Sample Search Engine Marketing Plan (Free – No Strings Attached)

For those of you who think my blog posts are too long and/ or wrongly utilize an academic writing style, rather than a conversational one, you are in for a real treat.

In an effort to show the critical importance of investing in SEM (search engine marketing), I am offering a free sample of an SEM analysis and plan that I conducted during the first quarter of 2013 for MKT-635 at Southern New Hampshire University.  If you are a marketer who has little experience with SEM, please feel free to use this as a model for your own SEM analysis and plan.  Keep in mind, though, this was written for an academic audience, so you might need to adjust your style accordingly.  Please feel free to contact me with feedback or questions; I usually reply within a couple of hours.  @Anna Seacat

SEM Plan for Kinetico’s K5

A Comprehensive Search Engine Marketing Plan for

Kinetico’s K5 Drinking Water Station

Anna M. Seacat

Southern New Hampshire University

Abstract

In this search engine marketing (SEM) plan, Kinetico’s current search engine marketing strategies for its K5 Drinking Water Station (K5) will be evaluated.  To carry out the evaluation, five keyword phrases related to the purchasing of a K5 are proposed.   The conclusion of the evaluation will suggest that Kinectio’s current SEM efforts for its K5 fall short, because the search strategies produce low status and in some cases no status for relevant keyword phrases.  Since the evaluation of Kinetico’s current search strategy indicates shortcomings and poor search results, a comprehensive search engine marketing plan will be proposed.  The plan will begin with a section that summarizes all of the SEM tactics that will be presented in further detail throughout the plan.  The plan itself proposes that a multi-disciplinary team, comprised of SEM experts and Kinetico’s own brand ambassadors employ international search engine marketing, keywords and metatags, social media marketing, micorsites, organic and paid listings, knowledge about black hat tactics, and enterprise search engine marketing in an effort to create a meaningful online presence for Kinetico’s K5 and generate valuable conversions.

This paper will refer to reverse osmosis systems as “ROS,” Kinetico’s K5 Drinking Water Station as “K5,” search engine marketing as “SEM,” search engine optimization as “SEO,” international search engine marketing as “ISEM,” and the United Kingdom as “UK.”

A Comprehensive Search Engine Marketing Plan for

Kinetico’s K5 Drinking Water Station

As concerns over the quality of our drinking water and the detrimental effects that bottled water has on the environment increase, consumer demand for alternatives to safe, convenient drinking water will create valuable opportunities for companies who sell reverse osmosis systems (ROS).  However, currently the manufacturers of ROS are not using the full potential of search engine marketing (SEM) to develop effective communications.  In the below presentation, the current SEM efforts of one manufacturer of ROS, Kinetico Incorporated, will be evaluated.  To perform the evaluation, an outline of Kinetico’s current search engine marketing (SEM) strategies will be presented by proposing five keyword phrases related to the purchasing of Kinetio’s K5 Drinking Water Station.   Each keyword phrase will reflect a stage within the “Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 166).  The results on the search engine’s result page (SERP) for each keyword phrase will be used to analyze whether Kinetico’s current SEM efforts are adequate or lacking.  Finally, justification for why search strategies should be incorporated will be offered for areas where Kinetico’s SEM techniques are missing.

Evaluation of Current SEM Strategies.

SEM Strategy – Problem Recognition Stage

Most of Kinetico’s customers will begin the process of buying a ROS by recognizing a problem with her or his water quality or be inspired by an external stimulus that created a desire to research water quality in general.  Marketing authorities have suggested that “marketers need to identify the circumstances that trigger a problem recognition, or “develop marketing strategies that spark consumer interest” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 167).  Therefore, the keyword phrase used to analyze Kinetico’s SEM strategy targeting a customer during this phase should reflect a consumer who has a problem with water quality or a consumer that has been inspired to research general water quality.  For example, a keyword phrase that a consumer in this scenario might enter into a search engine is, “How to improve water quality at home.”  Despite the fact that this phrase clearly reflects a problem that might lead a consumer to purchase a ROS, Kinetico’s current search strategy produced no results on the first SERP during a search for these keywords during March of 2013.  In fact, none of Kinetico’s competitors appeared on the first SERP either

The first organic listing for this keyword phrase was an article from NBC news titled, “How to improve the water quality in your home – Father’s Day: Gifts…” The description meta tag read, “Stop blowing big bucks on bottled water! ‘Today’ contributor Lou Manfredini suggests the best in filtration systems.”  The Today Show’s article that was attached to this link did not mention Kinetico’s K5in the list of filtration systems, but Kinetico’s major competitors and their websites were outlined (Manfredini, 2006).  The fourth organic listing on the SERP for the aforementioned keyword phrase was an article from EveryDayHealth.com, which is an online community that offers advice “in pregnancy, diet, and fitness” and touts over 28 million unique monthly users (2013).  The ninth organic listing was a blog post from Suite101.com, which is an online “knowledgebase…that is more focused than a forum, more dynamic than an encyclopedia” (2013).  The remaining organic listings were from municipal government and academic websites.  The two sponsored listings were for a “First Alert Drinking Water Quality Test Kit” sold by Walmart for $12.88 and a listing titled, “Yes to Clean Water” from the environmental lobbyist group (NRDC, 2013), Natural Resources Defense Council.

The search results displayed on the SERP for this keyword phrase indicated that Kinetico’s current SEM effort is not addressing potential customers in the problem recognition phase.  Clearly, the keyword phrase, “How to improve water quality at home” and similar phrases would be natural phrases to target in a SEM campaign for the K5.  Kinetico’s current lack of SERP presence for this phrase is due to missing SEM tactics.  Utilization of such search tactics would afford Kinetico the opportunity to establish a category need and brand awareness for the K5 among consumers who are qualified leads, since the searchers have recognized a water problem or a need to research water quality in their home.

SEM Strategy – Information Search Stage

After consumers have recognized the need for a product that generates quality drinking water in their home, most of Kinetico’s potential customers will begin the information search stage, where “competing brands and their features” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 167) will be reviewed.  In this phase, consumers have moved passed researching the problem and have come to the realization that a specific product that will serve as the best solution.  Therefore, in this stage of the buying process, a consumer might use a traditional search engine to enter a keyword phrase like, “What is the best reverse osmosis system?”   Despite the fact that this phrase clearly reflects a scenario that might lead a consumer to purchase a K5, Kinetico’s corporate search strategy is produced no results on Google’s first SERP during a March 2013 search.  The first organic listing on the SERP for the phrase was a YouTube video from a Kinetico competitor.  The second and third listings in the editorial section were Amazon advertisements for competitor’s products.  The fourth organic listing was from Consumer Reports and the remaining listings were from forums and blog posts including one from Livestrong.com.  The pay-per-click listings on the SERP displayed advertisements from nearly all of Kinetico’s competitors, and only one listing was from a Kinetico dealer, which was a geo-targeted listing based on the location of the author of this paper.  However, this sponsored listing used the dealer’s name, and not the brand name, “Kinetco.”

The keyword phrase that was used to analyze Kinetico’s SEM strategy in targeting a buyer in the information stage of the buying process was a critical exercise, because potential customers in this phase are “receptive to information about a product” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 167).  In fact, in this stage, consumers will be formulating a total set of brands that they would consider purchasing and narrowing that total set down to a choice set.  If Kinetico fails to implement SEM strategies during this phase, it risks not only missing an opportunity to be included on a consumer’s choice set, but, worse, the K5 could not be considered at all, since the word, “Kinetico” did not exist on the Google’s first SERP.

SEM Strategy – Evaluation of Alternatives Phase

Once a potential K5 customer has narrowed the total set of ROS brands down to a choice set, the customer will evaluate each of the brands more carefully. In this phase a consumer will grade each brand individually against her or his own personal beliefs and attitudes about the brand’s reputation, the design of the product, the features and benefits, and the expected performance of the product (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 168-170).  Therefore, in this stage of the buying process, a consumer might use a traditional search engine to enter a keyword phrase, “What contaminants does the K5 remove?”   Nevertheless, when these long-tail keywords were entered in Google during March 2013, Kinetico’s current search strategy only produced one result on the first SERP.  But, this one listing is not adequate because it does not contain a strong enough presence to defend the K5 brand against a SEM attack from Kinetico’s competitors.

For example, while Kinetico’s corporate product description page for the K5 is the first organic listing, the remaining listings are from forums and dealerships.  In fact, the second listing is from the forum, FiltersFast.com. The meta description tag in this listing reads, “I’m considering buying the Kinetico K5 and have asked the Kinetico sales guy twice to give me a list of the contaminants they claim to remove.”  Evidently, this potential K5 customer was in the evaluation of alternatives phase of the buying process, since she or he was considering buying a K5 and was in active talks with a dealer.  However, neither the dealer, nor Kinetico headquarter’s SEM strategies were adequately displaying the data needed to evaluate the brand.  So, unfortunately, the consumer resorted to posting a question on an online forum, which was not controlled or influenced by Kinetico.

This is a disastrous scenario, because it would only take one organic or PPC listing from a competitor titled, “XYZ reverse osmosis removes more contaminants than the K5 – Get list of contaminants removed by XYZ” to distract a potential customer.  The first organic listing that links to the K5 product page would not be enough to combat this type of listing from a competitor, because the landing page that Kinetico’s listing is linked to does not provide a list of removed contaminants.  Therefore, Kinetco needs to strengthen its current search strategy to attract a qualified lead to a landing page that will answer questions consumers might ask in the evaluation of alternatives phase.

SEM Strategies – Purchase Decision Phase

Even if a consumer has formed a preference for the K5 among the alternative brands, negative factors may “intervene between the purchase intention and the purchase decision” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 170).  One common factor that might discourage a customer who has decided to purchase a K5 from actually completing the purchase is “unanticipated situations” (2012, p. 171).  For example, even if a consumer is invested in the idea of protecting his or her family from contaminants in drinking water; and even if that consumer has completed extensive research that indicated that the K5 was the best product on the market, an unexpected financial situation might prevent the qualified lead from completing the purchase.

