July 30, 2005

Beginner's Guide To Content Targeting

Inside AdWords posted a short introdcution to content targeting.

If you are new to SEM, content targeting is just an easier way to get listed on Google's content network which includes thousands of sites, large and small, that partner with Google.

Google also has two settings that can be very useful for tailoring ads to specific websites. They are Site Targeting, which allows you to specify certain sites to show your ads on and Site Exclusion, which allows you to choose specific sites to not display your ads. These two features can be used in conjunction with each other when trying to target a specific niche group of people.

Search Engine Marketing Glossary

Strategy Rankings has a comprehensive SEM Glossary on their site.

If you are just beginning to learn about search or want to polish up on your vocab, meander over to the site and have a look. It is a great resource for anyone involved at any level of the industry.

July 29, 2005

Case Study: Overcome One-Size-Fits-All Strategy With Flexible Software

DM News has a great case study outlining the approach Did-It Search Marketing and Cingular took when creating and implementing Cingular's search campaign using Did-It's adaptable Maestro software.

Bill Wise, Did-It's CEO, and Les Kruger, Cingular's Senior Manager of Business-to-Consumer Online Marketing discuss the steps they took to reach and surpass their target goals.

This is a very interesting case to read and gives an inside look at the thought process and strategy of two top companies in their respective industries. Just like with most things in life, there is more than one way to approach a problem. Deciding on the best way is the difficult part.

July 28, 2005

Local Search Is Getting More Granular

Local search is the future for small businesses and big business outlets. Google has began including within its local search results extra information such as available rooms, pricing, etc. for a local hotel.

"This is one of those get ahead of your competitors opportunities that small businesses should take advantage of now. In two years, everyone will have done it, and the playing field will be more level."

Search Is Stealing Corporate Superstars

Business Week reports that the top engines are starting to take top talent away from other large corporations with promises of cutting edge innovation, great culture, and the chance to work with the greatest minds in the industry.

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are building up their workforce and drawing in some very prestegious names. Just recently, Google snatched up Kai-Fu Lee from Micrsoft to head their new research facility in China.

This influx of top tier talent is precluding a fierce competition within the industry. As everyone knows, in the end the customers will win by gaining more innovative and consumer oriented products.

July 27, 2005

AOL Getting Involved in the Mobile Search Game

AOL has began testing using sponsored search results on mobile search queries. It gives users the power to search locally, compare products, and search for other content on their mobile devices.

With more people on the go and not sitting in front of a computer, this is a segment of the industry that is poised for growth in the next few years. Sites need to be optimized for mobile devices such as cell phones since the view screen and functionality is hindered by their small sizes.

I am also sure that once this area of search grows and begins to be more analyzed, it will be shown that even that conversion rates may become more difficult to track. However, more people who search and click sponsored links will be at the final stage of the buying cycle and will be ready to buy right then and there.

The Importance of Clickthrough Rate (CTR): Has it Changed?

Andrew Goodman has released a thorough 4 page look at the new AdWords changes that are supposed to go into effect at the beginning of August.

The article is very informative and is highly recommended for anyone involved or interested in the SEM industry.

Ask Jeeves to Start Full PPC Program - Aug 1

OnlineMediaDaily has reported that Ask Jeeves is planning on rolling out an entire new paid search platform on August 1st.

Currently, Ask Jeeves is partnering with Google to show it's sponsored results while having its own paid program for the top position. Sources have revealed that the new platform will be structured similarly to Google, or the soon to be old Google structure, with bids starting out at $0.05.

July 26, 2005

Google Testing New Types of Ads in Search

Greg Yardley spotted something new. Google is testing out new types of ads on some of their servers. They are testing using their Link Units which are just the Title of advertisements under search results. You can view a screenshot below or read more about it on Greg's blog or read a post on Search Engine Watch.

How Yahoo Is Becoming the Next Big Media Giant

Yahoo's Brilliant Solution: By figuring out how to make brand advertising work online, Terry Semel is on the verge of creating the 21st century's first media giant.

With numbers like $400 million, being spent online from Chrysler alone, its no wonder why everyone's talking about online marketing. Search engines are probably the most visted sites online and that is exactly where most of the ad dollars are going.

Yahoo has been filling its ranks with seasoned veterans of the advertising industry. Now it wants to use these experienced professionals to turn itself into a goliath in media. At the same time, companies like Google are using tech savvy employees to think of new and many times unorthodox ways of doing business.

The article from Forbes goes into the specifics of what Yahoo! is planning and how they will use their available resources to get there.

Will old methods work in this new technically invigorated industry? Only time will tell, but there most likely will be an increasing divergence of paths between Yahoo and Google in the future.

The Value of Competitor Intelligence

Do you konw your competitors? ... Are you sure?

