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April 06, 2011

Women of Internet Marketing Interview with Claire Carlile

By Julie Joyce

Women-of-Internet-Marketing

 

Welcome to the next interview in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, where today we have the utterly lovely and sweet Claire Carlile. Now, a few introductory words about this little fairy...

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 I first encountered Claire online (like you do) and immediately thought she was a nut. I mean that in a very, very good way too, as I like nuts. When I finally met her in person a month or so ago, she was even better than I expected and we had so much fun in London, especially when we drank cocktails with Jane Copland. As you'll see, she's pretty much 100% ego-free, genuine, and a total insane piece of joy in a Barbour coat.

Q: For those of us unfamiliar with you and your work, can you give us some background on who you are, how you got started in SEO, and what you're up to currently?

A: I’m Claire Carlile, I’m a Chartered Marketer based in Pembrokeshire on the beautiful West Wales coastline. I’ve worked with a range of small to medium sized businesses on their offline and online marketing for years, my interest in SEO was piqued when I started to explore the online opportunities it presented for my clients – and I guess it all went from there.

Q: How is it doing SEO in such a remote place? How do you keep a connection to the industry?

A: Initially it was pretty frustrating, and I struggled with feeling isolated. But then I spent some time in the big city and got to know quite a few people there, and these connections followed me back to the sticks in an online sense. I have some great friends and contacts that I’ve met online, then I’ve gone on to meet in the flesh (which has a kind of blind date feel about it), and now we’re firm friends. One of my ‘real’ offline friends (he sells Italian meats) laughed at me for referring to my industry as having an ‘SEO community’, and in my experience that’s how it’s been – generally very friendly, supportive and giving. I guess there isn’t an equivalent community in the sausage industry, more fool them.

 

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Also, I’ve just started working for a lovely digital agency in Bristol (shall I name check them? They’re called Yucca), which means that I’m part of a really switched on digital team. I get to spend a week a month with them in their airy offices, and then the rest of the month working from home, holed up in my office wearing my PJs. I think this will offer me the best of both worlds and I’m really excited about it.

Q: I know it's April already, but what are your predictions for the industry for the remainder of 2011?

A: Ooh la la. Well, I guess people are still talking and thinking about the panda / farmer update, and now people are buzzing about Google’s plus one and what this is going to mean. Being of a marketing persuasion – and at that a customer oriented marketing persuasion – I’m really hoping that increased use of social metrics (whatever that might look like) will result in improved search placements for sites that really do have the needs, requirements and expectations of their customers and audiences at the forefront of their online offering. Did that sound really cheesy? I think I was just a little bit sick in my mouth.

I think we’ll hear increasingly about how SEO is not ‘just’ SEO anymore, and how it works best as part of a suite of online marketing practices, and not in isolation. Good SEOs will also be more like good PRs, more aware of how to leverage online and offline relationships to result in links or social ‘votes’. Oh, and I’m interested to see how ‘social spam’ develops. Like link farms and link networks, I guess there will be a growing network of fake social profiles. The one’s I’ve seen so far suck, so I’m interested to see the evolution of these, and how the search engines will differentiate ‘good’ social signals from those that have been gamed.

Q: Are there any areas of SEO in which you have no experience? Anything in particular that you view as your area of expertise?

A: I consider myself an SEO newbie in many senses as I’ve been learning and doing SEO full time for just over 4 years. I’ve constantly got my head in a book (reading Danny Dover’s new offering at the moment) or nosing through a blog, I don’t have a technical background, but I’m teaching myself to be more become more familiar with the technical side of SEO. Expertise wise, I try and stay on top of Google Places and local search opportunities. I like to work with businesses on ranking their local pages, and putting systems into place (for example customer feedback loops) that will allow them to continue to accrue reviews, but also to help them deliver excellent customer service.

Also, I’m a big fan of keyphrase research and love getting involved with this, ideally in the early stages of a project and then feeding all the learnings back into their IA planning, into new product and service offerings that the business hadn’t necessarily thought about or realized there was demand for, or for planning informational and ‘how to’ content for their site that will help them rank for lots of really interesting mid and long tail keyphrases. 

Q: What are your go-to SEO tools?

A: Now there’s a question. I recently had to trim back my toolbar fetish as I wasn’t using half of them. If I had to name just a few I would say the web developer toolbar for making site audits much easier, SEOQuake for at a glance metrics, live http headers to work out sketchy redirects and the SEOMoz toolbar for a basic poke around in the page title tag etc.

For link analysis I like Open Site Explorer and Majestic, and I’d love to get my hand on the Ontolo toolset (any offers Garrett French?). Ooh, and I do like the SEO gadget keyword tool for keyphrase research, it saves my brain from trying to understand excel stuff, and is a nice way to make sense and categorize very large sets of keyphrase research and data.

Q: Can you think of anything in particular that you once thought to be true and have since found out was not? For example, I used to believe that Toolbar PR actually was a decent metric. I no longer do.

A: About 10 years ago I went on an SEO training course run by a self proclaimed ‘SEO guru’ who told me and the other SMB owner participants that submitting your product or service to Google base would be the panacea for all ranking related ills and that we’d all miraculously rank for our keyphrases on the back of this. I slavishly updated my listings weekly to no avail. Fun times.

Q: On the issue of Toolbar PR, are there any other metrics that you are using in order to gauge the value of a site?

A: Metrics aside I’ll have a little look around first to get a feel for the site; is it answering the visitors question and meeting their needs? Is above the fold stuffed with ads? How is the user experience, in general? I guess this is a more qualitative overview, because even if you can get the visitor to your site if it basically makes them want to puke and hit the back button then you’re not onto a winner. I guess it also depends on what the ‘value’ of the site means, for example the site’s likelihood of ranking for a particular query, or how likely that site is to send you qualified traffic.

From a quantitative point of view I’ll look at and consider the number of links to the domain, the number of unique domains linking in, the authority of that domain and associated page (be that Google TBPR or the proprietary score of a tool such as OSE or Majestic), domain age and all that regular stuff. I guess we’re having to factor in social signals too – is there an active and / or authoritative twitter or facebook account associated with that site? What about other social networks? How often does that site get mentioned, or links to that site get tweeted. I guess it’s not just about links, it’s also about social citations. Eek!

Q: Let's say I am your new client and I want assurances that you'll rank me in the top 10 in 3 months. How can you convince me of the insanity of this request?

A: Ok, it’s insane. But I might promise to rank you for ‘sweet Southern red headed SEO temptress’. Scrap that, don’t search for that, whatever you do! Do I have to answer this one seriously? I have to find a way to manage their expectations. It’s different with each client. I like to be strict.

Q: Have you ever done any SEO that's backfired?

