Category Archives: SES San Jose 2008

Optimizing for news search

News search engines have grown in popularity over the last few years. This session covered how to make the most of press releases and news content to tap into the power of news search.

Moderator:
Dana Todd, CMO, Newsforce

Speakers:
Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR
Lisa Buyer, President & CEO, The Buyer Group

Lisa:

Some background on the press industry. Journalists are lucky to have a job and will now most likely work for more than one publication.

  • 64% use google or yahoo to follow news
  • 85% visit a corporate blog once a month

In addition, journalists use LinkedIn and Facebook to find sources. Lisa gives the example of a journalist who uses Google News to find the top 20 technology stories and build a digest. It is also common for journalists to use Google alerts to keep up on subject updates.

Lisa made the point that often press releases are written using too much jargon and industry-specific language. The AP Style Guide (used frequently by journalists) recommends using 7/8 Grade English level. The advice here is to use this in press releases.

If you need help optimizing releases, there are a number of tools available, including:

It is important if you use agencies, that your SEO and PR agencies should work together around strategy and operations.

Remember to think about lead generation as well when it comes to measuring the value of PR.

Multimedia content
Adding multimedia content to releases can really help boost visibility. For instance, YouTube clips can be embedded in PRWeb releases.

Images are always useful, as journalists (especially trade journalists) are always looking for images. Don’t forget to think of graphs if you are stuck for good quality images.

Lee:

Beyond straight press release optimization, think of how you display your releases on your site. Often this is by date order which isn’t that meaningful for search engines. Think about ordering PR releases by category or even keyword.

You should consider optimizing the following:

  • Press releases
  • Online newsrooms
  • Corporate blogs
  • Whitepapers and other marketing collateral

You’ll often hear SEOs talk about keyword density but don’t obsess over this for press releases. Just try and include the core keywords at least 3-4 times.

Measurement
Measurement is key. Think about press release analytics and social media monitoring.

Greg:

Greg went through some examples and showed how adding an image to a PR release helped generate a thumbnail in Google News (which in turn led to greater visibility).

Blog outreach programs are useful to push a new idea. However, you should think of blogs like publishing houses – sell content that will appeal to their audiences. Don’t just pass on press releases.

When it comes to measurement, Quantcast is a good independent way to gauge traffic.

During the questions, Dana Todd cited this Website Magazine article which explains how your website can be included as a Google News publisher.

Advanced B2B Marketing

This was a great session given that there is so much emphasis on eCommerce at these online marketing events. Thinking of B2B marketers and their specific needs (eg. lead gen, dealing with the organization, making a case for SEM) made for a well-attended session.

Moderator:
Jeffrey Rohrs, Vice President, Marketing, ExactTarget

Speakers:
Barbara C. Coll, CEO, WebMama.com Inc.
Patricia Hursh, President & Founder, SmartSearch Marketing
Adam S. Goldberg, Chief Innovation Officer, Clearsaleing

Patricia:

Use search to reach prospects early in the buying cycle – data from Forrester shows that search is particularly useful at this stage. For this reason it is important to look at the search history of a person. Often conversion occurs on a brand term, but there can be many other terms used before this to lure the prospect during the research phase.

For paid search, you can pre-qualify clickers with the ad text. You will take a hit on quality score (your CTR will often drop), but you’ll see better ROI – the traffic you receive is of a higher quality. Think about aligning copy across the buying cycle, eg. information and reviews can be useful at the early stages.

Use A/B or multivariate testing constantly to see how the site performs. Test what names you give your assets: ‘product tour’, ‘virtual tour’, ‘white paper’ can all perform differently. Add secondary (ie. additional) conversions to bolster the conversion rate. When it comes to registration, think of the value of the offering compared to what you are asking in return. Is the form too long for a white paper? All this can be tested.
Implement a lead qualification process to only pass ‘warm’ leads to sales.

Barbara:

SEM and the salesforce
Dealing with an enterprise B2B business, particularly with an entrenched sales force, has it’s own unique challenges. Marketing goal is to fill the pipeline with good leads. However most enterprise sales reps believe they will only get good leads through direct contact.

Marketing offers Free Trial, Downloads, Whitepapers although often trials are the biggest conversion points from a sales perspective. High leads also come through online demonstrations.

Sales want campaigns to deliver either a prospect that closes the deal OR another name in a key prospective account. These needs can conflict with site usability. For instance, the sales process wants the long form, but this might not always be the best course of action.

Knowing what keyword a visitor used can help decide whether a lead is an A lead. Educate reps on the value of SEM by showing them paid search numbers. Furthermore, check to see whether the reps are following up on leads.

When it comes to keyword research, sales can be particularly useful. Listen to the terms used by the sales force – their language has been honed over time to be resonanant with prospective clients.
Follow up to find out exactly which leads turned into sales and feed this data back into the SEM process.

Adam:

Looking at revenue is much more effective than looking at the cost per lead. Profit is obviously an even better metric (although not always available). You should tie web analytics to the CRM so you know which ads are the ones that work well.

