December 20, 2010

Are You The Industry's Biggest Search Geek?

By Li Evans

Biggest-search-geek-contest SMX is asking, "Are You the Biggest Search Geek?"

If you are, it could win you a trip for two to Search Marketing Expo in San Jose March 8-10, 2001.  The contest sponsored by Marin Software is in it's 3rd year and consists of 20 questions online marketing professionals need to answer to test their "search geekiness".  The winner will answer the most questions in the shortest amount of time.

It may seem easy, but how many of you know the answer to questions like "What was the name of Larry Page and Sergey Brin's 1996 research project that  laid the foundation for Google's search engine?"  without going to Wikipedia for the answer?  

And before you think that's one of this year's questions... think again! :)  That one was from a prior year.

So if you think you are up for it, go take the 20 question quiz and see if you can be crowned the industry's "Biggest Search Geek!"

 

October 08, 2010

Facebook Ad Tactics for Search Marketers

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East

DSC_8727 The "Facebook At Tactics for Search Marketers" panel at SMX East was a pretty insightful panel, from looking at how to manage your advertising in Facebook more easily to how to use it as a research tool, this panel was also full of great tips fromt he presenters.

First up was Matt Lawson from Marin Software who pointed out that Facebook just has a sheer amount of traffic, it's now crested and eclipsed google in page views.  They pages visisted are also more per session, 12+ in Facebook is an oustanding number to figure into your strategies.

Understanding that people are visiting more pages during their sessions in Facebook, you will naturally get more impressions than you can in paid search in the search engines (Google, Bing).  That only makes sense.  More impressions however, does mean lower click through rates, but this is o.k. when you also factor in you will have lower CPC rates that range anywhere from 12 to 15%.

Conversion rates are really all over the map for Facebook ads.  It really depends on how you are targeting your ads and your creatives.  Images are much more important with Facebook Ads.  Marketers need to be careful of having their ads "blending in" so choose colors that draw out.  If you also tailor your images to your audience it will increase their relevance as well.  You also need to keep the ads fresh because users on Facebook become ad blind

Matt also pointed out that maintaining the Facebook experience is important, especially for conversions.  Most succeful campaigns tend to be those who built their ads and campaigns into the Facebook tabs.

Matt rounded out his presentation by pointing out for marketers to remember that (according to: "The Influecened:  Social media, search and the interplay of consideration and consumption"  by Group M) social influences search.  Consumers who are exposed to a brand's social meda ads are:

  • 2.8 times as likely to search on brand terms
  • 50% more likely to click on paid search ads
  • 1.7 times morelikely to purchase from search


DSC_8723 Kevin Ryan from Motivity Marketing was up next at the podium and started off with pointing out how Facebook ads are really easy to set up, in just 5 minutes you can set them up.  He also pointed out that Facebook can become bigger in 5 yrs than Google is today (he pointed out a good piece on TechCrunch that speaks to this).

When marketers are working with Facebook ads, they need to look beyond just the keywords to things like tidal changes, early stage - creative shelf life, transitions, and just because you can doesn't mean you should (especially when it comes to bidding against your competition).  Marketers need to be more geographically relevant with Facebook and understand the collective interest.

Merry Morud from AimClear was up after Kevin Ryan and focused on how she runs campaigns in Facebook.  When you start a new account either start it from an admin account or create a new destination account on Facebook.  If you start a new account Facebook will at first limit you to $50, put in a request to buy more and they will work to get that removed.

When it comes to Facebook ads they are still a lot like PPC ads in the search engines in that you still need to create Landing Pages, whether they are landing pages that are on your site or a Facebook tab, you should still perform small audits on there.  Marketers should also be testing the verbiage in their copy, but an easy way to start is to grab your Search PPC copy that is working.  Also understanding how much freedom you have is important because in Facebook langauge that appeals to a certain segment (slang) can make your ads more successful.

Merry also pointed out how important images are to Facebook ads.  You need to get pictures - you need them, lots of them -  and you also need to make the images pop.  Merry uses IrfranView and cranks up both the contrast & saturation to make normal images stand out more.

Some best practices to keep in mind for creating your Facebook ads are: no symbols, full healdine, full sentice in body, no excessive punctuation, no eccesive capitlaize, real urls, bid daily budget must start at least $1.  She also suggested using some alternative tools:  Word's Thesaurus, Wikipedia, VisuWords, WordStream, OneLook Reverse Dictionary and your own noggin'.

Merry really had a ton more of great stuff in her presentation so if you were at SMX and didn't get to see this panel, download her presentation when they put them up and you can get the full information.  She really did have a lot of awesome tips and insights.

Finally Tyler Calder from Search Engine People rounded out this panel.  Tyler focuse on how marketers can use Facebook ads for market research.  Facebook is a researchers dream, so much data to get into about your customers can be found on Facebook.  If you want to  know how a certain groups people respond to a message an image or a question - Facebook can help with that.

