October 04, 2010

Tapping Into Google's Freshness

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East

This panel was a lot more interesting than I had anticipated it would be. The speakers on this panel shared a lot of insight into just what it is that Google likes in the way of freshness in content, links, and mentions when they are looking at content and applying the algorithm and displaying results to searchers.

Danny Sullivan was the panel's moderator and added a lot of personal insight from his experiences with running Search Engine Land that also brought a lot to the session. Janet Driscol Miller, Kenny Hyde and Joe Shehata were presenting on this panel and each had a unique perspective as to what they see in the way of relevance in the manner of "freshness" in Google.

Janet Driscol Miller of Search Mojo, led off the panel discussing "Query Deserves Freshness" factor of the Google Algorythm. The QDF has been around since 2007, but has really been brought to the forefront with Google's launch of Caffiene earlier this year. The QDF is used to determine what searches are "hot" and looks for the most recent information available for those trending queries.

Janet went into some great detail about the different Google tools that you can use to help keep up to date on trends and also if the keywords your marketing campaigns are focused on are also spiking for certain reasons. She went on to show the audience how Google insights can be embedded in a page and how marketers can leverage this tool to their advantage by writing relevant blog content around the insight that is spiking.

After Janet concluded her really informative presentation, Kenny Hyde took to the podium and focused on the three primary things that he has seen make fast changes in Google's search results. These three factors also allow the more authoratative sites remain pretty stable in the results, where sites who are not strong in these three areas tend to fluctuate a lot more.

The three areas that Kenny focused on were links, brand mentions and fresh content. He started off with pointing out that with links it's not just quantity and not just quality, it was both. Along with that the variety of the links and where they come from matter. The final piece of the linking puzzle that Kenny discussed was consistency in link building, that once you start building links, you have to continue at the same rate (or increase) if you want to remain "fresh" to Google.

The second area, brand mentions, isn't just using the keyword in the link as many would think, but more to the point that if there is a link you've attained, it's just as important to make sure that on that page there are other mentions of your brand. The sentiment of the brand mention is also an important factor as well.

When it comes to fresh content, Kenny pointed out a few things. The content itself doesn't have to be on a high ranking page, blog posts and syndicated content work well too. It also doesn't have to be on your site, where content such as press releases and reviews are perfect for this type of freshness factor.

The last speaker to round out the panel was John Shehata. John took a look at the freshness factor of Google and what matters in the perspective of Twitter and how it affects the search results. Getting your content retreated is probably one of the most important factors here. Google looks to this as an indicator of relevance. Some things to avoid though is using too many hash tags in your tweets, as the search engines have confirmed that they view this as a spam my tactic.

John also highlighted that not just the quantity but the quality of who is following you and retreating your content is rather important to the "Freshness" factor in Google. Getting influencers to rewet your content is taken as a sign to the search engines that this content is relevant more so when more people rewet it. John rounded out his information by saying it's just as important to encourage family, friends and followers to post your content in other social communities to further the relevance of the content.

This panel had a lot of great tidbits, advice and tips that I came away with some great information to apply here at SMG. Overall,if you can pick the brain of Janet, Kenny or John, I'd say do it!

March 27, 2009

Pay-for-Performance: Winning Strategies for Advertisers and Agencies at SES NYC

By Brian Cosgrove

At the end of the first day at SES NYC came this interesting panel. Many ideas were shared about the importance of restructuring payment for search services and a few of the solutions offer considerations that should be made when considering these models. The panel featured the following speakers:


  • Matt Van Wagner: President, Find Me Faster


  • Richard Zwicky: Founder & CEO, Enquisite
  • Ron Belanger: SES Advisory Board, Vice President of Agency Development, Yahoo!
  • Tom Cuthbert: President & Founder, Click Forensics
  • Brian Klais: Executive Vice President, Netconcepts
  • Jonathan Scott: COO, Direct Traffic Media

Zwicky began the panel by illustrating the imbalance in compensation for paid and organic search. In his statistics, approximately 88 percent of spend goes to 12 percent of the search engine traffic (paid search) and 12 percent of spend goes to 88 percent of the traffic (organic). These numbers back up his notion that organic search is not getting the compensation it deserves. According to Zwicky, top SEO specialists can deliver top ROI so they deserve to be compensated for value delivered; and everyone should be focused on real value to the end client.

