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August 5, 2009

Six Questions with Kathleen Fealy

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Kathleen Fealy
Kathleen Fealy

You’re tuning in to day three of Bruce Clay, Inc.’s ramp up to SES San Jose! Today we’ve got another speaker exclusive coming your way on the blog, with Kathleen Fealy, president of KF Multimedia & Web, Inc., giving us a sneak peak into two SES sessions.

Kathy’s here to show us how she’s using search and social channels to drive attention to a missing person case and also to share her expertise in being an independent search marketer.

1. You’re a presenter on the panel SEO for the Greater Good: Using Search to Find Missing Persons, and you’re involved in a missing person case yourself. Does the strategy for this campaign differ at all from the B2B and B2C campaigns we’re familiar with in the industry? Have you developed any new strategies for this campaign? What online marketing channels are proving the most useful?

The basics of planning a strategy are the same – you need to plan which avenues will bring you the most results given your time and budget, but unlike the more familiar campaigns that search marketers encounter that consist of a product or service, a missing person campaign requires a greater need for sensitivity and forethought.

The family of the missing person and by extension, other families undergoing this ordeal, need to be considered. When working with a cold case especially, you need to try to create interest and appeal to emotions. Only by increasing the visibility of the case, can you hope to gain media attention and more importantly, the possibility of new information.

For this case, one of the videos created uses a horror movie trailer about missing persons. The concept of the video was that true horror is not knowing where a loved one is – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A93KPZuYcQA. The family needed to be consulted before that video was released and several edits were made to soften the content because of concern of offending or anguishing other families.

In addition, budget and asset management play a key role. Money is extremely tight in a missing person campaign, especially on a cold case. The most expensive part of the campaign to date has been an optimized press release which was created for approximately $800 which included an outside writer, distribution to print outlets and an online press release package.

The key components of the campaign have been an optimized web page, Flickr, videos distributed via TubeMogul, LinkedIn SlideShare Presentations, Facebook, Twitter and outreach. Getting the digital assets took time and some were not in the best condition. There were a limited number of photographs originally provided, so additional photos were grabbed from screen shots of the video.

Most of the digital assets were loaded onto the various channels within the last 30 days due to delays in acquisition. The analytics have shown a page view increase of 88% with unique views increasing by 66%. Time on site has also increased, but videos were recently added to the web page so this stat is too new.

2. You’re the co-chair for SEMPO’s education committee. Clearly, you believe in the power of education. Do you see the missing persons panel as an education opportunity? What takeaways do you hope attendees will come out of it with?

This missing person panel is definitely an educational opportunity. Numerous strategies for gaining online visibility are employed and the power of universal search is apparent. The opportunities for making a difference are great as is the potential for raising the profile of the search community by showing what we can do.

In the beginning of this project, I was surprised to see how underutilized search was as a means of ‘getting the word out’ and I believe this is because many who try to use search to help find the missing have two major roadblocks:

  • Knowledge of how the search engines work and the various avenues available. Many websites have been created by families, friends, law enforcement officials, private investigators and non-profit organizations, but most don’t know enough SEO to get their sites found. Title and description tags are underutilized and reusing assets on the various search channels, such as Facebook, YouTube, etc. aren’t considered.
  • No common portal to load the information. The process of posting the information to the various websites is time consuming and confusing to those non-versed in search engine visibility. This becomes even more of an issue if you consider the end-user, the people who you want to see the information. There are few clear paths for finding missing persons – children and adults – on Facebook, YouTube or the major search engines.

I hope attendees will come away with:

  • A general strategy to employ when searching for a missing person.
  • The ability to see how search skills can be used to solve problems not commonly associated with search marketing.
  • The desire to volunteer time or resources.
  • The desire to create better systems for promoting missing persons information on search, such as Amber Alerts for adults as well as children, a universal portal on each engine or channel, funding for PPC campaigns, etc. The search community has some of the most innovative individuals and companies. Possibilities are endless.

3. Before an organization comes together to support a search marketing strategy, some degree of evangelism is often required. From the session description it seems like the private investigator in the case you are involved with is on board with SEO and any other opportunities that might help gain visibility for the cause. How might this message be shared with the business community?

Search is just another avenue of marketing and information dissemination. The more places your product or service is seen, the more opportunities you have for a sale or conversion – phone call, email or download. The advantage of search is that, with the exception of pay-per-click, it has long-term return on investments and depending on the channels utilized, the costs can be quite reasonable.

Another advantage of search is that the same materials used in one promotion, off-line such as in print or online, can be used in a multitude of ways on the search engines to again, increase your exposure. Promotion of your product or service is an ongoing process to support your business’s growth or cause.

4. You’re also speaking during the panel Independent SEM/SEOs: Issues & Answers. When you launched KF Multimedia & Web, Inc., what was the biggest obstacle to starting your own search business and how did you overcome that challenge?

The biggest challenge was learning the best method of running the business and making it work for me. There were so many aspects of becoming the person in-charge vs. an employee. Contracts, pricing, insurance, resources and sales all are my overall responsibility. In addition, when I started in search engine optimization, it was a fairly new practice and businesses were skeptical and unsure of who really knew SEO. Businesses would say, ‘I can’t be found’ but were skeptical about SEO. In order to gain their confidence, I would begin to explain how their site could be improved, but at the same time, I didn’t want to ‘give away the store.’ Budgets often weren’t allocated for the process. In addition, a balance is needed between working for your clients, marketing yourself and keeping up with the requirements of running a business.

5. The session description brings up a lot of important considerations a person should make before launching their own search marketing business. One of those is: how can you enhance your company’s competitive positioning? What recommendations would you make to a search marketer looking for a way to set his or her services apart?

Talk to your customers. Find out what they really need and why. Ask questions and then listen. I was surprised to hear from my clients that I was one of the few people that knew web design, search engine optimization and online marketing, and usability. They valued the time I spent explaining particular strategies and getting their input. Provide services or create packages based on what your clients want to achieve and communicate it in a way that relates to their objectives and needs.

How has the current economic climate affected smaller agencies? In your view, are smaller agencies at an advantage or a disadvantage considering the financial environment today?

Business has been consistent and more local businesses are looking toward increasing their presence in organic search. Some jobs are smaller than before, but as results are seen, additional projects or monthly contracts are becoming more the standard. Smaller agencies often have the advantage of less overhead, but must be careful to have a diversified client list and not depend too much on any one client.

6. Do you plan to attend any sessions while at SES San Jose? Where can people find you to find out more?

I’ll be attending many sessions at SES. There are always new ideas of implementation, learning from people’s experiences and catching up on yet-to-be-used strategies. People can reach me at kfealy [at] kfmultimedia [dot] com or on Twitter @kfealy.

SES and search marketing are really advancing to new horizons, and Kathy’s insight into these two session topics is proof. Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your input and tips with us!

Before I go I want to let readers know that today’s episode of SEM Synergy features another SES speaker, Gina Poole, vice president of marketing 2.0 for IBM Software Group. Gina explains the requirements of today’s digital marketing officer and how SEOs can best leverage their role in the marketing mix. Check out SEMSynergy.com for more about our interview and tune into WebmasterRadio.fm to listen to the show.

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