Therefore, a customer in this scenario might use a traditional search engine to enter the keyword phrase, “Affordable alternatives to the K5.”   Despite the fact that there is a strong potential for qualified leads to use this search phrase, Kinetico’s current SEM strategies did not produce any results on the first SERP during a Google search for the keywords in March 2013.  In fact, there was only one relevant listing for this keyword phrase on the SERP, which was titled, “RO system – Watts Premier vs Kinetico K5 – DoItYourself.”   Although, this forum most likely provided potential customers with a user-generated outline of cheaper alternatives, Kinetico could use this opportunity to explain that the K5 has a lower cost of ownership than its competitors.  Therefore, this is an ideal scenario for Kinetico to use SEM strategies to convert a qualified lead into a sale. Kinetico could effectively use SEM to produce listings that position it as the low-cost-of-ownership leader within the ROS category.  Such a search strategy has the potential to convert a consumer, even if that consumer was experiencing an unanticipated, negative financial situation.

SEM Strategy – Postpurchase Decision Phase

Even once a consumer has purchased a K5, Kinetico should use SEM strategies to “supply beliefs and evaluations that reinforce the consumer’s choice and help him or her feel good about the brand” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 172).  This involves using a search strategy to support customers throughout the ownership of the K5.  For example, an existing owner of a K5 might use a traditional search engine to enter the keyword phrase, “how to change a filter in a K5.”  However, Kinetico headquarters’ search strategy is lacking because it produced the last organic listing on the bottom of Google’s first SERP for this phrase in March 2013.  Unfortunately, this listing is not linked to a page that gives customers filter-changing instructions.

Using SEM to supply existing customers with online support is critical, especially in do-it-yourself areas, because the online presence can avoid costly phone calls from frustrated customers.  Moreover, Kinetico should use search strategies to support customers in the postpurchase buying phase, because it allows for the opportunity to ensure postpurchase satisfaction.  To that end, Kinetico should utilize SEM methods to encourage future sales through platforms that allow current customers to discuss postpurchase satisfaction.  Kinetico’s current SEM strategies do not provide areas for existing customers to ask questions about the ownership of their K5, nor is there an area where they can act as brand ambassadors.

Current SEM Strategies Summary

In this presentation, Kinetico’s current search engine marketing strategies for its K5 Drinking Water Station were evaluated.  To carry out the evaluation, five keyword phrases related to the purchasing of a K5 were proposed.   Each keyword phrase reflected a stage within the five-stage model of consumer buying process.  The results on the first page of the SERP for each keyword phrase was used to analyze whether Kinetico’s current SEM efforts were adequate or lacking.  Finally, in areas where Kinetico’s SEM efforts were lacking, reasons why search strategies should be incorporated were presented.  The conclusion of this analysis showed that Kinectio’s current SEM efforts for its K5 fell short, because the search strategies produced low status and in some cases no status for relevant keyword phrases.

Making SEM Work for Kinetico

When Paul Boag posted an article titled, “The Inconvenient Truth About SEO” in Smashing Magazine, fellow SEO experts ruthlessly attacked both the author and the magazine for suggesting that businesses should not pay SEM agencies to perform SEO.  In fact, the article caused such a “massive and aggressive reaction in the SEO community” (2012) that Boag insisted that some discussion posts had passed a professional line, because they were attacking him personally.  The topic of his article struck a chord among marketers and website owners alike, because as Boag claimed most “perceive SEO as a dark art, shrouded in mystery,” which has  business owners “feeling that SEO is the purview of experts” only (2012).

 However, the “inconvenient truth about SEO,” Boag claimed, is that a search engine marketing agency is graded by the results it produces.  In other words, the worth of most SEO agencies is determined by its ability to improve placement on a search engine results page.  The problem is that SEO experts can achieve this through many “kinds of complex techniques…that improve placement through a manipulation of the system” (Boag, 2012).  In other words, even though these techniques can improve SERP rankings, a website owner should question whether the rank is translating to increased sales revenue.  That is to say, improving rank just for the sake of pushing competing websites down on the SERP may not necessarily produce a return on the SEO investment.

Considering this scenario, Boag created an online firestorm when he pointed out that SEO agencies are only as good the internal employees of their clients, whose sole purpose is to continually feed the agency valuable, original content.  Likewise, the search engine marketing plan that will be outlined below offers several techniques that can be used to increase the SERP ranking for Kinetico’s K5.  But, the techniques themselves are shallow tools that will only produce short-term results without the continual content creation from marketing employees at Kinetico, who know and love everything about Kinetico, its products, industry, customers, environment, causes, etc.  Therefore, while the search engine marketing strategies that follow have exceptional potential to achieve results, it is recommended that they be perceived as tools to be implemented by SEM experts, but driven by content managers at Kinetico.  These proposed SEM tools include International Search Engine Marketing, Keywords and Metatags, Social Media Marketing, Microsites, Organic and Paid Listings, Black Hat Tactics, and Enterprise Search Engine Marketing.  Each of the tools will be briefly outlined below, and fleshed out in greater detail within the SEM plan.

International Search Engine Marketing

The international search engine marketing section, which is presented in detail below, proposes that Kinetico target networked mothers in an international search engine marketing (ISEM) campaign for its K5 Drinking Water station.  It will be suggested that international search engine marketing methods would work well for Kinetico’s K5, because the internet has connected mothers in what is referred to as a “global motherhood” (Pavlika, 2013), where issues like the quality of water have attracted passionate mothers regardless of geography.  Therefore, the ISEM proposal begins with laying out criteria that was used to select countries to target in the international campaign; this criteria being a country’s ability and willingness to enable the networked mom.  Next, the selected countries that were proposed, Sweden, Canada, and the United Kingdom will be evaluated individually for its worthiness as a targeted country for Kinetico’s ISEM campaign.  Last, justification will be presented to select which search engines should be used in each country.

Keywords & Metatags

After the international search engine marketing plan for the K5 has been presented, it will be proposed that Kinetico implement effective keywords and corresponding metatags to target segments of online searchers in each phase of the “Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process” (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 166).  It will be suggested that using this process as the organizing factor in designing keywords and metatags will create success in the overall SEM campaign for the K5.  This approach will help to rapidly move customers, who are ready to buy through the final phases of the purchase process.  Likewise, the section of the marketing plan will show how potential targets, who are concerned about water quality problems in general, will be attracted by issue-specific keywords and metatags.

Social Media Marketing

In the social media marketing section, it will be revealed that Kinetico’s current SEM strategy for the K5 lacks an effective integration of SMM (social media marketing).  The section will begin by establishing   the integration of SMM as an increasingly critical marketing tactic, by providing evidence that search engines are increasing their focus on social media to determine search result rankings.  Next, it will be proposed that Kinetico’s search engine optimization efforts for its K5 could be improved by effectively utilizing two benefits of SMM.  The first benefit of incorporating SMM, which will be proposed, is using social media to research keywords and create related content.  The second benefit of SMM that Kinetico should work to harness is using social media platforms to create an engaging dialog with online consumers.  Each of the two benefits will be described in detail, and ideas about how Kinetico could better use aspects of SMM will be offered.

 

Microsites

The next section in the SEM plan for Kinetico’s K5 will suggest that microsites should be created to target a specific market and contribute to the overall effectiveness of focused campaigns.  The section will begin by describing microsites’ flexibility to target a specific geographic region, demographic, or a marketing objective.  Additionally, this section will show how microsites can maximize presence on SERPs.  Next, specific ways in which microsites can improve SEM efforts for the K5 will be explored, including steps that need to be taken to ensure that microsites are indexed properly within search engines.  Finally, a proposed plan for a K5 microsite will be presented, which will include rationale for the microsite, and an outline of a concept for a K5 microsite.

Organic and Paid Listings

The organic and paid listings section of the search engine marketing plan for Kinetico’s K5 will propose reasons why it is critical to incorporate both PPC and organic listings.  To illustrate how PPC and organic listings work best as interdependent methods, an analogy of their co-dependence as well as an outline of the unique function of each listing will be presented.  It will be suggested that PPC listings can function as a way to direct targeted online traffic through a specific K5 campaign, while organic listings can uniquely function to build authority for Kinetico on the first search engine results page.  The section will conclude by proposing that if Kinetico can effectively use both methods as a collective strategy instead of independent methods, valuable leads and conversions can be efficiently generated for the K5.

Black Hat Tactics

Black hat tactics are SEM methods that are used to exploit search engines’ guidelines and have the potential to negatively compromise the search experience for the end user.  However, the black hat tactics section of the K5 search engine marketing plan points out that search engines fail to enforce the guidelines in a systematic and transparent manner.  Therefore, this section recommends that Kinetico’s SEM professionals be responsible for understanding pure white hat tactics, which follow the SEO guidelines without fail, as well as all other SEO methods described as black or grey.  This section proposes that being aware of black hat tactics and knowing how to use them is a form of risk management.  To justify this proposal, two scenarios that Kinetico may face when marketing its K5 Water Drinking Station will be presented.  Furthermore, both the risks and benefits of employing black hat tactics in such scenarios will be outlined.

Enterprise Search Engine Marketing

The final section of the search engine marketing plan for Kinetico’s K5explores the enterprise search function on Kinetico’s corporate blog.  This section will begin by suggesting that improving Kinetico’s enterprise search engine marketing effort is critical, because a poorly executed version can negatively affect a potential customer’s on-site experience.  Specific keyword search phrases relating to the K5 are used to illustrate how Kinetico’s current enterprise search system could cause a potential customer to back out of Kinetico’s site.  To reduce the occurrence of negative searcher experiences, this section of the SEM plan will propose that Kinetico implement three currently missing aspects of ESEM.

 

Making SEM Work for Kinetico – Summary

The preceding outline of SEM methods was intended to highlight each section within the comprehensive search engine marketing plan for Kinetico’s K5, which follows.  As mentioned above, the success of this plan depends on a collaborative effort from SEM experts and Kinetico’s own brand ambassadors.  This plan proposes that the multi-disciplinary team implement international search engine marketing, keywords and metatags, social media marketing, micorsites, organic and paid listings, knowledge about black hat tactics, and enterprise search engine marketing to create a meaningful online presence for Kinetico’s K5, which will produce valuable conversions.