Next up is Belenger. Like Zwicky,this Yahoo! employee stresses minimizing the industry buzz-speak and getting down to business value. Unlike Zwicky, Belenger calls pay for performance problematic. It's true that for Belenger, search marketers need to minimize the sorcery by taking details of the tactics out of the price negotiations and instead get into value delivered. When it comes to pay for performance, however, there are a number of reasons that it may not be a good fit.

For example, the agency may not be able to influence all factors such as:

  • Conversion flow
  • Pricing competitiveness
  • Shipping and promotional offers
  • Brand "trust"
  • Customer service

As an alternative, percent of media spend presents its own issues:

  • It provides incentives agencies to spend more for paid search than they should.
  • In some cases, it disincentives economies of scale.
  • The first 90 days of of the engagement are bleeding red for agencies.
  • Search marketing is reduced to buying more keywords.

For Belenger, an FTE (Full-Time Equivalent) model with fair rates makes the most sense. The following were points on this subject:

  • Data is the new black: pay for it and agree on its value. Use it to derive strategy and insights.
  • Add incentives for cost savings: use technology deployment, outsourcing, and only provide in-house support where applicable.
  • Reach and stretch goals: create an upside for heroic work and a win/win business climate.

Next up, Cuthbert provided some interesting statistics. Online advertising is up 11% while print is down 19%. To explain this, he references phenomena such as CPA models, targeting, measurability, an roi focused culture, the collapse of traditional media, and enhanced tools.

Following Cuthbert is Klais. Klais works with software that is used to execute pay for performance search campaigns. Like Zwicky, he reiterates that there is an inverse relationship between spend and volume with paid and organic search. When thinking of pay per performance, there are a number of factors to consider such as the following:

  • Market opportunity
  • Click-through rate
  • Acquisition costs
  • Keyword coverage
  • Non-brand reach
  • Page placement
  • Page yield
  • Incremental traffic/revenue
  • ROAS

In general, the margin can increase based on value delivered which better aligns agency/marketer interests and should ensure positive ROI/ROAS. He did, however, express some performance model drawbacks for agencies:

  • Investment of resources ahead of revenue
  • Lack of control over execution and conversion
  • Difficulty in managing channel attribution
  • The possibility of succeeding out of a job
  • The program may contain baggage

For the customer, there are also drawbacks:

  • Costs can scale indefinitely
  • Bigger payouts tempt agencies to try risky tactics

When constructing a pay for performance arrangement, consider a revenue sharing model where you define fair commission structure. In this respect, consider rates for the percent of brand or nonbrand; or for incremental increases only. Consider affiliate levels for brand merchants and figure out how to handle channel attribution. Ultimately, try to make sure that SEO and paid search are given their fair split in credit.

Another model is cost per click. After defining a fair click cost, similar considerations should be made about branded vs. non-branded, comparing SEO cost to ppc acquisition cost, and multichannel attribution.

Scott came next and echoed the idea of performance related pay. He believes the industry should embrace performance contracts because the SEO gold rush is over, and clients are demanding accountability and governance in plans.

Scott proposes a base + performance model. That is, the performance element is the carrot, the motivator. He suggests setting up incentive targets based on true KPIs where you can approximately value them and trust them. Even still there are a number of considerations that should be accounted for when developing one of these plans.

The first consideration is seasonality. On a month to month basis, consider using Adwords trends to predict the possible changes in volume that occur. On a similar note, also consider other external factors such as the state of the market by doing a year over year comparison and utilize some basic forecasting. After that, relax and caveat a bit.

In some real life examples, Scott explained how there were bands where the % of bonus became larger and these bands were routinely adjusted to account for seasonality and market factors. It's about taking the time to reach an agreement that makes life easier and avoiding an overly complicated model. In this respect, the client should feel in control, there should be a warm-up period explained, and there should be get out clauses for both parties. It's about negotiating a sense of shared risk among both parties.

That wrapped up the session.  In summary, there are many factors out of the control of search marketers which make it difficult to come to a performance based agreement but, none-the-less, organic search marketers should be paid on the value that they deliver.

October 24, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesdays Meeting

By Li Evans

This week's fun photo comes from this past week's conference, eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit in Washington DC.  I was glad to see a few of my search friends there, including the very charming Matt Williams of No Possum Consulting (you gotta see his business cards!) and the always fun Amanda Watlington of Searching for Profit.  Before I had to scurry off to another dinner with local friends I attended the Web Analytics Wednesday meeting at eMetrics and hung out with Matt & Amanda, they kindly obliged me with their smiles when I asked for pictures!

Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesday Meeting

If you like this photo of Matt Williams & Amanda Watlington at eMetrics' Web Analytics Wednesday Meeting, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit 2008, there's over 140 photos for you all to check out.

September 05, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Jim Boykin & David Temple at WebMaster Radio's SearchBash

By Li Evans

Well in digging through my photos from the spectacular WebMaster Radio SearchBash at SES San Jose this year, I discovered that not all of my photos uploaded to the set!  I was missing 60+ photos from that group of photos!  Including this week's Fun Friday Photo of SMG's very own David Temple and Jim Boykin of We Build Pages.

So after you are done looking at these two handsome chaps, go take a gander at the other 60+ photos I've just added to the WebMaster Radio SearchBash 2008 set, there's now over 280 photos there.

Jim Boykin & David Temple at the WebMasterRadio.fm Search Bash at SES San Jose

If you like this photo of Jim Boykin & David Temple at the WebMasterRadio.fm Search Bash at SES San Jose, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at SES San Jose 2008, there's just over 200 photos in that set and there's over 280 photos in the WebmasterRadio.FM Search Bash photo set.

September 02, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: John Carcutt, Loren Baker & Darrell Long

By Li Evans

I scheduled this photo to go live for Friday, right before I left to "unplug" for the holiday weekend.  Apparently I forgot to switch it out of "draft" mode and here this photo sat all weekend, so my apologies.

I found these 3 handsome chaps just lounging around at the Yahoo Booth on the expo hall floor at SES San Jose.  I got a smile out of John Carcutt (left) and Darrell Long (right), but poor Loren, I just don't know if he was shocked at my camera not flashing or what.  Regardless, I thought this was a nice photo of the SearchEngineJournal crew (at least that's what I'm calling them).

John Carcutt, Loren Baker & Darrell Long at the Yahoo Booth at SES San Jose

If you like this photo of John Carcutt, Loren Baker & Darrell Long at the Yahoo Booth at SES San Jose, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at SES San Jose 2008, there's just over 200 photos in that set and there's over 200 photos in the WebmasterRadio.FM Search Bash photo set.

July 05, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Jim & David Hanging Out at SES Toronto

By Li Evans

Due to the July 4th Holiday yesterday here in the states, I took the day off from most things search related.  So other than searching for a place to stay in Ocean City, Maryland, it was all grilling steaks, hanging out with friends and watching fireworks in the rain for me!  Today though, before I head south to hang out on the beach and traverse the boardwalk, I bring you this week's Fun Friday Photo.

Another picture straight from the expo hall floor of SES Toronto.  In this picture, I managed to catch two of the savviest guys in search hanging out and just enjoying the networking event that evening.  Jim Hedger of Metamend (and WebmasterRadio fame!) and David Szetela of Clix Marketing obliged this roaming shutterbug, long enough for me to get this great image, thanks guys! 

Fun Photo Fridays: Jim & David Hanging Out at SES Toronto

If you like this photo of Jim & David Hanging Out at SES Toronto, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at SES Toronto Conference, there's over 90 photos to view.

June 06, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Dave Naylor & Jim Gilbert are Up to Something at the WebmasterRadio Bash in San Jose!

By Li Evans

For this week's choice for our Fun Friday Photo, I decided to go back to last August to SES San Jose.  WebmasterRadio held its wonderful and always fun SearchBash.  Last year's event featured a Sammy Davis, Jr. impersonator and a Dean Martin impersonator as well as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator.

Poor Marilyn, she hasn't a clue what Dave Naylor's planning, and Jim Gilbert's smiling like the cat who just ate the proverbial canary!  These two guys together are real trouble! :)

Fun Photo Fridays: Ken & Dave Naylor & Jim Gilbert are Up to Something at the WebmasterRadio Bash in San Jose!

If you like this photo of Dave Naylor & Jim Gilbert Being Up to Something at the WebmasterRadio Bash in San Jose, feel free to comment and favorite it on Flickr, Sphinn or Fetch this photo as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at Search Engine Strategies in San Jose 2007, there's over 500 photos to view.

