Currently viewing the category: "Search Engine Marketing"

Just finished reviewing a new digital marketing technology report (thank you Kenshoo) that further cements the notion that marketers need to stop thinking in silos. Certainly not new news, but raises the question, are you as integrated as you could be to drive results?

The research suggests that Facebook advertising has a direct, positive effect on paid search marketing performance. The research analyzed recent paid search results for a big-box retailer with more than 2,500 stores in the United States. Certain segments of the target audience were exposed to both paid search and Facebook advertising, while others were exposed to paid search alone.
Top takeaways
The study found that the paid search audience segments exposed to Facebook advertising generated 30 percent more ROI. These segments also had higher average order value (24 percent higher), better click-through rates (7 percent), and a lower cost-per acquisition (4.5 percent lower).

“The main takeaway is that having ads in market on Facebook can help you get the most bang out of your buck on search marketing campaigns,” Aaron Goldman, CMO of Kenshoo, told CMO.com. “We all know that an interplay between channels exists, and we track it in different ways. Facebook ads in partnership with search go beyond just standard attribution.”

People click on ad on Facebook and then move on to search for the products in those ads on Google, Goldman added. Google seals the deal, getting the person to transact.

Marketers have been lamenting social’s lack of ROI for a while. But now, marketers can show that social is having a direct impact on other channels–channels that are driving actual sales.

“Marketers need to track the cross-channel effect,” Goldman said. “Not just channel performance in silos. Also, think about how to apply the insights of one channel to the other. For example, a retailer can see that certain products are selling really well via search. Search is a demand signal. So if you take these products to Facebook, you get better performance.”

NetScope helps clients connect the dots across the organizational silos. Sometimes it’s easier for an outside partner to help navigate this process. Let’s talk about it! Love to hear from you.

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Laurie Sullivan is a writer and editor for MediaPost.2012_DMS_Sponsor_Mediapost_Logo

Search engine marketers need to put aside attempts to raise their brand’s Web site to the top of first-page query rankings through old-fashioned optimization techniques and focus on content — as well as Hummingbird, Google’s latest search algorithm for conversational search.

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Search is on the cusp of a major transformation, and marketers need to build better content, rather than try to optimize it for search engines, per Vikram Bhaskaran, director of marketing at Freshdesk. Building algorithms that allow search engines to think like consumers becomes the holy grail, he said. Marketers must create content for a specific type of customer. That will optimize brand Web sites to land for specific consumers in the No. 1 position.

Search experts warn that a combination of content, personalized search and the Hummingbird algorithm will make ranking relevant solely to the person searching for answers to questions at any specific moment in time. Google will index and rank sites across the Web based on content, rather than keywords. It’s a well known fact that has been floating around the search industry for months.

SEO by the Sea founder Bill Slawski dug up some Google patents that may provide insight on the future of Hummingbird. One patent suggests substitution of query terms or finding terms or phrases to use to expand queries. Specific words such as “Apple” can change meaning or mean more than one thing. “Or two words that might potentially be substitutes for each other are ‘felines’ and ‘cats,’” he explains.

Some people believe that brands will get less traffic to their Web sites, but consumers landing on the pages will have a specific purpose and more likely to make a purchase or download information. Chris Marentis, CEO of digital marketing provider Surefire Social, said consumers are interacting differently with search engines, “asking longer questions through voice search.”

“Build pages in the way that answers questions using subject, predicate, and object,” Marentis said, adding that gaming the system will become a thing of the past. “Use objects, images, and videos, and with the correct semantic structure the content will get grabbed into features like Google Carousel.”

Hummingbird sorts through billions of Web pages and content to return what it believes the best answers to conversational search queries, rather than those based on keywords. It works with Knowledge Graph, which connects people, places or things. The algorithm makes keywords less important, focusing more on strings of words linked together to form a conversation such as “how do I provide better customer service.”

Google began using structured data earlier this year to support a markup language, which allows marketers to tell the engine what each piece of the content on the page means. The schema developed by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo engineers provide insight into the future of search.