A: It hasn’t backfired yet, but I am waiting for it to. It’s not for a client, it’s a personal project, that’s all I can say ;)

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the industry over the next year?

 A: I want to continue to learn, and to be excited and engaged by what I do every day. I like working with new people, being part of a digital team has always been a goal of mine, and I’m really looking forward to being part of an integrated digital marketing agency, so I can understand more about the synergies of, and opportunities presented by, different online marketing channels.

I want to blog more, my own site (Claire Carlile Marketing) gets woefully overlooked on the blogging front. I find it much easier to create content for my clients and I’m much more reticent to blow my own trumpet. I think that’s terribly British, do you think?

Ok well that's enough of that...now onto the real stuff I wanted to ask.

Q. What's it like living in one of the most gorgeous places on Earth? (note from me: need a photo here that doesn't have a naked gun-belted man in it?) Is remote hassling of poor Sam Murray even remotely as good as in-person hassling?

A: OK, all the things that Sam said about the things I used to make him do when I was working with him at Verve – they’re not true! Ok, some of them are – like walking on his back when he’d hurt himself, oh, and making him feel my biceps after every gym session. I think he really misses me.

 

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Q: You seem to be very fit, which frightens me. What was the impetus behind getting in great shape and have you beaten anyone up yet? Gotten into any Welsh bar brawls? If not, do you plan to?

A: I row a big wooden boat called a gig – we row on the sea and each year we compete in the world gig rowing championships in the Isles of Scilly, which is an awesome event with over 100 boats on the start line which makes for an exciting and scary time. We tend to be much smaller in stature than the other ladies teams – I guess we’re a team of Welsh little people, so we tend not to pick fights because we’re scared. Oh, and because we are nice gentle folk. I did go through a stage of arm wrestling other ladies, and then there was a period of  Innuit ear pulling, but that really hurt.

Q: What SEO have you met that caused you to be the most star-struck? Obviously it was me but for the sake of things, who else?

 A: Basically just you. Oh, and Jay. And when I met Lisa Myers, and then when I saw Rand Fishkin’s back in a pub in London once. Oh, and at SES London I made Lee Odden get his photo taken with me, and I put my arm round him. He looked uncomfortable, but stayed totally professional and didn’t take out a restraining order. Yet.

Q: Would you rather go to a bar with loads of strict old-school blackhats or whitehats? Why?

A: Really, I prefer bobble hats, or one of those mini top hats that you wear at a jaunty angle on the side of your head, like a show girl.

Q: Write a somewhat dirty limerick about SEOs. Do it. Now.

A: Well, I would do, if I wasn’t already 3 weeks late returning the answers to your questions. I started writing something, but it was just too rude. Can I come back to it?

 

December 20, 2010

Are You The Industry's Biggest Search Geek?

By Li Evans

Biggest-search-geek-contest SMX is asking, "Are You the Biggest Search Geek?"

If you are, it could win you a trip for two to Search Marketing Expo in San Jose March 8-10, 2001.  The contest sponsored by Marin Software is in it's 3rd year and consists of 20 questions online marketing professionals need to answer to test their "search geekiness".  The winner will answer the most questions in the shortest amount of time.

It may seem easy, but how many of you know the answer to questions like "What was the name of Larry Page and Sergey Brin's 1996 research project that  laid the foundation for Google's search engine?"  without going to Wikipedia for the answer?  

And before you think that's one of this year's questions... think again! :)  That one was from a prior year.

So if you think you are up for it, go take the 20 question quiz and see if you can be crowned the industry's "Biggest Search Geek!"

 

November 30, 2010

SEO and the English Premier League

By Simon Heseltine

I’m English, well technically a dual citizen of the US and the UK, but I hail from Yorkshire.  As the English Premier League season (soccer) has been heating up, I’ve been struck by the similarity between it and SEO.

SoccerballRanking highly matters

In the English leagues there are 92 professional teams, however the big money is only available to those in the Premier League.  The Premier League only contains 20 of those teams.  Where you finish at the end of the season reflects the prize money you earn ,with 1st place taking close to 16Million GBP, and 20th taking just over 700k GBP.  The team that finished 1st in the division below only pockets 50k prize money.  However, teams that finish in the top 4 get to play in the European Champions League the following season, which is highly lucrative, so getting a high ranking really matters.  In SEO… you get the idea.

SoccerballThrowing money != success

Sure, you can have a limitless budget, hire as many of the best resources as possible, with the goal of hitting the top of the rankings.  But as many an oligarch / sheikh / American investor has discovered, there’s only one team that can be at the top of the standings, and it takes time for the investment to pay off, if indeed it ever does.  You don’t get to pick whether you’re number one in the SERPs, you just get to try for it.

SoccerballThe best content doesn’t always win…

…but it generally does well.  A team of superstars takes time to gel, just like it takes time for a search engine to rank content at the top of the SERPs.  Your content may be the best out there, but without the right links, or tweaks to the targeted keywords, you’re not going to displace your competition / that pesky Wikipedia link.

SoccerballROI is important

Over the last 10 years, 2 Premier League clubs have spent themselves into receivership (Leeds and Portsmouth, although technically Leeds didn't enter receivership until after they left the Premier League).  Throwing money they didn’t have into players that didn’t produce.  But what about your site?  If you’re not generating a decent ROI, then you’re not going to be in business for very long, or at the very least, you’re not going to be an employee there for very long.

SoccerballManagerial Buy-in makes a difference

The best way to succeed in online marketing is to have the backing and visible support of the management team.  Without that it’s very difficult to succeed.   In the Premier League, if a player doesn’t have the support of their manager, they can find themselves left on the bench, or played out of position, neither of which is very conducive to success for that player.

SoccerballSuccess breeds success

Over the 18 years of the Premier league, 17 of the titles have gone to either Manchester United, Arsenal or Chelsea  (16 of the last 16 to that triumvirate) .  If you get things right in the search engines you’ll see your site rising up across the board on your target keywords.  The better you do, the more opportunities you’ll have to focus on your conversion driving keywords.

SoccerballThink of the long term

The tenure of a Premier League manager is fairly short.  However, Sir Alex Ferguson of Manchester United has been there since 1986.  During his first season things didn’t go particularly well, and it’s generally regarded that he was on the chopping block, but a couple of good results turned the season around, and he went on to become the most successful manager that England has ever seen (for the record:  he’s Scottish).   Your management should  be willing to allow you to make mistakes when you’re starting out, as long as you learn from those mistakes.  The learning process is what helps you to improve as an SEO, pushing you on to improve.

SoccerballIt’s a team game

Sure, Wayne Rooney may earn an alleged 250k GBP weekly, but without the other players around him he won’t win anything.  Similarly, you need a good dev team, a UI / design team, project managers, and further support in order to succeed.  

