Local Search and Dominating the Results

May 22, 2008

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve received a few different inquiries regarding Google and local search. One was how to show up in Google Maps results, one was how to show up in the natural results for local searches, and one was how to appear above the fold for localized Google AdWords campaigns.

Why not achieve all three of them, plus some “piggy back” SEO?

The last SES conference I’ve been to was in San Jose close to two years ago, but Atlanta-based Stacy Williams from Prominent Placement gave a great example on how a local company can dominate results. To this day, it holds true.

There’s some dominance!

To many search marketers, this isn’t anything new. To local business owners, this may be. Google separates their natural, local, and paid listings. There’s no reason a local business can’t do the same.

Regarding “piggy back” SEO, this comes down to both local (Maps) and natural listings. By having profiles in places like SuperPages.com and CitySearch.com can only help. Google Local helps legitimize your profile and Internet Yellow Pages (IYP) results often appear toward the top in the natural results.

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Favorite Posts of the Week – Search Engine Guide Style

April 24, 2008

I’ve been both fortunate and honored to be a guest writer for Search Engine Guide since late 2005 (Jennifer and Robert, I’ll write more – really!!)

Since 2005, there have been some great writers that have jumped on board. I’ve met a few of them and hope to meet more the next time I hit a search marketing conference. It seems fitting to give SEG some (well-deserved) love back and provide a Search Engine Guide favorite posts of the week.

The first is from Manoj Jasra titled common web analytics issues. Manoj makes some great points, including a paragraph about the wrong data going to the wrong people. Depending on whether your client contacts are marketing managers, CEOs, or Internet marketing departments should give you an idea of what type of data you can provide them.

Next, David Wallace writes on Matt McGee’s local search workshop presentation during the recent Small Business Unleashed conference. The post is quite lengthy, but it sounds like the presentation was too at 90 minutes! Kudos to both Matt and David. Matt talks about maps, SEO, PPC, local search engines, and even provides a relevant lists of industry sites. It’s a great post! Just read it.

Liana Evans is also at the conference blogging on Sage Lewis’ building a community workshop presentation. During the presentation Sage talks about different community channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Digg. He begins with YouTube and how easy it is to use, and how to properly optimize and tag your videos. He goes on explaining how you can promote this with other social sites such as Facebook. Lastly, he stresses the importance on participating yourself.

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Search Engine Marketing Firm Gets $100,000 Fine – What to Look for in a Search Marketer

April 19, 2008

Just like in many industries, you have your honest companies and shysters alike. The search engine marketing industry certainly has plenty of both. One of the latter just got a $100,000 fine for misrepresenting their clients in a number of ways.

Fellow Search Engine Guide blogger Sage Lewis has a video post that mentions the culprits, and the Washington State Attorney General office announced their petition to enforce a court order against them in November, 2007.

This post isn’t to “out” the culprits, but to hopefully give some tips to non-industry business owners and marketers who get pitched from search marketing firms.

Many (not all) will pitch “rankings” for keywords related to your business and will often offer some sort of “top 10” guarantee. I actually don’t have a problem with this since savvy sales professionals know that’s what potential clients often want to hear. The problem is that rankings simply do not automatically equal net profits.

There’s one word that most of these search engine marketing firms tend to forget:

Marketing.

Yes, marketing.

It seems strange, but it does happen. What are the business overall goals for marketing online?

I hung out with some industry friends tonight and we had a pretty big discussion on SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Remember that from beginning college marketing classes? Something so simple as understanding your business SWOTs can definitely help in a search marketing campaign.

There’s another word that is sometimes forgotten in pitches.

Analytics.

This is key. There are plenty of decent analytics packages out there. There are great and worthy ones that can set a price of over 50k a year. Some analytics experts will disagree, but Google Analytics works well for many companies… and it’s free.

Analytics is crucial. It can measure how users navigate your site, how you can continually improve on not just your search marketing efforts, but your usability, design, and development. The possibilities are almost endless. This has everything to do with marketing. Not just search marketing, but marketing in general.

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How to Use Negative Keywords to Help Your PPC Campaigns

April 5, 2008

Negative keyword options have been around for years, but not many advertisers use them to help ensure targeted traffic. This post is to help identify negative keywords, how to easily place them in both Google and Yahoo campaigns, and how to find new ones in your analytics program.

For anyone unfamiliar with negative keywords, these are the keywords that you do not want to show up in your PPC ads once users perform a search query. A few common starting ones are:

  • free
  • download
  • cheap
  • ebay

Basically, if you sell red staplers your ad can be blocked by users searching for “free red staplers”.