Integrated Search Engine Marketing Plan for Kinetico’s K5

International Search Engine Marketing

Kinetico’s online marketing efforts for the K5 should acknowledge that before someone makes a decision to purchase a ROS, they have first have identified a need to know, “What is the best water to drink?” i.e. bottled filtered, tap, etc.  Perry Marshall, an authority on SEM, illustrates this concept by suggesting that a company should, “Imagine that you are not you.  You are your customer” (Marshall, 2013).  While Kinetico and its competitors have been creating websites that look like digital product brochures for plumbers, they have ignored an entire online community of mothers who have an instinctual desire and induce societal pressure to provide the best of everything for their children.  The members of these so called mommy-wars passionately debate in online forums about every product and issue that directly affect their families and environment.  The critical influence that mothers have on the digital marketplace is discussed in a relevant article in Entrepreneur magazine, where the market is described as the rulers of digital commerce and media (Wang, 2012). These tech-savvy mothers weigh in on everything from diapers (cloth vs. disposable), milk (soy vs. organic dairy) to, you guessed it, water.  The highly debated topic of water has many hot-button questions surrounding it.  Kinetico’s K5 should attempt to answer these questions through an engaging SEM plan.

However, this SEM plan would be lacking if it did not recognize that widely available internet access has connected mothers around the world.  Holly Pavlika, President of MomentumNation, LLC, which has a following of 10 Million international moms, addressed the undeniable presence of the globally networked mom, “Moms will continue to be at the forefront of global citizenship…There is a global motherhood at hand as well as the realization that the challenges and issues are all connected regardless of geography” (Pavlika, 2013).  Indeed, the challenges and issues that mothers debate within the realm of social media are not strictly U.S. based issues.  Access to quality drinking water is a global problem that international moms want to solve as much as their peers in the U.S.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that certain demographics come in to play when considering what kind of mom not only recognizes the need for quality drinking water, but has the means to research the problem online, and then pay to solve it.  These common demographics certainly cross geographic boarders.    First, in order for these women to blog and use social media to create their mom-focused networks, they must have uncensored access to the internet.  Jamie Dunham, a female marketing specialist, called the networked moms the, “self-publishers” of the world, who write about their contributions and involvement in the arts, social and welfare causes, and environmental organizations (Dunham, 2012).   Dunham also described the networked mom as being college educated, having a $14,000 higher income than their non-networked peers, as well as more likely to buy organic food and eco-friendly products.

 

Country Selection Criteria

Of course, not every country in the world allows an environment where educated mothers can openly collaborate online about political and social issues.   Therefore, for the purposes of this international search engine marketing effort for Kinetico’s K5, the criteria for selecting a country was narrowed down to countries which openly enable the “networked mom.”  The starting point for determining which countries enable networked moms was to focus on the list of the “top twenty countries for mothers” in the reputable publication, the State of the World’s Mothers published by Save the Children (2012). The top-twenty list of countries was then cross referenced and judged in the following categories: Quality of Life Index, internet statistics per country, proportion of blog posts/population per country, and Facebook penetration statistics (Hopkins, 2012; Miniwatts, 2012; Socialbakers, 2013;The Economist, 2007) .  After cross referencing these categories with the original “top countries for mothers” list, six clear forerunners were present in all of the lists: Brazil, Canada, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (in alphabetical order).

To refine this list further, each country was given a ranking of 1 (best in category) through 6(lowest in category) within the aforementioned categories. The countries with the lowest combined totals across all of the categories were: Sweden at #1, Canada at #2, and the United Kingdom at #3.  After selecting these three as the target countries based on the criteria to enable the networked mom, each country was investigated at FreedomHouse.com to ensure that there was no evidence of these countries’ internet being forcefully censored (Freedom on the Net, 2012).  The following presentation will outline these three countries by specifically indicating their worthiness as a targeted country for Kinetico’s ISEM campaign and listing the corresponding search engines that should be used in each country.

Selected Countries & Corresponding Search Engines

            Sweden.  Sweden has historically promoted an environment of free expression, and is well known for its stellar reputation as a country that enables a non-censored internet for its people.  Sweden is one of the world’s most connected countries where more than 90% of the households in Sweden are connected to the internet (Miniwatts, 2012).Furthermore, 54.56% of Swedish citizens are registered on Facebook, 42% of Sweden’s female citizens visit Facebook on a daily basis, and the country’s proportion of blog posts per population is 22.6% which by penetration measurements is the highest in the world — the penetration percentage in the U.S. being only 9.4% (Geens, 2012; Hopkins, 2010; Socialbakers, 2013).  MVF, a global customer acquisition agency, notes that Sweden citizens take social media very seriously and, “have the disposable income to spend online and the leisure time to consume varied and rich online media content,” making “opportunities for internet marketers and lead generation in general plentiful” (2012).  MVF Global also provides a useful summary of Sweden’s internet statistics:

Internet Advertising Market Size: $615 million

Average CPC on Facebook: $1.09

Search Engine Market Share: Google 96.81%, Bing 2.28%, Yahoo .47%

Most popular sites: Google.se, Facebook.com, Google.com, and Youtube.com

Alexa.com’s rankings for Sweden concur with MVF, stating Google.se, Facebook.com, and Google.com as the top sites visited in Sweden, while listing Live.com as #7, Yahoo.com as #8 and Bing.com as #68.  Kinetico’s ISEM campaign in Sweden should focus on Google.se, Google.com, Live.com, and Bing.com, because according to analytics presented by MVF Global and Alexa.com these search engines are used by Swedes most frequently.  However, in addition to utilizing the traditional search engines, social media cites such as Facebook.com and Youtube.com are critical to use within the overall ISEM plan, since the aforementioned statistics clearly indicated Sweden citizen’s high engagement in social media.  Sweden is an ideal country for Kinetico to extend its ISEM campaign because it is a well-connected country that “promotes internet freedom globally,” (Geens, 2012).  Therefore, Kinetico will not have to limit strategies within the campaign to comply with local search engine laws or government censorship.

            Canada.  Like Sweden, Canada’s government does not specifically regulate internet content, however a current debate led by concerned Canadian citizens and global freedom of expression groups are fighting a recent law that was passed in Canada that limits citizens abilities to post “hate messages” (Wikipedia, 2012).  The constitutionality of this law is being challenged, and many believe that the deletion of the section pertaining to internet censorship will be ruled as a violation of pre-existing Canadian law that guarantees freedom of expression.  Despite this current debate, by global internet standards and particularly standards outlined on FreedomHouse.com (2012), 83% of Canadian citizens enjoy the uninhibited access to the internet (Miniwatts, 2012).  Canadians value the ability to connect with online peers while conducting business and personal research via social networking sites.  In fact, 64% of Canadians have a social network profile; 54.43% are registered with Facebook.com (Breikss, 2012; Socialbakers, 2013).  Another 11.6% of Canada’s populations are regular bloggers, which is relatively high when compared to other countries such as the U.S. where the penetration of bloggers is 9.4% (Hopkins, 2010). 

Two unique factors about Canadian consumers to consider when selecting Canada as a targeted country in an ISEM campaign is that the country has the highest penetration of retail websites in the world with 89% of its audiences visiting them, and 93% of Canadians go online for product information (Breikss, 2012; MVF, 2012).  This critical factor, along with the statistics summarized below by MVF Global, clearly indicate an opportunity for U.S. based companies to connect with online Canadian consumers:

Internet Advertising Market Size: $2,100 million

Average CPC on Facebook: $0.90 (nearly $0.20 less than Sweden)

Search Engine Market Share: Google 92.66%, Bing 4.03%, Yahoo 2.6%

Most popular sites: Google.ca, Facebook.com, Google.com, and Youtube.com

Alexa.com’s rankings for Canada concur with MVF Global, stating Google.ca, Facebook.com, Youtube.com, and Google.com as the top sites visited in Sweden, while listing Yahoo.com as #5, Live.com as #6, and Bing.com as #13 (2012).  Kinetico’s ISEM campaign in Canada should focus on Google.ca, Google.com, Yahoo.com, and Bing.com, because according to analytics presented by MVF Global and Alexa.com these search engines are used by Canadians most frequently.  But, the ISEM campaign in Canada should not ignore social media sites, specifically Facebook.com, since Canadians use such mediums as means of gaining product information.  Canadian citizens’ propensity for online product research and shopping presents an exceptional opportunity for Kinetico to extend its ISEM campaign in Canada.  In fact, online retailer, Yona Shtern, says, “The Canadian online marketplace has arrived, and now it’s a matter of stocking it” (Jackson, 2012).  Therefore, Kinetico will not need to educate Canadians on the concept of online product research and shopping.  Canadian consumers are seasoned online shoppers, who should respond well to strategic ISEM campaigns from U.S. based companies, who can successfully execute SEM strategies within traditional search engines like Google and Bing, while simultaneously utilizing Facebook.com

United Kingdom.  Citizens of the United Kingdom take the concept of internet freedom very seriously.  After receiving enormous pressure from digital rights special interest groups, in January of 2012 the Foreign Secretary took great pains to compose a clear outline of where the UK stands on internet freedom (Bradwell, 2012).   The internet freedom advocates were satisfied with the Secretary’s promises to uphold UK’s current culture of freedom of expression (2012).  However, later that year Freedom House rated the UK as performing “badly in terms of on online activity, surveillance and privacy,” claiming that the UK was found to have “instances of filtering and blocking of websites and other forms of censorship” (Philipson, 2012).  This active communication from internet freedom advocates with swift and sure government responses indicates that citizens of the UK will continue to fight to maintain, and the government will work to respond to the citizens’ demands for an uncensored internet in their country.  Citizens of the UK value their unobstructed access to the internet.  In fact, UK is one of the most connected countries in the world with 83.6% of its population having internet access (Miniwatts, 2012).  Furthermore, 52.65 of UK citizens are registered with facebook.com, 52% of female citizens visit Facebook.com on a daily basis, and the country’s proportion of blog posts per population is 11% which by penetration measurements is the highest in the  (Hopkins, 2010; Socialbakers, 2013).  MVF Global also provides a useful summary of the UK’s internet statistics:

Internet Advertising Market Size: $6,670 million

Average CPC on Facebook: $1.14

Search Engine Market Share: Google 89.9%, Bing 3.2%, Yahoo 3%

Most popular sites: Google.co.uk, Facebook.com, Google.com, and Youtube.com

Alexa.com’s rankings for Sweden concur with MVF, stating Google.co.uk, Facebook.com, and Google.com as the top sites visited in the United Kingdom, while listing Yahoo.com as #8, Live.com as #9, and Bing.com as #25.  Therefore Kinetico’s ISEM campaign for the K5 in the UK should focus on Google.co.uk, Google.com, Yahoo.com, and Live.com, because according to analytics presented by MVF Global and Alexa.com these search engines are used by the British most frequently.  Additionally, recent reports have indicated that the British use “laptops, smartphones, and other connected devices to access the internet more than any other country” (Woods, 2012).  Understanding that the citizens of the UK access the internet on mostly mobile devices is important when designing an ISEM campaign within the country – that is Kinetico’s ISEM campaign for the K5 should utilize search engines, as well as social media sites that are optimized for mobile platforms.

