“We want to win the search for ‘best helicopter shellacker in North Dakota!’” the client said. Unfortunately, they were meeting with a new SEO firm that just wanted to make money. So they spent a few thousand dollars and got 10 blog posts and some link building that made sure when anyone Googled, “best helicopter shellacker in North Dakota,” they ranked first.

And then they sat and wondered where all the search engine magic was. No one called. No one clicked through. They spend all that money on nothing.

The problem with this fictional client (thank goodness) is that while they may well have been the best helicopter shellacker in North Dakota, there was no search demand for that keyword phrase. (i.e. – No one was searching for the term.)

This scenario is not an unusual problem in the world of SEO. Lots of keywords and keyword phrases make logical sense to a company. But if those words or phrases don’t enter the search audience’s lexicon – if they’re never typed into a search engine – ranking first for them is wasted energy.

That is, unless you can create search demand for those terms.

This is where online display, social media, public relations and even traditional advertising can balance your search engine performance and conversion.

Using the above client example, if the SEO firm was more of a true marketing firm, they would explain to the client that no one searches for the term so they need to execute a demand generation strategy as a first step. The client should use billboards, direct mail, online media (banner ads or even native advertising), social media content and perhaps even public relations outreach that educates and informs the public (or a specific target audience) that arouse some curiosity (awareness) about the need for helicopter shellacking and targeting those communications to people in North Dakota. A successful campaign would generate more searches for the term.

So when you dive into search engine marketing and talk with an SEO firm, know that you not only want to rank well for certain search terms, but ones that are going to drive a significant volume of relevant traffic. If a term surfaces that would absolutely deliver a relevant customer to you, but that term has little to no search traffic, then a complimentary search demand generation effort is needed.

It’s easy to get lost in keywords and targeting and CPC and such when you’re dealing with SEO. Just don’t forget that a smart marketing effort that includes search also includes other mediums and various strategies that allow each channel to support one another.