothering them with off topic and related content.

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