October 3, 2008
SEO Is Not a Last-Ditch EffortSeptember 23, 2008
Sales are down for many businesses due to the slow economy. Business owners and CEOs are looking for that one thing that can pull them through the hard times and keep them afloat. When times get tough, many turn to SEO, hoping that it will be the ticket to increased sales. While SEO is almost always a good idea, if you're counting on it to save a failing business, you may want to rethink things.
The customers you receive from search engines should not be what your entire marketing plan consists of. SEO is a long-term strategy for increasing your targeted customer base. It's the gravy to the rest of your marketing initiatives. It's a way to reach those extra customers whom you wouldn't have been able to reach previously, but it should never be the meat and potatoes of your business.
SEO isn't a quick fix. If you didn't design your website with SEO in mind and you haven't given much thought to it, it's going to take time to plan your SEO strategy. It will take weeks to do the initial research required to even know where to begin. While there may be some low-hanging fruit you can grab quickly, without the necessary research, you wouldn't even know where to find it.
SEO isn't something you can just turn on. It would be great if we could just flick a switch and suddenly your website would be optimized and receiving highly targeted search engine traffic. But, unfortunately, it just doesn't work that way. Site architecture needs to be redefined, anchor text links need to be rewritten, Titles and Meta descriptions need to be created, and page copy generally needs a complete overhaul. Even paid search can't be turned on with the flick of a switch – keywords need to be defined, landing pages created, campaigns need to be set up, etc.
SEO needs time to age. After your website has been put into perfect SEO shape (after many months of hard work), it will start to receive more targeted search engine traffic. But even that is a slow process. Traffic will increase incrementally, and get better over time as the on-page SEO work begins to mature.
SEO needs link popularity. On-page SEO is only half of the battle for more search engine visitors. The success of your SEO depends on the overall link popularity of the website. If the site has been around a long time and has already built up a lot of links, that will certainly help things go faster. However, most sites will need some additional work in this area. Even with great overall link popularity, the links may not be targeting anchor text that correlates with the on-page SEO work.
SEO needs to be done in conjunction with other marketing. While SEO is a relatively inexpensive form of marketing, it shouldn't be the only thing you do to gain business. SEO is very volatile and the search engines can change their formula or drop your website on a dime. You should never count on the visitors you receive from organic search to always be there. Use it to supplement your other marketing, but always be aware that what Google giveth they can also taketh away. It's a good idea to perform other online marketing campaigns such as paid search, email marketing, blogging, social media marketing, etc., but also offline marketing such as direct mail, print advertising, radio spots, etc.
There's a lot that goes into a successful SEO campaign; when done correctly it's a worthwhile, long-term investment for nearly any business with a website. Just make sure to build it into your marketing plan from the get-go and not make it an afterthought. While I have seen SEO save some companies' businesses, more often than not I've seen it be too little too late.
If your business is doing fairly well without SEO, that's the best time to get into it and start collecting that extra targeted traffic!
March 28, 2008
How’s That Ad Doing? Find Out With New Tracking ToolADOTAS — Wonder how your display advertisement is actually performing? Contextual advertising company and operator of the ADSDAQ Exchange, ContextWeb Inc., has launched a new technology platform for media buyers who want to track their interactive advertising campaigns.
The ADSDAQ Exchange Trading Desk will enable buyers to buy more inventory in the better-performing contextual advertising areas and offer to sell underperforming display ads. The new desk can track campaigns outside of its system to, so interactive ad agencies can benchmark their campaign’s performance against 386 other contextual categories of inventory.
A handful of agencies, including Omnicom’s OMD and WPP’s GroupM, are participating in the invitation-only beta program. The desk can be utilized across media buys on portals, ad networks and site-specific buys to break down purchases into content categories and analyze campaign performance within those categories.
“ContextWeb may have found a formula to deliver the best type of insights-ones that are both actionable and because they are standardized to context-repeatable at scale,” said Rob Norman, CEO, GroupM Interaction Worldwide, a division of WPP and one of the program’s beta partners. “The goal of ContextWeb’s ADSDAQ Exchange is to eliminate barriers in this fragmented marketplace so advertisers can buy and sell inventory based on continuous learning and publishers can unlock the true value of their inventory,” said Anand Subramanian, CEO of ContextWeb, Inc. “The ADSDAQ Exchange Agency Trading Desk is a crucial part of making this a reality.”
Clickable and Google are also reportedly developing similar platforms for advertisers.