Finding additional negative keywords can be as easy as tracking your analytics. Whatever analytics you use, find what keywords that you’re getting traffic for that does not provide quality traffic and include them as negative keywords. The amount of these words you find can be amazing and they’re very easy to find. This can be updated on a weekly or monthly basis in as little as a few minutes.

AdWords Example

While finding negative keywords is easy, implementing them can be a bit tricker depending if you’re advertising on Google or Yahoo.

In Google, it’s pretty straightforward. You can go into your campaign, click on the “tools” tab and you’ll see the option that says “edit campaign negative keywords”.

AdWords

Here is some more information on negative keywords, straight from Google.

Yahoo is a little more tricky. Once you log into your account and select a campaign, you can then click on an ad group. On the right site, you can see a blue box that says “ad group settings”. In the drop down, select “tactic settings”.

Yahoo

From there, you’ll see a box to show “excluded keywords” (negative keywords) and you can now implement them. Keep in mind this is done at the ad group level. Here is some newer information on excluded keywords, straight from Yahoo.

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Big Google AdWords Change

March 26, 2008

It looks like your AdWords destination URLs must match your display URLs sometime in April (image is barely readible do to resizing, but it makes the point). The key words in the image are “without exception”.

AdWords Display URL Must Match Destination URL

Some may see this as a proactive opportunity and some might think this:

You are screwed

AdWords professionals and advertisers will definitely be busy starting… now, including myself. I’m guessing there is a grandfather clause in this.

I can see large e-commerce advertisers scrambling at this as well as larger corporations with set processes. At the same time, I can see consultants viewing this as more reasons to recommend unique landing pages and not just pointing ads to whichever page on the site seems most relevant.

I kind of like it, but definitely empathize with those who will be in living hell the next few weeks.

Any thoughts or input?

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Presenting Search Marketing Results for Large Clients

March 20, 2008

A long time ago search marketing was mainly a vehicle for small businesses to compete with the big boys. For the many Fortune 500 companies that now outsource at least some sort of search marketing, presenting results whether it’s through analytics, lead generation, or sales can be tricky yet still highly effective.

When working with smaller clients, often the company’s one or two contacts are also the decision makers. You can build a relationship with them, recommendations made are often implemented quicker, and you can present results directly to them.

For Fortune companies, it can be a different story. They have more processes, contacts are often marketing directors or managers and they need to prove results to their respective bosses who ultimately approve the budgets. It’s important to show value to both.

One thing in common these groups have is they are smart and know how to delegate niches such as search marketing. Sometimes the difference is the amount of info they need.

Presenting or showing results in Excel is pretty common and a good example. They’re both easily imported from different analytics and pay-per-click campaigns.

Excel is obviously powerful, but the complexities can be overwhelming for anyone looking at a specialized report for the first time. The nice part is the ability to take a complex spreadsheet and create very easy-to-read charts with trend lines from them. Including charts like these within a Word document can provide the trusted information that large company decision-makers seek.

Again, these large company decision-makers are smart. They don’t always want the details as they have other things on their plate. They want to see results and delegate as needed.

This isn’t to discount the complex spreadsheets. They can (and should) be presented as well and can serve as incredible tools for marketing managers and directors who want to dig into them and ask questions, and they do. They deserve that opportunity.

Communication is very important as well. Having the ability to physically present documents and results is preferable, although not always possible.

In whichever format, providing both easy-to-read and complex reporting results can only be beneficial. It provides clients the information they need plus the ability to definitively measure success.

The post is also up at Search Engine Guide, their new design is pretty sweet!

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Client Communications and Why Google AdWords Landing Pages are Important

March 5, 2008

The source for this is from a bunch of places, so I’ll point to the Search Engine Land post that links to many of them.

The points describe that Google AdWords landing pages that load slower can have a negative impact in your positioning. It does make sense that this would be included in Google’s Quality Score.

There are other reasons to create unique landing pages, but this could be a great client-communication opportunity for search marketers to suggest targeted, yet fast-loading landing pages.

It’s no secret that clients would just rather you point the ads to the most relevant pages on their site. It makes it easier on them. It’s also no secret that many of these pages may take longer to load.

If the client or business is smaller, it might be an easier sell. The communication lines are smaller and it won’t take as many hours for them to create these landing pages.

If the client is larger and your contact is a marketing director or something similar, it can be more difficult. They love your idea, but they also have their own processes. Their lines of communications are larger, and the number of hours it will take for them to develop these landing pages can be enormous.

This isn’t a good or bad thing. It’s just “what it is” and should be understood within communication.

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