A last minute shift in the eMetrics schedule brought a panel of industry experts together to tackle the audience's burning questions about search marketing. Mike Grehan, Avinash Kaushik, Chris Boggs and Manoj Jasra were holding court on a variety of topics.
First up, universal search. Avinash laid down the law for those waffling on their commitment to SEO and multiple forms of media, “If you can’t have a well thought out universal search strategy, you should, or you’re going to get screwed." Enquiro, Manoj's employer, commissioned some eyetracking studies on universal search and they discovered look at the video and then across. End users of universal search won't necessarily scan many of the ads or scroll down. Chris Boggs highlighted that the majority of the universal search blended results is branded content that is well tagged and well linked. Practicing now in the branded space is a great way to prepare for unbranded content universal search. By the way of how-to tips, the panel recommended optimizing content with tags, anchor text supporting your keywords, hosting your content on a page with relevant content, and uploading it into Google Base, YouTube, Google Video.
How do you pick a good paid search agency? Avinash took a novel, testing based approach during his tenure at Intuit. First, he invited a longer list of potential vendors out to present a 2 hour presentation in response to a series of standard questions (the final of which was, "What's the biggest difference between you and your competitors?) Avinash admitted that, "It was nearly impossible to figure out from the marketing pitch who was the best." Instead of taking a guess, Intuit carved out 3 business segments and 3 finalists and give them each 6 months to see how well they did. The winner got all the business. In addition to testing, Chris Boggs recommended that clients conduct quick due diligence by searching about the company + complaint or + award or reviewing forums. One thing to consider is that no mentions could be a sign of rebranding due to bad reputation, though that requires a bit more research. Mike Grehan reminded us that it's all about the customers and advised client's to check the vendors renewal levels.
When it comes to paid search landing pages, the basics still rule. Provide the calls to action you promised in the ad and keyword (Avi). Testing your landing pages and consider elements like removal of navigation, how many clicks it takes to get to additional information, length and depth of required information, etc (Chris). Chris Boggs offered up the idea of using vanity url or domain and block it from spiders, so you can repurpose other content from your site without worrying about duplicate content issues that might damage your SEO.