Dear Espresso B2B,
We’re an information technology consulting company based in Michigan. We have a marketing department of just one person – that’s me. Our marketing budget is not large, we cannot afford to hire a marketing firm to build a huge presence on the web. Do you have any suggestions on how we can raise our profile and rank higher on the major search engines?
Cheryl M, Grand Rapids
If I go into Google on my computer and search on “IT Strategy and Transformation” the results on the first page are all the big boys – Accenture, Deloitte, Capgemini and IBM. These are companies whose marketing budgets are counted in the hundreds of million dollars. In terms of getting found on the web, can you compete with these? The answer is yes you can.
By adding a modifier to the keyword or by using a differentiated search term you can get on page one of most search engines. Let me give you an example from the world of finance. If you search on “retirement planning” you’re most likely to get companies like Vanguard, Fidelity and ING showing up on the first page of the browser. To get picked up by search engines for a keyword term like “retirement planning” is tough for anyone other than the largest financial organizations. But check this out: a two person organization called 403bwise that have built a website that shares information and advice about 403(b) retirement plans (these are plans used by education and nonprofit employees). 403bwise was launched in March 2000 by Dan Otter and John Moore, two educators fed up with the lack retirement information available for teachers. If I type “403b retirement” plan into Google, their organization appears just after Wikipedia, second in the organic searches. Okay, it’s not a generic search term like retirement planning; but anyone keying “403b” into a search engine is likely to be interested in the content on their website.
Here’s another example. My own company, Espresso B2B Marketing is not a huge company. Yet we manage to rank on the first page of Google for the term “B2B Lead Generation Agency”. Ranking number one for “lead generation” would be difficult, but adding an additional words “B2B” and “Agency” help differentiate us from “lead generation software” or even “lead generation services.” This is a term that we decided to try to rank for, and we’ve carried out additional SEO tactics to help us achieve our page one ranking.
The same is true of technology companies like yours. Think less about generic search terms and think more about the searches that your most qualified prospects are using.
Here’s a simple exercise you can do with co-workers. Give each person a pad of post-its, and walk through a day in the life of a target customer – make it a bad day when email goes down, the server crashes, the IT department is slow to respond. You get the idea. As you walk through this scenario, have co-workers scribble down the search terms that people might be enter in an effort to get support and assistance. Blast out as many of these as possible – it’s a brainstorming session.
Next, paste the post-its on a wall, and group them according to subject. From each group pick one or two of the more descriptive phrases – leave out the generic search terms like “IT help”. Run the selected phrases through Google’s Adword Grader. Select those that are ranked no higher than ‘medium competition’. These are the keyword phrases that you want to use in your blogs and on the website. Adding a modifier such as a state, county or town will also improve your chances of topping the search engine lists.
When you think about traditional advertising, size does matter. TV, radio, newspaper and magazine ads are all very expensive. It takes a sizable marketing budget to get yourself noticed using these traditional outbound channels. But what’s fascinating about the internet and inbound marketing in that the size of your marketing budget is less important than the size of your marketing smarts. Google gets about 3 billion searches each day. If you pay attention to your keywords and follow some very simply SEO rules, you too can rank on page one of Google.
Here’s your chance to weigh in. Does size matter? Add your comment below.