Paul J. Bruemmer over at Pandia Search Engine New has an interesting article on the power of knowing your competition in the online world.

The article covers protecting your brand name online, keeping competitors from stealing your customers away from you, and goes into some techniques of researching your competitors to gain an advantage.

July 25, 2005

Internet Activity Patterns are Cyclical - OPA Internet Activity Index

A report has been published by the Online Publisher's Association showing emerging patterns in online activity.

The results have shown that user spent more time in the content arena in June than in May, mostly at travel and weather related sites.

Searches on the other hand have decreased 8.5% and commerce went down 4.9% - mostly becuase those people are spending more time enjoying the warmer weather and going on vacations.

Enid Burns posted a slightly more detailed report with charts and all.

Searching for Hispanic customers? Find them at the Search Sites.

With over 14.2 million Hispanic users using the internet and growing, marketers who are trying to target them will need to know where to look. As a short continuation on my previous article, More Hispanics are Shopping - Are you ready?, there are new statistics from Advertising Age in their report, "Hispanic Fact Pack: Annual Guide to Hispanic Advertising & Marketing 2005 Edition".

Hispanic Fact Pack Chart

There are two striking conclusions that can be made from the above chart. Hispanics are flocking to search engines, specifically Yahoo! and Time Warner sites. While Google boasts the largest chunk of the pie nationally, in the Hispanic market seems to like the other big players a lot better. The second conclusion that can be made from the chart shows that Hispanics are spending time shopping online.

Search Engine Roudtable points out that most companies aren't taking the appropriate steps to target these customers. Even the sites that are trying to make their sites or advertisements more Hispanic Friendly, are just translating text between languages and aren't taking the time to make sure proper grammar is used. (Haven't they heard about Chevy's problems with the Nova in Spanish speaking countries back in the day?)

From all the talk about reaching the exploding Hispanic markets, it seems as though most companies want to play but don't think they need to prepare for the big game.

View the entire Hispanic Fact Pack.

July 23, 2005

Nielsen/NetRatings: Search - Quarterly Results in Review

Another quarter has finished and Nielsen/NetRatings have reported statistics for the search engine industry with AOL and Ask Jeeves finishing off with double digit growth.

AOL and Ask Jeeves had the largest percentage increase in searches this past quarter. However, in sheer units, Yahoo doubled and Google tripled the combined number of increased searches for AOL and Ask. MSN was the only large engine to actual post a decrease in the number of searches. Hopefully they'll be able to make corrections or their new PPC program may not turn out very well.

Google commanded almost half of the entire share of searches while Yahoo and MSN had 22% and 12%, respectively.

MSN and AOL both had large percentage gains in the image search segment. Again, as in search, Yahoo's and Google's increase was in multiples of the combined increase for the other two engines.

The actual press release can be found on the NetRatings site, but Danny Sullivan's post digs a bit deeper and provides a much more thorough analysis.

July 22, 2005

How Effective is Advertising? Nobody Knows.

Seems most advertisers are having more pressure put on them to be accountable for their advertising campaigns, reports the New York Times.

After search marketing introduced concrete metrics such as CPO/CPA and ROI into the advertising arena, an increasing number of CEOs are beginning to seek the same feedback from their other marketing managers.

A recent study by Marketing Management Analytics shows that only 19% of respondants were satisfied with their ability to define, measure, and take steps in regards to accountability. Furthermore, an astounding 73% couldn't even tell if their advertising or marketing campaigns had any effect at all on sales.

As society becomes more reliant on technology in our everyday lives, it is becoming easier to track a person's actions or reactions. While privacy is always a concern, the advertising industry is in dire need to quickly make changes in their approach to the business or they will soon themselves out of business.

July 21, 2005

The Web cookie is crumbling -- and marketers feel the fallout

"Internet cookies used to be a treat for marketers looking for ways to measure advertising response, but lately they've become a lot less tasty."

Globeandmail.com has an interesting article on trends in cookie deletion. As more and more internet users are affected by spyware, virii, and privacy concerns, they are increasingly trying to keep themselves and their computers from becoming victims. People are using anti-spyware programs and also manually deleting cookies - roughly once a month according to the article.

While cookies have gotten a bad rap for their unethical use by some companies as well as their unhealthy fat content, most marketers use cookies to gather customer information to better serve the customer and to track key metrics. In the pay per click arena, many times the agency won't even get credit for a conversion if the user deletes their cookies after clicking a link but before completing the conversion. It is also detrimental to the optimization of an ad campaign because the statistics will not be completely accurate - you don't benefit from fixing something that might not even be broken.

While most harmful to long term consumer behavior analysis, the problem isn't as bad in search since a majority of purchases are made on the same day or within a few days of a click. Nevertheless, depending on the metrics you are trying to measure, it might be critical to track a customer for as long as possible, currently 60 days (the length of time before a cookie expires).

