PPC Helps Silkflowers' Search Grow While SEO Takes Root

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When Oneupweb Search Marketing Services began work with Silkflowers.com to select keywords to boost conversion rates, the online retailer recorded about 175 top 10 positions for its keywords.

Through Oneupweb consultation and site adjustments, that number grew in three months to 220 by the first quarter of 2006. Silkflowers' search engine optimization and paid search campaigns are the only marketing that the company is conducting.

"Direct marketers can rely on search marketing even by itself because it works, and it works well," said Lisa Wehr, CEO of Oneupweb, Lake Leelanau, MI. "However, there is a benefit to having a search team involved during the development process."

Silkflowers is known for its home decorating and gift-giving ideas. The company sells silk flower arrangements, natural looking artificial trees, lifelike silk plants, coordinating containers and decorative room fragrances.

Though in business for 20 years, Silkflowers wanted to expand sales and product offerings. Oneupweb found that counseling Silkflowers at the beginning of the site's development was the best time for optimization. For example, Silkflowers, White Plains, NY, did not have to ask a designer to redo the site structure. And the optimization was done, so the site did not waste time getting indexed by the search engines once it went live.

Using pay-per-click advertising to complement the natural search campaign lets results appear quickly while the natural campaign builds, Ms. Wehr said. This advertising provides a method of responding quickly to seasonal changes and gives a firm more visibility once natural optimization has taken effect. Firms also can provide flexible promotional messages in addition to natural results.

"Search marketing is one of the business strategies that makes it possible for Silkflowers.com to effectively produce a very high-quality, labor-intensive product, yet still compete in the marketplace," Ms. Wehr said.

Six months after the search marketing began, Oneupweb suggested minor adjustments to the Silkflowers site. Small design and copy changes helped maintain the retailer's search engine position.

In first-quarter 2006, the number of clicks on Silkflowers' search ads grew 18 percent over the previous quarter, raising the overall click-through rate from 4.9 percent to 6.86 percent. Revenue grew 13.6 percent over the prior three months, Oneupweb claimed.

Measuring the performance of such search marketing is key. Silkflowers has installed Oneupweb's ROI trax marketing analytics tool to track -- hourly, if needed -- the way each pay-per-click ad performs in the mediums where it appeared. In particular, ROI trax offers Silkflowers statistics, reports and graphics on its pay-per-click ads by keyword -- "silkflowers," for instance -- and competition.

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