Feb 18th, Webcast on Search Marketing in 2010

Search marketing optimization might appear like a single dimensional affair to an outsider, i.e.

  • optimize ranks for SEO
  • optimize bids for PPC

What could be so hard about that?

But insiders know that search is quite a multi-dimensional problem. It requires them to weigh

  • keywords
  • ads
  • budgets
  • bids
  • currencies
  • targeting across multiple dimensions
  • landing pages
  • offers
  • their audience
  • their competitors
  • and much more, for example catching the rebound when the visitor doesn’t become a customer initially

So, while a techy like me can describe the complete space of options to tweek and analyze (see my SEO and PPC wizards), an experienced SEM practitioners can hopefully use their judgement and more quickly identify the most important subset of aspects to pay attention to.

The difference might be a little similar to a computer chess algorithm (that searches through the space of possible moves) vs. a Kasparov.

That is why I greatly look forward to this Thursday’s (Feb 18th) webcast at the Web Analytics Association (access the recording of the event here) where Unica’s customer Kristin Philbin at Marcel Media will share her tips and tricks for search marketing in 2010. Kristin has rich experience working with Marcel Media’s enterprise clients. But even an experienced search marketer needs to keep pace with the unstoppable innovation at the search engines.

Unica’s Penny Coupland and I will join Kristin to discuss the top 5 changes with search marketing and the related analytics in 2010.

Access the recording of the event here.

SEO Requires More Than Rank Optimization (guest post)

If you are optimizing SEO for your websites you will benefit from checking out following valuable comment that Greg Moore added to the SEO Optimization wizard this week.

Greg, optimizes SEO, PPC campaigns, and website conversion rates for a living. He is located in the San Francisco area and is clearly as passionate about analytics as anyone you will ever meet in our little industry.

You can see his full comment on the SEO wizard’s page for identifying the keywords that should be prioritized for SEO through analytics (will need to scroll down).  Below is an excerpt to hint the direction in which his recommendation is going:

“Further, if a page from our site appears in the middle of page two of the search results, and later due to some great SEO work it moves up two positions, that is not going to increase the number of visits very much.”

Therefore, some ‘SEO feasibility’ analysis step needs to be part of the effort of picking the keywords on which you will bet. And Greg also says the following based on his insider knowledge of the SEO profession:

“Most SEO folks know about the importance of getting links to your web pages, and they have lots of clever ideas about how to get them. The key is web analytics. We want SEO work focused on a handful of search phrases where we will get the best results.”

Thanks Greg!

Web Analytics Wizards go on ColderIce – Podcast

John Lawson who runs ColderICE.com, a blog focused on bringing e-commerce education to the masses was kind enough to invite me for a very fun podcast.

In hindsight, the experience reminds me of something my grandfather used to say:  Everybody, once a week, should visit one hospital and one cemetery so to get a better perspective on what they are doing with their own life and healthy years.

Well, for any of us that work in the world of big enterprise software and SaaS solutions, a similar recommendation would be worthwhile:

Pay a visit to a small business regularly!

No, no …, not to appreciate better being in the big company world with a fancy office coffee machine.

But to keep us down to Earth in our recommendations. Enterprises have more man power and resources than small businesses – but as advisers our recommendations still need to be feasible and not pie in the sky.

So, what did I have to recommend that the captain of a small business operating their web based business from their home office could use to turn out better business results?

After all, these folks are very sharp but they are wearing so many hats at the same time. They don’t exactly have a chief analytics officer that they employ who could focus on marketing optimization or web analytics full time. So, every minute they spend with analytics needs to be very efficient.

It is closer to “web analytics 5 minutes a day” than to “web analytics an hour a day”.

Therefore, I recommended the web analytics wizards that readers of this blog are already familiar with. In addition to all the blogs and whatnot that exist on the topic of digital marketing optimization, I thought these might be a good shortcut that can point these self-made CEOs in the right direction.

And, to go along with the wizards, I also found myself recommending a free web analytics solution that would be the best place for such small businesses to start until they are using it enough to run into its limitations.

Many thanks to John for the chance to chat and the kind blog post that resulted from it.

Announcing: Free Optimization Wizard for Organic Search (SEO)

“The best things in life are free”, they say, and organic search traffic might seem free at first glance.

But in truth, as you will know, organic search isn’t free at all. It requires hard SEO work upfront before you can rank well for highly coveted keywords.

This wizard is for any marketer looking to get more business results (traffic + outcomes) from organic search (and who doesn’t?).

It walks the analyst through a series of steps for increasing results, e.g. by identifying the keywords to prioritize for SEO, doing the on-site and off-site SEO, and optimizing your web marketing for organic search visitors.

Web Analytics Question Support System for SEO

Click here to start the SEO wizard

Bird's eye view of this SEO wizard
Click here for a bird’s eye view, i.e. summary flow chart

This wizard is the third example of an expert system that I got a chance to work on now. The wizards aim to help web analysts (and in this case also search engine marketers) with their complex work. Earlier releases were the wizards for PPC optimization and troubleshooting a drop in website conversions.

Couple comments and observations:

  • As always I would like to point out that these wizards can neither replace the need for experienced SEMs nor web analysts. The goal of the wizards is just to make their work more systematic.
  • A good example of why this is true may be the following. Namely, for any specific website, an experienced SEO can probably point out the 20% of the steps in this wizard that will help achieve 80% of the results. In contrast, in the wizard all recommendations seem to be of equal priority / importance. That is a bit of a flaw with this SEO and also the PPC wizard, I have to concede.

As I am not an SEM myself (neither SEO nor PPC), this wizard will only become truly exciting with the help of user comments that can be added to any step of the wizard.

Look forward to hearing what people think and hope that this proves helpful.

Announcing: Free Optimization Wizard for Paid Search (PPC)

This wizard is for any marketer looking to get more results from their search engine pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns (and who doesn’t?).

It walks the analyst through a series of steps for increasing results, e.g. by eliminating wasted spending, identifying missed opportunities, improving the persuasion process, or optimizing budget allocation.

Web Analytics Question Support System

Click here to start the wizard

Bird's eye view of this wizard
Click here for a bird’s eye view summary flow chart

The wizard is the second example of an expert system that aims to help web analysts with their complex work. Just at the beginning of this month I had released the first wizard, namely for troubleshooting a drop in conversions on a website.

Couple comments and observations:

  • Just like a clinical decision support system isn’t meant to replace doctors, this wizard has no way of replacing the need for experienced web analysts, search marketers, or helpful consultants.
    • Doing the optimization still requires significant time and attention.
    • The wizard is just like a good adviser that has helpful hints but won’t do any of the work for you.
  • While releasing the troubleshooting wizard I had been wondering whether the idea of an expert system would lend itself to problems that aren’t “troubleshooting” in nature but more of general “optimization” nature.
    • It turns out the idea makes total sense for optimization as well.
    • But you can easily see a big difference if you compare the bird’s eye view of the PPC wizard vs. troubleshooting wizard. Namely, the latter is a decision tree whereas this new one is more an exploration of various optimization areas.
  • I still highly recommend the use of automated paid search management solutions such as SearchForce or Marin software. But if you review the wizard you will see that many areas for optimizing paid search involve tasks that cannot be automated.

I am not an SEM myself. So, this wizard will only become truly exciting with the help of user comments that can be added to any step of the wizard.

Look forward to hearing what people think and hope that this proves helpful.