Pay-per-click Speculation Market Soaring

"The number of web sites being opened purely to publish pay-per-click advertising links from the likes of Google Inc and Yahoo Inc is rocketing, according to VeriSign Inc, which runs the .com and .net domain names." - reports the Computer Business Review Online.

Have you ever searched for something, clicked an orgnaic or sponsored link, and get to a page that is just a bunch of Google or Yahoo ads? This is basically what's going on. People are buying up domain names and acting as affiliates for the engines.

While some of these sites do contribute some added value by offering some information to consumers, most either offer very limited or inaccurate information or none at all.

This type of enronish behavior can be detrimental to search engines. Of course, you won't stop searching and it is just an annoyance, but if you remember, popups used to be an annoyance until you got one, two, or more on almost every page you visited.

Who wants to click a link to get to another page of links anyways?

Targeting Hispanics? Don't Forget About Europe.

European search engine marketing (SEM) is expected to grow from €856 million in 2004 to three billion euros by 2010 according to "Europe's Search Engine Marketing Forecast, 2004 to 2010" from Forrester Research.

With revenues from search in Europe reaching €1.4 billion this year alone, it isn't difficult to see that in Europe, like in the U.S., search is getting to be big business.

If you think that you're all of a sudden going to have to learn a whole new set of languages to run your campaigns, you shouldn't worry about that yet. It wouldn't hurt, but the biggest growth is in the United Kingdom where they speak English and most Europeans have a good grasp on English any how.

Neverthless, if you are marketing to different countries, you must remember that each country and even each area within a country has their own preferences and traits. So don't forget to make sure your keywords and creatives are targeting the right people.

July 20, 2005

Buyer's Guide to Paid Search Advertising Agencies

A who's who in Search Engine Marketing by marketingsherpa. The Buyer's Guide gives a comprehensive summary of 61 paid search agencies in the industry.

Each company was asked to take a 172 point profile questionnaire to fully understand their technology, knowledege, and experience. The full report costs $199 and can be purchased directly from the website.

Experts React to New AdWords Keyword Status

Just days after Google announced changes to the way a keyword's status is shown, experts have written their thoughts on how to keep from getting overtaken by the new changes.

Greg Ives of KeywordRanking has written a short article highlighting his thoughts on how best to successful work with Google's new status structure.

His key points are:

* alter the structure of the account, campaigns, ad groups and keywords
* alter campaign budgeting
* refine content targeting
* optimize for your max CPC
* select proper keyword matching
* ensure rotation of quality ad text
* proper keyword selection
* build out campaign negative keywords
* implement content website exclusion

While this may be a good plan before the implementation. Before you go turning your entire AdWords account upside-down, it would be better to first see how the new changes affect your account. It could quite possibly be that the changes improve your campaign without any modifications.

Nevertheless, it is always good to be prepared and not have to make changes than to not be prepared and struggle to correct the damage.

More Hispanics are Shopping - Are you ready?

Many if not all of the major corporations have been paying more and more attention to the explosively growing Hispanic population in the United States. Now, they are becoming an ever increasing presence on the internet and are looking to spend their money.

There are a number of strategies that can be used to reach these new customers. Each one can be tested in your current campaigns to see what best works for you.

First, you can try to make a whole new campaign for the Hispanic market. Use new spanish in creatives targeted to the tastes of the people who may know their native language better than English.

If you do not want to go and create an entire new campaign, take a look at keywords currently being shown. Some of these keywords could get better results if the ad copy was more targeted towards the Hispanic population. Just changing certain words or phrases can make a huge difference in click through rates.

For each account, analysis and testing will need to be used to see what works best. Once you find what is working, expand on it and optimize the campaign to achieve your goals.

July 19, 2005

Don't Blink, or You Might Skip Over My Ad!!!

If you still haven't heard, Did-it Search Marketing, Enquiro, and Eye Tools have worked together to conduct a study on the eye movement patterns of searchers.

The key findings are:

Organic Ranking Visibility
(shown in a percentage of participants looking at a listing in this location)

Rank 1 - 100%
Rank 2 - 100%
Rank 3 - 100%
Rank 4 - 85%
Rank 5 - 60%
Rank 6 - 50%
Rank 7 - 50%
Rank 8 - 30%
Rank 9 - 30%
Rank 10 - 20%

Side sponsored ad visibility
(shown is percentage of participants looking at an ad in this location)

1 – 50%
2 – 40%
3 – 30%
4 – 20%
5 – 10%
6 – 10%
7 – 10%
8 – 10%

As you can see, and probably know from experience, being in the top results can have a huge impact on your visibility and click through rates. You can also see that below the fold (the first and thickest red bar, that users lose interest. They will usually look elsewhere if they don't find their results below the fold or at least on the first page of results.