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Agile Marketing: Adapting for a Complex Business Environment

Curated and edited from a post by Amy Bishop

……..for several years, the explosion of marketing technology has changed marketing strategy, business management and organizational culture.

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Scott applies agile methodologies to the increasingly complex world of marketing and explains why marketing teams should consider adopting agile marketing processes.
5 Core Values of Agile Marketing Management

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Responding to change over following a plan
Remarkable customer experiences over formalized internal procedures
Testing and data over opinions and conventions
Many small experiments over a few large bets
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Similarly, David Armano pointed this out several years ago by illustrating the differences between “conventional marketing” and “unconventional marketing.” David explained that unconventional marketing is focused on adapting to complexity — very much in the same way as agile development. You start with a little strategy. Then engage in iterative cycles of plan-design-launch-mesure that are executed tightly together. After several iterations, you step back to reflect on insights learned and patterns discovered to impact the development of the next little strategy.

Agile marketing methodologies work best in marketing that can be broken down into small, discrete components and strategies that can be delivered incrementally and adapted over a series of sprints. Be guaranteed, this won’t work in every case, but there are many situations and marketing programs that work great in an agile process.
Marketing Missions Ideal for Agile Marketing Management

Content Marketing
Social Media
Web Development
Search Engine Optimization [SEO]
Mobile Application Development
Marketing Automation
PPC Advertising
Landing Pages & Offers

Google wants technology to “step out of the way” as developers integrate it into everyday life. That’s per Timothy Jordan, developer advocate on Project Glass, speaking to i/o Conference attendees Thursday. It means major changes in online advertising for agencies and those developing apps and utilities, but what do brands need to know?

Executives at traditional brands are aware of the shifts in advertising, said Bob Goodman, senior vice president and director of user experience at Arnold Worldwide. “They can’t afford to ignore it,” he said. “They’re all looking for help in understanding what it means for them and how to improve on connecting with consumers.”

In Google’s world, search and paid search continue to support apps and utilities as the underlying technology, the reference design. Consumers won’t type a query, but rather indicate or imply the need for information through clicks on photos or interactions with contextual content.
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A click turns into a conversation and every page becomes a form of search, Goodman said. “You may not perceive yourself as performing a search, but rather navigating through content during your everyday life,” he said. “Marketers need to think more about the assets they can leverage to make use of content.”

Brands need to broaden their notion of the meanings of “advertising” and “media.” Technologies like Google Glass and Google Now, as well as apps like Google Maps, transition the ad industry into the era of content-driven advertising. Content in multiple forms that can move across screens with contextual relevance will become crucial to the way brands reach consumers. Google isn’t the only engine moving in this direction. Bing and Yahoo have begun to make changes too, but they have yet to become as vocal.
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That transition began when Google served the first answers to queries in the search results, rather than required searchers to click on the link that took them to a page, according to Raymond James Analyst Aaron Kessler. Ultimately, Google gets paid for sending traffic to other sites, so they will likely want to continue using that model, he said. It allows Google to move farther down the funnel to offer information similar to travel comparison sites. You can make a similar argument for other publishers, he said, pointing to Facebook’s recent Atlas acquisition to improve attribution tracking.

Krishna Subramanian, CMO at Velti, said the next generation of online advertising points to multiscreen advertising, which will lower acquisition costs for gaining new customers. “Google Glass will provide the location-based data that gets tied back into ad targeting,” he said. “People initially talked about serving coupons to a consumer standing in front of a Starbucks, but the real value will become tying together all the data to identify the daily path they travel and the frequency in which they do it.

