SEO and Paid Search

Do you need SEO or a copywriter?

So I’m still considering what the biggest news of the year is on the Marketing front (specifically, tactics). Boldly claiming the death of SEO, I have to admit it’s more of a “SEO is Dead, Long Live SEO”. The game is changing from cheap tricks over to master copywriting and this requires a different set of people with different talents.

It’s amazing when I talk to people who are trying to make headway in search results and they don’t even realize that their keyword density is zero. Kind of hard to rank for a term that’s not even on your site…

A lot of this also leads into another theory I am working on about how the best products really require very little marketing as they tend to spread rapidly on their own. You could argue that the best Martketeers are those who are successfully selling products that are excruciatingly boring commodities. Sometimes the marketeer can be the completely uncoordinated kid and still end up on the World Champion Little League team. Sometimes they can lead the team there. I’m not really sure where I’m going with this besides trying to rationalize why I haven’t retired already after some viral campaign that I made go berzerk.

Daily Life SEO and Paid Search

Still off the grid

Home inspection tomorrow so things are still moving. Some quick things you may be interested in:

Google is cracking down on search arbitrage

I was unable to hit the WebInno event yesterday so I’m looking for a good writeup on what I missed.

Some rumors about Google acquiring but I think those are just rumors.

A new Marketing Over Coffee will be out tonight.

Brain Buster SEO and Paid Search

Advanced Kung-Fu Blog Techniques

Eric, Sam and Jason

Eric Schwartzman, Sam Whitmore and Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis delivered a great lunch keynote today. I enjoy the mix of straight talk mixed and the understanding of showmanship. I had a brain buster today when everything snapped into focus – he mentioned that you should keep watching his blog for something big regarding the death of SEO. If you read his stuff there’s been a ongoing thread about SEO being legitimate business or just another shady tactic like junk bond arbitrage and tax evasion. So perhaps something big is coming and guess who’s had a corner on the best SEO chatter (Google juice anyone?) for the past 3 months?

Podcasting SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer

The Latest M Show and Super SEO Juice

Get your latest dose of 10 minutes of News, Talk, and Entertainment in the Audio Form from the newest episode of The M Show, the Best Business Podcast.

In other good news David Meerman Scott’s new book is coming out, here’s the all-star list of new media folks that he’s thanked. Plenty of great reading in this list:

Robert Scoble Scobleizer
Adele Revella Buyer Persona Blog
Joe Wikert Publishing 2020 blog
Steve Johnson
David McInnis
Mark Levy
David Hamm
Mike Levin
Colin Delaney epolitics
Steve Goldstein Alacrablog
Todd Van Hoosear
George L Smyth Eclectic Mix
Mark Effinger
Michelle Manafy EContent magazine
Kevin Rose Diggnation
Grub Street Writers
Dave Armon
Britton Manasco
Jordan Behan
Nettie Hartsock
John Havens
John Blossom ContentBlogger
Larry Schwartz Newstex
Steve Smith
Melanie Surplice
Nate Wilcox
Ian Wilker
Cody Baker
Dianna Huff
Brian Carroll
Ken Doctor
Jonathan Kranz
Barry Graubart
Steve O’Keefe
Ted Demopoulos
Debbie Weil
Paul Gillin
Matt Lohman
Seth Godin
Rob O’ Regan
Steve Rubel Micro Persuasion
Paul Gillin
Joan Stewart The Publicity Hound
Glenn Nicholas Small Business Inspiration
Mac MacIntosh The B2B Sales Lead Expert
Jill Konrath Selling to Big Companies
Guy Kawasaki How to Change the World
Court Bovée and John Thill Business Communication Headline News
Grant D. Griffiths Kansas Family Law Blog
Robin Crumby The Melcrum Blog
Jim Peake My Success Gateway
Eli Singer Refreshing the Daily Grind
Duane Brown Imagination+Innovation
Scott Monty The Social Media Marketing Blog
Ian Lamont
Blog Campaigning
Rich at Copywrite Ink
John Lustina SEO Speedwagon
Adam Tinworth OneMan+HisBlog
Scott Clark Finding the Sweet Spot
Amanda Chapel Strumpette
Jennifer Veitenheimer reinventjen
Morty Schiller Wordrider
Matthias Hoffmann the power of news
Erin Caldwell’s PRblog
Ferrell Kramer Talking Communications
Anita Campbell Selling to Small Businesses
Karl Ribas’ Search Engine Marketing Blog
Tony D. Baker Advanced Marketing Techniques
Tom Pick The WebMarketCentral Blog
Tina Lang-Stuart
Bryan Eisenberg Jeffrey Eisenberg Robert Gorell and the rest of the team at Grok Dot Com
Michele Miller WonderBranding
Publicity Ship Blog
The Media Slut
Brad Shorr Word Sell
Sasha Where Business Meets the Web
Ellee Seymour ProActivePR
Chris Kenton The Marketers’ Consortium
Paul Young Product Beautiful
By Ron Miller
Michael Morton
James D. Brausch
Janet Meiners Newspapergrl
Andrew B. Smith The New View From Object Towers
Cristian Mezei SeoPedia
Jim Nail Cymfony’s influence 2.0
Denise Wakeman and Patsi Krakoff The Blog Squad
Forward Blog
Ben Argov
Zane Safrit Duct Tape Marketing—Business Life
Will McInnes Online Marketing Guide
Robbin Steif LunaMetrics
Mike Boss
Marc Gunn Music Promo Blog
Nancy E. Schwartz Getting Attention
Kami Watson Huyse Communications Overtones
Todd Defren PR Squared
Michael Stelzner Writing White Papers
Dee Rambeau Adventures in Business Communications
Glenn Fannick Read Between the Mines
Owen Lystrup Into PR
Morgan McLintic
Mark Batterson Evotional
Jay Coffelt
John Richardson
Robin Good MasterNewMedia
Shel Israel Naked Conversations
Robert J. Ricci Son-of-a-Pitch
Mike Sigers Simplenomics
Dan Greenfield Bernaisesource
Brian Clark copyblogger
Lee Odden TopRank Online Marketing Blog
David Weinberger
Carson McComas
The FutureLab blog
John Bradley Jackson Be First Best or Different
Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi
Mark Goren Transmission
John Wall Ronin Marketer
MarketingProfs Daily Fix Blog
John Koetsier bizhack
Steve Kayser Squareballs Entertainment
James Robertson’s Smalltalk Blog
Linas Simonis
Dale Wolf The Perfect Customer Experience
Eric Mattson Marketing Monger
Scott Sehlhorst Tyner Blain
Seeds of Growth blog
Hugo E. Martin
David Phillips leverwealth
Terry Affiliate Marketing Blog
Gavin Heaton Servant of Chaos
Mark White Better Business Blogging
Eric Eggertson Common Sense PR
Michelle Golden Golden Practices
Liz Strauss
Tony Valle Small Business Radio
Chris Heuer’s Idea Engine
David Evans The Progress Bar
Todd Andrlik The Power to Connect
The New PR Wiki
Pelle Braendgaard Stake Ventures
Lisa Banks Search Engine Optimization Eblog
Chris Brown Branding & Marketing
Graeme Thickins Tech-Surf-Blog
Ardath Albee Marketing Interactions
Lauren Vargas Communicators Anonymous
Lori Smart Lemming
Dane Morgan
Jason Leister Computer Super Guy
Bill Trippe
Jason Eiseman Jason the Content Librarian
Reuben Steiger Millions of Us
Taran Rampersad Know Prose
John Richardson Success Begins Today
Valentin Pertsiya Brand Aid
Bill Belew Rising Sun of Nihon
Joe Beaulaurier An Ongoing Press Release
David Koopmans Business of Marketing and Branding
Chris Anderson The Long Tail
Roger C. Parker Design to Sell

More to come with my trip to PR Online Convergence this week!

SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer

Getting Started With Google AdWords

I had a question come in today about some best practices for Google Adwords so here’s some basics that I follow, I’d be interested in anything that people have to add.