September 14, 2007
Microsoft adCenter is changing the way we manage our trademark policy starting September 10, 2007.While no change will be made to the trademark policy itself, this update aligns better with marketplace practices, speeds up editorial review to get your ads live faster, and ensures consumers see relevant ads.
Microsoft adCenter's Trademark Policy
As stated above, we are not changing the trademark policy itself. You may still use trademarked terms in your ads when you, as the advertiser, are the owner of the trademark, an affiliate or reseller of trademarked products or services, or a site that uses the trademarked term in an informational, descriptive, or non-competitive manner. Infringing use of trademark terms by direct competitors remains a violation of Microsoft adCenter policies.
It will now be the advertiser's responsibility to obtain permission from the trademark owner to use a trademarked term in their ads. It will also be the trademark owner's responsibility to address ongoing incorrect usage of their trademark term(s) directly with third-party advertisers. Microsoft adCenter will no longer intercede to obtain permission for the advertiser wanting to use a trademarked term.
What does this mean for my search advertising?
Your ads may display next to other ads that contain your trademarked terms.
Affiliates, resellers, and third parties may show up against queries for your trademarked terms.
Competitor's ads may show up in search results against queries for trademarks in certain scenarios, due to match types other than exact.
For example, if a generic term is included in the overall search query, advertisers who bid on the generic term may show up in the search results.
If you are a trademark owner and you believe your trademark is being misused in Microsoft adCenter, you can submit a report by following the instructions on our Trademark Concern Form.
Visit our adCenter Blog post to read more about this change and if you have additional questions about these changes please contact our adCenter Support Team.
September 13, 2007
The Power Of Branding For Small Business, Part TwoPeople often associate brands with money. And lots of it. Generally, if you try to run a branding campaign such as you see from big companies like Target, you certainly will have to fork over a big chunk of change. But we small business owners don't have that kind of money. And from my examples in last week's installment of this column, you might conclude that full-scale SEO or PPC is the only way to brand yourself online. But that's just not true. As you will see, some SEO will come into play, but cheap and easy SEO will get you started on the path to brand recognition in search results.
Determine what you want to brand
Is it your company name, your products, your services, or even your personal name or online handle that is worth branding? If you're a blogger, your name is definitely important. So is your blog name. If you're a business, then your business name will be important, as might be your products if they are exclusively yours. The point is, you first need to determine what you have that needs to be branded. Now you have your starting place.
Do a little SEO
SEO is a great way to brand your products online. But this isn't necessarily keyword-targeted SEO, the kind that tends to cost a fortune if you're in a competitive industry. More to the point, we're simply SEOing your business name. You want first and foremost for someone to find you when they search for your name. We also want to make sure that when someone sees your business name for any related search for which you can get ranked.
The easiest way to do this kind of branding is to edit your title tags to include your brand name. If it's your company name, then put your company name first and foremost in your title tag. If you're branding own name, put that there. The goal here is to make sure people see your company name, or whatever it is you're branding, whenever your site comes up in the search result. Just as important, this will help ensure that when someone does a search for your branded name, you show up in the results. Sure, that's not getting you branded with the industry related keywords, but nonetheless it can be effective. When people search, and continue to see your company name time after time, they'll start to remember that.
You also need to pay attention to alternate spellings of whatever it is you're branding. Someone might incorrectly search for your name, leave out or add a word, and so on. This is where SEO can be a bit more difficult and may require some creativity, as you don't want to put your business name in your title tag incorrectly.
What you can do is look for opportunities to optimize for some of these variations. For example, I don't just try to rank well for Pole Position Marketing, but I try for Pole Marketing or Position Marketing. It's easy to leave out a word in a search and if I get my site to come up for these relatively non-difficult phrases, then I've increased my chances of being found. Alternatively, I can also try to come up in the results for a search for Pole Position, but that one will require a bit more creativity. And perhaps a few more dollars!
Buy cheap ads
Another thing you can do to brand yourself is to buy lots and lots of cheap ads through Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. You can do this for your name, products or even specific keyword searches. When going this route you're not competing for top spot, or even for a lot of clicks. Instead, what you're looking to appear on a search result page where you'll be seen for as little money as possible. Don't compete. Find keywords that have low click cost or more expensive keywords where you can rank further down the page. Again, the point here is just simply to get eyeballs to fall on your ad—and your brand name—not necessarily to get the searcher to click on your ad (though that would be a bonus).
This is also a great way to get visibility for incorrect or alternative spellings of your brand. If the variations are really offbeat then it will cost you next to nothing to put your ad up, even if it gets clicked. Another good option here is to just put ads up on tons and tons of low search volume keywords. These will get very little traffic, but gives you yet another opportunity to get your name in front of searchers' eyeballs. Lots of little exposures can equal few big exposures.