SoccerballChanging the rules can change the game

Up until this season a Premier League team could have as many players in their squad as they could afford to keep.  This year the league instituted a maximum squad size of 25 players.  Given the results so far this season, where the top teams are not as far ahead of the chasing pack as they usually are at this time of the season, and several lower rated teams are doing particularly well, this shift appears to have changed the game.  When Google makes an algorithm shift similar things can happen.

So can your site be the Manchester United / Chelsea of Google, or are you doomed to be the next Accrington Stanley?

October 20, 2010

SES Chicago 2010 - Avinash Kaushik Keynote

By Simon Heseltine

Day 1 of SES Chicago kicked off with a keynote from Google's Analytics guru - Avinash Kaushik.  Not one to mince words Avinash started out by saying that "People who don’t get search have a lame view of the world".  Then he asked the question "What the heck is search marketing?", with the answer being that it's more than just the main search engines, and in his view is comprised of 5 main components

  1. Keyword discovery  – if you’re not good at this you’ll suck at everything else
  2. Keyword Management & Analytics- who bids on what? When? 
  3. Keyword Bidding & optimization – ad groups, keywords & phrases, text & creative, bids, match types, time, position, SEO, multivariate testing, analytics
  4. Website & landing pages – landing page management, LP optimizations, testing, ‘behavior’ targeting, advanced SEM analysis, analytics
  5. Business Outcomes – Direct revenue, profit & margin, online, offline, Non revenue impact  - You made love to the search engines, what came out of it?

The way to improve your search marketing efforts is to look at what you do well at, and see where you should focus.  Then follow the 4 rules:

  1. Don’t obsess about tools
  2. Understand the true landscape
  3. Identify gaps / opportunities
  4. Execute like crazy

Smarter search and analytics

If you underestimate the amount of data / user experience, you’ll end up focusing on the top head terms.  The magic in search is not from the head, it’s in obsessing over the tail. If you have, for example, 50,000 rows of data, you can't physically see it all to compare, so how do you understand how it all fits together?  Avinash recommends 4 ways to do just that.

    1. Focus!

Use logical filters – i.e. show all brand keywords where there’s an above average ROI.  Look at what's working well for you and replicate it, look at what's not working well for you and fix it.

    2. Intelligence!

Use an algorithm to eliminate the humans element i.e. look for high bounce rate keywords, find the ‘sucking losers’. When using the regular sort you'll get lost in the weeds (those keywords that have only 1 or 2 visits), so you need to use intelligence.  “Weighted sort” is a new feature in GA that shows the most interesting rows of data when sorted, rather than just the raw sort functionality.  Then you can focus on these 'interesting' rows.

    3. Tag Clouds

Use tag clouds to identify what your site is all about, make sure that you’re writing about lots of things, not focused on 1 or a few items.  A site that Avinash recommends to use is Wordle.net.  An example he showed of someone doing a good job with their tag cloud was LDS, with their tag cloud showing that they write about a variety of topics that they want to rank for, whereas Blackberry had a tag cloud that showed that they primarily focused on the term Blackberry, not really on anything else.

    4. Keyword Trees

The Juice analytics plugin  allows you to understand the relationship between keywords.  It's a good way to visualize data to see what works & what doesn’t work

"Your competitors are not doing these 4 things, because they’re lame" - Avinash

The top 10 rows of your dashboard never change, that’s why no-one cares about it after a few weeks (for many sites), so you have to figure out how to live life beyond those top 10 rows.

After talking for 10 minutes about how he worked to convince his wife that he was an important person in the industry, he finished out the presentation with a discussion on attribution models.  

The first step in attribution modeling is to determine whether you have an issue with attribution.  Take a look in your analytics to see how many visits it takes for someone to convert, if the majority of conversions occur in 1-2 visits, then you shouldn't care about attribution.  If, however, it takes 9-12 clicks for a conversion, then it's time to either cry or work out the right attribution model.

  • Should the first touch point be the one that gets the credit?  No, that’s like giving your first girlfriend the credit for marrying your wife.
  • Should it be spread equally around all touch points? Life is not a participation event, so no.
  • The MCU (Make Crap Up) model randomly (or seemingly randomly) attributes percentages across touch points…
  • The decaying credit model spreads the credit backwards across the touch points (which may result in earlier ones receive 0% credit), potentially looking at the timeframe.
  • Other models include giving the last touch point a much higher percentage, then applying a decaying model backwards across other touch points

While you may decide to go with any of these models, Avinash's advice was to "Be thoughtful, skeptical, & objective when applying models".

 

Interview with Disa Johnson: Women of Internet Marketing Series

By Julie Joyce

WIMW

 

Welcome to the latest (and possibly greatest) installment in the Women of Internet Marketing Series, where we interview, um, women. Today's interview should definitely interest you, as it's none other than Disa Johnson, a very outspoken SEO known as much for her brilliance in in the field as for the fact that she used to be male. I had the honor to meet her in person at SMX East recently and we'll soon be seeing her blogging a LOT.

 

DisaJohnson

Q: For anyone unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is AirDisa, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into SEO?

A: I was always interested in the arts. I dabbled in painting and it was by studying music that I assumed a career as an accomplished musician. In the nineteen eighties, I took note of how technology was changing music as a whole. I used to listen to records on vinyl, but I was the first on my block to own CDs and a player. Peter Gabriel's So record was the first ever to use digital equipment through the entire process from recording to CD. I was fascinated by that.

It was about that time that I also read a piece in the LA Times about new equipment called digital modems using telecommunications networks for household computer to computer data connectivity. That intrigued me greatly too. In one instant, I saw that musicians of the future would be empowered to distribute their music individually, without label support, using this new technology. I learned all I could about computers and the Internet so that I would be prepared for the change to music.

I started out with a 14.4k baud modem surfing local bulletin boards. The rest is SEO history.

I've worked as an expert witness on matters of Web technology and search for the US Post Office and several trademark cases involving Google rankings and competition acting unfairly. My attorney would probably advise me that it's a growth area for my business hah hah! It's always been good to have in my arsenal of skills, and been good for the health of my consulting practice. If you know SEO, and you are extremely savvy about legal matters of copyright, trademark and digital publishing, then it can be rewarding.

I had a hand in helping Danny build the SES conference series, and a little to do with SMX as well. He has so many moderators these days that it's hard to imagine when Danny and I were the only ones starting out trying to cover as many topics as we had then. We began with expert roundtables with up to five topics per room. We quickly realized these discussions deserved one room per topic. We had a two track conference for years, until Danny hired Chris and utilized all the SEO personalities that grew out of those early conversations.

