05/07/2010

By Rob Shaw, Managing Director, Ephipany Solutions

I just completed the worlds toughest Ironman 70.3 race! Sorry, I had to work that into the blog post somewhere and I thought it was best to just get it out there in the open. During a painful 1.9k swim, 90k bike ride and 21k run you get a lot of time to think about a decent blog post and I started to draw the analogy of my favourite sport (Triathlon) with my business passion of Search Marketing.

So how do you draw a comparison? Well, ask anyone who trains for Triathlon and they will tell you that one of the biggest benefits of the sport is the mix. Unlike other endurance sports (say marathon running for example) the mix of swimming, biking and running is physically beneficial as it works many complementary muscle groups without causing particular strain to any specific part of the body. This means much better general health.


Okay so triathlon lesson over, back to search

Ask any good integrated search marketeer about how to manage a great on-line campaign and they should tell you that it too is all about the mix. In this case let's says it's the right blend of SEO, PPC and conversion rate optimisation.

To continue the analogy let's say that the bike leg is SEO, it takes the longest to complete and you need to focus for extended periods of time to ensure you meet your eventual goal (great natural rankings or completion of the bike route without any technical failures). The analogy continues as the bike leg is often technical, taking skill on the bike and technique to get the most our of your gears etc. We know from experience this is certainly true in SEO where many people talk a good game but few deliver, it takes genuine skill and experience to succeed here and that experience takes time to develop.

If SEO is the bike then PCC is the run. It's often the discipline that takes the glory. In the race it's the run past the finish line that gets all the attention not the other disciplines. As often it is with PPC. Those who don't fully understand click path analysis or the full user journey to an ultimate conversion (a purchase from your website, a brochure download, whatever means a conversion to you) will often attribute a disproportionate amount of value to the last click and forget what it took to get the customer there.

So that just leaves the swim. Again speak to most triathletes and they will tell you they don't like the swim, it's a necessary evil of the sport and it's the thing they train least for. In this case I'll compare the swim to conversion rate optimisation. For those who don't know this is the process and technique of testing and refining your website to ensure those customers you worked hard to get there ultimately do what you want them to once they arrive. We see time and time again in search campaigns that this is the discipline that people leave to the end or ignore totally. It's amazing that so much time can be invested in PPC and SEO only to overlook that critical point at which the customer arrives on your website and you simply hope and pray that they then stay there.

So the key to great search marketing results is the mix, make sure you are considering all disciplines together, get the balance right and healthy results will follow.

As Managing Director of Epiphany Solutions Ltd, Rob Shaw is responsible for the operational delivery of PPC, SEO and Web development across the company, ensuring that Epiphany Solutions delivers world-class services and results to its clients. Rob’s remit also involves directing the strategic growth of the company and enhancing its position as a pioneering and trusted brand within the search industry.

Visit Rob Shaw's Blog: www.epiphanysolutions.co.uk/blog
Follow Rob Shaw on Twitter: www.twitter.com/epiphanysol


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