In the B2B space, attribution management is needed to calculate which touch points (search, email, banner, etc) should be given credit in a sale, given that the buyer has probably had various marketing touch points prior to the sale. How exactly you work out an attribution model is open for debate.

5 Things no one will tell you about SEM – SES

This in-depth SEM session tried to debunk some of the myths floating around the industry (and many of the halls around SES). I found this one of the most interesting sessions and it did actually cover interesting points that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

Moderator:
Chris Zacharias, VP Search Sales, Omniture

Panel:
David Rodnitzky, VP, Strategy, PPCAdBuying.com
Terry Whalen, SEM & Internet Marketing Expert, Founder, TDW Consulting
Chris Knoch, Principal Consultant, Best Practices Group, Omniture
Vinny Lingham, CEO, Synthasite

Chris Z:

Myth 1: The long tail keeps growing
Data from OneStat shows that over the last year, shorter queries (ie. 1-2 words in length) are becoming more common. This is a departure from trends over the last few years where the word-length of queries had been growing.

Why is this happening? According to data from Hitwise (Apr 2008), growth in navigational (branded) search has been growing. In the UK this now represents 88% of all searches (it was only 68% in 2005). Search is becoming more about direct navigation, and this is being seen in SEM campaigns, so don’t fixate on the long-tail terms – think of the head terms too.

Vinny:

Myth 2: Optimize every campaign
Focus on what will give you the best profit – ie. don’t spread the net too wide.

Work out what kind of costs you are saving for the work you put in. You can potentially get a lot more benefit by optimizing a $200K campaign vs. a $20K campaign. If you are a small advertiser, focus on fewer engines. Start with the head words before going after the tail.

Dave:

Myth 3: SEM works for everything
For some businesses, SEM just doesn’t work.

SEM is not good for mindshare marketing (eg. not good for products with a latent demand), that is where you want to get your idea out to the world at large. John Battelle has said that search is the database of intentions. So if the intention doesn’t exist, you are not going to reach your audience through search. Image ads can be more compelling in this instance.

Chris K:

Myth 4: All PPC Search traffic is equal
For PPC advertisers, the search network represents permission marketing. Searchers are actively seeking information and are looking for sites like yours. The content network is quite different. Your ads are competing with the content from the site publisher. Therefore there is a vast difference in quality between search and content.

Sometimes what Google calls the search network is not even strictly the search engines you might expect. So it makes sense when you organize your Google Adwords campaigns to keep the content separate – even to the degree of separating out the accounts for search and content.

When it comes to the content network, there are ways to keep out of the made-for-Adsense (MFA) domains – that is the domains that just exist to drive traffic through the ads by offering spurious, low-quality content). Use the search query report to analyze your kewords. Beyond finding out what keywords are working for you, you can also figure out which are the red herring terms that you don’t want to be found for and add these to your negative keyword lists.

Google also pushes Youtube and Myspace advertising onto its advertisers. Both of these sites may not perform as well as you expect and need to be treated carefully.

Terry:

Myth 5: Search is opaque
There is a lot you can learn about what is happening in your industry.

Take a look at what your compeitors are doing. If big advertisers are bidding on head terms, they are probably profitable: look at what they are doing – their keywords, ad text, landing pages. Find out where in the flow you can make the biggest benefits. Look at microconversions (each click along the conversion path).

Useful tools for competitive analysis include Compete, Quantcast and Hitwise.

Storyteller Marketing – SES

Subtitle: How The Art of Storytelling Matches Up With the Business of Marketing

Stories have been around since the beginning of communication, and there’s a reason: it’s a form of communication that beats all others when it comes to delivering a memorable, motivating, and meaningful message.

This is another session that deals with the popular (and someone thorny) issue of how to handle visitors once they get to your site. In addition, this session also covered how to attract more people through inclusion in Google News (the most popular online news service).

Moderator:
Rebecca Lieb, Contributing Editor, ClickZ

Speakers:
Gary Stein, Director of Strategy, Ammo Marketing
Sally Falkow, President, Expansion Plus Inc.
Larry Lawfer, Founder/President, YourStorys.com

Gary:

People listen to a story and act inefficiently, however there is no denying that stories shape behavior. The best brand marketing builds a story around your brand – it doesn’t just pump out brand messages. (I’m thinking of the story around how Krishna Bharat built Google News after wanting balanced news accounts following the September 11New York bombings).

Apparently, there are only five stories that can be told:

Origin: where did we come from?
Purpose: why are we here? / Vision: where are we going?
Education: teach the crowd, show them something
Ethics: walk the walk
Connection: eg. CEO reaching out to disgruntled blogger

Sally:

In every business there is a story. If you don’t tell it, others will tell your story for you. (I’m not sure this is always such a good thing, given there are always two sides to every tale).

You need to monitor onlline conversations and know what people are saying about you. Listen for the story. It can come from employees, customers, suppliers – anyone within your business’s ecosystem.
But beware: insincerity or fake stories will backfire. You can use tools like BrandsEye or Radian 6 to monitor online reputation.

