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November 30, 2007

Anne Kennedy Talks About SES Chicago

By Li Evans

While here in Los Angeles at SES Local: ILM 07, I got the chance to speak with Anne Kennedy of Beyond Ink about SES Chicago Search Strategy Event and what's new and upcoming for the conference.  Anne also has an announcement of her own, so watch the video interview and enjoy!

* Had a little technical difficulty here, video should be full length and working!!  (double checked from out in the airport here at LAX, and it seems to be working just ok)


If you'd like to contribute to what Anne announced in the video, shoot an email to smg *A*T* searchmarketinggurus.com

November 29, 2007

Local Keyword Research Laying the Foundation for Success at SES Local: ILM 07

By Li Evans

Liana "Li" Evans (KeyRelevance.com) - Keyword research is foundation to both PPC & SEO, without it companies coming onto the internet and doing online marketing are driving blind.  Research gives you insight into popularity, opportunities and what drives quality traffic. 

Popularity is overrated.  Popular keywords can drive traffic, but not necessarily quality.  Marketers need to determine what their goals and conversions are before setting off on campaigns, know what your goals are helps to choose the right keywords to drive success for a website.  Popularity can be highly overrated, it can drive a lot of traffic, but is it relevant - does it accomplish your goals.

Brainstorm for keywords, get people in a room, just coming up with keywords, don't be judgmental and don't "fall in love" with keywords.  If keywords don't work, change them!   Don't forget misspellings, synonyms, abbreviations, and jargon.  Remember to speak the language your audience speaks.

Nico Brooks (Local Matters) - Finding vs. Searching.  Understanding how people are finding you is important to successfully marketing online.

Search query log data (web analytics data) is a treasure trove of information.  Tools like Hitwise, Comscore, your search engine logs and the leaked AOL data also give insight into what is driving traffic to your site as well as your competitors.

Analyzed the AOL data, found that 22.4% of the queries had local modifiers.  Which indicates that searchers are refining their searches to find specific things near them.  Modifiers included:  zip codes, city names, county names, state names, streets (etc.).  These are all indicative of searchers looking for local information when attached to a common keyword.

Andrew Shotland (Loc@alSEOGuide)
- Keyword Expansion

Most companies have a narrow set of keywords.  The key to expanding this is to have variations on these keywords.  Vary the title tag - example "City Name Plumbers | A Quality 24 Hour Emergency Plumbing Company".  Another key is content, use it to vary these keywords.

Alternative navigation paths seem to be very effective, as well (Yelp uses these effectively).  Micro communities and tag pages work great.  Targeted backlinks, make sure you are using your keywords and their variations.

Matt Van Wagner (Find Me Faster)- Matt has 3 case studies.

Patisserie Blue - local bakery which has an all local search audience.  Target audience is really the foot traffic.  Narrowed down their keywords, but didn't bother with zip codes.  Used city names, vicinity names, landmark names with much success, also used the words "near" "area" "west" (directional words), and county names.  Tracking was a challenge.  Used free listings from Google, Yahoo and MSN local services.  Had to be careful old postal abbreviations.

Bebop - children's clothing shop, wanted to win the local market in online marketing.  Focused on community building around "new mothers".  If they focused on national they would've gone broke.  Found local success, also found a new demographic "Crazy Grand mothers"

Granite State Opera - goal was to fill seats.  Opera - to broad and no one thought of it with New Hampshire.  Keyword list with geo-targeting didn't work well, but what did work well was contextual ads on local news sites, specialty websites, newspapers, and specialty music sites.  Also bought ads for newspaper and radio through Google - it was a bargain.

Facebook's Chamath Palihapitiya Keynote at SES Local: IML 07

By Li Evans

Facebook unveiled new advertising features at the beginning of the month.

So they wanted to think about how people buy things.  But what about people who just want information.  How do businesses say "I have something interesting you should take a look at."  Facebook thinks they can work with mediums like newspapers, yellowpages, etc.

People influence people.  Your friends recommend things to you, you are more likely to do something because you've been influenced by someone who you trust.

Mid 2005 Facebook has changed, no longer just high school and college users.  They've seen unprecedented growth, since they offer "things" people can really use, as well as allowing 3rd party developer access to their API.  Diversity is unbelievable.  Majority of the users are out of college - they are the core Facebook user.

Facebook has 55 Million active user.  Active user is someone who has used the service in the last 30 days.  Equivalent to the entire paid newspaper service.  They are doubling ever 6 months.  By fall of next year they predict to have over 155 million.  Most users return every day. 70 billion page views a month, at the end of this year over 1 trillion pages a year.  Every users (average) generated 40 page views a day.  Gives Facebook the ability to have a subtle conversation with the users.