For those who have no knowledge of this you should swing over to the official google adwords blog and check out their learning center.

For selecting keywords start with the logs for the client’s website, you should have a nice assortment of keyphrases there to begin working with. The key is to have as many variations as possible, without any duplicates. In all of my testing google gets angry at duplicates and leaves you out in the dust.

The real gold lies is phrases of 3 words or more, you should be able to get these at much cheaper prices than single or two word phrases. Don’t be afraid to go 6 words or more, the more specific and relevant you get, the better your odds at highly qualified traffic at very low prices.

Adwords has its own keyword generator to help you find related phrases. You should leverage that. There are some other paid services I’ve used but keep in mind that the algorithms used by google’s keyword generator are probably very close to the same logic used in the engine. Or to put it a better way – all other keyword generators want you to pay for the service they provide, google is giving you the service so you will do more business with them – who’s got the inside track?

I think this will be one of the critical value-adds you can give to your client. You should even interview the client’s customers to try and get the language as accurate as possible. You have 2 options – spend 100 hours uploading every variation of keyword to find the 3 good ones, or spend 10 hours with the client and try a shorter, more accurate list of 50 and maybe get twice that in good phrases. The days of shotgun phrases are numbered, you need to become an intelligent sniper.

The single most important tip I can give you is to use the Adwords Editor tool for all the heavy lifting rather than messing around with the web interface. Make all your changes in one shot and upload them as a batch.
Bidding is another tough area – some key principles. Odds are your conversion rate is going to be less than half a percent so multiply the bid by 20 and ask your client if they are willing to pay that per lead. If they don’t choke on their own tongue then proceed. You probably want to bid to come in on page 1 so price accordingly.

You pay less if your ad quality is good so work hard to keep your click through rates above half a percent.

Test at least three versions of ads for both clicks and conversions and keep promoting the champions, this keeps the overall program price down.
Test out the content network, especially now that you can select the individual sites you advertise on. I’ve found these to not be effective as the search results pages but they do get your name out there for whatever that’s worth.

If you are lucky enough to be working in a fixed geographic area, adjust your campaigns accordingly. Controlling day of week and time can also help weed out some of the click-crap.

Good luck…

Brain Buster SEO and Paid Search

Pay Per Click vs Pay Per Action

Will Herman sent in a comment on my post bemoaning the end of the pay per click advertising (PPC) gold rush and asked if Pay per Action will replace Pay per Click. There’s been a lot of hype in the past couple of weeks and Google recently moved in that direction by allowing PPC in their content network as opposed to pay per thousand impressions (CPM).

My thoughts here are still evolving, but here’s the best I have so far:

Good question… my only answer so far is… maybe. It’s getting more complex across the board. On one hand you have the advertiser that would love pay-per-action, and on the other side the media property that would prefer to get paid per thousand impressions and leave the risk of ads being relevant or not to the advertiser. Clicks have been a happy medium, with click fraud only being a minor concern.

Paying for conversion shifts more of the risk to the media property – if my advertisers have terrible landing pages I’m not going to get anything – worse yet, they get the impact of their brand on my page for free. These types of affiliate deals are fairly common already, but because of the “free rider” branding most pubs have been very picky about who they will allow to ride side-by-side with their brand.

Most of the current deals like the one described above is a variation though – the affiliate is doing the advertising on behalf of the brand that is selling and the affiliate gets paid when they bring in deals – basically outsourcing a portion of the marketing function. I guess you could say the with a google pay-per-action campaign the marketing is now coming through the source rather than a contractor (rather than someone else coming up with a message for you, now your message goes out into uncharted waters).

I think the market will handle this – qualified leads are worth significantly more than clicks. To use the previous discussion, while I’m not willing to pay $5 for a click, I’d gladly pay $200 for a name that has been pre-qualified through 5 questions, is in the US, and is a confirmed identity with a corporate email address.