You can see a sample, which includes the "Golden Triangle", here. The full report costs $149.

Content Targeting Is Important, and Growing!

At the Ask Jeeves Blog, there are statistics for site/blog feeds and the number of feed/blog articles per month. These statistics can be critical to seeing where the search industry is headed.

With more and more websites (like this one), whether personal or commercial posting information targeted at specific niche groups of people, it can become lucrative to target specific sites or a group of similar sites that attract the same people who buy your products.

Google has already introduced site INclusion in which you can choose specific sites to show content ads on. If you are selling widgets, its only logical to show ads on ilovewidgets.com. However, it is far too difficult to specify each particular website to target.

This is where the engines come in. Each engine has its own partner program to show ads on websites. If you can create an organized and well thought out campaign specifically for content matching, you can increase your impressions on relevant sites, increase your click through rate, and increase your conversions.

Yahoo's 2Q Profit Up More Than Sixfold...

...stock drops 10% after the closing bell. Yahoo was able to dramatically increase its profit, but it was mostly due to its sale of its stake of Google. Even with the reported earnings, Yahoo still missed Wall Street's expectations causing the significant drop in price. With the search marketing industry booming and continuously growing, what does this say about Yahoo and its future in search?

Basically, it is saying that Yahoo isn't growing as fast as the industry. Granted, Yahoo is more diversified in its business units, however, with such a robust growth in search marketing, it should not just be meeting, but beating or even crushing expectations as Google has so far been able to do.

While some polls report Google's market share at over 50% and Yahoo's at around 25%, comScore states the shares are roughly 37% and 30% respectively. Since Yahoo is not performing as well as it should, it brings to question the future sustainability of the company. So far, users are looking at Google as if it could do no wrong and thus its user base keeps growing while shrinking the number of searchers for the other engines. Yahoo and the other engines will need to rethink their strategies to fight against Google or they will continue to lose market share and displease investors.

How to Implement a Successful PPC Advertising Campaign

Phil Robinson provides a great tutorial on implementing a pay per click marketing campaign. He discusses everything from tracking metrics to writing creatives. This tutorial can be invaluable to novice and seasoned search professionals.

He also has a Beginners Guide to Search Engine Marketing white paper explaining the basics of the industry and engines. Both great reads.

July 18, 2005

11 Ways to Improve Landing Pages

So you've got the user to click on your ad, but that's only the first step. How do you go from targeted lead to conversion? Follow 11 simple steps to maximize the effectiveness of your landing pages.

Just what are Americans searching for these days?

Chris Sherman, Associate Editor at clickz.com breaks down a recent iCrossings report about the search habits of Americans. With over 2,100 respondants, the results can be looked upon as a guide to where advertising dollars will be going, who exactly will be targeted, and information on how best to attract those searchers to your site.

So what are people searching for?

Hobbies - 88%
Directions / Maps - 75%
News - 64%
Shopping - 51%
Entertainment Sites - 47%

What does this mean?

It means that people are using the internet for just about everything. It also means that more money will be put into these areas to advertise to visitors. These ads will need to become more and more targeted as the content on the sites become more specific to the user browsing them. The major engines already have taken big steps to target specific demographics as traditional advertising has done in the past with geo-targeting, content matching, and behavioral targeting.

To view the full report, send an e-mail to search@icrossing.com with your full name, company name and e-mail address.

July 17, 2005

Google AdWords Changes Keyword Status

The days of on hold, in trial, normal, and disabled keywords are over. They will now be known as only active or inactive. While this may seem as a big change targeted at making AdWords easier to use and understand, it looks as though it will actually make some aspects, such as bidding, more complicated.

Within the announcement from comes a new term, Quality Score. Quality score is an algorithmic equation that can be compared to the formula used for displaying organic results in that it uses a variety of inputs to calculate your rank and thus your position in Google's paid results. Instead of Google just using your CTR (click-through-rate) multiplied by your max bid, it will use a multitude of variables to determine your rank. The new official definition of your Quality Score is "your keyword’s clickthrough rate (CTR), relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors."

A keyword's Quality Score should help ads become more targeted by reducing the cost for highly targeted ads and increasing costs for less targeted ads. However, at the same time, it is beginning to make the management of search campaigns into a more complicated and time consuming job. Professionals will need to take these factors into consideration when setting up, implementing, and optimizing campaigns.

This may be a sign that the industry is getting more mature and extensive knowledge and experience of search and the engines will be critical to a successful campaign.

First Post!

Well I haven't found too many useful sites/blogs out there that focus on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) so here is my blog. I will try to frequently post links, thoughts, and news about the industry and its future.

Okay, that's all for now. Enjoy!

SEM Report
SEM Report Desc.

July 16, 2005


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