Q: You've made no secret out of the fact that you were once Detlev Johnson. As you were a big name then and now, as Disa Johnson, can you speak to how you were treated as a male in the industry vs. a female? I must say that you have a totally unique perspective!

A: I'm having the time of my life. I always loved my life as Detlev too. I like to think of these things as equal overall, but with different benefits (obviously). People treat me differently in the realm of courtesy and respect. Detlev generally commanded instant respect, and now I can safely assume a certain courtesy will be extended to be by men that have self-respect. These aren't absolutes. There are both men and women out there who act badly. I think most people have had such experiences.

Q: Are there any people you've worked with both as Detlev and as Disa? If so, are there any differences in the before and after relationships?

A: Oh yes. I'd say it took a serious turn in every sense working with people and not everybody chose to continue working with me. The exception are the women owned businesses. Everybody I knew previously from women owned businesses generally just had one or two questions, and we then moved on like before.

Most SEO firms are owned by men though. There would be some difficult questions, difficult for them, mind you. I am open about anything to try and help people get it. Things moved on with male owned business often as though I were still Detlev, or until I made them laugh with a joke or two to break the ice. Sometimes someone would brave a joke, and I always love to see a guy try hard to make light when I know their wheels are turning uncomfortably.

At first, you see, my voice hadn't noticeably changed. Most of my work starts over the phone. It's very difficult to not sound like Detlev on day one. Even after a year I have people slipping and calling me Detlev and using male pronouns with me on the phone. That's an indication that they see me as the guy Detlev was. When they catch themselves, they believe they have to correct it out loud and apologize profusely.

I take it upon myself to inhabit Disa. Most of my friends have made the adjustment quickly, impressively fast. Only one or two can't easily hack the switch. Over time they will all make the switch. I'm reaching that point now. My voice is a lot different. You can go back to WebmasterRadio.FM archives with me on it and hear for yourself how I shifted my voice.

Q: Can you tell us about your new webcrawler tool?

A: It's a thing of beauty. It's the first distributable crawler, meaning that the same code runs on any device's browser with a Javascript Interpreter. That's a lot of browsers including mobile versions. For account holders, it securely communicates with a database at Search Return. Given that it's distributable, the crawler is only limited by how many browsers you can run. On the desktop, you can run it inside as many tabs as you have memory to handle. It can't be stopped, spoofed or limited by any site since it uses the browser engine. You can even crawl behind pass-protection.

Q: Where do you see us going with mobile SEO? Will it continue to be popular? I confess to being very poorly informed about all things mobile. I'd especially like to know your thoughts about how the ipad will continue to factor into our lives, because I like to justify the cost.

A: Mobile SEO is becoming increasingly important. At this time, just get your content in mobile format. Google's new basic SEO document spells it out clearly. They want site owners to think about mobile. The adoption of mobile has gone according to past forecasts, at a faster clip than other platforms of Web computing. I have completely mobilized my office in anticipation of our mobile future, our crawler looks fabulous on an iPad.

My advice is to think of mobile in two ways: Mobilized legacy SEO services with boots on the ground at your client's place of business using an iPad or similar device. Also consider the biz dev situation at a conference, or at an Admirals Club or Starbucks. Laptops have become clumsy. The other thing to make sure to learn, is what works and what doesn't work on mobile devices. There's a whole new reason to avoid Flash. I may be able to view Flash on my iPad with a string of apps, but it's not conducive to the interactive style of Flash in any case.

If Jakob Nielsen says: "Flash is 99% Bad" on the desktop, Flash is 100% awful on mobile devices with a touchscreen. Flash is just doomed to fail for anything but banners and games. As for the iPad, it's selling 4.5 times faster than the original iPhone. There's no stopping it. That said, our crawler will run on any device with a browser and full Javascript Interpreter (which would include any surprise competitors).

Q: When you say you're truly mobile, what exactly does that mean? Can you truly do all your work (even coding) from mobile devices? I'm a bit scared of messing with a spreadsheet on my iPad still.

A: I'm at Starbucks. I could also be anywhere I have coverage with my data plan. I can crawl the Web with my software and use apps to accomplish virtually any task I handle in my business. It wasn't easy to get to this point, a lot like it's not easy to switch sex. It takes commitment to a whole different level. You have to start to cut all the ties with the past and forge new dependencies on mobile communication, which is scary.

Critical spreadsheet info is not so easy to handle but it's possible once you are comfortable with the limitations. If you have to handle macros scripts in your Excel, use Word comments regularly then you're going to be disappointed even by Microsoft Mobile 7. The iPad can open Excel and I can change data cells but writing macros is something I would do on my laptop at home. I would do that from my iPad by logging into my laptop at home via the iPad. I do everything but writing source code native to the mobile device I'm using.

Q: What is the AltaDisaSEO℠ Score?  Also while we're getting technical, If you could list 5 skills necessary for a good technical SEO, what would they be?

A: AltaDisa SEO is essentially a set of scores that are unique to my way of thinking about SEO. Being a vet, there are things which are painfully obvious to me which somehow go neglected by today's SEO. My Pagerank Integrity(sm) score is specific to a site's links. Every other tool that analyzes these things get into unnecessary complexity too quickly, and often skip the most obvious big thing you want to know.

I also have a Related Indexed Backlinks score. My AltaDisa trademark is established as a placeholder for the compilation of all these scores into a search engine for account holders. I have SEO practices that I've quietly held on to which is published throughout the application. As far as skills, I've always highly valued writing skills in this business.

It's not enough just to be a good writer though. Marketing savvy is an important accompaniment. In potential employees I look for an information filtering process, which is absolutely necessary on the Web. I don't require tech experience, but I do look for people clever enough to spot dynamic objects at play on a page. The last two skills go hand in hand when considering bots. Recognize dynamic objects and screen your incoming information.

I had an employee burn out within 6 months at age 24 because he tried to keep up with 3,000 feeds of SEO news sources. He knowingly read something like sixteen versions of the same story looking for whatever insight, I don't know. He eventually lost it, the poor soul. I don't ever want to repeat that and hurt anybody's brain. Filter new information first by noting that bots create the third half of all the Web's content, and go from there. The Web is all fluff and bad SEO.

Yesterday, I saw what I consider bad SEO at CNET. They're an authority that rank exceedingly well. How could they screw this up? I searched for a release date for an iPad copycat device, and in the result set was a CNET review with 'release date' text. I would have been satisfied with a simple rumor. The CNET page was an auto-generated empty review page, keywords in the title, ranking top ten for the tablet I was looking up. That's just daft and a bad search experience which reflects most poorly on Google.

It's a win for the SEO, who probably used a ranking report to show off, but is a total failure for CNET who pays them good money for wrong-headed advice. The most important skill in SEO that is actually doing SEO. Everyone wants a 'push button cash machine' like CNET in their portfolio. Because CNET buys the bells and whistles, and would rave about the most modest gains when viewed through the tiny lens of an upward moving line graph.