Country & Search Engine Selections Summary

Defined search criteria for countries that enable the “networked mom” revealed that Sweeden, Canada, and the United Kingdom are appropriate countries to target for Kinetico’s K5 ISEM campaigns.  Citizens in these countries show a strong propensity for online shopping, product research, and networking socially especially on blogs and Facebook.  These international citizens also vastly prefer their country-specific version of Google.  However strong Google’s presence is in these three countries, Kinetico must also utilize secondary search engines such as Yahoo and Bing, as well as social-media-driven search engines such as Facebook and YouTube.  While these search engines hold smaller spaces in the overall market share, it is important for an ISEM campaign to diversify its efforts.  For example, search engines such as Bing.com is making small, but sure gains mostly due to availability across multiple devices, e.g. bing.com being the default search engine on Facebook (Worth, 2013).  Lastly, it is important to note that the aforementioned suggestions on search engine selections are based on past data.  Therefore, Kinetico’s ISEM campaigns for the K5 need to be in a state of constant refinement, because the search engine or social media site that produces the most conversions in Q1 could be the loser in Q4.

Keywords and Metatags

The use of keywords and metatags is another area of SEM that Kinetico would need to constantly refine.  Since this plan proposes a new alternative market for Kinetico’s K5, five initial keywords and metatags will be recommended to begin an SEM plan to target this market with the understanding that these will need to be regularly analyzed for effectiveness and refined. The proposed keywords and corresponding metatags will be placed into groups based on buyer-intent.  In other words, the keywords and metatags for this SEM plan will focus on a potential consumer in each phase of the “Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process” (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  Although some digital marketing experts argue that keywords should only focus on consumers in stage four, where the customer “makes the decision to buy,” (Danciulescu, 2008) for the purposes of this SEM plan it is critical to use keywords and metatags that create brand awareness among internet savvy women who actively participate in online discussion.  Kinetico’s K5 has little to no presence among this target market.  Therefore, incorporating keywords and metatags that target not only customers who are ready to buy, but those potential customers who are concerned about general water quality problems that the K5 solve are as equally as important in the initial stages of SEM.

Stage One Consumer: Problem Recognition

“The buying process starts when the buyer recognizes a problem or need triggered by internal or external stimuli” (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  Ideally, Kinetico’s K5 SEM strategies, such as a sponsored discussion on an influencer marketing platform, will be the trigger that causes a potential customer to realize that bottled water is bad for her and the environment.  Therefore, this customer now has a need to find out what her alternatives to bottle water are.  The keywords and metatags that Kinetico employs must answer her questions about this need.  The below keywords and metatags attempt to fulfill this objective.

Keywords.

“Alternatives to bottled water”

Title Metatag.

Get better than bottled water | Alternative to bottled water | Kinetico’s K5 Water”

Description Metatag.

“Better and cheaper than bottled water! Learn more about how to test your water quality for free. Watch videos about the best water on the planet.”

Notice that the keywords and metatags address the triggered need to answer the potential consumers’ questions about what her alternatives are to bottled water.  Because this consumer is in the problem recognition phase of the buying process, the metatags do not focus on buying per se, but still include calls-to-action.  The corresponding landing page for these keywords and metatags should engage potential consumers with informational videos posted by current customers discussing their disgust with the true quality of bottled water and its negative effects on the environment, and then move to literally show how the K5 has changed their life by offering an affordable option to bottled water.

Stage Two: Information Search

Keywords and metatags focusing on consumers in this stage of the buying process must reflect a potential customer who already has a heightened awareness about the need for quality water in a form other than bottled water.  This consumer is receptive to specific information about the K5, because they have already decided to actively search out information about products similar to the K5.  Therefore the keywords and metatags need to provide glimpses of rich on-site content that serves to legitimize the product (Keller & Kotler, 2012). The following keywords and metatags attempt to legitimize the K5 in the mind of a new mother or mother-to-be, who is actively seeking information about a product that can provide filtered water to use with baby formula.

Keywords.

            “The best water to mix with baby formula”

Title Metatag.

            “Get the Best Water for Baby Formula | Better than Nursery Water | Kinetico’s K5 Water

Description Megatag.

“Certified to remove harmful contaminants. Access to the best water for baby for pennies a gallon. Read reviews about the highest rated water filtration system.”

Notice that the keywords and meta tags address the consumer who is actively seeking out specific information to their already-defined need and circumstance.  Because this consumer is in the Information Search phase of the buying process, the metatags do not focus on buying per se, but still include calls-to-action.  The corresponding landing page for these keywords and metatags should reflect the consumer’s specific circumstance (new mother) and engage the potential consumer with specific content that legitimizes the product in the form of data, certifications, and user reviews.

Stage Three: Evaluation of Alternatives

Keywords and metatags focusing on consumers in this stage of the buying process should target a potential customer who completed the search for what type of product they will buy.  This consumer is ready to evaluate the competitive set of brands that offer the preferred product (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  Therefore the keywords and metatags need to provide glimpses of the K5’s superior attributes when compared to other reverse osmosis systems. The following keywords and metatags attempt to differentiate the K5 among its competitors in the mind of a consumer.

 

Keywords.

 “The best reverse osmosis water filtration system”

Title Metatag.

“Buy the Best Water Filtration System | Reverse Osmosis for sale | Kinetico’s K5Water”

Description Megatag.

“Buy the RO that removes more contaminants than other systems. Money saving system powered by water, not electricity. Free in-home water test and Free installation.”

Notice that the keywords and meta tags address the consumer who is actively evaluating competitive brands.  Because this consumer is in the Evaluation of Alternatives phase of the buying process, the metatags intentionally use the words “buy” and “for sale.”  The corresponding landing page for these keywords and metatags should be well organized and make a clear argument that the K5 is a superior brand when compared to its competitors.  Screen shots from Consumer Reports and highlighted expert reviews should be in the forefront, as well as an obvious way to “BUY NOW!”

Stage Four: Purchase Decision

Keywords and metatags focusing on consumers in this stage of the buying process must reflect a potential customer who completed the evaluations of alternative brands of reverse osmosis systems and has “intention to buy the most preferred brand” (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  Therefore the keywords and metatags need to enable the consumer to easily purchase the K5 and schedule a convenient installation day through a dealer.  The following keywords and metatags attempt to equip the consumer with the tools to easily complete the purchase decision.

 

Keywords.

            “Kinetico K5 reverse osmosis system”

Title Metatag.

            “Buy the Best Reverse Osmosis | K5 Drinking Water Station for Sale | Kinetico”

Description Megatag.

“Buy Today and start saving money and the environment. Schedule Now to get Free installation and a $50 gift card. Superior service from your local dealer.”

Notice that the keywords and meta tags address the consumer who has a credit card in hand and ready to purchase as long as the process is simple and straight forward.  Because this consumer is in the Purchase Decision phase of the buying process, the metatags not only use the words “buy” and “for sale,” but create urgent “now-only” offers, while connecting the purchase to the local dealer.  The corresponding landing page for these keywords and metatags should be uncluttered and focused on the details of the purchase including a transparent local-dealer calendar that enables the consumer to schedule the delivery and installation of the system .

Stage Five: Post Purchase Behavior

Keywords focusing on consumers in this stage of the buying process must reflect a customer who has completed the purchase of the K5 reverse osmosis systems and is either satisfied and wants to discuss the satisfaction online or experiencing “dissonance from noticing certain disquieting features or hearing favorable things about other brands” (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  Therefore the keywords and metatags need to rapidly direct the consumer to areas on Kinetico’s website where their satisfaction can be expressed, or dissatisfaction can be quickly addressed.  The following keywords and metatags attempt to equip the consumer with the tools to easily carry out post purchase behavior.

 

Keywords.

            “Review Kinetico K5 reverse osmosis system”

Title Metatag.

            “Tell Us Why You Love Your New K5 | Resolve an Issue | Answers to Your Questions”

Description Megatag.

“Tell the world how you are saving money and the environment. Kinetio Problem Solvers are here for you. Send a message to your local dealer.”

Notice that the keywords and meta tags address the consumer who has made a purchase and either wants to rave about it, or needs issues resolved.  Because this consumer is in the Post Purchase Behavior phase of the buying process, the metatags use the action words “Tell” and “Resolve.”  The corresponding landing page for these keywords and metatags should be split into two sections, so that satisfied consumers can easily leave product reviews and unsatisfied consumers can get their issues resolved immediately, while also including a connection to the local dealership.

Keywords and Metatags Summary

The keywords and metatags proposed above is a small sampling of what should be a comprehensive list of phrases and tags focusing on the five phases that Kinetico’s consumers work through in the purchasing process.  Since high rankings on search engines directly correlate with an in-depth, organized website which offers rich content that directly relates to user-generated keyword searches, it would be wise for Kinetico’s SEM plan utilize a long list of keywords and metatags for each web page within Kinetico’s website (Thompson, 2012).

Social Media Marketing

Kinetico’s current SEM strategy lacks an effective integration of social media marketing.  Integrating SMM into the overall SEM strategy is becoming increasingly critical as the major search engines are developing intense partnerships with social media sites.  For example, “Microsoft and Google are rumored to have paid tens of millions of dollars to secure their respective relationships with Twitter” (Cruickshank, 2009).  Likewise, Microsoft’s Bing has announced that they will utilize their partnership with Facebook in an attempt to provide real-time results that searchers value due to its authentic, user-generated format.  Microsoft leadership explained their integration of social into the search experience by pointing out that, “the best answers aren’t going to come from websites, but from people – and most importantly from people who know something about you” (Fowler, 2010).  So, there is a clear effort among search engines to rely less on keywords and linking, while moving towards ranking search listings based on social connections and relationships between companies and users of social media sites.

