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Don’t Miss the PubCon South Review at this Week’s DFW SEM Meeting

DFW SEMThe March gathering of the DFW SEM association will be held Wednesday, March 18, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson, Texas.  Members of the DFW SEM community will be hosting an informal panel to discuss and review the latest news and trends learned from PubCon South.

PubCon South is the largest search marketing and social media conference in the state of Texas. The event, which occurred last week from March 11 through March 13, brought together the leading thought experts in the field of search engine marketing and social media.

Speakers at PubCon South included Guy Kawasaki and Matt Cutts, along with numerous experts — including Lead Maverick CEO Sean Jackson and Lead Maverick Partner Tony Wright — and others from the DFW SEM community.

“We created this panel to help share with our community the information we learned from this tremendous event,” says Tony Wright, president of the DFW Search Marketing Association. Tony continues, “PubCon represents a gold mine of knowledge about tactics, tips and trends that are occurring in the market. Our goal on Wednesday, March 18th, will be to share these insights with our community in North Texas.”

You do not have to be a DFW SEM member to attend the meeting. The cost is $10 for members and $30 for non-members. You may pre-pay the event registration online.

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The Easy Way for Agencies to Do SEO

The Easy Way for Agencies to Do SEOSearch engine optimization (SEO) can be a little intimidating for the non-technical person. After all, it’s a mysterious science filled with unknown algorithms, metadata, XML sitemaps, HTML tags, linking schemes, and much, much more. And to further complicate things, it’s always changing.

Then there’s the agency that is not even responsible for the client’s website. How in the world is an advertising, public relations, or marketing communications agency supposed to get involved in SEO? Actually, it’s pretty easy these days. I’ve compiled some tips to help get you started.

Take advantage of others’ SEO technology.

SEO has matured to the point that there are countless platforms optimized for search. You just have to add the content and the search engines do the rest.

  • Social media sites like YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, and Merchant Circle, to name just a few, are large in size and highly optimized. Posting content on these sites will help you get listed in the search engines. Just be sure to use your keywords in the postings for the various sites. And include a keyword in the file name of any photo or video file you upload to a website too!
  • Blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are free, easy to set up, and highly optimized. However, the biggest obstacle with a blog is that it takes some time to grow the blog to a size large enough to be noticed by search engine
  • Press Release wire services like PR Newswire and Business Wire provide optimization of press releases and host the release on their site. In addition, the press release is distributed to media news sites that also host a version of the release on their site. This gives one press release numerous opportunities for listings on a search engine results page (SERP).
  • Lead Maverick is an SEO platform developed specifically for agencies with integrated optimization tools for content, customizable landing page designs and real-time tracking stats — all in a non-technical, user-friendly interface. Lead Maverick agency partners use the SEO platform to get their clients to the top of organic SERPs or to add additional listings so their client owns more of the SERP real estate.

Write well, rank well.

There are a number of guidelines for developing content that will enhance its findability in organic search. The goal is not to trick the search engines, but to provide quality content on a subject while following SEO best practices.

  • Length of content should be at least 300 words.
  • Each content posting should focus on one keyword, keyword phrase or keyword theme. Putting too many different keywords in one posting will dilute its effectiveness.
  • Headline should not exceed 70 characters and should include a keyword ideally placed towards the beginning.
  • Subhead should not exceed 160 characters and should include at least one keyword ideally placed closer to the beginning.
  • If there is not a subhead, treat the first paragraph of the content as the subhead by making it bold, keeping it under 120 characters, and include at least one keyword.
  • Emphasize a keyword by making it bold and emphasize other important points with bold or by using a bulleted list.
  • Rule of thumb for keywords is one keyword for every 100 words. If you repeat a keyword more than this, the search engine may think you are keyword stuffing and not add the page to the index.
  • Include at least a couple of hyperlinks to your website. Also include a link or two to a third-party website, preferably ones with good size and traffic. For example, Wikipedia is good to use for a definition.
  • Link your various content pages with hyperlinks on your keywords. Be sure the page you link to discusses the keyword that is hyperlinked.
  • Avoid posting duplicate content from another website by making some edits to your posting. Add a link to the page with the original content so the search engine will know that you are not trying to trick it.

Spread Keywords Across the Sales Decision Process.

One of the greatest benefits of search marketing is the ability to track responses and conversions. For that reason, many advertisers focus keywords on driving a purchase. But, searchers use the internet throughout every stage of the sales decision process. They search for information on categories at the beginning of their research, all the way through to searches on specific products to check pricing.

Keyword Sales Decision Process

Be sure you focus keywords and content for every stage of the sales decision process. Just set your client’s expectations for ROI. The earlier in the sales decision process, the fewer click throughs on the landing page. Early on in the process, you are trying to educate and build awareness for a purchase down the road. And you’ll have keywords and content covering those later purchase-related stages where click-through rates and conversions will be the key success metrics.