Marketers can take these findings and apply to other offline and online intiatives such as TV, Radio and Print. If you start to use Facebook Advertising as a starting point for your marketing research, follow the Scientific Method.  Tyler outlined what marketers can test with Facebook ads:

  • Blog Titles
  • Email Subject Lines
  • Existing Message in New Market
  • Value Propositions
  • Proof Points

Benefits of using Facebook as a marketing research tool are huge: cost effective, fast, targeting, data collection, and flexibitilty.

Tyler presented two case studies in how they effectively used Facebook ads to research and test for their clients.  The first involved TV ads for a medical client that specialized in lap band procedures.  The client had a clearly defined geographic area and demographic but has a very high cost per conversion and they needed insights into how to produce a commercial that would be relevant.  They question they needed to answer for the client was what type of TV does their audience watch.  By using Facebook ads they were able to effectively answer that question and help the client with the campaign and making it much more affective and the results were 6% increase in calls, 11% increase in online consultation bookings.

The second case study Tyler highlighted was for a company who had a mobile application.  The app itself had strong reviews and a high retention rate however it could not break into the top 25.  The problem was that their app icon was seriously ugly and sucked.  Tylers team used Facebook ads to test the new icon images, the one that performed the best in the ads was what was chosen for the new application icon. The results - app downloads steady rate/sustained of downloads, with first ugly app icon, it was 69% drop off after the initial release.

Just like the Facebook (SEO) Optimization panel before this one, this session was really full of a lot of great tips, insights and information.  If you attended SMX East and missed this panel make sure to download the presentations.  If you didn't attend SMX East, make sure you put SMX West on your agenda!

 

October 07, 2010

Facebook (SEO) Optimization: Free Ways to Be Found on Facebook

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

Marty-weintraub Lately Facebook marketing has become all the rage, especially for online marketers.  With that in mind I sat down in the Facebook SEO:  Free Ways to be Found on Facebook panel at SMX East 2010.  The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Osmesloski the editor for Search Engine Land and presenters were Marty Weintraub, Gregg Finn and Chris Silversmith

First to the stage was Marty, who had a deck that was just packed with data, so much so that I'll have to go back and digest that presentation to fully comprehend everything Marty was trying to relate in such a small amount of time.  Some key facts, tips and information I gleened from Marty's presentation were truly insightful.

When it comes to the "SERPs" of Facebook (if we want to call them that as search engine marketers) and mature Facebook accounts different factors like personalization and likes matter in what's brought back when a user searches in the Facebook environment.  There's a few things that affect personalization: you "like it", your friends "like it", you've got 2nd degree friends (not quite as relevant), you've been invited to things, you've visited the page before, and you've listed it as an interest on your profile.

Marty outlined 9 important ranking factors to consider when you are setting up your profile or pages/groups on Facebook, if you want them to rank in Facebook's search results.
  1. Your Name
  2. Events You Are Invited To
  3. Friend with Keyword in Name
  4. 2nd Degree Friend with Keyword in Name
  5. Questions w/ keyword in it & # of Answers
  6. App you have used
  7. Page Friend Likes
  8. Groups you have joined
  9. Internal external page & Interest You Have on a Profile
The one place that seems to be the most "spammy" on Facebook that programmers are hacking and exploiting is Events.  Events are not geographically based, nor based on if your friends are attend, nor the invites and not really keyword based.  Spammers are using events to send emails to everyone on the attendee lists whether they've RSVP'd or not.  This is why people are ignoring events anymore.

The key to successfully marketing with the events is to get people to RSVP as ATTENDING and get people to the page at least once.  Don't forget to make your primary keyword the first word of the event and don't make that name too long.

Marty had so much more great information, if you are interested in it, follow him on twitter he's @aimclear.

Greg Finn was up next with another treasure trove of great tips for marketing in Facebook.  The key to making your pages rank is relevancy of the page name, the fans you have and also the conversations that are going on within those pages, according to Greg.  Greg also highlighted Facebook's Page Browser feature and how those factors affect what appears in the page browser.

When you are trying to boost your fans he pointed out some rather simple things marketers can do like making sure you have a "Become a Fan" button on your main website.  He also suggested running promotions, however you do need to consult Facebook's guidelines on promotions before you launch to avoid having Facebook shut down your promotion.

The best promotions that work are charitable donations.  This is where companies say "for every fan we acquire" within a certain time frame, they will donate a certain amount of money to a charity.  Greg suggested that companies can alter this and encourage more conversation because in order to comment on a fan page wall, you have to like it first.  So by running the promotion focusing on "for every comment on this post, we'll donate", you are getting both fans and conversation.