Two Benefits of Effective Incorporation of SMM in SEM

Many companies’ marketing departments are in touch with the latest developments of major search engines partnering with social media sites, and therefore understand that the role of effective social media content within SEM is to “attract a new network of participants via search” (Odden, 2009).  However, Kinetico’s K5 social media efforts negate the potential to boost SEM, because it is fails to effectively incorporate two noticeable benefits of SMM.  In the analysis below these two benefits of SMM will identified for their importance to an overall SEM effort.  Additionally, evidence of Kinetico’s current failure to implement social media marketing methods will be addressed.

Benefit #1: Using Social Media to Create Keywords and Related Content

Experts in incorporating social media into an overall SEM strategy point to a first step that must be taken, which can uncover a potential glossary of high-value keywords.  This essential first step is the process of mining social media sites to learn how the online community is talking about your product.  Jeannette Kocsis, VP of digital marketing at Harte-Hanks Inc. explained that, “before building a social network for the company, a marketer should first get immersed in the social engagement world as a user/customer” (DeBevois, 2007).  However, it is clear that this process of mining the social community for keywords is not being effectively used by Kinetico.  Evidence of this oversight is shown in the lack of keywords being utilized in the content of Kinetico’s K5 web page or blog.  Phrases that searchers are typing in search engines and online forums specifically about Kinetico’s K5 should be in turn used by Kinetico’s marketers when writing blog posts, headlines, anchor text, YouTube captions, etc.  However, phrases about the K5 that searchers are using online are not being effectively used in content generated by Kinetico.  This is not to say that there is not a viable online community discussing the K5.  In fact, a rich online, user-generated conversation does exist and is being indexed by major search engines.

For example, the fourth, fifth, and six organic listings on Google’s first search result page for “Kinetico K5” (during March 2013) were all online communities of searchers asking and answering each others’ questions (only the first listing is generated by Kinetico HQ).  The fourth listing was from http://www.doityourself.com, which has a title metatag reading, “RO system – Watts Premier vs Kinetico K5 – DoItYourself.com.” The description line reads, “Hi y’all: I spent the past few days scouring the web and learning everything I could about RO unites, boiling it down to two manufacturers: Watts…”  From a marketer’s perspective, this post is the holy grail of social media, because Kinetico can view this person as representing a strong, qualified lead who is in the final phase of the Consumer Buying Process (Keller & Kotler, 2012).  The online searcher has clearly recognized a problem with his drinking water, done research on potential solutions to his problem, and discovered reverse osmosis as being his preferred solution.  Then, he evaluated the total set of reverse osmosis system brands available, narrowed this set from his awareness set, to consideration set, and finally to the critical choice set, which happens to include Kinetico’s K5.  In the absolute ideal world, Kinetio’s marketing team would be monitoring such forums and be able to immediately reach out to this searcher to not only to help close the deal, but to also acquire information from him about the keyword phrases he used during his proclaimed “scouring” of the internet.  In a less than ideal, but still effective scenario, Kinetico would create a long list of keywords that were used in this searcher’s initial post and the ones used by those who responded to his post.

Despite this deep and insightful conversation being lead by a qualified K5 lead, there is no indication that Kinetico is monitoring such conversations for keywords to be used in SEM or SMM.  For instance, the aforementioned title metatag, “RO system – Watts Premier vs Kinetico K5” alone would be a fantastic keyword phrase that Kinetico could use to develop content on its corporate website, blog, and other social media websites.  However, a Google search performed with this long tail keyword phrase in March 2013, did not produce even one Kinetico-generated sites appear in the first fifteen search result pages.  Therefore, Kinetico’s SEM efforts to create high visibility on Google are being undermined by its disappointing lack and misuse of SMM.  Even more disappointing was the seach  results for the simple keywords, “RO system” in the search space within Kinetico’s own corporate blog.  No post on the blog specifically used this phrase or even the generic keywords “reverse osmosis.”    Kinetico may argue that their corporate blog is intended to focus on water in general, not specifically about their products, e.g. the blog topics are organized as “health and living, clean water advocacy, the science of water, etc.  However, Kinetico is missing a key SMM opportunity by excluding key search phrases that can drive search engine visibility.

By Kinetico not utilizing social media networks as a mining site for keywords that can be used in generating relatable content for the K5, Kinetico’s SEM investment is being compromised, because it is falling in company-centric social media trap.  In other words, Kinetico has implemented a social media marketing program involving a blog that is so corporately driven that it all but ignores potential topics that can reflect user searches, which search engines favor.  Furthermore, by not employing user-generated keywords in social media content, Kinetico has established a social media program that does not add value to its bottom line.   Lee Odden of TopRank Online Marketing described this company-centric social media trap by explaining, “implementing a social media marketing program without optimizing content is leaving money on the table” (2012).  Therefore, Kinetico is producing content within social media that cannot be discovered by qualified leads, because it is not utilizing keywords that reflect the potential customer’s searches on search engines.

Benefit #2: Using Social Media to Create Dialog

A second benefit of effective SMM implementation in an overall SEM plan is to use social media platforms to create an engaging dialog with online consumers.  A fresh and constant dialog with online communities can boost SEM, because search engine spiders are attracted to content created by users of social media.  Digital Entrepreneur, Hollis Thomases, summarized this concept by stating, “when it comes to social content, commenting on news and trends – especially if others are talking about the subject too – can help improve your chances of being found.”  Since search engines are now using relationships created through online dialogue as a measure of relevancy, Kinetico should make strategic efforts to grow meaningful relationships on social media sites.  However, as in all meaningful relationships, the communication between parties is a two-way street.  In other words, Kinetico should use social media networks as a way to offer a relationship with the online community by talking with users, not shouting at them.

Alas, Kinetico’s current SMM efforts, as identified in the first section of the SMM analysis, are mistakenly company-centric.  Messages on blog posts are created by internal employees or invited bloggers and focus on topics that do not necessarily reflect keyword phrases related to Kinetico’s K5.  Similarly, while Kinetico does have corporate Facebook and Twitter pages, when “Kinetico K5” was searched on Google in March 2013, the Facebook page was displayed on page five of the search results, while Twitter was not indexed at all on the first fifteen pages.  In fact, Kinetico’s corporate Twitter page did not appear until page five on Google, when the term, “Kinetico” was searched.  Yet, Kinetico tweets and retweets everyday, sometimes several times a day.  A closer look at the tweeting exposes a pattern of misuse , which is most likely the cause of Kinetico hosting a meager 344 followers.  Two examples of Kinetico’s misuse are reflected in the tweets themselves.

The first example, in a recent February 1, 2013 tweet, Kinetico HQ says, “Is your water BORING? Kinetico K5 water plus these great ideas…a perfect match (and it’s good for your heart)” (Twitter, 2013).  Not only does this post make little sense it does nothing by the way of extending an offer to begin a conversation with followers.  This tweet is a reflection of a larger issue with Kinetio’s SMM efforts on Twitter.  In a two month period many tweets posted by Kinetico HQ are repeated either with exact phrases, or subtle re-statements of the same phrase.  The second example of Kinetico misusing Twitter is as equally as devastating to the overall SEM effort, because it indicates that Kinetico is not actively participating in conversations even when prompted to do so by its followers. For instance, on January 25 @patiswhereitsat replied to a tweet from Kinetico the day before that linked to an article about banishing soda pop from your diet.  The initial Kinetico HQ tweet was titled, “7 reasons to banish the bubbly from your life or cut back J” (Twitter, 2013).  @patiswhereitsat replied, “Hey, It’s not about the bubbly – it’s about the sugar! I thought you wanted me to stop drinking proseco or mineral water.”  Kinetico replied, “ha! No. We happen to be big fans of carbonated water.  Poor word choice on our part J” (2013).  That was the extent of the conversation between Kinetico and its follower.  As short as the conversation was, Kinetico headquarters managed to undermine its very own product, the K5, which supplies uncarbonated reverse osmosis water, by announcing that “we” at headquarters are “big fans of carbonated water” (Twitter, 2013).  Moreover, Kinetico did not use Twitter to develop this conversation with the follower.  The profile of @patiswhereitsat  shows that this follower is a business owner on the East coast and boasts 412 followers.

If Kinetico understood the value of using social media to grow online relationships and search engine visibility, Kinetico’s marketer would have engaged in a conversation with @patiswhereitsat and taken time to get to know this follower.  Perhaps @patiswhereitsat is a customer who uses Kinetico products for her business and would be willing to be a brand ambassador in her area. Perhaps @patiswhereitsat has a Kinetico water softener, but drinks bottled mineral water, because she isn’t knowledgeable about the K5.  Perhaps the husband of @patiswhereitsat owns a Kinetico dealership.  Regrettably, the online world will never know why @patiswhereitsat follows Kinetico, or what specifically made her comment on Kinetico’s retweet.  This lack of conversation with its Twitter followers is one of many examples of Kinetico missing a SMM opportunity by not engaging with an online community.  The lack of engagement implies that Kinetico is standing on a figurative corporate pillar and shouting at a mass market, rather than targeting a segmented population of qualified leads.

An ongoing relevant discussion between Kinetico and a targeted market should aim to build relationships with a targeted market and reinforce keywords that search engine spiders can find.  Jeannette Kocsis, VP of digital marketing at Harte-Hanks Inc. explains that businesses like Kinetico “shouldn’t overlook participating in online discussions.  In the blogosphere, users share their own experiences and content with each other, and marketers should do the same” (DeBevois, 2007).  In the Twitter example, Kinetico looks like an out-of-touch corporate headquarters that is blasting casual tweets with no strategic plan or intent to meet and engage potential consumers.  Kinetico’s marketers must incorporate strategy into their SEM plans to avoid investing social media dollars that do not deliver valuable leads or search engine visibility. Digital strategist, Hollis Thomases reprimands businesses who misuse social media.  She states, “for those of you running businesses and just tweeting and Facebooking random content, remember this: More and more of what you post on your social networks is going to be spidered by serach engines” (Thomases, 2012).  Therefore, Kinetico needs to implement strategic SMM campaigns which will improve visibility on search engines by engaging in deliberate and calculated conversations with an online community.

SMM Summary

The above analysis of two benefits of the effective use of SMM in SEM revealed that Kinetico is misusing social media sites and tools by not using user-generated conversations as data mining sites or opportunities to develop relationships with online constituents.  It is clear that Kinetico realizes that there is value in corporate involvement of social media, however, marketers at Kinetico are failing to use deliver that value.  This analysis only covered two of many hallmarks of effective SMM.  Kinetico’s K5 and other brands would benefit from a comprehensive SEM campaign that incorporated  strategic use of social media marketing.

