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May 31, 2007

Are SEM Conferences Still Worth Attending?

By Karl Ribas

A thought came to mind last night as I laid awake in my bed (yes... it's quite typical for me to think about work while trying to sleep)... are search engine conferences worth attending anymore?

This may seem like a pretty dumb question to some, but hear me out. Depending on whom you are and what your motives are for attending the answer can swing either way. Obviously for newer marketers looking to get a grasp on the industry, a trade show is well-worth the price of admission. The same can be said about those "do it yourself" / "let's learn what we can and bring it in-house" personalities.

However... where is the benefit for us veteran marketers? Surely I can understand the value in networking and maintaining strong business relationships and friendships with frequent face-to-face encounters... that's basic business. But, networking aside (as well as the occasional plugging of one's business objectives), I'm not too convinced that there's value in attending Search Engine Strategies, PubCon, or any number of these new, smaller conferences that are just recently starting to pop-up... at least from the moderate and advanced search marketer's point of view.

Let's face it... everything that is vital to search marketing, including techniques, strategies, news, updates, and announcements can and is learned absolutely FREE from the comfort of the office via industry blogs, articles, press releases, pod casts, videos, and forum threads. It is because of these mediums, as well as our increasing desire to create quality (and linkable) content, that we, as an industry, no longer have trade secrets. We expose everything literally minutes after learning it... and we don't think twice about doing so.

However, for arguments sake, lets say that a few of us still have an "SEM Secret" or two that isn't yet mainstream. I doubt very much that you, I, nor the speakers at these conferences are going to voluntarily share them with an audience full of competitors. It's in our best interest to keep such ideas of value to ourselves, and have the speakers at these events continue to force feed us the same regurgitated slide-show presentations show after show... and you know that they do. Where's the value in that?!

Even if (and this is a pretty big "even if") you come across a session where a speaker is throwing down the mother-of-all-trade secrets... it wouldn't take but five minutes from the time it was mentioned to the time Barry and Lisa publishes it for their respective audiences to read. That's the beauty of live blogging! That's also another validation of why search marketers no longer have a need to fork up $2k on a conference pass (not to mention other conference expenses). Anything worth mentioning at the conference will ultimately be mentioned again and again afterwards via industry bloggers and analysts.

So, with all that being said, let me ask you this... am I wrong in thinking that search marketers are no longer the target audience for search marketing conferences? Where exactly is the value, other than networking opportunities, for seasoned search marketers?


May 28, 2007

The Web Analytics Dip: Oh my god, MATH!

By Alex Cohen

I have a dirty, little secret.  It's the kind of thing that might cause me to be shunned by the industry.  I'm... not really a math guy.  Amazingly, you can be a decent strategist and web analyst (according to my title, I'm half of each) without being a grab-your-TI-86-and-pocket-protector sort of numbers guy. 

The key word in that sentence was "decent".  But, I want to be awesome.  Chances are, you want to be awesome too. 

Our CEO let me take one of her copies of The Dip by Seth Godin, which I read over the holiday weekend.  To oversimplify it, The Dip is the period during a difficult but worthwhile path that you must work through in order to become one of the best.  This begs the question: What separates a good analyst from a great one?  Well, there's a long list of things, but the one that struck me personally was, you guessed it, math.



Continue reading "The Web Analytics Dip: Oh my god, MATH!" »

May 26, 2007

SiteScan - Verify your Google Analytics implementation

By Alex Cohen

Justin over at AnalyticsTalk pointed out a new tool today: SiteScan.  It's a low cost service that scans your site for missing code and provides you a summary report.  Implementation is a major issue, so any tool that helps you improve your data quality assurance is a welcome addition to the community.

Have you tried it?  How do you ensure you're gathering quality data?

May 25, 2007

Announcement - Just in Time for the Holiday!

By Li Evans

So as I was so gently reminded by one of our audience members, I mentioned an announcement would come soon.  Well I was going to post it last Friday, but I wanted to wait a full week to make sure it was "O.K." to announce this.

You all know that my day job is for Commerce360.  It's a great start up firm on the outskirts of Philly that specializes in search marketing, online strategy and analytics. We've been actively recruiting people to come to our company.

Well I've manage to snag one of those "big fish" and real him on into Commerce360.  You'll love that reference especially when you realize who's come to join us at Comemrce360.  This man is amazingly talented and knows a heck of a lot about why the search engines do what they do.

OK so I've teased enough .... *drum rolls*....