I look for anyone who has the sense to do better than that.

Q: Anything going on in SEO today that you hate? I'll go first by saying that I truly despise both the debate about "ethics" and Google Instant. That's right. I've disabled you!!

A: I have one other thing that bugs me, but I completely understand it - and it's not limited to SEO. What I hate is when someone assuming they came up with a novel idea, is just hacking an older idea. Twitter is novel for it's mobility, and that's why I like them to beat Google Instant forever. There are very few novel ideas that are actually novel. Blogging is basically just someone taking old guestbook software and tweaking it. The two are hosted HTML-form based publishing with comments. They're really not that different.

People rarely (if ever) make the connection that I just drew. Guestbook spam by bots was a problem. Blog spam by bots is a problem today. The spammers know that guestbooks and blogs are the same exact thing. The best part for me is that Google loves these things even more than when Infoseek used to love guestbooks - hah hah! I haven't seen a new SEO technique in years. It's all repeating stuff we did ten years ago and calling it new or improved. Google's public SEO document even uses sentences that I wrote ten years ago that is now all part of the SEO lexicon.

Q: What's a typical workday like for you?

A: I get up early, but I can veto that myself if I had a late night. My day can start as early as 4am with NPR then a workout. It's common that I'm at the gym by 7 or 8am. When I started my transition, it was like packing two lives in the time space of one. It's less like that now, after about a year and a half, but there's still a lot to do - much more than it took Detlev to be a successful SEO. My business suffered while I had stays at the hospital, and concentrated on working out to heal and get fit. I went from size 24 to size 10 in eighteen months. I work on it daily to better myself, since I knew nothing about being a woman on the outside when I started. It only takes me two hours to look totally fab for anything.

Q: How did you change your weight so drastically? That's very, very impressive. I type that as I sit here cramming in pita chips, of course.

A: There's no pill or diet fad. There's just eat well, watch calories and workout. If you burn up more than you eat then you'll lose weight. It's that simple to start. I stopped eating cheese except once in a rare while. I stopped eating chocolate too, except once in a rare while as well. I don't butter my toast anymore. It sounds like a shame until I explain about how much fun I"m having doing all this. Also, I get to allow myself a budget for things that I love like cheese and chocolate. I just have to think of it differently.

Working out is hard to start and maintain but you can't let yourself down in this regard or weight loss can be painfully slow unless you practically starve yourself. I like cheese and chocolate and as long as I'm losing weight I get to eat well balanced which can include those items without worry. It's all about a balance that is going to get your weight down, and into those size 10 jeans. It's so exciting to fit into size 10 from 24. They don't make the best clothes in plus sizes. Plus size women have to make do with what's available. It's not fair. It's the way things are.

Q: What are your plans for the future? Do you see yourself still doing this in 5 years?

A: I definitely intend to continue to be involved with search. Perhaps I'll still be consulting personally but I like writing code best. I am actually very excited about my service marks and what I'll unfold with my applications. I also have other interesting prospects, including a possible return to music and art. The Web will always be hugely central to whatever it is that I'm doing. I'm a digital girl. I'm all digital bits now. I get to live forever. Who wouldn't want that?

Now, the fun ones...and I did try to limit these because there were a billion things I wanted to ask!!

Q: What are your current favorite bands?

A: My music did turn hard towards appreciating music that I wouldn't have intentionally put on as Detlev. I now have this incredible love affair with music that Detlev loved because I am doing so well as Disa. I get to listen to Jimi Hendrix and think along the same lines I always did. Led Zeppelin is intriguing but for a whole other reason. Besides, Heather and I saw Robert Plant in concert and he checked us out. How cool is that?

What's different is that I am filling out the natural curve in music I would have had if I had switched earlier in life. I'm going back to the eighties music, through to Alanis Morissette where I'm getting more depth into the bands I missed out on following the arena rock that Detlev did. I get to bring my arena rock experience to music that I'll participate in down the road. I have more a punk edge today than I did, and I like it all.

Q: Where do you buy your boots sister??

A: Boots! I buy them online, I buy them in physical stores. When I know by way of my stylist precisely that I want that Hunter boot, I'll order it online through Net-a-Porter or Zappos. When we're out shopping, (he's the most fabulous stylist in the universe), we'll try to find something perfect down in The Village or The Meat Packing district in the city. That's where I got my riding boots last year.

Eric also brings me things to whet my chops for high fashion, but we find things in second hand stores too. I got great Frye boots used in Andersonville here in Chicago. They are used, as in better than new, since it truly looks like I've personally had them for years. I've learned everything I know through Eric. I wouldn't trust another soul with my style, especially not me!

Q: How can the SEO industry be more friendly to the GLBT community?

A: No one is asking for perfection but SEO is not perfect in this regard. Danny was very kind to come out to. I was mentally prepared to be tarred and feathered by the rest, but I personally cared about Danny. No one should have to feel so much apprehension about living a successful life. I would say people have been very kind, and some haven't. There are rotten tomatoes thrown about in SEO by cowards, just as much as any other industry. I'll stand and take it.

Those who were backing me were gracious, some even had the guts to stand up and say stuff publicly stand beside me, prepared to defend me. Most people were unaware for a long time, didn't care, or actually were just intimidated by it and afraid to ask. No one showed up for my panel discussion to answer questions. I would say people should speak up more often when it comes to human rights, but it's generally great to be SEO and be gay or whatever.

Q: Ever been smacked on the arse and called cupcake? If so, when and where? If not, do you plan to be?

A: A drunk attorney squeezed my ass and boobs without any permission, and somehow he stole a face lick all at the same time. To this day I can't figure out how he got that lick in too. Previously to that, we were having martinis, talking about music. He seemed totally harmless, coy. I'm 42 and I think he had me by at least time and a half. Not that age is a problem with me, (unless a guy is way too young). It just came as a shocking surprise that someone of age acted like that.

On another occasion, I was standing in line to speak with Vint Cerf (I'm a fan!) and an obnoxious guy cut ahead of me in line. Again, any man with self-respect extends courtesy to women, it's just that simple. Vinton Cerf turned from his conversation, told the man: "ladies first" and took me aside to field my questions.

That was very special to me. I was just starting out, still size 24, and could easily have gone ignored for a multitude of reasons. It was even more special to me because that was the first time "ladies first" had ever been said in reference to me. It was Vint Cerf, I'm a happy geek girl.

Q: Who have you learned the most from in the industry, and what have these people taught you?