Open-graph Chris Silversmith rounded out this panel with some other great insights, primarily utilizing your status updates in more effective ways.  If you utilize tagging, you can really improve your chances of increasing the number of people who see it.  For example utilizing people's names, groups, businesses, and locations can actually place your status updates on their walls, exposing that information to their fans/friends. 

You do want to be careful with this though because it can appear spammy and get ignored and also be ineffective if a group, fan page or community page only shows "their" updates and doesn't allow fans updates to be seen.  Remember as well, you can only use 6 tags in a status update.

Chris also gave some great tips about optimizing fan page code for facebook by using the Open Graph.  Open Graph code is based on RDFa and Chris pointed out that marketers should make sure to use the meta tags outlined in the Open Graph outline by creating special html pages on their own sites and synching them with the Facebook Fanpage.  You really only get one shot at this as once 10 or more people like it, Facebook won't change the information on the page you've synched.  To get Facebook to recognize your Open Graph coded page put the like button on the page and click it as the administrator of the fan page from that page.

This panel was so packed with great information, there's a lot more that I didn't cover here, as actually sitting in the panel is where you get the true benefit!  If you are interested in learning more, tweet to the presenters, they might help you out, or better yet attend SMX West in February 2011.

October 05, 2010

Retargeting: The New Behavioral Ads

By Li Evans

Reporting from Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

Behavorial-ad-re-targeting One of the first sessions yesterday at SMX was the Retargeting:  The New Behavioral Ads.  This session focused around understanding how minute in details and data driven serving up display ads across content networks can be.  Chris Sherman was the moderator for this panel and he brought up the fact that the FCC is taking a closer look at the process of using cookies and their data to retarget ads to users and the privacy concerns around this process.  There could be legislation coming in the future that prohibits companies from using data in this way.

First up on this panel to present was Kevin Lee from DidIt.  Kevin's been around this space for quite a while and is one of the people who have a truly deep knowledge of exactly how these networks work with capturing data and then serving up the right ads to the viewer.  Kevin focused on the basics of ad retargeting and told the audience that this form of advertising is much greater than thinking of it as just "display ads".

When it comes down to it, marketers have to think about who's cookie pool do they want to use, if  you want to be successful because all behavioral search is not the same.  Since you want to remarket to your customers and existing site visitors you are going to need a larger cookie pool of visitors to be successful.  So are you going to use organic traffic, paid placement traffic, media traffic, direct navigation, affiliate marketing traffic (this can get tricky because you'll have to pay the affiliate when the remarketing works)?

What is the window of opportunity for the buy funnel? The longer your prospects are in market the more opportunity you have to remarket to them, so you need to plan accordingly with your budgets and strategy.  But keeping that in mind you also have to look at the "creepy factor" of retargeting along with the "spouse factor" meaning that most computers are shared by a family.  Just because we have all this Personally Identifiable Information (PII) does it mean we should use it?

Kevin wrapped up his presentation by pointing out a beginners mistake: be careful with performance deals.  Sometimes you are paying for the same lead/order multiple times and data collection systems can kill your affiliate networks.  Look for performance marketing agencies who have performance marketing deals that work around attribution modeling and even better, media mix modeling that offer marginal elasticity of ever media option.


Joshua Dreller presented next and posed the question to the audience "What is the main reason why search marketing works so well?" his answer was "Intent."  Search marketing is considered by advertisers to be the most effect media channel for reaching consumers who exhibit "intent."

There are challenge though:  high ppc prices, scalability issues, maxed out budgets, only being limited to text ads - nothing beats sound and images. This is where ad retargeting can really shine especially when marketers realize that billions of adspace goes unsold every day, and that "cookies" can help you evaluate the ad bids much more effectively.

Nancy Marzouk from Net Mining rounded out this panel on ad retargeting by pointing out some myths:

1. each potential customer that interacts with your brand should be treated equally

2. because someone has been to your site previously they will automatically convert

Qualifying remarketing impressions starts with your site data & standard marketing (based on page views).  Page visits are equal to possible interest. Smarter marketing by using advanced audience profiles, look at pages visited,  time spent on pages, recency of visits, sequence of products purchased, and search referrals.  All equal true interest, according to Nancy, so marketers need to expand their targeting pool based on site data.

Nancy finished up her presentation by pointing out that marketers can't solely focus on ad retargeting, neglecting the other channels (PPC, SEO, Brand Display, and Social Media for example) can be costly.  Marketers need to stop siloing their efforts and create more "blended" portfolios.

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!