Social Graph - trust and safety comes along with developing a network.  With accurate social graphs and facebook, you can distribute your information virally, you tell your friends, they tell their's  and so on.  All for free and a lot less friction than the way it use to be done.  The news feed and the mini feed is what powers the distribution of this type of information

The news feed is a "readers digest" of your friends lives.  This page dynamically changes constantly.  The mini-feed is where you decide what content and information that you want your friends to see.  The mini feed "Feeds" the news feed.  This powers the viral distribution of information at no cost.

Facebook Platform, any third party can access to these benefits.  In the first 4 days 1 application had 1 million users (iLike), today there are over 100 applications with more than 1 million users.  So how does all of this relate to advertising.

Distribution is a precious commodity, commanded by the few.  Newspapers, radio and TV.  distribution became a bottle neck.  But today the game is different.  Now, for free - anyone can now in an effortless way can have access to massive amounts of distribution.

Facebook Ads - 1st thing is Pages - this allows business to create a page for free.  This allows you to created your own network.  2nd thing is Social Ads, it works as a free market auction, CPC or CPM.  3rd is Insights, gives you a views into your ROI on Facebook.

Pages - Design your own page, for free.  Can add photos, videos, events, discussion board, flash content, music player.  3rd party application - open table, zagat, fandango.  These all take less than 10 minutes to create and implement.  These all allow the business to connect with people and have very powerful conversations with people.  Beacon allows social actions from your site to distribute it to Facebook, users control their information (Yelp is an excellent example of this).

Social Ads allow you to amplify that social distribution.  Social actions + content is what Social ads is about.  If you are a local business, you can now create 1 to 1 ads.  Can appear in the newsfeed or the left hand area for ad units.  Targets exactly the audience you want.  Criteria - location, county, state, interests, gender, activities, major, tv shows, books, work history, political views, relationship status, etc.

Insights holds Facebook accountable.  gives the advertiser information on page views, who's clicking on the ads.  Pulse (facebook product) gives you insight into every dollar spent into the ad system.

What does all this mean?  Just get started!  www.facebook.com/ads.

4 Web Analytics Tips for SEM

By Alex Cohen

Clicks, CPC, CTR, CPO--the world of paid search marketing is full of acronyms and numbers.  Cutting through the data clutter is key to using analysis to your advantage. 

I've already talked about ppc analytics when moving data from one agency to another.  In this post, I'm sharing 4 quick tips to use web analytics to generate more money from your paid search campaigns.

#4 - Rank Your Results
Benchmarks are a great way to understand whether your campaigns are performing to their full potential.  The easiest benchmarks to get come from your own campaigns. 

Pick the key performance indicator that matters most to you, say cost-per-order, and rank from best to worst.  Now, apply conditional formatting to values.  One option is to setup the formula to color according to a particular cut off point.  I like to have Excel highlight the top and bottom 10% (this is easiest in Excel 2007)

Now, dig into the data and start asking questions.  Why do these campaigns perform best?  Why do these campaigns perform worst? 
 

Continue reading "4 Web Analytics Tips for SEM" »

November 28, 2007

Women of Internet Marketing Wednesdays Part 29

By Li Evans

Womenofinternetmarketing Surprise!  I have edition 29 for you today, as I stated earlier, I wasn't quite sure if I'd be able to bring an edition of the Women of Internet Marketing series to you today, but it worked out that I have been able too.  Please remember though, next Wednesday we won't have an edition due to my travel schedule.

So while I'm out here in sunny Los Angeles at SES Local, I've taken the time to put together an edition that shines the light on two women who, although don't have direct day to day involvement in PPC campaigns, or changing Title Tags on websites, they both have significant contributions in industries that directory affect ours.  One works for a search engine, the other is a public relations guru.  Today let me introduce you to Karen Wickre and Kami Watson Huyse.

Continue reading "Women of Internet Marketing Wednesdays Part 29" »

Local Link Love at SES Local Search: ILM:07

By Li Evans

Sage Lewis (Sage Rock ) - don't put the  cart before the horse.  All link campaigns start with content.  Think win/win - in order to develop a local link campaign you must have some appeal for local sites.  Link-worthy sites are hard to come by, they require time, dedication and commitment.  So what's a linker to do?

  • Integrate the community into your corporate events
  • Create an offshoot service or product that helps the local community
  • Promote the good work you are doing in your community
  • Augment the values you have as an organization

You just don't build the site and hope the links will come, ask for the link!

Matt Stoddart (LinkWorth) - How do you get local links?  Where do you find them?  Get the obvious ones - the BBB, Chamber of Commerce links, search for "city/state  + associations" to find relevant organizations. 

Local is Social - local directories, calssified, review communities - citysearch, yelp, local.com, craiglist.  Join region-specific groups within large social sites - facebook, myspace, linkedin.  Find local & niche bloggers and interact - technorati, mybloglog.

Buying local links, search for relevant, non-competing businesses to buy directly from, ask them or offer to buy.  Buy through broker, or buy a link from google - $1995 a year, buy the google mini - they give you a link.

