Introduction to Search Engine Marketing

Mar 18, 2008 • 12:46 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2008 New York
 

This session provided a clear and concise overview of the key concepts involved in Search Engine Marketing. Who are the major search engines and how can you best optimize them to gain "natural" or "organic" traffic without cost? Learn how to achieve top ranking or placement by utilizing search engine advertising opportunities.

Introduction by: • Ron Jones, Search Engine Watch Expert and President/CEO, Symetri Internet Marketing Speakers: • Greg Jarboe, President and Co-Founder, SEO-PR • Kevin Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch Contributed by Avi Wilensky and Sheara Wilensky of Promediacorp.

Ron Jones:

As the name suggests intro to SEM, that’s what this is. By way of hands, how many of you are new to search? How many have been doing this for a year or two?

We have a lot of material to cover in a short period of time. I will introduce the 2 panelists who will stay sitting down and will go back and forth.

Kevin Ryan, VP of SES and SEW and Greg Jarboe, President and co-founder of SEO-PR.

Kevin:

Right around when search started to pop, I went from small agency to big agency to enormous giant agency. Search marketing was something the agencies did not want to understand and it was my job to explain it to them.

Search gained notoriety when Jerry Yang and David Filo were in an off campus trailer with no air conditioning trying to figure out a way to organize information. As the web started to grow they realized that Yahoo, with a human-powered directory wasn’t going to cut it. That’s when a couple of other guys from Stanford, Sergy Brin and Larry Page started Google. There was a publicized lawsuit from a company called Idea Lab who had discovered the way to insert advertisements – they were the first to figure out how to monetize search - and of course when Google implemented it the guys from Idea Lab sued Google. There was an out of court settlement and someone (Bill Gross) received a lot of Google stock. Those were the early days.

I can remember 6 or 7 years ago sitting in a room with the guys from GoTo and they had no idea who I was – and they were talking about how they were going out to pitch to my clients competitors how to up bid costs – and they were literally standing before me saying how they were going to drive up the bid costs!

There were a lot of costs involved in starting search advertising. GoTo was the Yellow Pages of the web. Most of the media folks didn’t want anything to do with it…and a few years later, lo and behold we are sitting here with 7,000 people talking about search marketing!

Greg:

Things were different a decade ago and they will be in 3 months from now. This is a rapidly changing field. Who are the major search engines? Today the answer to that question will depend on your definition of search. If someone conducts a search at You Tube, is that a search? How about eBay? So comScore put together 2 different lists. What the real answer depends on whether you use a CORE SEARCH or an EXPANDED SEARCH. Google is still #1 either way and Yahoo is still #2 either way.

The #3 in core search is Microsoft, and #3 in expanded search is You Tube! That is a dramatic thing! If you look at some of the conference sessions, you will begin to understand how 70% weren’t held last year!

The first thing I want to say is – get ready for rapid change.

Kevin:

(shows a chart and explains the areas). Where is the most important place to be on the search engine results page? No surprise – right at the top – dead center.

Greg:

And that was true 10 months ago. And look at this other slide – depending on what pops up on the page – say a search for the term “iphone” - in the #4 position is a You Tube video of an iphone demo. Even if it is a #4 listing, that’s where the eye goes first! And then the second place the eye goes is the text link next to it, and then after that does the eye go up to spots 1 and 2. So it used to be you wanted to be in the #1 spot, but now you can be in the #4 spot and get more traffic!

The reason SEO will give you a better return on your investment is that about 3 times more people will click on the organic over paid. If you think about the volume and the cost, that’s an interesting disconnect in the industry. Part of it is that with PPC advertising – a lot of people did it well, and got into bidding wars – and then they ignored organic SEO!

Greg:

How do you give someone an overview of the basic concepts if they are changing so rapidly and radically? Half of what we knew last year is still relevant. Here are some key concepts we are going to share.

Kevin:

I’ve been talking about search all over the world and I can tell you that these key elements are essential no matter where in the world you are…China, Singapore, Amsterdam etc.

Greg:

Keyword research remains the right first place to start. If you don’t have the right first terms, if you haven’t identified them correctly, everything else goes wrong fast.

Where do I look for them? There is a process in brainstorming: let me tell you where you won’t find them but you should do this anyway – ask people down the hall from you for their input. You will get really bogus, dumb suggestions. That’s ok – the payoff is later where you can say you have the analysis and can filter out the bad ones, and go back to your colleagues and show them what is good and what is not. It’s an important part of the political process – it’s actually a social change process inside the organization and if you skip the process you will get penalties later.

Once you have collected all the suggestions you start analyzing them. You want to put them through a process and evaluate them. The first mistake most makes in keyword research is focusing on the most popular term. These terms are only one word long! And those who are optimized for over a decade are the ones ranking for those single keywords. The 2 word terms are also hard to get, and so you need to be looking at the 3 and 4 word terms. And even though they are less popular, they will convert at higher rates, because the searches are more sophisticated in their process and so they know what specifically they are looking for.

Kevin:

I once had a client in the electronics category and we tried to explain to the CEO what a search funnel looks like and at the end of the meeting it was so confusing the guy ended up leaving the meeting…bottom line, think in terms of starting in one place, narrow terms down, and figure out where you want to be.