Leverage Existing Assets.

Most companies have a wealth of information already developed about the company. In developing your online posts, leverage the existing assets that already exist, incorporating targeted keywords:

  • brochures
  • white papers
  • fact sheets
  • executive bios
  • advertisements (print, broadcast, etc.)
  • trade show schedules
  • speaking engagements
  • press releases
  • product photos
  • how to videos
  • power point presentations

This list is just the beginning. Try to identify all existing assets. Each asset represents a potential posting for a search engine. Spread the posts out across the sales decision process as mentioned above. Supplement with new content developed with your keywords in mind. Just be sure to follow the content writing guidelines above.

Get in the Search

Leave the website optimization to the geeks experts. Now that others are taking care of the SEO part, it’s easier for agencies to get their clients to the top of organic search — with keyword strategy and content.

Google’s New Ad Preferences Explained

GoogleYou’re probably familiar with Google’s AdSense Contextual ad network that displays ads on websites based on the context of the content on the page. Now we are introduced to yet another type of ad network. Google has launched in beta what they call “Ad Preferences.”

Ad Preferences displays ads to the user based on the user’s interests as edited by the user and as interpreted by the user’s search history, websites visited, etc. In Google’s words:

As you browse certain Google services and websites that have partnered with us using our AdSense program, Google stores a cookie in your browser to understand the types of pages you visit (this cookie appears as .doubleclick.net in your browser). Based on this information, Google associates your browser with relevant interest categories and uses these categories to show interest-based ads on participating websites.

Google has also published this video to explain Ad Preferences.

Before you become alarmed with concerns of online privacy, know that Google does enable you to opt-out of the tracking and it claims they do not capture any personal data. But you should probably look into it more yourself. Here is where you can read more about how Google’s Interest Ads work and also the FAQ’s. Here is where you may opt out of Google Ad Preferences on your computer or set your preferences.

Is Your Client Doing Keyword Research Without You?

Brand KeywordI’ve written about the reasons that agencies should offer SEO services before. But it wasn’t until recently that they became tangible. An SEO consultant said that a client asked her to do keyword research and then write taglines using keywords.

And so it begins. Agencies are not necessarily the gatekeepers of a client’s brand anymore. Rather, the owner of the keywords will be the driving force behind the brand. Keywords for all stages of the sales decision process:

Keyword Sales Decision Process

Keywords incorporated into all communications from the company: off-line and online advertising, public relations, investor relations, internal communications, customer service, etc.

So the question to consider is do you want to wait for your client to give you the keywords that off-line communications need to integrate? Or do you want to continue to be the leader of your client’s brand by integrating online with off-line?

For those choosing the latter, the good news is that it’s not too late. Agencies that specialize in advertising, public relations, and marketing communications have options to get into search:

If you would like to jump headfirst in to see what keyword research is all about, here are some tools that will help:

Search is continuing to grow…in the number of searches conducted and in online spending. Agencies that delay getting into search risk losing control of their clients’ brands…and eventually the budgets.

6 Ways Organic Search Results are Like Superbowl Ads

When it comes to advertising, the Superbowl is the granddaddy of them all. During this one football game, viewership is huge. Advertisers shell out millions of dollars to run just one thirty-second spot and agencies vie to produce THE spot that will have everyone talking, blogging and tweeting long after the MVP’s trip to Disneyland.

It occurred to me as I reviewed the January search stats that organic search is the superbowl of online marketing; here are six ways:

  1. A very large number of people tune in.
  2. Nielsen Media Research reported that Super Bowl XLIII, which aired on February 1, 2009, drew an average of 98.7 million U.S. viewers. By comparison, the highest rated broadcast television show last week was Fox’s American Idol which drew 24.8 million viewers.

    According to monthly search engine tracking by comScore, Inc., there were 13.496 million searches on the five major search engines during January.

    comScore January 2009 Search Report

  3. Audience size is on the rise.
  4. Below is a chart from tvbytheNumbers.com showing Nielsen Media Research’s data for the number of viewers of the Superbowl each year, beginning with Superbowl I in 1967 through Superbowl XLIII in 2009. Although there are some years that were flat or even dipped in total viewers, the overall trend is up.

    superbowlthrough2009-550x383

    I charted comScore’s monthly search engine ranking data for the past twelve months. Like the Superbowl viewership, some months remained flat, others actually decreased, but the overall trend is up.

    ussearchvolume1

  5. Placement is everything!
  6. Superbowl XLIII began at 6:18pm eastern on Fox. Nielsen Media Research reported that the most-watched quarter hour of the game was the 9:45-10:00pm ET spot, with an average audience of more than 106 million viewers. The most-watched minute was 10:07pm ET, which amassed 111.6 million viewers. Advertisers were fortunate that this superbowl game was competitive up to the last play of the game. It’s been more common in previous years that one team dominated the game, dropping viewers as the game progressed.