A: Heather Lloyd Martin. I learned way more from Heather than any other personality in the industry. We were a couple in business for several years in the mid nineties. Working alongside her taught me a great deal about the writing process in general. Previously to that, my writing was far too technical without tone and voice. It's still like that today but I've developed tone and voice over the years. I exercise it everyday with Twitter now.

Q: Any advice for anyone in ANY minority group who wants to be a part of the SEO community?

A: Live everyday like it's your last. Joy is where you'll find it: It's right inside you! Rise above the noise and walk with your dignity intact (regardless how you feel). Feelings last only for a time, even when they last for what seems like a long time. Feelings will change eventually, just remember they're chemically driven, so eat well and exercise. Watch "It Get's Better" on YouTube (by Dan Savage). No one but *you* are responsible for the way that you feel, one minute to the next. After all that, dismiss the importance of loud jerks if they're pestering you. It happened to me, it can happen to anyone. Once I dealt with the damage, I just moved on with a smile about what's coming next. My life is my message.

So there you have it folks...Disa Johnson. I'd like to thank her for agreeing to do the interview and be so honest and open about her life.

October 18, 2010

Letting Go of Traditional Marketing concepts for Better PPC Management

By Karl Ribas

With many companies struggling in this unsettling economy of ours, the thought of saving a buck has become more appetizing to small-business owners than the idea of actually making one.

With that, one way small-businesses choose to control costs is by bringing the management of their online marketing campaigns, otherwise managed by 3rd party professionals, in-house. More times than not, when such an occurrence happens, these new marketing responsibilities fall into the laps of the traditional marketing team - those individuals responsible for the Company's offline marketing strategies.

Some of you may ask, what's the big deal? A marketing professional is a marketing professional, are they not? Wrong! While the idea of bringing online marketing initiatives in-house is acceptable, especially if it means saving money, the idea that a traditional marketing specialist is the same as an Internet marketing specialist is dead wrong.

First and foremost, a traditional marketer and an Internet marketer are accustomed to very different marketing channels, and thus they are equipped with a unique set of skills and tools for helping them to accomplish their objectives. Very rarely will the skill-sets transfer from offline-to-online, and vise verse. In fact, Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) happens to be one of those occasions where traditional marketers, without proper training, seem to always struggle.

Following are three examples that outline just how different Pay Per Click is compared to traditional marketing channels, and why letting go of traditional marketing concepts will lead to better PPC management.

Click-Costs and Positioning are NOT Set in Stone
Without a doubt, the most difficult concept for a traditional marketer to grasp when managing Pay Per Click advertising is the auction.

Traditional marketers, when purchasing ad-space within newspapers and magazines or 30-second commercials on television and radio stations, deal with people, and those people set the pricing and positioning for their ad buys. With regards to Pay Per Click, no such people or fixed pricing/positioning models exist. Instead, Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and all other PPC networks support an auction based system.

For example, Google uses an ad auction in accordance with a proprietary algorithm to determine the appropriate click-fee and position for each advertiser. Their algorithm considers a long-list of variables including, but not limited to, account and campaign settings, keyword selection and match-types, maximum bid, and quality score - a metric used to calculate a relevancy value by reviewing keyword selection, ad-copy, landing page, and other unknown variables.

Google uses a complicated algorithm along with its supporting technology and their ad-auction. Therefore it has a constant pulse on its ad-marketplace and can charge and position advertisers accordingly throughout every second of every day. Click fees and positioning can and will fluctuate from second-to-second, search-to-search. Traditional marketers seem to struggle with PPC marketing because costs and positions are not metrics that they can control.

An Increase in Spend Does NOT Guarantee an Increase in Ad-Placement
Traditional marketing is all about marketing to the masses and hoping that the target audience not only receives the message, but becomes so inspired that they step forward and take action - learn, buy, participate, etc.

Campaign managers understand that in order to increase revenue they must first increase their ad's exposure. This results in an increase in advertising spend. Such examples include advertising on the front half of a magazine as opposed to the back, or airing a TV commercial during prime-time hours as opposed to during the mid-afternoon. The model is simplified in that the better an ad's placement, the more exposure it receives, and therefore the better chance of success it has.

On the other hand, Pay Per Click works quite a bit differently. It is true that advertisers can gain more exposure (impressions and clicks) by simply being the top sponsored listing for their chosen keywords. However, advertisers can't simply buy better ad-placement like they can with traditional marketing channels, and this is a concept that troubles traditional marketers.

Google, as an example, removes the idea of bidding for position altogether. They promote a system that allows advertisers, big and small, to compete on the basis of relevancy and not their wallets. Therefore, in order to increase revenue PPC marketers must first increase their campaign's relevancy. By doing so, it may or may not result in an increase in advertising spend. Such examples for increasing a campaign's relevancy include fine tuning ad-copy, promotions, landing pages, and keyword selection.

Relevance Exists on a Much Grander Level
Marketing without relevancy is a waste of time, money, and effort... something both traditional and Internet marketers understand very well. However, one of the biggest differences between traditional marketing channels and Pay Per Click marketing is the level of relevancy that each is capable of achieving. For traditional marketers, relevancy means running Ford Truck and Papa Johns pizza commercials every Sunday during the football season. For PPC marketers, relevancy means so much more than that.

The very core of search marketing promises relevancy - the idea of listing relevant websites in accordance with what is being searched. The PPC model supports this. PPC allows advertisers to participate in a one-one-one marketing channel where it is the end-user that solicits advertising, and not the other way around. This often becomes an issue for traditional marketers that are new to managing PPC campaigns. Proper Pay Per Click management means displaying ads that target only those individuals interested in learning more about a company's products and services, and not the masses.

October 12, 2010

WordStream Releases PPC Quality Score Management Software

By Simon Heseltine

It's been a while since I've actively worked with PPC, but any tool that claims to make life easier for search marketers is worth looking at.  Today, WordStream released a new suite of Quality Score management tools for AdWords advertisers, which are directly incorporated into the company's PPC product  These tools are designed to help advertisers boost Quality Scores which, in turn, should lower overall PPC costs.

AdWords Quality Score is a "grade" assigned by Google, based on demonstrated relevancy (that of the landing page to the keywords targeted) and click-through rates, that has a big impact on how successful your campaigns are. WordStream's new Quality Score tools help marketers strengthen their campaign structures according to proven best practices that raise both CTR and Quality Score, which equates to:

  • More exposure in the search results for lower costs
  • More traffic, better qualified leads, and higher sales

The new Quality Score tools have been added to WordStream's existing keyword management technology, along with tighter AdWords integration.

  WS1

The new features include:

  • AdWords Campaign Organization Tools – These grouping tools are useful for quickly creating tightly related ad groups and strategically organized campaign structures.
  • Negative Keyword Tools – WordStream already had some tools to help identify and set negative keywords, but these are now easier to use and have been improved to further reduce irrelevant impressions and wasteful ad spend.

