Spring Training Camp
I am not going to lie, the world of digital marketing can be intimidating. Much of the work seems to take place behind the scenes – in the back-end of websites, between lines and lines of code – and oftentimes results seem to be produced out of thin air like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat (although they insist SEO isn’t magic).
On top of that, there is a whole new language of terms and acronyms which made my learning curve even steeper despite being a fairly tech-savvy person. I knew I needed to catch up fast to the level of expertise the Bluetrain team brings to our clients. This is why I felt lucky to have Bluetrain set me up with MarketMotive, an online resource where you can learn digital marketing from industry-leading experts.
My first lessons in Market Motive involved learning the basics of SEO, PPC, and web analytics. Since I am new to this game, Bluetrain suggested I could write about my first impressions of the industry for all the other new players. Now, before I continue, you should know that I am a volleyball player and sports enthusiast, so I thought it might help if I turned the concepts of digital marketing into a sports analogy!
Picking the Team
How often do you use a search engine like Google to research a product, service, or problem? I would bet you probably use a search engine every day! Most people don’t question how that search engine chooses its results, they are just happy they got an answer and move on with their day. But from a business perspective, you want your website to offer the answer people are looking for.
According to MarketMotive, over 50% of clicks happen on Google’s first page, so how do you ensure your business appears there? SEO!
The first thing you have to know about SEO is that, at its core, it’s about getting a search engine to pick your website. Just like picking a team, Google selects which websites to display first based on a number of attributes, such as keyword use, quality of content, links pointing to your site and many more. These site attributes indicate to a search engine how relevant a given site is to the original search query.
So, just like a coach would evaluate a player’s skill set to ensure the team has all the right skills, so too does Google analyze each website to ensure it’s picking the best results to display to its users.
The best (and sometimes annoying) part about how search engines decide rank is that it fluctuates all the time! You can make changes to your website to improve your ranking, just like you can train to improve your muscles and athletic skill, but there is no guarantee you get picked for the team. And that is all SEO is at the end of the day – it’s like a personal trainer for your website!
The Team Captain
Sometimes when picking teams, there is a special player who is the coach’s favorite and is always picked first – the team captain. These players are like PPC advertising. These are paid search ads that show up on the right side or even above the regular search results (which are also known as organic search results). These ads have been purchased through an auction system rather than through an algorithm, however, the way they are selected is also based on a number of factors.
The position of the ad is based on how much the advertiser is bidding for certain keywords as well as the quality of the ad. This type of PPC advertising is called paid search advertising because the ad displays on a search engine results page.
The Team Manager
The last key element to a successful team is the team manager. Their job is to objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of a team to make the best decisions possible. This concept is similar to the idea behind web analytics which, when used properly, should give you data regarding crucial website metrics so that you can make concrete decisions online. Web analytics can help you understand how users interact with advertising, how they move through your website, and even what your competitors are doing.
Statistical data and sports are becoming more and more interconnected as teams try to select the best possible players and scout out rival teams. Have you seen the movie Moneyball, the story of how the Oakland Athletics baseball team utilized statistics and revolutionized major league baseball? If data can change an entire sport, think what it can do for your website! There is so much data that can be made available, the hardest part is figuring out what information is relevant and will provide the most valuable insights. Your web developer can help you get set up with website analytics, but if you need some help interpreting your web data, give us a call!
If my sports analogy still leaves you confused about the basics of SEO, PPC and web analytics, don’t worry, there is a reason why companies like Bluetrain exist. We are experts in the sport of digital marketing, so you can stick to being an office chair athlete.