Continue reading "Announcement - Just in Time for the Holiday!" »

May 24, 2007

Google's Recipes - Finding New Recipes Made Easy

By Li Evans

Googlerecipes Google's cooking up something rather cool with their Universal Search integration.  I use cooking up in duality because Google's displaying something new when it displays results for recipe searches.  Hattip to Dave Brown who first picked this up on Sunday.

Being someone who loves to cook and likes to find new things to try, I decided to do a little further digging.  I wanted to know what triggered the recipe search pull downs, what other features there were and where Google pulled the information from.  I found a lot of different features and it's really neat if you love to find new recipes to try out.

Continue reading "Google's Recipes - Finding New Recipes Made Easy" »

May 23, 2007

Social Media Isn't Just Digg & Stumble Upon

By Li Evans

Digg Social media goes well beyond the social news sites like Digg & Newsvines and "stumbling" sites like Stumble Upon.  If you look at social media in simple that narrow focus you are missing out on a huge amount of opportunities to target traffic and branding for your clients.  Not too long ago, I wrote a piece entitled "Social Media Sites: A Handy Reference Guide" that brings that point home even more.

Taking that into account, I read two articles today that really made me want to bring that point home.  One article is about "landing pages" for Social Media, by Neil Patel.  The other, is by Jennifer Laycock from Search Engine Guide which goes on to counter Neil's article in a very "on point" way.  Both of these writers are industry colleagues of mine and whom I respect a great deal.

Continue reading "Social Media Isn't Just Digg & Stumble Upon" »

May 22, 2007

Yahoo! Search Index Update Happening Tonight 5/22

By Li Evans

Later this evening (Pacific Time), Yahoo's planning an update to their index.  According to Tim Mayer who was Danny's guest on Daily Search Cast today, there shouldn't be too much changing!  But just a heads up for the community.

May 21, 2007

Philly SEO/SEM Meetup

By Li Evans

Last Thursday night a small group of SEO/SEM professionals from the Delaware Valley met up for a whole bunch of fun at Bennigan's in King of Prussia.  We even had an attendee come from far away as Northern Virginia.

We talked about having our little get togethers a little more often, so we're hoping to have another one next month near the end of the month, probably around June 28th - location to be determined.

So, without further adieu and further threats from Chris Boggs, here's the pictures from the May 2007 Philly Meetup

May 18, 2007

Google Analytics V2 - The Prettiest Of Them All

By Alex Cohen

How do you make web analytics easier?  That's a question the web analytics community discusses on an almost daily basis.  Google has answered the question 2 ways. First, by creating Google Analytics and giving it away for free.  Second, they announced last week's eMetrics summit that a new, beta version is being slowly rolled out to users. 

Should I Care?
Based on my experience with WebTrends, Omniture, ClickTracks, NetTracker and Google Analytics (GA), I definitely think this is the slickest UI of any analytics program out there.  It stands out for 2 key reasons:

  1. Improved "Findability" - We're all awash in data.  The challenge for any tool is to present the data you need in as few steps as possible.  The other challenge is to help non-technical people understand and use the tool.  GA V2 automatically puts the report your looking at in context other relevant data and site averages.  It helps you see data you should be looking at even if you didn't know you should be.  As Google's Analytics Evangelist, and much beloved community member, Avinash Kaushik put it the new version has improved "findability"
  2. Greater Context - As anyone who has had a paid search campaign canceled after one week of bad results knows, it's important to surround data with the appropriate context (trends, averages, marketing events, seasonality, etc.).  GA V2 automatically provides sparklines that place whatever data you are looking at in a graph that shows that data over the past month.  It's no substitute for analysis and statistical considerations, but it's a nice safeguard against knee-jerk reactions to metrics.

So the question is...

Continue reading "Google Analytics V2 - The Prettiest Of Them All" »

May 17, 2007

Google "Universal Search Model"

By Michael Abolafia

Andy Beal over at Marketing Pilgrim reported on the upcoming algorithm and interfaces changes out of Google.  The most notable change is that Google will be displaying results from all of its properties including web, image, video, news, etc in order to provide what they feel to be the most relevant results.

Images_2 What does this mean for affiliates?  It looks like it result in less space in the sandbox for affiliates to play.  It will also make it necessary for affiliate marketers as well as merchants to optimize their placements in the video, image and news/web PR space.  In the grand scheme of things I do not think that this change will negatively affect affiliates on a whole but will force the ever resilient group to change how they think about the ways that they are currently promoting their merchants.

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