Editors Note: How many think readers think this was the pioneer to Google Glass? Please share your comments/opinions.
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May 15, 2013 at 10:32am ET by logo275x65

In an update on the early progress of the transition to enhanced campaigns last night, Sridhar Ramaswamy, SVP, Ads and Commerce at Google — and the lead on enhanced campaigns — said that close to two million campaigns have been set to enhanced. That’s up from 1.5 million Google quoted on the first quarter earnings call on April 18.
Results From Early Adopters

Based on positive case studies from clothing retailer American Apparel, financial services provider Woodbridge Structured Funding, and an unnamed luxury shopping brand among others, Ramaswamy says early adopters of enhanced campaigns are seeing better conversion rates and lower costs-per-click, while saving time on management.
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Ramaswamy was also keen to point out that several companies that had not bothered with mobile targeting in the past are now driving calls and conversions from mobile ads. The new phone call conversion metric now available in the AdWords UI allows companies to capture call conversions. Ramaswamy says that, on average, total conversions reported in AdWords have risen 150% for those advertisers tracking click-to-call conversions.

A classifieds website in France now sees one-third of its traffic and conversions coming from mobile. With the mobile bid adjustment set at 125%, CPA has remained steady. Woodbridge Structured Funding, also with a 125% mobile bid adjustment, has doubled leads from smartphone calls.
No More Big Feature Updates Before July 22

Given the recent introductions of Upgrade Center and ad group level mobile bid adjustments, several companies have been waiting to transition to enhanced campaigns in the event other new features are announced. I asked Ramaswamy if other changes are coming and if those companies should continue to wait.

Not surprisingly, his answer was, “No,” companies should transition now and not wait until the last minute. “I’m pretty confident that the feature set that we have now will fully support the migration,” he stated, and continued saying it’s unlikely there will be any other large features introduced before the July 22nd migration date. His advice: “Migrate now instead of waiting to fight for time later.”
The Great Tablet Debate

One of the biggest objections to enhanced campaigns from advertisers has been the loss of tablet targeting. Tablets and desktops are now combined, and only smartphones can be bid on separately. Ramaswamy said Google does not have any case studies on companies that had been running legacy tablet-only campaigns and have now transitioned to enhanced campaigns, but would look into getting some.

As Google has maintained since February, he says the need for tablet targeting is “as much a matter of perception as it is a kind of reality,” and most advertisers did not split out tablets, in part because it was too complicated to set up and manage separate campaigns. His replies won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been following this issue and asking Google to revert back to device targeting available in legacy campaigns.

Google has consistently said that while savvy marketers did see tablets as a predictor of demographics in the early days of the iPad, tablets are now a mainstream device, and those differentiators between tablet and desktop activity have largely disappeared. Nothing has changed, publicly at least, on that position.
Advertisers Of All Sizes Have Been Migrating

Ramaswamy says advertisers across the board have been transitioning to enhanced. Many large advertisers who rely on the API exclusively were among the earliest adopters. Google is also seeing mid- and small-level advertisers transition quickly, as well. Ramaswamy said they track the migration data by advertiser type internally, but would not be making that information publicly available.

Has your company made the transition yet? If so, what kind of results are you seeing?

Correction: This article originally stated that total conversions have risen 150% with the inclusion of click-to-call conversions and has been corrected to state that the increase is an average seen in AdWords reporting by those advertisers tracking phone call conversions.

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SEO 2013,  as Forrester Research put it recently at SMX, “If you want to wow the search engines, you have to wow your customers. Build a site that they want and can use.”

Here’s a simple truth: People like pretty things. Consumers’ penchant for good-looking images, websites, graphics and other media is largely responsible for the rise of visual content marketing: Infographics are one of the fastest rising content types and Brafton is constantly reporting on cross-web updates that reward companies for highly visual content (ie: the new News Feed). Visual media is great for users, but marketers who have always valued content for SEO may struggle to leverage images for search visibility.

In a recent Webmaster Central video, one site owner asked Matt Cutts about SEO value from visual content. The site owner pointed out rich graphics and images have given him a lower bounce rate, longer dwell time and more conversions. Even as a visual update to his site improved core success, he was concerned about reaching search audiences, asking:

“Will Google have an issue with the lack of textual content on the site?” – inquiring webmaster

The short answer from Matt Cutts is yes:

“Google does still want text.” – Matt Cutts

Still, Cutts recognized the user demand for images – and isn’t SEO about what’s good for users? He proposed two solutions.