PPC and Organic Listings

When a searcher enters a query in a traditional search engine, two types of listings may appear on the results pages, one being organic listings and the other being paid-per-click (PPC) listings.  The current leader in search, Google, stated that its mission is to organize the world’s information (Google, n.d.).  Google, and other traditional search engines choose to organize the world’s information by categorizing it as either paid or earned.  Therefore, search engines display the PPC listings on the results page based on the amount advertisers paid for the matching keywords, whereas organic listings earn their space by providing links to information that search engines deem as reliable when compared to the keywords (Troia, 2011).   Based on this concept, a noticeable distinction between the two categories of listings can be described as relevancy versus reliability.  In other words, PPC listings represent the paid perception of relevancy, and organic listings reflect the earned perception of reliability.

Necessary Interdependence of Listings

Given that search engines, such as Google, use these two categories of listings in an attempt to accomplish the mission of organizing the world’s information, and because the perception of the listings can be seen as distinct, online marketers aim to exploit both categories in an effort to earn or pay for valuable space on the SERPs.  Furthermore, since PPC listings and organic listings collectively offer valuable space, neither listing should be a marketer’s sole focus.   Expert search engine strategist, Gord Hotchkiss, suggests that online marketers should “maximize…search real estate” (Fischer, 2006).  Using this analogy, the search engine’s result page could be viewed as a Monopoly™ game board.  It is generally understood that the winner of Monopoly™ is the player who can maximize her or his presence on the board.  Likewise, in SEM, it is not enough to invest in just one piece of the search real estate. Rather, to be truly effective, it is critical that PPC listings and organic listings be used together to win the game.  Yang & Ghose’s in-depth study on organic and sponsored search advertising confirmed this concept by concluding that “paid and organic listings have a positive interdependence on each other‘s click-through rates” (2012).  In other words, the aforementioned study found that there is a positive relationship between earned and paid real estate on search engine results pages.  PPC listings boost the effectiveness of the organic listings and organic listings increase the click through rates of the PPC listings (Yang & Ghose, 2012, p.28).  Instead of choosing just one area of valuable real estate on a SERP, marketers can employ PPC and organic listings to collectively dominate the potential real estate.

Unique functions of PPC and Organic Listings

To further demonstrate the necessary interdependence between the two listings, it is important to recognize that PPC and organic listings cannot be used interchangeably, since each method has unique functions within SEM.  This short paper will outline how each listing can distinctly function within an SEM campaign.  To accomplish this, Kinetico’s K5 Water Drinking Station will be used as a sample product to be marketed online with PPC and organic listings.  It will be proposed that PPC listings should function as a way to direct targeted online traffic to specific K5 campaigns, while organic listings should function to build authority on the first SERP.  A conclusion will be offered that if both methods are to be effectively used as a collective strategy instead of independent methods, valuable leads and conversions can be generated through onsite infrastructure.

PPC Listings

Unique Function.  There are many ways in which a PPC listing can function within SEM.  Larry Kim, founder of WordStream Internet Marketing, indicates that PPC listings’ functions can include producing immediate online visibility, directing highly targeted traffic, promoting a time-sensitive offer, as well as high visibility ranking within the search results for specific keyword categories (Kim, 2010).  However, for the purposes outlined in this presentation, using PPC listings to direct targeted online traffic to a predetermined web page will be the function that is explored for Kinetico’s K5.  Effective PPC listings are always tied to a strategic landing page that contains a specific call-to-action.  Therefore, Kinetico could use PPC listings as a way to direct traffic to specific sections within its corporate website or a customized microsite that focuses on the K5.  This traffic direction function is very unique to PPC listings, because marketers “can’t dictate to the search engines the exact page to which a particular organic search engine result points” (DeYoung, 2007).  Utilizing this PPC function, Kinetico could design paid listings which act as road signs that point competitor’s customers and non-users in a deliberate direction. 

Utilizing the Function.  For example, Kinetico could us Google’s AdWords to bid on the keyword phrase “affordable reverse osmosis systems.”  Currently, when this long-tail phrase is entered in Google, one of Kinetico’s key competitors, Culligan, has the top PPC listing (Kinetico does not have a presence on the results page).  The listing reads, “Reverse Osmosis System – Free of water contaminants; http://www.culligankentucky.com/; Eliminate harmful bacteria.; >map of 418 Crossfield Drive, Versailes, KY.”  Regrettably, the click through rate potential of this PPC listing is low, because it does not contain the keywords that were used in the search query.  Kinetico should use the keyword phrase in its PPC ad copy, because “people are much more likely to click on a headline that reflects more closely what they were searching for” (Kim, 2010). For instance, Kinetico’s PPC listing for this keyword campaign could read, “Affordable Reverse Osmosis; Compare Total Cost of Ownership; Get Kinetico’s Affordable K5 System;  www. Kinetico.com/K5-total-cost-of-ownership.”  This PPC listing serves its function as a directional tool, because it mirrors the searcher’s initial query and gives her or him an incentive to click on the listing by offering a total-cost-of-ownership comparison. 

While Culligan’s actual ad copy in the aforementioned PPC listing does very little to fulfill its CTR potential, the landing page for the listing further weakens the campaign.  Culligan’s PPC listing directs traffic to a simple landing page that reads, “Pure filtered water for $9.95/month. To learn more and receive a free consultation, start by entering your zip code below!” (Culligan, n.d.).  Culligan is not using the full potential of their paid listing.  A better implantation of a PPC listing for Kinetico should direct traffic to a landing page that incorporates three key features.  First, the headline on the landing page should match the keywords that were used in the initial search, such as “The Total Cost of Ownership of a Kinetico K5 Makes it the Most Affordable Reverse Osmosis System Available.”  This tactic is not only used to increase Google AdWords quality score, but to also remind the searcher that the destination you have directed them to “is in fact exactly what they a) searched for and b) clicked on in your ad” (Salahshor, 2011).

Next, if the PPC listing is truly functioning as a road sign for targeted traffic, the content on the landing page should reflect the query.  In other words, the person who types “affordable reverse osmosis system” is not intending to enter her or his zipcode, but instead desires information regarding the affordability of the system.  So, Kinetico’s landing page should offer a total cost of ownership comparison between the K5 and its major competitors.  Last, the PPC listing that functions as a road sign should benefit Kinetico by directing targeted traffic to a landing page that incorporates a call-to-action.  The result of the call-to-action is what makes a PPC listing a valuable SEM investment.  However, Culligan’s call-to-action, which asked the searcher to enter her or his zipcode was the only content on the landing page.  Instead, Kinetico should incorporate multiple opportunities on the landing page to convert the searcher to a lead, but the opportunities should be pre-populated fields imbedded within the rich content, which is “a great way to reduce friction, and increase conversion rate” (Salahshor, 2011).

Organic Listings

Unique Function.  Using PPC listings as strategic directional road signs is one of many ways that PPC listings function on result pages.  Organic listings can also serve many functions on a search engine result page.  Larry Kim, founder of WordStream Internet Marketing, indicates that organic listing functions include producing consistent results, building site and SERP authority, and increasing the value of a website (Kim, 2010).  However, for the purposes outlined in this presentation, using organic listings to build SERP authority will be the function that is explored for Kinetico’s K5.  While the above mentioned Kinetico PPC campaign could be implemented immediately and controlled through pre-determined landing pages, effective organic listings reflect an on-going commitment to “various aspects of web coding, content development, link building and promotion” (Cornett, 2012).  Although this on-going commitment represents a considerable amount of time and resources, it will produce earned authority on a SERP through the presence of multiple organic listings.  This authority is often times materialized as multiple listings of user-generated content about a topic on social media sites.  Both Google and Bing insist that rich, on-site content and linked social conversations about the rich content will naturally increase the rank of organic listings (Eridon, 2012).  Moreover, online searchers perceive organic listings from social media sites as more authoritative, because they are endorsed by peers (2012).

Utilizing the Function.  Using this knowledge of organic listings, a company like Kinetico, should take necessary steps to maintain multiple organic listings on a SERP.  For example, Kinetico should routinely compose original articles that incorporate specific title and description metatags, and post various formats of the article on multiple socially infused platforms.   More specifically, Kinetico should post an original article on its corporate blog, content directories such as eZinearticles, relevant group sites on LinkedIn, and on free press release “sites such as PRlog.org, Free-press-release.com and others” (Montes de Oca, 2012).  A possible article could be about the newest studies regarding negative health and environmental effects of bottled water.  The page that displays the article should incorporate the keyword phrase “Alternatives to bottled water,” and the title metatag, Get better than bottled water | Alternative to bottled water | Kinetico’s K5 Water,” and the description metatag, “Better and cheaper than bottled water! Learn more about how to test your water quality for free. Watch videos about the best water on the planet.”  Notice that the keywords and metatags will give cues to a search engine that the article is relevant to a potential consumers’ queries related to alternatives to bottled water. 

Furthermore, the posted article should be linked to related videos on YouTube.com and an original power point presentation on SlideShare.net. The video and presentation should repeat the article’s keywords and be strategically designed to reflect interesting aspects of the initial article. Finally, Kinetico should develop a microsite and corresponding Facebook page specifically for the issue addressed in the article.  As long as each platform thematically reflects the original topic in the user-generated keywords, Kinetico’s original article, YouTube videos, SlideShare presentation, microsite and Facebook page will increase the number of organic listings within the first SERP for those keywords.  Consequently, the multiple organic listings on each platform will build authority for Kinetico PPC listings and increase traffic on Kinetico’s corporate website.  It is important to note that the example used above for Kinetico’s K5 organic listing is representative of one particular campaign.  The key to building value with organic listings is to regularly replace old content with new, fresh material.  Search engines favor fresh, new content, so to maintain multiple organic listings on the first SERP, the aforementioned steps to earn such prime SERP space would need to be continually repeated, but not duplicated (WebProNews, 2008).