I'm fully convinced that there isn't a company in the world, regardless of size, that shouldn't be working on branding itself in some way or another. Branding for your web site or company name is usually the easiest thing to do as most web sites inherently come to the top of the results for those types of searches. But taking it a bit further, expanding your reach can be significantly rewarding, even allowing you to be a little brand in a big commercial pond.
Stoney deGeyter is CEO of Pole Position Marketing. The Small Is Beautiful column appears on Thursdays at Search Engine Land.
Making Sense of Linking and Site PromotionPosted by Lee Odden on Sep 12th, 2007 in Link Building, SEO |
The OG’s of link building like Eric Ward are full of reasons why acquiring inbound links without consideration of direct effect from search engines is a sustainable and worthwhile marketing tactic. The ongoing SEO services many search marketers offer is often short sighted with a narrow emphasis placed on link acquisition and not on the broader importance of ongoing web site promotion through multiple channels.
Historical thoughts on linking
Link building is indeed a tactic with direct benefits via rankings traffic from search engines and direct traffic from high profile sites. However, outright link building is only a slice in the overall online marketing mix that makes up a productive web site marketing program. In the early days of marketing web sites, building links from directory submissions and programs such as web site reviews and web awards sites sent significant amounts of traffic. Then came Google.
The Google Factor
With Google bringing the importance of links into algorithmic search, other engines followed and the value of a good inbound link increased dramatically. Quantity, quality and age of links are all considerations for search engines as they sort relevant search results for users. At the same time, an editorial link from a high profile site, like a major blog or news publication, can not only send a strong signal to search engine bots, but also deliver qualified visitors. Discovering the formula for using links to an advantage inspired the popularity of a range of questionable linking tactics.
Shortcuts to Linking
Always looking for competitive advantages, many web site owners and marketers with an interest in generating high web site visibility and traffic have developed systems for short cutting their way to link popularity through efforts ranging from blog comment and trackback spam to buying text links and pre-sell pages to leveraging networks of blogs to write posts in behalf of advertisers whether the blog is on topic with the article or not. Search engines such as Google have made it clear what the consequences are for gaming their system and it’s left marketers wondering.
What Can Business Marketers Do?
There are more resources on link building than any one person could ever consumer entirely being published by the search marketing community on a daily basis. There are also more than a few businesses, big and small, that are nothing less than lost when it comes to knowing what kinds of productive, safe and sustainable marketing tactics make the most sense for their web site. Increasingly, web site marketers are stepping back and taking a more holistic approach to web site optimization and promotion.
Importance of site promotion
Too often web site owners and search marketers get caught up in tactics, forgetting the short and long term objectives of the web site. For example, generating spikes of social news and bookmarking traffic makes for a good Power Point slide, but it’s not a final outcome and is not always a viable long term tactic for business web sites. Measuring those signals that influence what search engines and users do to arrive at a web site when looking for answers/resources/relevant content are nothing more than short and medium term performance indicators. Rankings, traffic and links are not final outcomes. Conversions, sales and measures of engagement are what feed web site marketing budgets with the best results coming from a long term focus.
Go Long Get Results
What’s important for a sustainable, long term web site marketing initiative is ongoing promotion through channels that make sense for the audience and that are supported with content by the business web site. Measuring the final outcome as well as all the signals that lead up to conversions provides the site promotion expert insight into how content and promotion can be adjusted to maximize results. Search engines are leveraging multiple data formats, media and channels and online marketers should do the same.
Unified Search Marketing
The great thing about enhancements like Google Universal search and Ask 3D is that they enable those web sites producing and promoting content in multiple media formats a distinct advantage. At the core of today’s most effective web site promotion strategy is the creation and distribution of content. With a combination of coordinated text, image, video and RSS, a company can dramatically increase it’s ability to promote it’s message to audiences that are looking. Leveraging multiple media and data types provide direct marketing benefits as well as augmenting standard search visibility.
The Real Benefits Plus a Bonus
Effective and persistent web site promotion drives qualified visitors and also increases the link footprint of a web site. That byproduct of a quantity of quality links over time will also deliver desired visitors. For now, there’s the added benefit of improved rankings on standard search engines. I’m not saying the importance of links for rankings is going away, but as part of a long term perspective on internet marketing, I would consider the effect of links on rankings generated traffic icing on the cake rather than an immediate goal. Sometimes it takes a step back and a look at the longer term trends and web site goals to see what immediate tactics make sense and what to ramp up for.