1. Include text content around images. He referred to alt image titles as an example.

Your site might have more user interaction, time on site, conversions – all that stuff – because it’s prettier. We see that better design can help people use and enjoy your site more.

Depending on the type of graphic being used, Brafton also recommends adding accompanying or contextual text in the form of blogs that analyze or explain an infographic, captions that describe a photo, transcripts that let video viewers jump to the insight they most want, etc. (For more information on accompanying text for infographic strategies, check out our related white paper or review our video marketing guide for tips on the SEO side of video content.)

2. Make “really pretty text.” Cutts recommended Google web fonts as a resource for sites to find visually appealing options for text.

Cutts candidly explained that sites shouldn’t move to all images if they’re considering SEO: “At this point, I wouldn’t count on Google being able to do OCR (optical character recognition) of all the images on your site.” He suggested great website design through appealing fonts is a good middle ground for a site that is “pretty but still indexable.”

It may seem what’s good for users and what’s good for search are at odds if Google can’t crawl images. Still, marketers should consider that Cutts took the time to answer this query precisely because Google wants to find ways to reward sites that create good user experiences. His statement that Google can’t do OCR at this point may suggest the search engine is working to adapt its algorithms according to what’s good for users, instead of demanding marketers adapt their sites according to what’s simplest for Google.

Earlier this month at SMX, Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester agreed that user experience is increasingly important to SEO. As Forrester put it, “If you want to wow the search engines, you have to wow your customers. Build a site that they want and can use.”

 

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SEO Audits: What to Expect

One of the challenges that plagues the search marketing industry is a lack of standards around the quality and scope of work. Different agencies and consultants will use similar words to describe very different deliverables and processes. One of the most abused of these is the SEO Audit.

Clients have told me bitter tales of ghosts of “audits” past that didn’t live up to expectations, like the big-brand shoe retailer that paid $10,000 over three months’ time for a two-page Word document containing weak, tactical recommendations. I thought my client was exaggerating for effect until he emailed me the product. To protect their investment, businesses need to understand what to expect from an SEO audit and which questions to ask to ensure they’ll receive the quality and scope required.

What Is an SEO Audit?

An audit commonly begins a search marketing engagement with a client. The goal is to identify the challenges and opportunities the client’s sites have for improving their SEO performance to drive more brand impressions, visits and conversions. The input is a client’s web analytics, access to search tools like Webmaster Tools, the client’s own site and the search results themselves. When combined with SEO knowledge and experience, the SEO professional has what he or she needs to analyze the site and document a strategy to improve organic search performance.

A complete SEO audit will have at least three sections: (a) analyzing the challenges and opportunities for a site’s technical aspects, (b) keywords and content, and (c) link authority. Sometimes these are split into separate audit documents, but no audit project can be considered complete without covering all three areas because they’re all interconnected. Hundreds of ranking factors combine to form each search engine’s algorithms. As a result, thousands of decisions of all different sizes come together across those three areas of SEO — technical, content, and authority — to impact a site’s organic search performance according to those algorithms. For example, content relies on technical elements like platform configuration, architectural structure and others to amplify keyword signals and boost rankings. For link authority to be beneficial there has to be some sort of keyword signal to amplify. Ignoring one area leaves the other areas weaker – and in some extreme cases completely crippled – as a result.

The analysis documented in an audit is critically important for a couple of reasons. The first reason is trust: A detailed analysis of the current situation builds trust in the work done between the client team and the SEO professional. Also, because SEO is a combination of marketing and development disciplines, the client team needs to understand the underlying issues that impact SEO performance. Without this educational aspect of the audit, the team may implement a tactic to improve SEO today but undo its good work by making the same decisions tomorrow that caused the SEO issue in the first place.

In addition to analysis, an audit needs to contain a strategy to improve SEO and next steps to implement that strategy. Here we come back to the three elements of SEO. The strategy needs to address technical, content and authority opportunities in proportion to their value, with particular focus on the areas that will have the largest impact on the SEO performance of the site. Sounds reasonable, right?