This shouldn’t be a tough sell to the media property – they can choose between getting paid a nickel for a click or $100 for a conversion. Publishers will eventually not have to sell advertising space, but rather manage it. They no longer have to worry about empty space, but rather non-performing ads. Sadly, I think this is beyond the core competence of most publishing organizations (think about this – that’s one of the benefits of AdSense now – the publisher does no work at all besides initial setup).

For the savvy publisher this would  just be a matter of testing, and now that I think about it Google could arbitrage that since they already have the stats (I don’t know? Is that evil? Gambling? Insurance? All of the above?). So the bottom line is I don’t see pay per action getting big until the tools to do it are as simple as adsense – which I think could happen in as fast as 1 year if Google decides to “work the float”.

This is yet another sign that the land grab is over. The days of farming out 20,0000 keywords at a nickel a pop are over. Just as in adwords the benefits now will be driven to those who can write relevant ads that get (what we consider now to be) exceptionally high click-through rates. The creepiest part of this is that it’s all driving users to increase the level of relevance of their ads – playing into Google’s hand and wallet at the same time.

Brain Buster SEO and Paid Search

Paid Search=3 second spot

I reached a tipping point with a number of paid search campaigns over the past month. More than one client has thrown in the towel at click prices that have increased 100x in the past year. This made me think more about relevancy – the old model was to cover as many keywords as possible. The new price points make that no longer feasible. At 5 cents a click you can deal with a 1% conversion rate. At $5 a click your expense has gone from $5 to $500 per lead (and that’s assuming a 1% conversion rate, which is well targeted, all those marginal ones down at 0.5% are now edging into $1000). Unless you are selling medical devices or airplanes it’s time to start looking at blogs, vertical publications, or just about anything else.

So does this mean that paid search has hit it’s peak? Unless newer customers come in with a higher threshold for pain than mine, there’s no more money to get…

Categories SEO and Paid Search

IT’S ALIVE! and Google too.

After literally months of struggling we finally managed to get the / Google integration going. I’m definitely geeking out, but how cool is it to look at a closed deal and say “one year ago you searched for this specific term, we paid $2.75 for that click and it turned into a 6-figure deal”. Lots of cool stuff, now all we need is for some data to pile up.

In other Google news I was invited to take part in a beta for cost per click (CPC) ads in the content network. Up until now you could only pay cost per click for Google search results, not their affiliate sites. There’s also supposed to be some way to choose which sites in the content network you want to be featured on. I couldn’t find these features, but it’s not the first time I’ve been unable to find stuff in Adwords (and I’m not alone).

And finally, I’ll be rolling some site upgrades out in the next 24 hours…

Brain Buster SEO and Paid Search The Marketeer

SEO is Dead

Last week I had heard some rumblings about Google continuing to use individual search history to influence results. There are differing opinions on this but I am all for it. If, after months of searching, Google realizes that I can’t speak spanish, then it would be great if I never had to see any results in spanish.

But this begs the question: What will SEO vendors do when there are no consistent results? At first I thought they would become some sort of modified copywriters, a few best practices, but mainly focused on writing quality content. Now I’m thinking it may even go beyond that – who’s willing to tie conversion results to the work they do?

SEO and Paid Search

SEO is Dead

Bryper threw a question to the CAPOW group about Google serving up different search results pages depending on whether or not a use is logged in. Is this a problem for companies that you pay to get you to score well in Google?
I had a related discussion at the MIT event last week – I’ve heard from many people that are using Search Engine Optimization services that it is common to plateau – you get the advantage of all the tricks the vendor has but then that’s it, you move no further. I’ve even heard of others who have ridden this curve two or three times.

Another thing that concerns me is that as search algorithms continue to get more sophisticated (such as identifying common phrases as opposed to indivdual words), copy writing is now more critical than everand something you can’t farm out to an agency who is unable to write about your business in its own language.

I’m willing to ride the plateau as long as possible but I have the feeling that the days of easy money as an SEO specialist may be fading into the horizon. Just like all the web designers of the bubble, or the day-traders of the early 90’s, the day of reckoning is on its way.