October 31, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Judith DeCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008

By Li Evans

Although I wasn't out running myself all around getting photos at SMX East this year, I did manage to get quite a few really nice photos of friends enjoying themselves at the conference.  Just like this one of Judith deCabbit Lewis who blogs at SEO-Chicks and my pal (who I call "the Zen Mom") Kim Krause Berg of Cre8pc, who hunkered down in the speakers room with me.  Kim's shirt was really cool,  I don't think this photo could do it justice. :)

Judith deCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008

If you like this photo of Judith deCabbit Lewis & Kim Krause Berg at SMX 2008, 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 SMX East 2008, there's over 40 photos for you all to check out.

October 22, 2008

SMX Singapore Keynote II - Harrison Gervitz

By David Temple

Dsc03783 16 year old business prodigy, Harrison Gevirtz of GevirtzMedia and LeaderClicks spoke about social media monetization for the keynote on the second day of the inaugural Search Marketing Expo in Singapore, SMX Singapore. LeaderClicks is a social advertising network, working with publishers and advertisers on Facebook, Myspace, Bebo and Hi5. Harrison's company specializes in monetizing social traffic with proprietary ad serving technology.

Social networks have been growing significantly over the past 5 years and he just read an article that social media has surpassed the adult industry. 4 of the top 10 sites in Singapore are social media sites. MySpace and Facebook are receiving most of the traffic as well as Friendster here in Asia.

The evolution of social media started with just targeting based what was on their web page. Now we're getting into a new technology, social graphing targeting. Using technology shapes relationships. We developed technology to determine influence among friends. For instance if someone has 500 friends on a FaceBook profile and interact once or twice a week, let's say that friend has around 500 - 1,000 interaction points.  But if someone has 200 friends and they interact on a daily basis they have a lot more interaction points. So they have more power over their friends. So it's quality over quantity.

Continue reading "SMX Singapore Keynote II - Harrison Gervitz" »

October 18, 2008

SMX Singapore Keynote - Gillian Muessig

By David Temple

Dsc03739 Gillian Muessig, president of SEOmoz, gave the keynote address "The Business of Search" at the inaugural Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in Singapore. Gillian addressed the financial crisis going on right now. As she traveled around the US and Asia in the past few weeks she asked people how this was affecting them. In general the view in the US is "This doesn't happen!" and people were quite worried however in Asia they felt, "This happens; it will all work out".

What does it mean for SEO's? Gillian used an analogy, noting that when a Plague hits, people 'wake up'; you have their attention. The recent events in markets have given us the financial equivalent of a Plague. SEOs finally have client's attention; they are ready to understand how much less expensive, more targeted, and more effective SEO/SEM can be than traditional media. She pointed out that Dr. Mathew McDougall, CEO of the Sinotech Group in China, said he is already seeing millions of dollars moving online and others have corroborated that in their comments to him.

Gillian said the first millions are being spent in SEM. She predicts that as more bidders push up the cost, the next stop will be SEO. And when the dust settles, she predicts that money will remain online and continue to increase as mobile web, SMS, and other forms of marketing experience maturation and rising adoption. All in all, this is a very good time to be in Internet marketing of any kind.

Continue reading "SMX Singapore Keynote - Gillian Muessig" »

October 17, 2008

Fun Friday Photos: Key Relevance's Christine Churchill with Scottie Claiborne & Jill Whalen of HighRankings

By Li Evans

The photos from SMX East are up and on Flickr!  As I mentioned last week, I was really low key at SMX East and didn't make all of my usual rounds, but there are about 40 or so photos in the set.

This week's fun photo is of three of my most favorite folks in the industry, in fact I'm calling them the Three Musketeers!  Christine Churchill of KeyRelevance and SEM Clubhouse (Key Relevance's Blog), Scottie Clairborne and Jill Whalen of HighRankings.  Believe it or not, all three of these women were instrumental in forming the beginnings of my Search Marketing career (whether they know it or not!), to them, I owe a debt of gratitude!

The 3 Musketeers at SMX East - Chris Churchill of Key Relevance, Scottie Clairborne & Jill Whalen of HighRankings

If you like this photo of The 3 Musketeers at SMX East - Chris Churchill of Key Relevance, Scottie Clairborne & Jill Whalen of HighRankings, 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 SMX East 2008, there's just over 40 photos for you all to check out.

July 11, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Tamar Weinberg & Barry Schwartz at SMX West

By Li Evans

Deciding to search on back to the beginning of the year, I found this great photo of Tamar Weinberg (Mashable, Lifehacker & SE Roundtable) and Barry Schwartz (RustyBrick, SE Roundtable & Search Engine Land) from SMX West, taken back in February.  This was right before I noticed that Gabe Riveria of Techmeme was standing close by and snagged a picture of these two with him.  I think this might be one of the only pictures I have of Barry where he's not typing on his laptop!

Fun Photo Fridays: Tamar Weinberg & Barry Schwartz at SMX West

If you like this photo of Tamar Weinberg & Barry Schwartz at SMX West, 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 SMX West Conference, there's over 300 photos to view.

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