June 22, 2015 | Sarah Danks


Everyone adheres to online marketing best practices, right?

Wrong. Many online marketers will say there’s no such thing as a best practice, because every account is different. Every client has unique needs. Every situation is exclusive of all others, ergo you need to cater to the individual details and not rely on “stuff that purports to work for everyone.

But…

I worked at an ad agency for 6 years before coming here to my home at ThinkSEM. Let me tell you, when you move from old-school, traditional (i.e., offline) marketing to a search marketing company that GETS IT, it’s liberating. And quite the switch.

For the good, that is.

Because, contrary to popular belief, best practices aren’t the devil. They’re not a farce. In fact, sometimes all you want is to be able to adhere to them.

Why “best practices” gets a bad name

See, the term best practices gets thrown around so much — and in so many situations — in the SEM industry it’s no wonder why many of my fellow colleagues eschew the idea entirely.

But first we have to step back from our personal connotations and look at the denotation of the term:

best-practices-definition

I’m not sure how being “most effective” can be a bad thing. I think the reason why so many SEMs/CROs/SEOs/etc. hate this term is because some people are wont to use it in very specific cases.

For example, of the following two statements, which would YOU consider to be a best practice?

  • use responsive web design for all mobile sites
  • build a mobile site that offers visitors a great UX

You know I’m a huge proponent of responsive web design. But I wouldn’t call building every website in RWD in every situation a best practice. Rather, I think it’s best to offer web visitors the best user experience — regardless of how you go about it.

Search engine marketing best practices for which I fought

In my six-year stint at aforementioned advertising firm, I fought tooth and nail for the simplest of search marketing wins:

  1. Online forms for lead generation clients
  2. Confirmation pages for said forms
  3. SEO copywriting
  4. Learning about the client before launching a PPC campaign (including knowing their goals, target market, budget…)
  5. Custom landing pages for lead-gen PPC campaigns
  6. Starting every website design with a sitemap
  7. Having a clear call-to-action (CTA)

And many more I won’t list here.

Let me assure you I didn’t always win, in spite of doing my best to fight the good fight. Why’s it matter, you ask?

Because all the items I listed above are so standard in the search marketing industry that not being allowed to do them was only setting me up for failure.

Those types of no-brainer marketing tactics are what I personally consider to be “best practices.”

Why we should give a hoot about best practices

So, great, I think best practices means one thing; you think it means another. Big whoop. Well, hang on — I’m not finished.

What happens when online marketers don’t believe in the “best practices” I’ve outlined above? Will the world fall apart? Probably not…

…but I bet if you hire an online marketer who doesn’t believe in starting your web design off with a proper sitemap you’ll end up with a jumbled mess of a site that doesn’t have intuitive navigation.

Plus, if they’re not savvy enough to design from the ground up, do you think they know anything about conversion rate optimization?

I’d say the odds are slim to none.

The reason why best practices are labeled as such — and why we online marketers need to be sure to comply with them — is because they’re the backbone for good marketing. Period.

When it comes to throwing around the term best practices, it’s not about “orange is the best conversion color;” it’s about “creating a CTA that stands out.”

It’s not “switching your site from HTTP to HTTPS is the way to go because Google says,” rather it’s about “creating a safe website environment for users.

How about you?

Do you believe in best practices, and if so, what are some that you insist on following?


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