Organic and PPC Listings Summary

In the above presentation, PPC and organic listings were defined as interdependent online tools that have unique functions within SEM.  Kinetico’s K5 Drinking Water System was used to present examples of the unique functions.  However, if both methods are to be effectively used together to create value in an overall SEM plan, Kinetico would need to support the efforts with onsite infrastructure that can convert the leads generated through the PPC and organic listings. In other words, Kinetico’s corporate website and microsite infrastructure must be prepared to “harness the surge of traffic” from the collective efforts of the PPC and organic listings in a way that can easily “monetize the traffic visits for lead generation or sales” (Montes de Oca, 2012).  So, while PPC and organic listings may have unique functions, their critical interdependence can be realized in the common goal of producing leads or sales.  Choosing to use one method over the other would lead to a missed opportunity that can generate valuable conversions.

Therefore, based on this presentation, three explanations for why marketers should not choose one search strategy over another have been revealed.  First, because search engines organize information by placing it in two listing categories, marketers would be missing an opportunity to maximize the visibility of its campaign by only utilizing the listings in one category.  Second, as demonstrated in the Kinetico examples, each listing has a unique function within SEM that the opposite listing cannot easily fulfill.   Finally, because each listing can work together in a collective effort to achieve a critical SEM goal, using only one listing would weaken the approach and efficiency in meeting the goal.

Black Hat Tactics

One of the first lessons that little girls learn about fashion from their mothers and grandmothers might be that one shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day.  But, it is not unusual to see ladies wearing winter white sweaters in December, nor is it unheard of for fashion designers to use white in fall collections.  So, in this example, as in many aspects of life, there is undeniable evidence of rule breakers, rule benders, and those who are blissfully ignorant of the rules.  It would not be a wild proposition to suggest that the ruler benders and breakers may gain a sense of power from going against the grain.  However, this power trip is shallow because, the bearer of the true power lies with the rule makers.  The world of search is no exception to this.  Search engine marketers follow, ignore, and, or operate somewhere in the fringes of search engines’ guidelines to compete for the power that is captured by being on the top of SERPS.  Alas, because the search engines set the guidelines, the true power lies with Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.

Yet, currently the search engines have not established a transparent and systematic force to enforce their rules.  Without a methodical, easily identifiable enforcement of the rules, the search engines have inadvertently created an environment that is conducive to rule breaking and bending.  Marketers understand that there is a potential risk in breaking the rules, but it could be argued that the risk is manageable.  In fact, there is a vibrant online conversation among SEM professionals which point to the reality that for every one website that search engines penalize or ban for not following the rules, there are thousands of sites that successfully fly under the radar. Kristine Schachinger of Search Engine Watch claimed that a site that follows all of the search engine rules without any breaking or at least bending  the rules is “rare as snow in Vegas” (2012).

Summary of White and Black SEO Tactics

Schachinger explained that the rare sites that implement SEO practices which follow all search guidelines to the letter are “going 55 mph and not 1 mph over the posted speed limit” (2012). Such pure and rule-abiding practices are referred to as “white hat” tactics.  Examples of these tactics include creating compelling, rich content, leveraging videos, images, local maps, and news, and optimizing on-site coding (Montes de Oca, 2012, Cornett, 2012).  Since white hat tactics follow all the search engine guidelines, the methods will never produce the risk of being pulled over by the search engines and penalized.  But, the tactics are a slow and steady approach to SEO that requires expertise, time, and patience.  SEO expert, Tommy Landry explained, “ethical SEO takes time, so there is no option but to have patience.  Put in the work, pay the dues, and show Google that you are playing on the same field as everyone else who follows the rules” (2013).

However, Landry’s peer SEO advisors vehemently disagree with this one-hat fits all notion.  These experts argue that not only are there scenarios where white hat tactics are not effective, but that it is unwise to only rely on pure, white SEO tactics in a comprehensive SEM plan.  In an emotional posting that was applauded by fellow SEM marketers, Kris Roadruck made the shocking statement, “White Hat SEO is a Joke” (2011).  In the self-described rant, Roadruck says that “whitehat isn’t just a bit slower.  It’s wishful thinking.  It’s [bleep] irresponsible” (2011).  He explained that because Google doesn’t enforce its rules in a systematic and transparent manner, the rules are more or less meaningless (2011).  Hence, according to Roadruck and his supporters, responsible SEM professionals owe it to their clients to incorporate both pure white hat tactics and other SEO methods described as black or grey (2011).  Black hat describes  SEO tactics, which negatively exploit search engine guidelines and can include keyword stuffing, cloaking, and doorways (Schachinger, 2012).  Since Roadruck’s post in 2011, Google has made several announcements that warn of indexing penalties if sites incorporate black hat tactics (Stamoulis, 2013).

Because of these warnings, some SEM strategists have concluded that SEO is a form of risk management.  Therefore, they educate clients on the risks and benefits of all SEO tactics, so that informed decisions can be made (Roadruck, 2011) and contingency plans crafted.  Using this concept as the driving theme, two scenarios that Kinetico may face when marketing its K5 Water Drinking Station will be presented below.  Each scenario could provide just cause for the use of black hat tactics.  The scenarios are not offered as how-to-guides, but rather as evidence of the need to prepare for situations when black hat tactics might be used as a form of risk management.

Scenario #1 – Everyone Else is Doing It.

Operating in an environment where not all sites are following the prescribed rules creates a real scenario where the use of black hat tactics may make sense.  For instance, sites which are using blatant black hat tactics can, even if for a short time, push a legitimate business off a SERP.  Therefore, while a legitimate business, such as Kinetico spends money, time, and human capital to ethically build authority and a naturally high rank for its K5 Water Drinking Station on SERPs, that investment could be foiled by competitors who use black hat tactics.  As mentioned above, because white hat tactics take time and patience, the quick-producing nature of black hat can earn multiple high ranking spots on a SERP by intentionally bumping the natural listings, which is referred to as SERP bubbling (“Negative SEO,” n.d.).  If Kinetico discovered that a competitor was intentionally using SERP bubbling to downgrade rankings for the K5, it could opt to “fight fire with fire.”

In other words, Kinetico could fight back by employing the black hat tactic, “Google Bowling.”  This black hat tactic involves adding links from bad sites, link farms, and automatically generated spam pages to the competitor-owned sites. Google might interpret the unnatural links on the competitor’s sites as black hat and penalize those sites (“Negative SEO,” n.d.).  An obvious benefit of this negative SEO tactic is that it would work quickly to restore the high rankings for Kinetico’s K5 on the SERP, because the search engine would de-index the competitor’s sites.  However, many marketers would have trouble with implementing such an unethical and combative approach.  Furthermore, a risk in implementing Google bowling would be that the confrontational action could create an online war between Kinetico and its competitor.  A back and forth black hat war could eventually get both Kinetico and its competitor banned from search engines.

A less risky alternative to Google bowling would be to inform the search engine of the original incidence of black hat that the competitor used to bump Kinetico’s K5 sites from the SERP.  This method is not as quick, and the risk is that reporting the competition might not work, leaving Kinetico indefinitely “bumped” from the SERP.  But this risk may be considered more manageable than that of black hat tactics.  The scenario and possible solutions described above illustrates the critical importance of Kinetico’s marketers being knowledgeable of both black and white hat tactics.  Since all of Kinetico’s competitors have the ability to employ black hat tactics, being informed of all forms of SEO enables marketers to assess the risks and benefits of defensive measures that might be appropriate to use.

Scenario #2 – We Need It Now.

Black hat tactics are often times employed by marketers who are under pressure to deliver fast results with little to no funds.  AdBlaze marketer, Tim Catron, claimed, “using black hat strategies is an excellent way to guarantee a fast return from an SEO ‘campaign’…and is generally cheaper than running a white hat marketing campaign” (2012).  Like it or not, there are scenarios that are uncontrollable by a marketer that demand swift and immediate results. For example, if Kinetico demanded that its marketers create an online effort that would generate fifty new leads for the K5 in thirty days, but did not allocate enough funding for a PPC campaign; the marketers might need to use black hat tactics to produce such results.  Kinetico’s marketers could use in-house designers to create a microsite to help accomplish this effort, but the microsite would take time to get indexed if using only pure white hat SEO tactics.

Therefore, Kinetico could purchase Facebook likes and Twitter followers to boost the indexing of the microsite.  This tactic would be effective for quickly increasing the indexing and rank potential of the K5 microsite, because the presence of social followers boosts the sites momentum and gives it authority in social communities (Schaefer, 2012).  Moreover, the momentum from the social activity will attract search engines.  Both Google and Bing have pointed to the fact that links to social media will naturally increase the rank of organic listings (Eridon, 2012). So, whereas building visibility on social media one member at time represents a considerable amount of time and resources, Kinetico could speed up this process by buying the visibility.

If Kinetico used this black hat tactic in conjunction with white hat tactics, such as posting compelling content, videos, images, and contributing toforums, the strategy has the potential to quickly produce multiple organic listings.  Although, Facebook and Twitter will delete the fake likes and follows “within one month” (Weiss, 2013), this risk is a mute point in our Kinetico example, because the marketers are only temporarily using the purchased social media presence to produce immediate results rather than sustained SEO value.  Therefore this scenario, which was dictated by a lack of funds and time, is a good example of when it might make sense for marketers to use black hat tactics

Black Hat Tactics Summary

While there are clear ethical issues to consider when using black hat tactics such as buying social media presence and Google bowling, there are scenarios when such practices can be effective in producing the desired results.   In the above presentation, only two scenarios were offered, but the widespread online use of black hat tactics indicate that the scenarios that exist are too numerous to list here.  What is more important for a marketer than the number of scenarios is being able to identify the circumstances that may call for black hat tactics and assessing the risks and benefits of each tactic.  All good marketing departments create contingency plans to navigate through potential difficulties and risks (Keller & Kotler, 2012, p. 64), and search engine marketers should not be an exception to this.  Understanding how and when to use all SEO tactics, white, black, and everything in between, is a form of risk management and is a necessary insight to contribute to contingency plans.

Therefore, in this presentation two scenarios that might be conducive to using black hat tactics were offered.  The first scenario was based on the reality that search engines define guidelines for SEO, but do not systematically or transparently enforce the guidelines.  Therefore, it is probable that Kinetico’s competitors could use black hat tactics to force its listings off of a valuable SERP. Possible defensive tactics, including black hat, to navigate through this scenario were outlined.  An additional tactic was presented through exploring the second scenario.  This scenario was based on the idea that marketers, who are limited by time and budgets, can justify a need for black hat tactics.  In conclusion, while it is never ideal to utilize SEO tactics that break or bend search engines’ rules, marketers need to understand how and when to break or bend the rules if only to prepare contingency plans.

