Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Section 2: Around the Net in Search Marketing

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Digging Deeper Into Google Analytics
Future Now
Going past the top-level "dashboard" data in Google Analytics can yield tons of "juicy moneymaking data" according to Brendan Regan. But many search marketers avoid digging deeper into the numbers for fear of getting "buried in minutia," he says. So he offers some tips for digging deeper into the stats without getting bogged down.

First, try exploring extended date ranges. Go beyond the "last 30 days" view and compare traffic over the past three months. Regan also suggests looking at a particular date range from the previous year (if the data's available) to gauge growth (or deceleration).

Meanwhile, try the Traffic Sources reports to better understand the plethora of places your visitors are coming from. "Segmenting by traffic source can often yield quick, actionable insights," Regan says. "Try looking at your organic traffic over the last 6 months, or your referral traffic over the last 3 months. What does the traffic graph look like? How well or poorly are they converting? Has that KPI remained consistent?"

Lastly, dig into your site search data, if possible. Finding out which keywords visitors are searching for after they've arrived can yield fodder for new PPC campaigns. You can also figure out how valuable site searchers are when compared to non-searchers. For example, are they more likely to convert? Do they spend more per transaction? - Read the whole story...

The Ultimate Usability Test
More Visibility
When it comes to e-commerce, even the most thorough paid search campaigns can't make up for a flawed purchase process. All the traffic that comes in from an ad will likely bounce, making it seem like the search campaign isn't effective. In the case of the MoreVisibility team, a previous client in the cookie business was stumped by sales that weren't meeting ROI expectations.

"Their search engine marketing campaign was great but their cookie sales weren't increasing," says the Campaign Manager. "After some extensive research, my EVP pulled out her credit card and attempted to buy some cookies online. After attempting to buy cookies online for fifteen minutes and still not completing an order, she called the client and asked, 'Have You Bought Your Own Cookies?"'

Getting a client to examine the purchase process through the eyes of the consumer is the ultimate usability test. If their site is buggy, filled with error-riddled content, or worse--the purchase experience actually deters conversions, then they'll be motivated to make (or contract you to make) the appropriate changes. - Read the whole story...

How Cost-Effective Are Your SEO Efforts?
Hamlet Batista
While SEO may seem like a "free" marketing tool when compared to its increasingly costly cousin paid search, Paul Burani notes that the time and effort it can take to optimize a site can end up being quite expensive--particularly for advertisers that are outsourcing the work. And in some cases, the costs may actually outweigh the benefits.

For example, Burani says that if you haven't gained any insights from running PPC campaigns (i.e. conversion-inducing keywords, strong traffic sources, etc.) then your ensuing SEO efforts may not be as cost-effective.

Burani suggests a number of ways to determine the cost/benefit ratio of your SEO investment, the first of which is to estimate the value of one hour of time for each of the key people involved (including copywriters, Webmasters, link builders, etc.) Then, determine the value of each conversion. Then, assess a few competitors on things like inbound links and keyword-rich copy, and determine how much it would cost to have your team produce that level of content.

"Once you've accomplished this, an objective view of ROI is your reward, and you're essentially left with one of two results," Burani says. Either your efforts are cost-effective, or they're not, and you'll need to reassess the impact of certain keywords and tactics. - Read the whole story...

Drafting Search-Focused Press Releases
Search Engine Watch
Press releases and SEO go hand in hand. And as Mark Jackson notes, there are three simple steps to optimizing press releases for maximum search visibility. First, create the release with SEO in mind. That means trying to include a relevant keyword or keyphrase in the headline as well as in the body copy. Makes sense, given that the company name or product is likely the focus of the release, but also try to include said keywords in the anchor text of links within the release.

There are many release distribution sources, including Business Wire, PR Newswire, PR Web and PR Leap, each with varying costs and distribution packages. All of the companies offer some form of syndication across the big two search engines, with some offering AP and other news bureaus, as well as advanced SEO options.

Lastly, companies shouldn't forget to publish release on their own Web site. "The search engines love sites that add keyword-rich pages on a regular basis," Jackson says. "The more pages, the better. And, if you can organize your press releases by category (similar to how you might organize blog posts), all the better." - Read the whole story...

Comparing Loans Via Google, Not A Bank Web Site
Search Engine Land
Today's Google search innovation is a new loan comparison widget masquerading as an AdWords ad. Barry Schwartz discovered the tool while running a search on for "secured loans."

The query triggered the Google Merchant Search loan widget (in the top spot, no less), with a drop-down menu that lets users choose their loan amount, as well as the potential APR from four banks. After clicking on the "compare" button, Schwartz was taken to a separate page that featured a number of banks, their credit rating, the typical monthly payment, loan fees and APR range. Users can click "Get Quote" to submit their contact info to each bank they're interested in.

Now the Merchant Search widget could include advertisers on a CPA model (after all, once a user submits their contact info, that's likely a hot lead), but as Loren Baker (editor of Search Engine Journal) notes [ ] , it may actually foretell the demise of the plethora of loan comparison sites in the U.K.
- Read the whole story...

Search Insider - Around the Net for Wednesday, July 30, 2008


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