June 01, 2008

Bringing a Community Together Who is Miles Apart For a Birthday Celebration

By Li Evans

Kim Krause BergOne of my dearest friends in this industry celebrated her 50th birthday this month.  Through a mix of emails and phone calls, her very cool and very hip hubby Eric and I put together a party for her at the Fox & Hound yesterday.  I knew though, that some of her very close friends from the Search Industry couldn't make it because of the distance and others because of prior obligations, but I wanted to bring folks together who meant something to Kim.

I can't take all the credit for the idea, Barry Schwartz actually inspired me.  Because the party was being held on a Saturday, Barry who honors the Sabbath on that day, couldn't attend.  However, Barry still wanted to take part and he put together this very touching video and this got me inspired to bring together folks from all over the industry to send their wishes and be there even without being there in person.

I got a very touching response from those who responded to my email asking them to participate.  Barry Welford sent over an MP3 and it just made me smile, he sounds exactly like I've "pictured" him sounding and he made me giggle listening to his message all the way from British Columbia.  Jeff Quipp, another favorite Canadian pal of ours, sent over birthday wishes from the whole crew at SearchEnginePeople, I just love Jeff's accent.  Then miss Dazzlin' Donna herself sung happy birthday to Kim complete with her own southern accent.

Then came the videos.  Andy Beal sent over his wishes for a fantastic birthday along with his offer to help her with some reputation management and  squash those vicious 50th birthday rumors.  My boss, Christine Churchill and two of her four horses, sent along birthday greetings from Dallas, Texas and I even got Elizabeth Able to break out of her shell and record a video complete with a mention of naked midget wrestlers (honestly, it's just a joke the Cre8asite Forums shares with Kim). 

People celebrating Kim Krause Berg's BirthdayFinally to round out the birthday wishes in person were myself and my coworker Bill Slawski.  I do believe that Kim was really happy and actually very flattered that so many folks came together in a special way to make her birthday extra special.  Kim carried the disc around that was labeled "Happy Birthday Kim"  "From the Search Industry" around to show 20+ people at the party who wouldn't really know what even a title tag was.  Once she explained what we did, her friends and family were really impressed that people from miles away would come together this way.

When communities care, amazing things can happen.  Thank you to everyone who helped to make Kim's birthday extra special, and thank you Barry, for inspiring me to bring us together to make her day a great one!

*if you'd like to take a look at the photos, check out my Kim Krause Berg's Birthday Party set on Flickr.

May 30, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Ken & Erin Savage with Kristen Donnelly Heading To the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl at SES NYC

By Li Evans

It's Friday and you know what that means here on SMG, that's right another Fun Photo! I do have a announcement as far as voting goes for these photos and which photo wins at the end of the year.  We'll be counting both Sphinns & Fetches, along with photo views, comments and favorites on Flickr.  So if you like the photos we've featured in the past, Favorite them, Comment on them on Flickr, Sphinn them and Fetch them, the community decides the winner! :)

This week's photo features Ken Savage of the Battling Diabetes Blog, his wife Erin Savage and their friend Kristen Donnelly.  I snapped this photo of them when we were in the lobby of the Hilton waiting for the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl to start at SES New York.

Fun Photo Fridays: Ken & Erin Savage with Kristen Donnelly Heading To the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl at SES NYC

If you like this photo of Ken, Erin & Kristen at SES NYC 2008 St Patty's Day Pub Crawl, feel free to comment and favorite it as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at Search Engine Strategies New York 2008, there's over 400 photos to view.

May 23, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Mike Grehan "Cheers To You" at Search Marketing World 2008

By Li Evans

Back in April at the beginning of that month I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland to speak at Search Marketing World 2008.  It was my first time in Ireland but my friends from the search industry like Motoko Hunt, Dave Davis & Mike Grehan all helped me out with places to go and visit during my stay there.

Right after the sessions were over at Search Marketing World, there was a networking event.  Everyone was just hanging out, chilling, and generally having a great time.  I snapped this photo of Mike, who's one of my favorite people in this industry, and just loved the way it caught his sense of fun.  He was toasting, "here's to you, Li", and I say "Cheers to You Mike!"

Fun Photo Fridays: Mike Grehan

If you like this photo of Mike Grehan "Cheers To You" at Search Marketing World 2008, feel free to comment and favorite it as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at Search Marketing World 2008, there's over 140 photos to view.

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