Enterprise Search Engine Marketing

The current leader in traditional internet search, Google, stated that its mission is to organize the world’s information (Google, n.d.).  Google works diligently to organize the world’s information by supplying search engine marketers with guidelines that are designed to make the most of its search algorithm.  In response, responsible marketers work diligently to optimize their websites in ways that meet the guidelines with the intent that the pages will be correctly indexed by search engines, and hence found by end-users.  Therefore, the objective of search engine optimization is to drive search engines and end users to a website.  Ideally, search engine optimization has the potential to drive users to a specific page on a site.  However, even if a marketer utilizes strategic SEO strategies to strengthen that potential, ultimately where a searcher lands is up to the search engine’s complex, and often misunderstood algorithm.

Importance of ESEM

Considering that an organization cannot always determine the area within its website that potential customers land makes it critically important for marketers to implement effective aspects of enterprise search engine marketing (ESEM).  While SEO is used to drive potential customers to a site, ESEM is used to navigate customers to desired areas within a site (Carr & Earley, 2010, p. 54).  Therefore, utilizing aspects of ESEM can help to reduce the risk of a potential customer backing out of site if a traditional search engine like Google sends him or her to an undesired area.  Moreover, effectively implementing aspects of ESEM will improve the experience of a user on a website, because it can help a customer find exactly what he or she was searching for.

Kinetico’s Current Enterprise Search System

For example, when the keyword phrase “changing filters in a K5” is entered on Google, one could easily assume that the intent of the searcher was to find a “how-to” guide about changing filters.  However, Kinetico’s organic listing, which was ranked third on the first SERP was linked to the K5 product description page.  The logical purpose of the product description page was to summarize the features and benefits of the K5, not to address the changing of the filters.  In fact, the only reference to the filters was found in two short sentences, which read, “Additional features like the MACguard Filter and PureMometer® filter life indicator let you know when it’s time for filter changes and prevent you from pushing the filters past their capacities.  Its quick-disconnect filter cartridges make changing filters a snap” (“K5 Drinking Water Station,” 2013).  Although, these two sentences may contain terms that individually match terms in the original keyword phrase, the pages’ content and purpose does not match the searcher’s intent.

Consequently, in this scenario, one of two search behaviors could occur.  First, the searcher might back out of Kinetico’s corporate site and continue the search via the traditional search engine.  Or, the searcher may choose to attempt to navigate through Kinetico’s site in an attempt to answer his or her question.  If this scenario occurs, a searcher would notice that Kinetico’s corporate website does not have a search box.  However, because internet searchers are accustomed to blogs being sources of how-to-guides, it might make sense for the searcher to click on the word “BLOG,” (2013) which is in bold and featured at the top right-hand corner of the K5 product description page.  By doing so, the searcher would be rewarded with a prominent “SEARCH THE BLOG” box (2013).

Nevertheless, when “changing filters in a K5” was entered in this search box, the first three titles in the enterprise search results included topics relating to “Weakening Nicaragua’s cycle of poverty with drinking water technology” (2013).  In fact, out of the five results that was displayed only the fourth is related to “reverse osmosis” (2013).  Alas, if the searcher looking for a guide on how to change K5 filters clicked on this listing, she or he would be disappointed to find that intent in the original keyword search would still not be addressed.  By this time, the searcher would have typed the keyword phrase once at Google and once on Kinetico’ corporate blog and clicked through three separate areas within Kinetico’s site, but still would not have a guide to show her or him how to change filters in the K5.  In this scenario, it is clear that while Kinetico’s SEO efforts might succeed in driving a searcher to Kinetico’s website, the lack of effective ESEM methods would cause the searcher’s experience onsite to be negative.   To reduce the occurrence of negative searcher experiences, Kinetico should implement three aspects of ESEM aimed to improve the search performance of Kinetico’s corporate blog.

ESEM – User Intent

A major failure of Kinetico’s current enterprise search system in the scenario described above was that it did not detect the user’s intent within the keyword phrase.  When “changing filters in K5” was entered, the current ESEM system treated each term within the phrase separately, which led to five unrelated results.  To reduce the risk of displaying unrelated results, Kinetico could use an intent-based aspect of ESEM, which would aim to provide a short list of relevant answers, which matches the intent of the question, rather than individual keywords.  A white paper presented by Oracle in 2011 explained that implementing the intent-based ESEM method requires “determining the intent” so that results displayed are a refined list of “only the best answers related to the intent” (p. 2).  Therefore, for the keyword phrase used in the scenario above, marketers would need to assign this phrase to a category within an intent library.  An intent library would house “rules” that “determine intent of search” (Oracle, 2011, p.6).

For example, Kinetico marketers would use SEM analytics to establish a long list of commonly used keyword phrases relating to the K5, and then assign each of those long tail phrases to an intent category.  Therefore, the keyword phrase used above, “changing filters in K5” would be assigned to a “changing filters” category, the keyword phrase, “what does a K5 cost?” would be assigned to a “pricing” category, and the keyword phrase, “does the K5 remove fluoride?” would be assigned to a “removing containments” category.  Using this ESEM intent-based method reduces the risk of a user having a negative experience on Kinetico’s site, because it removes irrelevant results that may have been listed simply because the terms within the content matched each keyword term.  This is especially critical for an organization, such as Kinetico, since it sells many products that relate to improving water quality.  In other words, if Kinetico’s enterprise search system uses a keyword matching approach, rather than an intent-based method, it is highly likely that a searcher will be presented with “results that are often too numerous and unrelated to the primary query” (Oracle, 2011).

ESEM – User Feedback

On-site tools that are designed to garner user feedback are valuable aspects of ESEM, because they can be implemented to support the intent based method and measure search performance.  Kinetico should implement such tools, because not only would they indentify questions that are entered on the enterprise search system, but also help marketers determine “how useful the answer was to the user” (Oracle, 2011, p. 4).  In the scenario that was illustrated above, the searcher attempted to use Kinetico’s website to find an answer relating to one of its products, but failed.  This failure would ultimately result in a negative experience because the enterprise search could not provide an answer to the simplest of requests.  This failure could translate into “a more costly phone call or, worse, Website abandonment in favor of a competitor with a more customer-friendly search engine” (Oracle, 2011,  p.7).

Therefore, to circumvent repeat failures, Kinetico’s enterprise search system should allow for user feedback.  Implementing this simple ESEM method would allow Kinetico to monitor the questions that were posed and measure the performance of the results that were displayed in response to the questions.  For example, the search results page that is displayed on Kinetico’s blog should contain a survey or comment box that asks the user, “Did We Provide a Sufficient Answer to Your Question?” or “How Can We Better Answer Your Question?”  An on-page survey mechanism would support Kinetico’s effort to develop a comprehensive intent library, as well as collect data about what questions are not being sufficiently answered.

ESEM – User Engagement

A final, but critical aspect of ESEM that Kinetico should implement to enhance user experience is providing an on-site framework that allows for users to collaborate in the search process.  Enterprise strategist, Eric Ziegler, explained that “incorporating social media techniques into the enterprise is one method of improving search results in the enterprise” (2012).  Ziegler pointed out that enterprise search is often a disappointment for employees and customers alike, because people today are used to the sophisticated world of Google and Bing.  Google and Bing seem sophisticated to users, because marketers work tirelessly to design findable content that meets the search engines’ guidelines.  Because these marketers know that traditional search engines deem online conversations about content as an indicator of authenticity (Erindon, 2012), they use the daily incorporation of social media in SEM.  Kinetco’s enterprise search system could also benefit from the utilization of shared content.

For example, in our scenario above, if a searcher looked for a how-to-guide on changing filters in a K5, a YouTube video would have been a natural solution for Kinetico corporate to provide on its site.  In fact, YouTube videos about how to install K5 filters have already been created by Kinetico dealers.  Therefore, Kinetico should create a platform on is corporate website that encourages dealers, employees, and customers to share knowledge.  This collaboration between constituents would enhance the end-user’s search experience and make enterprise content more findable.  Ziegler pointed out that most internal knowledge about products is emailed back and forth between employees and contractors.  He said “if you are lucky they send a link to the content” (2012).  However, it would not be a stretch to assume that such content could benefit customers as well as other employees.   For that reason, and because user engagement can increase findability, Kinetico should use ESEM tools that allow for “tagging of content, cross linking content, and getting people to interact with each other and with communities” (Ziegler, 2012).

ESEM Summary

Implementing aspects of ESEM that increase user engagement and user feedback, as well as creating an enterprise search function that is based on searcher-intent would all work together to improve the search performance for Kinetico’s corporate blog and end-user experiences.   This presentation suggested that improving the search performance on Kinetico’s corporate site is a critically important marketing strategy, because ineffective enterprise search can cause end-user frustration when the platform cannot quickly find relevant information that answers his or her questions.  Furthermore, effective implementation of a comprehensive enterprise search system could enhance Kinetico’s knowledge and insights into the needs and desires of customers.

Search Engine Marketing Plan Conclusion

In this search engine marketing plan, Kinetico’s current search engine marketing strategies for its K5 Drinking Water Station were evaluated.  To carry out the evaluation, five keyword phrases related to the purchasing of a K5 were proposed.   The results on the first page of the SERP for each keyword phrase was used to analyze whether Kinetico’s current SEM efforts were adequate or lacking.  In areas where Kinetico’s SEM efforts were lacking, reasons why search strategies should be incorporated were presented.  The conclusion of the evaluation showed that Kinectio’s current SEM efforts for its K5 fell short, because the search strategies produced low status and in some cases no status for relevant keyword phrases.

Since the evaluation of Kinetico’s current search strategy was shown to produce low or no status on SERPs for significant keyword phrases, a comprehensive search engine marketing plan was proposed.  The proposed plan required that a multi-disciplinary team, comprised of SEM experts and Kinetico’s own brand ambassadors, implement international search engine marketing, keywords and metatags, social media marketing, micorsites, organic and paid listings, knowledge about black hat tactics, and enterprise search engine marketing.  The success of the proposed plan should be measured by its effectiveness in creating a meaningful online presence for Kinetico’s K5, which produces valuable conversions.

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Ethan McCarty

Digital strategy | Social business | People-centric biznology

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