Note the difference between a strategy and what might be called an SEO task list, which contains a list of recommended tasks to complete. Without the strategy, a task list conveys no priorities or comprehensive plan of action. Tasks may be taken or not, either way, because there is no sense of the importance each plays in the overall SEO strategy. However, without the task list the strategy is just a fluffy ideal that’s difficult to translate to actions.

Clearly, an SEO audit requires both a strategy and a prioritized action plan. The strategy builds off of the analysis to identify how the client can capitalize on the opportunities to improve their organic search brand impressions, visits and conversions. And the prioritized action plan breaks the strategy down into discreet projects or deliverables that can be put to an agreed upon timeline and executed against.

 

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Did you know?

Google AdWords is rolling out enhanced campaigns to help businesses more simply and smartly manage your ad campaigns in today’s multi-device world.

Why enhanced campaigns?
… People are constantly connected and moving from one device to another to communicate, shop and stay entertained. In fact, a recent study of multi-device consumers found that 90% move sequentially between several screens to accomplish a task. There’s also a proliferation of new devices — PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, hybrid devices, mini-tablets, televisions, and more. And there are many more digital screens and devices to come, with the lines between them continuing to blur. For example, as devices converge, consumer behaviors on tablets and desktops are becoming very similar.

This creates great opportunities for businesses, but can also make marketing more complex and time-consuming.

With enhanced campaigns, instead of having to cobble together and compare several separate campaigns, reports and ad extensions to do this, the pizza restaurant can easily manage all of this in one single place. Enhanced campaigns help you reach people with the right ads, based on their context like location, time of day and device type, across all devices without having to set up and manage several separate campaigns.

Enhanced campaigns will most certainly improve conversions (ROI) in a multi-screen world, although transitioning may involve some initial changes.

We borrowed this tagline from Honda, How Can We Help?

When the yellow pages got delivered each year we used them as weights to hold doors open (or targets for darts).   It’s not surprising that once Google and her competitors quasi-perfected their search algorithms that phone books replaced Duraflames in most homes, and “Googling” became a verb.

Now in addition to laptop “Googling” we are transfixed on searching all day long on our mobiles and tablets. Looking for a popular, highly rated Thai restaurant downtown San Francisco, turn to your Google Search app on your android. Need a new tire in a hurry, ask Siri (the underlying brain of Siri is Search) where the nearest Sears is located. And truly one of the greatest benefits of modern Search technology is  the ability to locate and select a healthcare provider whether in your local neighborhood or on vacation.

The ability to easily find and connect with a healthcare provider or doctor should be simple, right? One would hope.  Siri, “I need a podiatrist in San Francisco. As a consumer you are looking for options.  And in the shoes of the healthcare provider you want to make darn sure you are being served up by Google or Siri as a viable option for treatment and doctor visibility. Imagine being on either side of this worse case scenario: you were the only podiatrist in Irvine but lacked a website – or had a website that was not properly search engine optimized (SEO); or, you were a prospective patient but couldn’t locate a podiatrist within 50 miles of where you painfully stood. Lose lose.

Thankfully – and strategically – the healthcare industry is rapidly leveraging digital marketing solutions, especially SEO to make finding a solutions provider or individual doctor, much easier, and faster.

Below is a great article that I came across on Mashable.com that re-affirms my point that healthcare providers are getting smarter with the tactics they are taking to ensure prospective patients can find them. So if you ever need a podiatrist, ask Siri, and she’ll direct you to a doctor that not only graduated from medical school but is also proving to be pretty smart in gaining you as her next patient.

http://www.ittybittyurl.com/h5b

As 2011 comes to a close, we are beginning to develop clear insights that will help direct our 2012 marketing decisions. This year, Net Scope, Inc. has decided to provide all interested parties with some very useful and very free information regarding the teachings that 2011 has provided.

In the form of a white paper, Net Scope, Inc. has compiled what we feel to be some of the key findings about online marketing, changes in marketing strategies and how different online marketing channels can benefit your business in an ever changing, uncertain economic climate.

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