Greg:

There are a number of tools out there – how many people use word tracker? Keyword discovery (Trellian)? How many use the Google Adwords tool?

Strengths and weaknesses of tools:

Put in the word “google” in the Google tool and it says no one searched! Same with the word “ipod”. They suppress certain data – it just happens.

Kevin:

Try them all, find the one you like

Greg:

I like the Microsoft adCenter tool because it tells you what people were searching for last month! New terms get coined all the time (i.e. Elliot Spitzer and Client 9 – who was looking for that a month ago!) and understand that sometimes the tool won’t tell you what’s happening today and tomorrow because terms change. Tools are rearview mirrors because they tell you what DID happen.

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Greg:

Design is a second key concept – if you design a site the spiders can’t crawl – god help you and prepare to pay a lot of money to fix it.

Kevin:

Keep things as simple as possible when optimizing a site. Otherwise you will have to hire a firm to un-screw-up the site and it will cost you.

Greg:

The search engines, as sophisticated as they are, are still pretty stupid when it comes to pictures, flash, images and so you might want to get a really old text browser because that’s about the level of intelligence a spider has. And what it will look like is very simple, just text. So be careful when you get too artsy because it will not translate well.

Kevin:

A lot of the designers and developers don’t get along and unfortunately you need to get them together to build a website. Its critical because we still go to sites today that say “welcome to my website” which is absolutely the worst thing to put in.

Greg:

Google is the world’s most powerful search engines and they have rules. If you break them, be prepared to be penalized. So read and re-read the guidelines. Google is getting better in telling you what the rules are. So if they say dynamic pages are hard to crawl – then guess what - they are probably a problem! This is not my opinion, this is what Google says, and if they say it, who am I to say otherwise.

Kevin:

Best practices used to be spamming the search engines and feeding them info that is not entirely accurate. It’s not such a problem in the US anymore, but in other countries there are spammers that find ways around Google guidelines.

Greg:

A rocket scientist once told me it’s getting much harder to fool Google. A rocket scientist! The clever labs have given up to work on the white hat sites…because Google will find you.

Kevin:

Google, in its outreach to the SEO community (and they don’t make money if you optimize a page, only if you buy an ad), a few years ago decided that helping people understand the rules is good and so they offer webmaster tools, give data. Otherwise why would you give info to Google? So at the end of the day they give great tools and feedback worth using! It’s probably good to know also what Google isn’t seeing on your website.

Greg:

If the human sees one thing and the bot sees something else – it could hurt you.

Kevin:

If you want to know more about design we recommend a session this afternoon in the fundamentals track that will cover more of the design issues. If you are charting out your course in what you need to learn in this conference to bring your game to the next level, this is a good session.

Greg:

Copywriting. You are writing for human beings.

Kevin:

Building content is actually hard. You need copywriters who are search savvy or bring in an editor who is search savvy and it is expensive and takes time and effort so making the case for that budget is as important a skill set.

Greg:

I have done it on a large and small scale and teaching the folks the basics is important.

Kevin:

Heather Lloyd Martin is also speaking at the show this week who explains how you need to pay attention to your content, and basically the most important content on your site is the title! One of the few things that was important in 1999 and still important in 2008! So the words in the title are the most important. Putting the same title tag on every page of you site shows the spiders duplicate content! So make sure each title tag is unique to each page.

Greg:

Pay attention to the details. I saw a client who once left “insert name here” in the title tag!

Kevin:

Next are links. Links themselves are gold. One of the things this has led to is link mania – which led to a lot of people doing the quick and easy stuff. Debra Mastaler says “the easy part of link building is knowing you need them, the hard part is influencing the right people to give them to you.”

You want to make sure that the words in and around your hyperlinks are optimized. It used to just be optimize the anchor text links but the search engines are clever and they understand there are games being played so they started looking at words around the anchor texts to make sure they weren’t seeing bait and switch.

Greg:

Back in the day there were link farms. Bear in mind that the text around the link is analyzed and if there is no text around it is not as valuable.

Kevin:

Make sure its diverse, not just 2 sites linking to each other in a weird link love fest.

Greg:

This is what Google said about links - don’t put more than 100 links on a page because at that point you begin to look like a link farm. Even Google says getting some links is ok, and if you apply for a link from DMOZ or Yahoo, that’s good, and there a couple other industry specific sites that are good but be careful.

So the first thing you can do if you think about getting a link from a directory: Google the directory to see if Google is indexing that directory, otherwise their link is worthless.

Kevin:

Stay away from link schemes. Create unique relevant content.

Greg:

Where do you get good links? One of the best way these days is from BLOGS!

Kevin: Heaven help us!

Greg: How many people have blogs! (many raise hands) wow! How many people will give me a link? (jokes)

Your blog is probably your best asset when it comes to link building and you are probably going to end up building more links to you because you have a blog and not a website.

Kevin: Don’t blog about what you had for breakfast and what color socks you are wearing! No one cares! Add useful stuff to the web!

Greg: Yahoo is the most pop, yahoo, Microsoft b/c all of them are using auction – based systems. So if efficiency – the lowest cost – is an issue – there is a reason to go to Microsoft. You wont get the same volume, but it’s cheaper.

This session is provided by Sheara Wilensky of Promedia Corp.

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