The 8 Legs of Online Marketing?

With Spain’s victory, the World Cup is over for another four years (the qualifying games start again in 2012, but the tournament proper isn’t until 2014 in Brazil). At the start of the tournament I picked my bracket and ended up with the Netherlands losing in the final to Argentina, which isn’t quite how it ended, but at least I was 50 percent right.

During each tournament, usually a team or several players who were previously not well-known outside their own federation can command big money when they get home due to their World Cup performance.

The star of this tournament has, for the first time, zero feet. This is, of course, Paul, the oracle octopus, who has correctly predicted the winner of each game involving the German team during this tournament (including the two they lost).

While Paul’s predictions were based on which flag covered with food he swam to that morning, I based my predictions on past behavior (qualifying and pre-tournament matches) and personal experience (England tends to flop, the Brazilians have trouble coming back when they’re losing, and the Italians always start out slowly before gathering steam).

The same applies to search marketing.

Looking at past behavior? That’s keyword research and analytics.

Whether you’re looking at the Google’s Keyword Tool, Wordtracker, Keyword Discovery, or “Uncle Sven’s really good keyword tool” (pat not pending), you’re looking at past behavior in order to predict future results. The reality is absolutely going to vary from the estimation, but you should at least have been pointed in the right direction by your research.

Sure, there can be a surprise, like the vuvuzela becoming a household word, but that’s where you need to keep an eye on trending tools to be able to identify them and take advantage of any opportunities before your competition. Sometimes you can even stumble on them without even realizing it.

At the end of last year, FanHouse (a site that I work with) put up a post about what we thought was a fairly non-descript event, surely nothing that many people would be searching for. For the next six days after the event, we pulled in over 30,000 in organic clicks for the main term alone. Not bad for a keyword that we’d not even thought of targeting (but one we’re going to be looking at a lot closer this year).

Personal experience also plays a big role in search marketing. Knowing the nuances of the keyword universe that you’re looking at, thinking about what can, what could, and what won’t apply to the direction that your site will help you to create a potentially winning strategy.

Sure, keyword X may look to have a lot more available searches than keywords Y and Z, but if you know that when you’ve gone after keyword X in the past, your competition has been huge, while the majority of other sites ignore keywords Y and Z, then why not gather that low hanging fruit into your basket, while everyone else scrambles up the tree fighting each other for the one juicy apple at the top.

It’s possible that your personal experience may lead you down the wrong path, but that doesn’t mean that you should put a prognosticating octopus in charge of your online marketing strategy. It’s merely an opportunity to expand your experience and learn.

Projections and predictions play a huge part in search marketing, the best you can do is to take the data and your experience and identify the opportunity, and your potential share of that opportunity. When it works, it’s up to you whether you celebrate with calamari or not…

Join us for SES San Francisco August 16-20, 2010 during ClickZ’s Connected Marketing Week. The festival is packed with sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, ad networks and exchanges, e-mail marketing, the real time web, local search, mobile, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an expo floor with 100+ companies, networking events, parties and more!

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