    For search engine results pages, Cornell University conducted eye tracking studies for users’ behavior, including click distribution as well as the time spent looking at each result. As the following image shows, the top three positions on page one received almost 80% of the clicks, with the number one position receiving a whopping 56% of the clicks!

    click-distribution-serp

  7. The ad must stand out.
  8. For several years, Master Lock devoted its entire annual advertising budget to the Super Bowl in the form of one :30 spot. You may recall the spot from the 1970’s that even today is considered to be one of the best Superbowl ads of all time.

    Many point to this Master Lock spot as the beginning of the big Superbowl ad hype that exists today.

    When it comes to a search engine results page (SERP), there are three key components: the headline, the snippet and the URL. The more specific to the keyword and the more descriptive, the better – which is to say in the world of SERPs, the more likely the searcher is to click on your link. In the SERP example below for “supebowl XLII,” look at the headline and snippet for the second result; this result is so vague that I doubt it would get very many clicks.

    googlesuperbowlserp

  9. There are no guarantees for the effectiveness of your placement.
  10. superbowl43logo1Although advertisers purchase an ad during a specific time period of the superbowl game, there are many uncontrollable factors that contribute to the viewership of the ad:

    • all NFL teams do not enjoy the same popularity
    • the teams competing in the superbowl are not determined until two weeks prior to the event
    • audience size varies from year to year
    • the competitive nature of the game is not predictable

    In the world of organic search, you don’t buy your placement, but rather are at the mercy of the search engines’ double-top-secret algorithm to determine your SERP ranking. All you can do is follow SEO best practices and hope for the best:

    • write quality content
    • limit keywords to one “theme” per page
    • link to related content
    • include keywords in your headline (h1) and early in your first paragraph
    • use bold to emphasize keywords
  11. Anyone can do it!
  12. Every year, superbowl advertisers range from the companies who are there every year, like Budweiser, to first-time superbowl advertisers like Go Daddy. There are big budget spots like Audi and even Doritos spots produced by amateurs in a contest. It’s an example of a medium that anyone (with the $3 million+ dollars for airtime) can participate in.

    Likewise, organic search is now a medium for everyone. It’s not just for web developers and SEO consultants anymore! New online services — like the SEO platform from Lead Maverick — and optimized social media sites, like YouTube, enable advertising, public relations, and marketing consulting agencies, in addition to web developers, interactive agencies, and SEO consultants, to publish optimized content that appears at the top of organic search.

Get in the Game!

White Paper - How to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS

These are the days when agencies are beginning to figure out how huge search marketing is — in audience size, in ad spending, in measurable ROI. Those who engage now will no doubt be the winners.

White PaperHow to Grow Your Agency in the Downturn: SEO Answers the SOS

Search Engines on Twitter

The top search engines are on Twitter.  Are you following their tweets?

search-engines-on-twittergoogle_icon@InsideGoogle

yahooicon1@Yahoo

livesearchicon@Live_Search

askicon@AskDotCom (UK)

And one of my personal favorites:

viewziicon1@Viewzi

Google is the most represented of the companies, with many more accounts set up for various products: news, apps, etc. Here is a link that lists all Twitter accounts with Google in the name; just beware of  immitators!

DFW SEM Meeting Set for Thursday, Feb. 19

dfwsemlogo-182x96The next meeting of the Dallas Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFW SEM) is set for Thursday, February 19, 2009 from 6:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson.

The featured presentation will be on keyword research, from the basic to the advanced. Following the presentation, a site clinic will be held. All are welcome to attend. The cost for members is $10 and for non-members $30.

DFW SEM meetings are sponsored by SEMPO and Lead Maverick.

The Dallas / Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association is dedicated to the following principles:

  • Educating North Texas businesses and marketing managers about the value of search engine marketing
  • Promoting the search engine marketing industry in North Texas and surrounding regions
  • Recognizing the value North Texas search engine marketers provide to businesses, advertisers, and search engines.

Welcome

There are approximately 12 billion searches conducted on the internet each month. And that number continues to grow. As more companies look for ways to gain an advantage in an increasingly competitive environment, marketers seek to integrate search engine optimization (SEO) into their marketing communications. And with the advancement in non-technical online tools, SEO is not just for programmers and search marketers anymore. Search Matters is specifically for marketers who want to learn about organic search and how to integrate SEO into their integrated marketing communications programs.

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