  WS2 

  • Long-Tail Keyword Expansion Tools – Again, keywords are WordStream's specialty. The new keyword expansion tools provide thousands of highly targeted long-tail keyword suggestions tailored to your product or service niche.

If you want to learn more, you can sign up to try WordStream's new Quality Score tools free

October 08, 2010

Facebook Ad Tactics for Search Marketers

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East

DSC_8727 The "Facebook At Tactics for Search Marketers" panel at SMX East was a pretty insightful panel, from looking at how to manage your advertising in Facebook more easily to how to use it as a research tool, this panel was also full of great tips fromt he presenters.

First up was Matt Lawson from Marin Software who pointed out that Facebook just has a sheer amount of traffic, it's now crested and eclipsed google in page views.  They pages visisted are also more per session, 12+ in Facebook is an oustanding number to figure into your strategies.

Understanding that people are visiting more pages during their sessions in Facebook, you will naturally get more impressions than you can in paid search in the search engines (Google, Bing).  That only makes sense.  More impressions however, does mean lower click through rates, but this is o.k. when you also factor in you will have lower CPC rates that range anywhere from 12 to 15%.

Conversion rates are really all over the map for Facebook ads.  It really depends on how you are targeting your ads and your creatives.  Images are much more important with Facebook Ads.  Marketers need to be careful of having their ads "blending in" so choose colors that draw out.  If you also tailor your images to your audience it will increase their relevance as well.  You also need to keep the ads fresh because users on Facebook become ad blind

Matt also pointed out that maintaining the Facebook experience is important, especially for conversions.  Most succeful campaigns tend to be those who built their ads and campaigns into the Facebook tabs.

Matt rounded out his presentation by pointing out for marketers to remember that (according to: "The Influecened:  Social media, search and the interplay of consideration and consumption"  by Group M) social influences search.  Consumers who are exposed to a brand's social meda ads are:

  • 2.8 times as likely to search on brand terms
  • 50% more likely to click on paid search ads
  • 1.7 times morelikely to purchase from search


DSC_8723 Kevin Ryan from Motivity Marketing was up next at the podium and started off with pointing out how Facebook ads are really easy to set up, in just 5 minutes you can set them up.  He also pointed out that Facebook can become bigger in 5 yrs than Google is today (he pointed out a good piece on TechCrunch that speaks to this).

When marketers are working with Facebook ads, they need to look beyond just the keywords to things like tidal changes, early stage - creative shelf life, transitions, and just because you can doesn't mean you should (especially when it comes to bidding against your competition).  Marketers need to be more geographically relevant with Facebook and understand the collective interest.

Merry Morud from AimClear was up after Kevin Ryan and focused on how she runs campaigns in Facebook.  When you start a new account either start it from an admin account or create a new destination account on Facebook.  If you start a new account Facebook will at first limit you to $50, put in a request to buy more and they will work to get that removed.

When it comes to Facebook ads they are still a lot like PPC ads in the search engines in that you still need to create Landing Pages, whether they are landing pages that are on your site or a Facebook tab, you should still perform small audits on there.  Marketers should also be testing the verbiage in their copy, but an easy way to start is to grab your Search PPC copy that is working.  Also understanding how much freedom you have is important because in Facebook langauge that appeals to a certain segment (slang) can make your ads more successful.

Merry also pointed out how important images are to Facebook ads.  You need to get pictures - you need them, lots of them -  and you also need to make the images pop.  Merry uses IrfranView and cranks up both the contrast & saturation to make normal images stand out more.

Some best practices to keep in mind for creating your Facebook ads are: no symbols, full healdine, full sentice in body, no excessive punctuation, no eccesive capitlaize, real urls, bid daily budget must start at least $1.  She also suggested using some alternative tools:  Word's Thesaurus, Wikipedia, VisuWords, WordStream, OneLook Reverse Dictionary and your own noggin'.

Merry really had a ton more of great stuff in her presentation so if you were at SMX and didn't get to see this panel, download her presentation when they put them up and you can get the full information.  She really did have a lot of awesome tips and insights.

Finally Tyler Calder from Search Engine People rounded out this panel.  Tyler focuse on how marketers can use Facebook ads for market research.  Facebook is a researchers dream, so much data to get into about your customers can be found on Facebook.  If you want to  know how a certain groups people respond to a message an image or a question - Facebook can help with that.

Marketers can take these findings and apply to other offline and online intiatives such as TV, Radio and Print. If you start to use Facebook Advertising as a starting point for your marketing research, follow the Scientific Method.  Tyler outlined what marketers can test with Facebook ads:

  • Blog Titles
  • Email Subject Lines
  • Existing Message in New Market
  • Value Propositions
  • Proof Points

Benefits of using Facebook as a marketing research tool are huge: cost effective, fast, targeting, data collection, and flexibitilty.

Tyler presented two case studies in how they effectively used Facebook ads to research and test for their clients.  The first involved TV ads for a medical client that specialized in lap band procedures.  The client had a clearly defined geographic area and demographic but has a very high cost per conversion and they needed insights into how to produce a commercial that would be relevant.  They question they needed to answer for the client was what type of TV does their audience watch.  By using Facebook ads they were able to effectively answer that question and help the client with the campaign and making it much more affective and the results were 6% increase in calls, 11% increase in online consultation bookings.

The second case study Tyler highlighted was for a company who had a mobile application.  The app itself had strong reviews and a high retention rate however it could not break into the top 25.  The problem was that their app icon was seriously ugly and sucked.  Tylers team used Facebook ads to test the new icon images, the one that performed the best in the ads was what was chosen for the new application icon. The results - app downloads steady rate/sustained of downloads, with first ugly app icon, it was 69% drop off after the initial release.

Just like the Facebook (SEO) Optimization panel before this one, this session was really full of a lot of great tips, insights and information.  If you attended SMX East and missed this panel make sure to download the presentations.  If you didn't attend SMX East, make sure you put SMX West on your agenda!

 

October 07, 2010

Facebook (SEO) Optimization: Free Ways to Be Found on Facebook

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

Marty-weintraub Lately Facebook marketing has become all the rage, especially for online marketers.  With that in mind I sat down in the Facebook SEO:  Free Ways to be Found on Facebook panel at SMX East 2010.  The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Osmesloski the editor for Search Engine Land and presenters were Marty Weintraub, Gregg Finn and Chris Silversmith

First to the stage was Marty, who had a deck that was just packed with data, so much so that I'll have to go back and digest that presentation to fully comprehend everything Marty was trying to relate in such a small amount of time.  Some key facts, tips and information I gleened from Marty's presentation were truly insightful.