Be creative - donate to local charities and request a link from their site.  Sponsor a youth sports team.  Local restaurants, churches, retailers ... any local businesses with a website - offer specific coupons.

Ian McAnerin (McAnerin Networks)
- Seearch engines can be a great way to find links - its what they do!  To find a relevant directory or links page try searching for one using "directory indicators".  Look for "carpet cleaning" + "sumbit.php" or "addurl.asp" - "coffee" + "submit site", "philadelphia add url".

Other places, DMOZ, local associations, charitable work, contests, related sites (ex. Movers < > real estate agents), reciprocal links - stay on topic with these.  How do you ask for a link?  Wrong way - spammy emails to people.  Don't send an email about "Page Rank" or "being important to seo".  Right way - look for invitation (form, outbound links, etc.), stay on topic, get the address and name right - personalize it, explain why you're relevant.

Non-traditional - ratings & reviews, testimonials, press releases, contests, tools & utilities, entertainment.  Evaluating links - don't evaluate just on PR, its not the be all and end all.  Search position, # of other links on the page, context and relevance, neighborhood (good/bad), anchor Text, 302 redirects, cache.  Watch Out For:  nofollow attribute, frames. 

Use the phone!  More personal.

Local Link Love at SES Local Search: ILM:07

By Li Evans

Sage Lewis (Sage Rock ) - don't put the  cart before the horse.  All link campaigns start with content.  Think win/win - in order to develop a local link campaign you must have some appeal for local sites.  Link-worthy sites are hard to come by, they require time, dedication and commitment.  So what's a linker to do?

  • Integrate the community into your corporate events
  • Create an offshoot service or product that helps the local community
  • Promote the good work you are doing in your community
  • Augment the values you have as an organization

You just don't build the site and hope the links will come, ask for the link! 

Matt Stoddart (LinkWorth) - How do you get local links?  Where do you find them?  Get the obvious ones - the BBB, Chamber of Commerce links, search for "city/state  + associations" to find relevant organizations. 

Local is Social - local directories, calssified, review communities - citysearch, yelp, local.com, craiglist.  Join region-specific groups within large social sites - facebook, myspace, linkedin.  Find local & niche bloggers and interact - technorati, mybloglog.

Buying local links, search for relevant, non-competing businesses to buy directly from, ask them or offer to buy.  Buy through broker, or buy a link from google - $1995 a year, buy the google mini - they give you a link.

Be creative - donate to local charities and request a link from their site.  Sponsor a youth sports team.  Local restaurants, churches, retailers ... any local businesses with a website - offer specific coupons.

Ian McAnerin (McAnerin Networks) - Seearch engines can be a great way to find links - its what they do!  To find a relevant directory or links page try searching for one using "directory indicators".  Look for "carpet cleaning" + "sumbit.php" or "addurl.asp" - "coffeed" + "submit site", "philadelphia add url".

Other places, DMOZ, local associations, charitable work, contests, related sites (ex. movers<>real estate agents), reciprocal links - stay on topic with these.  How do you ask for a link?  Wrong way - spammy emails to people.  Don't send an email about "Page Rank" or "being important to seo".  Right way - look for invitation (form, outbound links, etc.), stay on topic, get the address and name right - personalize it, explain why you're relevant.

Non-traditional - ratings & reviews, testimonials, press releases, contests, tools & utilities, entertainment.  Evaluating links - don't evaluate just on PR, its not the be all and end all.  Search position, # of other links on the page, context and relevance, neighborhood (good/bad), anchor Text, 302 redirects, cache.  Watch Out For:  nofollow attribute, frames. 

Use the phone!  More personal.

Local Search - Why Your Business Needs to bBe There & How at SES Local Search: ILM:07

By Li Evans

Zorich Gordon (ReachLocal) - What you were buying historically is not working any more.  Local businesses really want to cut a check and let someone else do the work with local search, since their level of expertise is not there.  These people want to run their business not online campaigns.  When a campaign is launched for local, business are blown away by the amount of leads generated by local search ppc campaigns. 

Gib Olander (Localeze)
- Local search in an inefficient market today.  Local search closes the loop on the buying cycle.  Creates engagement at the store level.  Local is where the buying poer is.  Supports all other forms of advertising and marketing.  68% prefer to buy a product at a local place, but 58% want to research it online first. 

Create a cloud of content for each individual business location.  Keep in mind that the content must answer both discovery & recovery local search queries.  Foundation is how you build your base data.  SEO and PPC then help spread that information. 

Business Listing database index, very important to having your business listed.  Organic web crawling is the 2nd piece.  PPC is the 3rd piece.  Think beyond local search being just the opportunity to optimize a website.

