Better business through search engine optimization

You manage a small company or organization that offers an innovative and noteworthy, albeit specialty niche product or service.

You understand the importance of marketing it online with an effective web site, but you’re concerned that what you offer is so specialized prospective customers may not realize it’s available, or, for that matter, how to search for it. What do you do to attract customers?

Business management and communication students in Purdue University Calumet’s experiential learning, senior level Advertising Management course this fall have been learning how to develop and manage a marketing campaign by consulting with actual for-profit and not-for-profit niche clients.

A key component of the students’ efforts has involved reviewing a client’s web site and, subsequently, making improvements to generate greater online customer attention through increased interactivity and landing page relevance. The students strive for search engine optimization—identifying key search or adwords that connect web site-searching prospective customers with the students’ business clients.

“Search engine optimization is definitely the wave of the future,” Class instructor Kasia Firlej said. “Because businesses need to focus on engagement with the specific needs of their consumers and stay relevant to their consumers in the sea of competing websites, keyword search bidding through Google Adwords becomes a major competitive advantage in getting noticed and driving traffic to a business’ website.”

Through extensive research of their clients, competitors and industry, the Purdue Calumet students have attempted to determine those search or adwords that will connect their business clients with customers.

“Search engine optimization is incredibly valuable for advertisers as consumers increasingly search for more and more information online via Google, the most popular search engine in the world,” Firlej said. “Businesses can understand consumer wants and needs by consumers’ key word usage. As a result, businesses also can capture plenty of interesting consumer data, such as online behavior patterns, geographic and demographic information.”

The students have worked in teams, each team consulting with a different client. As their final course obligation, the student teams will present campaign reports, which will include client profile, market analysis, adwords strategy and keywords results.

Highland resident and senior marketing/accounting major Ryan Lorance has been part of a team that has consulted with Griffith-based American Antler Dog Chews, which produces a natural dog chew product from the shed antlers of deer, elk and moose. Lorance said his team “created a Google Adwords advertising campaign and managed the campaign for multiple weeks.

“We had to manage a fixed budget and utilize advertising best practices to generate the best return on investment for the campaign,” he said. “Additionally, we worked with the client to suggest and implement changes to its website that we thought would help increase sales.”

As Professor Firlej explains, typing various search words and phrases to exercise a typical web-based search on the Google search engine produces numerous listings—so numerous that they can comprise a multiplicity of screen pages. First or primary page search engine listings generate more customer looks and business hits.

That’s where the importance of identifying and utilizing proper search adwords in a web-based marketing campaign is important, according to Firlej. Yet, that must be weighed with the fee the business client is charged to gain ‘Main Street’ location status among the search engine listings. That fee can be expensive for firms that have tens of thousands of competitors, but keyword search bids can cost just pennies for firms with a niche appeal.

Extensively and meticulously, the Purdue Calumet student teams have researched their respective clients in an effort to develop the proper adword campaigns, according to Firlej.

“Essentially, businesses bid for rankings on the search engine,” she said.

Annually, Google sponsors a competition to attract the most popular search engine ad words. As part of the experiential learning component of their class, Firlej’s students participate in the Google competition.

“It’s a very comprehensive process to research a business client in such a way that customer needs are determined in order to develop just the right search adwords to rate the primary page of a Google search,” Firlej said.

Lorance called his Advertising Management course activity, “. . . one of my most beneficial experiences at Purdue Calumet. I learned teamwork skills, I learned about communicating and working with an outside client, and most importantly, I gained hands on experience with a tool that is widely utilized in the business world. . . I have already had a job interview in which the adwords campaign was discussed.”