When it comes to the "SERPs" of Facebook (if we want to call them that as search engine marketers) and mature Facebook accounts different factors like personalization and likes matter in what's brought back when a user searches in the Facebook environment.  There's a few things that affect personalization: you "like it", your friends "like it", you've got 2nd degree friends (not quite as relevant), you've been invited to things, you've visited the page before, and you've listed it as an interest on your profile.

Marty outlined 9 important ranking factors to consider when you are setting up your profile or pages/groups on Facebook, if you want them to rank in Facebook's search results.
  1. Your Name
  2. Events You Are Invited To
  3. Friend with Keyword in Name
  4. 2nd Degree Friend with Keyword in Name
  5. Questions w/ keyword in it & # of Answers
  6. App you have used
  7. Page Friend Likes
  8. Groups you have joined
  9. Internal external page & Interest You Have on a Profile
The one place that seems to be the most "spammy" on Facebook that programmers are hacking and exploiting is Events.  Events are not geographically based, nor based on if your friends are attend, nor the invites and not really keyword based.  Spammers are using events to send emails to everyone on the attendee lists whether they've RSVP'd or not.  This is why people are ignoring events anymore.

The key to successfully marketing with the events is to get people to RSVP as ATTENDING and get people to the page at least once.  Don't forget to make your primary keyword the first word of the event and don't make that name too long.

Marty had so much more great information, if you are interested in it, follow him on twitter he's @aimclear.

Greg Finn was up next with another treasure trove of great tips for marketing in Facebook.  The key to making your pages rank is relevancy of the page name, the fans you have and also the conversations that are going on within those pages, according to Greg.  Greg also highlighted Facebook's Page Browser feature and how those factors affect what appears in the page browser.

When you are trying to boost your fans he pointed out some rather simple things marketers can do like making sure you have a "Become a Fan" button on your main website.  He also suggested running promotions, however you do need to consult Facebook's guidelines on promotions before you launch to avoid having Facebook shut down your promotion.

The best promotions that work are charitable donations.  This is where companies say "for every fan we acquire" within a certain time frame, they will donate a certain amount of money to a charity.  Greg suggested that companies can alter this and encourage more conversation because in order to comment on a fan page wall, you have to like it first.  So by running the promotion focusing on "for every comment on this post, we'll donate", you are getting both fans and conversation.

Open-graph Chris Silversmith rounded out this panel with some other great insights, primarily utilizing your status updates in more effective ways.  If you utilize tagging, you can really improve your chances of increasing the number of people who see it.  For example utilizing people's names, groups, businesses, and locations can actually place your status updates on their walls, exposing that information to their fans/friends. 

You do want to be careful with this though because it can appear spammy and get ignored and also be ineffective if a group, fan page or community page only shows "their" updates and doesn't allow fans updates to be seen.  Remember as well, you can only use 6 tags in a status update.

Chris also gave some great tips about optimizing fan page code for facebook by using the Open Graph.  Open Graph code is based on RDFa and Chris pointed out that marketers should make sure to use the meta tags outlined in the Open Graph outline by creating special html pages on their own sites and synching them with the Facebook Fanpage.  You really only get one shot at this as once 10 or more people like it, Facebook won't change the information on the page you've synched.  To get Facebook to recognize your Open Graph coded page put the like button on the page and click it as the administrator of the fan page from that page.

This panel was so packed with great information, there's a lot more that I didn't cover here, as actually sitting in the panel is where you get the true benefit!  If you are interested in learning more, tweet to the presenters, they might help you out, or better yet attend SMX West in February 2011.

October 05, 2010

Retargeting: The New Behavioral Ads

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

Behavorial-ad-re-targeting One of the first sessions yesterday at SMX was the Retargeting:  The New Behavioral Ads.  This session focused around understanding how minute in details and data driven serving up display ads across content networks can be.  Chris Sherman was the moderator for this panel and he brought up the fact that the FCC is taking a closer look at the process of using cookies and their data to retarget ads to users and the privacy concerns around this process.  There could be legislation coming in the future that prohibits companies from using data in this way.

First up on this panel to present was Kevin Lee from DidIt.  Kevin's been around this space for quite a while and is one of the people who have a truly deep knowledge of exactly how these networks work with capturing data and then serving up the right ads to the viewer.  Kevin focused on the basics of ad retargeting and told the audience that this form of advertising is much greater than thinking of it as just "display ads".

When it comes down to it, marketers have to think about who's cookie pool do they want to use, if  you want to be successful because all behavioral search is not the same.  Since you want to remarket to your customers and existing site visitors you are going to need a larger cookie pool of visitors to be successful.  So are you going to use organic traffic, paid placement traffic, media traffic, direct navigation, affiliate marketing traffic (this can get tricky because you'll have to pay the affiliate when the remarketing works)?

What is the window of opportunity for the buy funnel? The longer your prospects are in market the more opportunity you have to remarket to them, so you need to plan accordingly with your budgets and strategy.  But keeping that in mind you also have to look at the "creepy factor" of retargeting along with the "spouse factor" meaning that most computers are shared by a family.  Just because we have all this Personally Identifiable Information (PII) does it mean we should use it?

Kevin wrapped up his presentation by pointing out a beginners mistake: be careful with performance deals.  Sometimes you are paying for the same lead/order multiple times and data collection systems can kill your affiliate networks.  Look for performance marketing agencies who have performance marketing deals that work around attribution modeling and even better, media mix modeling that offer marginal elasticity of ever media option.


Joshua Dreller presented next and posed the question to the audience "What is the main reason why search marketing works so well?" his answer was "Intent."  Search marketing is considered by advertisers to be the most effect media channel for reaching consumers who exhibit "intent."

There are challenge though:  high ppc prices, scalability issues, maxed out budgets, only being limited to text ads - nothing beats sound and images. This is where ad retargeting can really shine especially when marketers realize that billions of adspace goes unsold every day, and that "cookies" can help you evaluate the ad bids much more effectively.

Nancy Marzouk from Net Mining rounded out this panel on ad retargeting by pointing out some myths:

1. each potential customer that interacts with your brand should be treated equally

2. because someone has been to your site previously they will automatically convert

Qualifying remarketing impressions starts with your site data & standard marketing (based on page views).  Page visits are equal to possible interest. Smarter marketing by using advanced audience profiles, look at pages visited,  time spent on pages, recency of visits, sequence of products purchased, and search referrals.  All equal true interest, according to Nancy, so marketers need to expand their targeting pool based on site data.

Nancy finished up her presentation by pointing out that marketers can't solely focus on ad retargeting, neglecting the other channels (PPC, SEO, Brand Display, and Social Media for example) can be costly.  Marketers need to stop siloing their efforts and create more "blended" portfolios.

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