All creative should be tied to the story and you can amplify the story online.

Spreading the word
Optimized press releases with images will show up in results (news and web now we have more universal search). Multimedia is a useful aid in transmitting your story.

Sally gives the example of Intercontinental Hotels, who have produced low-fi videos talking to most concierges across the road. Concierges have lots of stories and these unscripted videos were produced for around $4k per video.

Think of blogs: these are often picked up by search. As with age-old PR, you have to be consistent. Make sure you carry the story across all channels. However, regardless of the story, product performance and service is the final word. If these are in place, then you can work out your story and let others tell it for you.

Larry:

Starts off presentation with this adage:
Advertising: you say you’re a good date
PR: your mother says you’re a good date
Engagement marketing: your date says you’re a good date

So, how do we move towards engagement marketing?

Words and pictures are a great way to build a story.

The basic rule is to be real:

  • Be authentic
  • Invite involvement
  • Listen, respond, repeat

Pay Per Conversation – SES

What you do with visitors after you get them to your site was a common topic this year.  By improving the site conversation rate for traffic delivered by search can make or break a campaign. In this session, ‘persuation architect’ Bryan Eisenberg teamed up with Brett Crosby, one of the founders of Urchin (now Google Analytics) to explain what you can monitor, tools that can help, and how to act to improve campaign performance.

Speakers:
Bryan Eisenberg, Co-founder, Future Now Inc.
Brett Crosby, Group Manager, Google

Brian:

Pay per conversation
You can think of this as searcher behaviour optimization. The best way to do this is to think of your customer as a toddler, that is someone who is always asking ‘why?’. Your job is to answer this question quickly – unlike a toddler, your audience will only ask this question a few times. The attention span is less than that of your average toddler!

Scent is very important – aside from being like a toddler, searchers are also like beagles. If a searcher scents the right path, then they will continue. If the scent is dropped, they move on. As analytics guru Jared Spool puts it, either you present relevant content or you present links to relevant content.

Think about the relevancy: every hyperlink is a contract. You present the value (by describing the link and what comes next) and the searcher will give up their time to follow the link. But how do we know we are providing what is most relevant? We need to understand the intent – this goes beyond the few keywords used to conduct the search.

Content needs to be optimized for different possibility types (eg. spontaneous people’s interest: top sellers, new releases; humanistics: care about reviews; methodicals: find by genre, competitives: search by actor/title). At this point Bryan showed a few examples using the matrix of different users.

Brett:

You should concentrate on the pages with the most business need. Google Analytics (GA) can help you work out what these are: you can look at which pages get the most visitors and which pages most people enter through.

Landing page analysis
Look at the bounce rate on top landing pages (change the default view to compare metrics against site average)

Leaky funnels: use the funnel analysis to see where people are exiting through the funnel

Site overlay: this report is particularly useful to see which elements are well-positioned/badly-positioned
Internal site search: useful to see what people are searching on, especially when they are lost or ‘off-scent’

Google Website Optimiser: useful for fixing broken pages (this tool was pushed heavily throughout this conference).

For more information, check out Google’s Conversion University

Universal and Blended Search – SES

In this session, representatives from all the major search engines explained what has been happening in the universal (blended) search space over the last year. You’ve probably noticed that more and more other media are showing up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Think video clips, images, blogs. These and other verticals are now given increased prominence through universal search. What does that mean for the marketing folk?

Moderator:
John Tawadros, Chief Operating Officer, iProspect
Speakers:
Shashi Seth, Chief Revenue Officer, Cooliris
Johanna Wright, Director of Product Management, Google
Chris Pierry, Senior Director of Product Management, Yahoo! Search
Erik Collier, VP, Product Management, Ask.com
Todd Schwartz, Group Product Manager, Live Search

All speakers roundly agreed that it’s all about relevance. That is the key reason why the engines have been adding extra content into the search results. It also explains the slow rollout of these features. All engines claim that they are testing user interaction to ensure that they provide the most useful experience.

Joanna:
The process is as follows:

  • Search against all indexes (web, images, video, etc.)
  • Decide what to show only AFTER you have all the data
  • Coverage – decide where to place this content on the page

Take advantage of the prominent new verticals:

  • Publish high-quality, well-captioned images
  • Make video sitemap
  • Create high quality blogs

Chris:
Blended search is a way to offer semantic content, that is content that more aptly reflects the searcher’s intention.
Yahoo has developed a platform called SearchMonkey that allows publishers, site owners and developers to leverage structured data to enhance the functionality, appearance and usefulness of search results. With SearchMonkey, you have the ability to alter the way certain search engine results pages (SERPs) appear.

Erik:
We use business rules and editorial judgement to work out which sites rank. There are notable instances where it is still difficult to isolate exact searcher intent. Think of a search for trigonometry. There are numerous great images using trig, but how relevant are these? We use A/B testing in these cases to figure out whether or not to display blended results.

Further coverage on Universal Search by Search Engine Roundtable.