Eric Stein (Google) - Shows a listing for car wash in 94301, has listings with address, phone, some have photos, business contents, and coupons.  The advertising opportunities as well.  Businesses have the opprotuntity to upload content such as coupons which generates foot traffic.  Small businesses and medium business generally need help with this, because they are more focused on running their business, so they need an additional form of service through agencies and also Google.

Ethan Stock (Zvents)-  Zvents is a local search engine that includes "time".  Time based promotions are key marketing tool to drive foot fall and revenue today for local merchants.  Go somewhere, do something - NOW.  Zvents powers "things to do" local search - they why theat gets consumer out the door - for large and growing media network.  Business can put in information for free - basically information.  Zvents is highly optimized so this helps as well.

Chris Tolles (Topix) - co-founder of open directory project.  Topix launched and aggregated news site in 2004, didn't set out to do "Local" - boring, not our core competency.  51 % of traffic , 10% of content in 2004.  Local news is tough, because there are over 32k in zip codes. 

Topix allowed users to put in own stories, and the database grew, and engagement grew.  This isn't just working in big cities, it helps with small town America as well.  There's a huge market 7.68 billion market by 2001.  Investments like $55M ReachLocal just received.  Comments in 19,868 towns, 1,500 cities, 70k posts per day, 60% of traffic on commentary, 60% of comments original.  Partnerships with 3 major papers.




Live Blogging SES Local Search

By Li Evans

After a rather long flight from Philly to L.A., I'm here at SES Local  being put on by Incisive Media and Interactive Local Media.  There's a lot on tap, and a more intimate conference, one track.  So I'll be bringing you the information as each session ends.

Of course, I'll also be bringing you photos too - look out, roaming photog at the conference! :)

November 22, 2007

Taking on the 800lb Gorilla: Search engines beating Google (Part 1)

By Y.M. Ousley

Most search optimization and marketing campaigns have one end goal: top rankings in Google. Some efforts may be directed towards Yahoo; and while top spots in MSN or Ask don't hurt, few search marketers actively target them.

If Yahoo can't overtake Google's lead, Microsoft's Live has less than half of Yahoo's market share and Ask has less than half of MSN's lead, does Google really have a close competitor when it comes to search?

Absolutely.

Part of the reason Google rose in popularity against early competitors like Lycos, AltaVista and search engines that got their start years before, is that they delivered a better search experience. Regardless of how long you've been using them as a marketing tool, most people remember clicking through pages of results before getting to one site that satisfied what you were looking for.

While Google continues to grow in popularity as a general search engine, there are still plenty of areas where you have to click through several pages before getting to the information you want. And sometimes, no matter how many words your search includes, or how far down the search tail you go, Google doesn't provide the best search experience.

In a few of these areas, smaller sites have proved their staying power even when Google tried to expand into their territory.

Take shopping. Re-branded as Product Search (formerly Froogle), Google's shopping comparison engine never became a market leader against sites like Shopzilla, Shopping.com and others. Despite placement on the homepage for a period of time, one-box results and many merchants who jumped at the chance to include their products free of charge (most comparison engines charge a fee for inclusion, or serve results on a CPC basis), user response wasn't overwhelming.

Even when you look at maps, which is an area where Google at least has mindshare - thanks to APIs that let sites easily integrate data, they aren't close to the market leader. Mapquest remains on top, with second place going to Yahoo Maps who have less than half the traffic (according to a March comparison from Compete).

Why is this? Everyone will have their own opinion. Mine is that what made Google successful in general search is what makes it weak in other areas. Not all searches are created equal, and individual search engines and vertical sites take advantage of that to deliver a better search experience.

When looking for cheap tickets to Las Vegas in December, Kayak or SideStep give far more relevant information than Google. I can see an actual dollar amount, determine how many layovers or connections I'm willing to endure for cheapness and purchase a ticket.

Going back to a vertical where Google directly competes, I find a search for shoes on ShopStyle a lot easier, and a lot more relevant. I wear a hard to find size, and while a search on Google Product Search serves up children's shoes, men's shoes and styles that I probably won't be looking for until I'm at least 65 - in less time on ShopStyle I found several styles I enjoyed, in my size with no apparent confusion as to my age or gender. When those in the US start their Black Friday shopping, Shopping.com, ShopZilla and several other engines are poised to offer more relevant suggestions than Google with less searching.

While none of these smaller sites or search engines will kill Google, they can at least hold their own and dominate their markets - even when a much larger, better funded competitor enters the ring. As a search marketer, what does it mean for you?

At the end of the day, being in a top position on a major search engine is about the traffic. You make the effort or pay for the clicks because you want to bring in more qualified users who will take a certain action on your site. You want your site products, information and offerings to be found for as many queries as they are relevant to. In more and more verticals, users are showing that the best search engine for that isn't the biggest.

In Part 2 of this post I'll share my personal list of vertical search engines along with how to add your listings to their indices.

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