How Long Will It Take For An SEM Project To Work?

If your company is starting from scratch, you need to start with keyword development. Then combine a website redesign and paid search launch, followed closely by a link popularity campaign. If your site requires an extensive overhaul, and if you have a large number of pages that require keyword-targeted copy, the initial setup will take several months.

Once the site is launched, the paid and link popularity initiatives can gain momentum while you wait for a spider to crawl your site, which takes some time. Naturally, the time frame of these initiatives may overlap, depending on your site and your staff’s proficiency. Depending on the site, SEM can become a major task requiring a great deal of time and effort.

SEM is not a project that delivers instant gratification. Changes happen gradually. You may even see your rankings dip as the search engines adjust to the changes being made on your website. Once the website has attained a norm, the project enters its maintenance phase. Your company’s SEM specialist needs to stay abreast of the latest search engine technology, re-evaluate keywords and create content, help optimize website technology, maintain a pristine link popularity campaign, and understand the fluctuations of the PPC market.

How to determine ROI

First, a company must have a clear understanding of its conversion rate. This is easy for some; for them, a conversion is a purchase. But for other companies, the definition of success differs. It could be a lead generated by the site, with contact made by phone, fax or e-mail. It could be a subscription to a newsletter or a request for more information. Once you have a clear understanding of what constitutes a success and how it translates into an investment return, then you can set up metrics to calculate that information.

What many companies discover is that the SEM and usability ROI evaluations cover much of the same ground. Both require a faithful tracking and analysis of Web analytics. To truly understand what about your SEM campaign is working and what isn’t, look at more than PPC conversions. Your SEM specialist should have access to robust Web analytics, or at the very least, a daily analytics report that details the basics, such as which referring keyword phrase is the most successful, the movement from each keyword landing page, site entries and exits, and the percentage of search engine use versus direct access to your site. Which keywords spark the most purchases? Is the right webpage optimized for your most successful keyword? How responsive and usable is the site to visitors looking for a niche product or contact information? How well do you leverage this interest and motivate further interest in your company? Do these searches and behavior indicate any new industry trends?

When managed properly, SEM reinforces good design practices and enhances website usability. Rarely are they in conflict. Bolstered by a focused design, succinct and motivational content, greater visibility as an industry authority, and the credibility that comes from being the search result that makes sense, SEM can give your company a fresh, sophisticated voice.

Written By: Jeff Dailey - Principal and CEO
Jeff has been at the forefront of eMarketing for nearly eighteen years, including the planning, development and implementation of more than 350 websites in the B-to-C and B-to-B sectors. Several of these sites have won national awards from PCWeek and eWeek magazines, Information Week magazine and Harris Interactive.

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