I just finished speaking on the “So You Want To Be a Search Marketer” panel at Search Engine Strategies Chicago 2007 and wanted to provide a brief overview of what I spoke on as well as highlight some of the great questions we received.

The format changed this time around with four of us having about 5 minutes apiece to introduce ourselves and run through a very short presentation. This left more time for Q&A from the audience which was moderated by Kevin Ryan. Therefore I pretty much cut in half the same presentation I gave at SES San Jose this year. Here are the basics of what I covered.

Fist I provide a brief look at my past and how I actually stumbled into the field of search marketing.

  • Bought my first computer in later part of 1996.
  • Became affiliate of web design company in April, 1997.
  • Launched “niche” web site to attract customers.
  • Ended relationship with web design company, taught myself to design.
  • Began to offer “search engine submission” services to clients.

I then point out that unlike the scenario in 1997, today we have many ways to learn about search marketing:

  • Free Resources – SEOmoz’s “Beginner’s Guide To SEO,” multiple blogs and forums
  • eBooks – SEOBook.com, Small Business Guide to Search Marketing
  • Online Courses – SEMPO, Search Engine College, Bruce Clay
  • Conferences and Seminars – SES, PubCon, SMX

However, in my opinion, nothing replaces a “hands on” experience one obtains when doing SEM for their own site(s).

Next, establishing a site to learn from.

  • Choose Your Niche
    Something that interests you but not highly competitive;
    Something that may help establish your business.
  • Secure a Domain Name
    If new, you then have the hurdle of “establishing” the domain;
    Old domain is better but can require some work and money to obtain.
  • Establish Web Site
    Three options – Design yourself, hire a designer or use automated solution
    (i.e. blog – WordPress, e-commerce – MonsterCommerce, etc.).

I followed this with advice on applying a search marketing strategy

  • Conduct Keyword Research
    This lays the foundation for your search marketing effort.
  • Apply Organic Search Techniques
    Involves applying what you have learned to date which should at least be basic SEO and link building techniques.
  • Set up Paid Search Campaign (if applicable)
  • Track Progress
    Analyze visibility, traffic, even conversions where applicable. Most of all learn from successes and mistakes.

Finally I discuss networking and branding issues. First networking as it is
important to network not only with partners but other search marketers.

  • Develop Business Partnerships
    Traditional ad agencies, web design firms, etc.
  • Network Online With Search Marketers
    Forums, blogs, social media, etc.
  • Network in “Real Life” With Everyone
    This can include this conference for example but even things like local business organizations or trade shows.

Branding yourself as an expert because there are many search marketers, there are few that really stand out.

  • Write Informative Articles
  • Participate in Forums
  • Participate in Social Media
  • Start an Informative Blog

A word of caution: In doing all these things, make sure you have something unique and of value to offer.

Finally, some things not to do:

  • Don’t spam forums and/or blog comments
  • Don’t steal other’s content or sales copy
  • Don’t come off as a know-it-all
  • Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
  • No matter what color hat you wear, don’t be unethical in your business practices

Some of the questions that were asked by the nearly 80% capacity audience are as follows:

Q: When competing against “unethical” SEM in trying to land proposals, what is the best way to handle that?

A: The general consensus between all of us was to not slander or bad mount the unethical companies we are going up against but rather to focus on highlights or qualities we have to offer and even point them to some sites such as SEMPO that publish best standards and practices for SEM.

Q: When starting out in the adventure of blogging, how does one draw attention to their posts?

A: Having interesting titles, announcing posts to other bloggers via email and Digging, Sphinning, Mixxing, etc. posts and then asking others in industry to vote them up includes some of the advice that was offered.

And a more humorous question was “How do you explain to your parents what you do? Kevin Ryan said that if you can do so in 13 words or less, you are doing pretty good. I replied that I just tell my mother, “I’m a magician.”

On the panel with me was Dave Davies, CEO of Beanstalk, Nicole St. Martin, Search Marketing Analyst for HotGigs and David Hoffman, from Search Smart Marketing.

David Wallace

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses.

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