The Big Picture on Links
Making sense out of the mix of tactics, analytics and objectives available to companies that want to leverage the web as a high priority channel must involve stepping back and seeing the bigger picture of web site promotion. We love links at TopRank. We also know that relying solely on link building to meet client web marketing objectives is not nearly as effective short and long term, as a holistic program of matching the right media assets with the appropriate promotional channels.
Desperately Seeking Links - DMA07
Next month in October I will be talking more in depth about this topic and at the same time I’ll be able to experience a goal I’ve had for several years. At the DMA07 conference in Chicago Oct 16 I will be speaking on a panel “Desperately Seeking Links“with Eric Ward on the topic of link building. Eric is someone I’ve looked up to and respected as an uncompromising professional when it comes to the marketing of web sites. I am very much looking forward to sharing the stage with him as well as Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts, who pitched and won the session. Also on the panel is Seth Besmertnik of LinkExperts.
August 30, 2006
Dealers, OEMs Spend More on Online Ads, Less on PrintSituation
"Print continues to serve an important purpose in marketing, but its role in the area of classified listings is diminishing quickly. The domination of the Internet over print in the used-vehicle market will only increase as today's younger buyers become a larger buying force in the market." -- Min Cho, senior analyst, JD Power and Associates
"Classified revenue makes up about 40 to 45 percent of total revenue for the newspaper. Within that category, there are three subcategories - real estate, help wanted and auto. Each probably contributes equally to classified advertising." -- Jennifer Saba, associate editor, Editor & Publisher
"From what I've been hearing, I think newspaper industry leaders are trying to get their arms around this, but I don't think they know exactly how to solve it. It looks like it's going to continue to be volatile for at least the next couple of quarters, but I don't think there's a sense yet as to whether this is going to snap back or be more of a long-term decline." -- Saba
July 6, 2006
MSN Launches AdLab Site for Search Marketers
Microsoft has just launched site for search advertisers, providing them with tools for managing their online campaigns, reports MediaPost. Adlab.microsoft.com offers various analytics tools for developing keyword buy strategies and provides demos of various tools. The new effort apparently grew out of the AdCenter Lab, announced in January to help monetize MSN properties with ad sales.
The search-related topics that the new adCenter Lab site covers are paid search, contextual advertising, behavioral targeting and emerging markets (new channels; e.g., mobile), writes WebProNews. The behavior targeting-related tools, for example, can predict a user's demographic information based on online behavior - and attempt to determine whether a visitor is looking to buy or just looking for information.
A paid search demo shows the effect of "search funnels," or sequences of keywords used for conducting searches. A "keyword mutation detection" tool displays common misspellings of various keywords.
At launch, the site will contain data for about 10,000 keywords; eventually, information related to 10 million keywords will be included.
December 6, 2005
The Cost of KeywordsDecember 06, 2005
With the rise of search engine marketing, millions of marketers around the world have one question: How much should they pay for a keyword?
Online marketers are starting to hear a new metric bantered about — CPK, or cost-per-keyword. With search engine marketing (SEM) becoming an increasingly important — and sizable — part of the budget, CPK will soon become as ubiquitous around media planning conference tables as CPMs and CTRs.
DoubleClick's "Search Trend Report: Q3 2005" found that the average CPK as well as the average CPC (cost per click) showed steady increases throughout the third quarter. This could be due to a number of reasons, but the report stated that the most likely factors were "competition and a greater emphasis on higher-priced, higher-trafficked keywords that give advertisers the potential for greater visibility and brand awareness."
After a precipitous rise and fall in late '04 and early '05, CPK has been rising steadily throughout the year.
During the third quarter, CPK rose from $20 to $26 in DoubleClick's index.
The SEMphonic Keyword Pricing Index (SKPI), an index of cost-per-click and bids on selected industry-specific keywords, also showed a slow but steady rise across all industries in the first half of November.
In certain sections of the retail market, however, the SKPI shows keyword prices are rising more dramatically. Prices are up in kitchen, food, and wine (8%), arts and entertainment (8%) and most significantly in clothing and accessories (10%).
Comparing data from November 15 and November 1, SEMphonic noted a small rise in both top bids and average CPC, which rose from $0.49 to $0.53 on branded words, and from $0.96 to $1.00 on non-branded words. Overall, they report the average CPC rose about 4%.
A SEMphonic spokesperson said, "This shows a slow but steady rise in advertising costs as the holiday season approaches, but does not yet represent any significant jump in pricing."