Category Archives: SEM Stats

SEM Stats

Google Instant: longer keyword searches on first page?

You probably have seen the latest incarnation of Google search, unless you live in a cave. The Google hype machine swung into operation with a ballsy approach to a teaser followed by the Google Instant announcement and launch in the US the following day.

Since the Big G did such a good job of explaining this, I’ll let them do the talking courtesy of YouTube:

It remains to be seen what users make of this, but one expected behavior, is the use of more complex search terms as users can amend their query instantly based on the results they see. Merissa Meyer, Google’s VP of search products and user experience elaborates here. Let’s say I start looking for ‘android phones’, I can instantly see results for this term, and also derivatives. I can instantly go in the direction of telephony providers, such as ‘android phones t-mobile’ or ‘android phones verizon’. Actually, I notice there is a comparison link with an iPhone on the first page, so I could go in the direction of ‘android phones iphone’ and check out the relative merits.

For users that take to this new way of searching (there are apparently those who don’t), there are potential behavioral shifts that could affect what search results are shown, and, more importantly for us online marketers, what search results are clicked.

A couple of examples:

As noted earlier, search terms are expected to become more complex. This means we could see more traffic coming into our sites from the long tail of search: terms that could be four or more words in length. When we think of what keywords to promote and optimize, we may be able to find traffic even when we widen our portfolio into quite specific niches.

The navigational buttons that take you on to additional pages of results are that much further away. When using Google Instant, most of the clicking and typing happens around the query box at the top of the results. Don’t like what you see on your initial query? Instant makes it much easier to refine that search and see if the follow-up is more successful. This means less time flicking through the second and third page of results in search of relevant links. For marketers, this could well put additional pressure on taking that coveted spot on the first page of results.

It’s early days for this service and user adoption and behavior patterns are by no means set, but Google Instant has the potential to have a significant affect on the field of search marketing.

What the pundits are saying:

LinkedIn tops the list of top social media used by B2B marketers

LinkedIn is cited as a key tactic used by marketers to reach a B2B audience, according to a recent study by BtoB and the Association of National Advertisers.

Generally, marketers are making a stronger push into social media, with 57% saying they are either currently utilizing social media, as opposed to 15% in an earlier study.

new_media_platforms_b2b_ma2

(Source: “Harnessing the Power of Newer Media Platforms for More Effective Marketing” survey)

I’m surprised to see that corporate blogging falls further down the list. Is this because marketers in this space aren’t the people who can maintain these blogs? Does this task fall to subject matter experts who might be in another part of the organization.

Interesting to see that search engine optimization outranks paid search marketing: a sign of the times given the tight marketing budgets?

More information

Social networking budgets on the increase | Corporate blogging news digest

This week I want to highlight a report from eMarketer that reports small businesses intending to spend 25% more on social networking in 2009 than they did in 2008.

Perhaps more of this segment’s audience now uses these tools (another report this week states 35% of adults are members of a social network). Perhaps small businesses now understand more about this area. Either way, a glimmer of hope in the currently gloomy economic environment.

News highlights

HP’s Tac Anderson talks about social media tactics including corporate blogging
Some good tips from HPs social media evangelist, such as think about your target audience and build content appropriately.
“If your customers are CXO’s (CEO, CIO, CFO, CMO) then the reason you have a blog is because the two most influential factors to a CXO’s decision making process are the Two G’s: Google and Gartner. Google is speaking to the importance of all search and Gartner is speaking to the importance that analysts play. Blogs are great for reaching both. There’s no lower bang for your buck tactic to reach the two G’s than having a high quality blog.”

Google uses corporate blogs to announce cutbacks
The medium is the messsage here, rather than the story. Google has for some time been using its blogs to release information about the company that would normally have come from a press release. Will more companies start doing following suit?

Tools for monitoring blogs and other sites: Social Media Explorer
SEO Toolbar for Firefox gives you a good indication of how a blog (or any website) is ranked by Google in particular and the web in general. Go ahead, check yourself out.

Most influential advertising, marketing and media blogs – Advertising Age
The Power 150 list of the top blogs. You’ll find some choice reading on these sites. Trend data on the blogs also available here.

Adult participation in social networks now at 35 percent
This number has raised more than 300% over the last 3 years, according to research by Pew Research.

Corporate blogging: think about presentation as well as content
Design being such a subjective thing, I’m not sure I agree with all the changes recommended in this blog makeover, however there are some good points such as including a photo to make the blog more personable and organizing posts by categories.

HP study shows humans will pursue status over wealth
A report by social computing scientists at HP labs looks into what degree we will go to to obtain social status. Their findings? We will go as far as to give up monetary rewards, if we think we can gain status. Is this what powers participation in social networks?

GSK and Centocor Abandon Their Pioneering Corporate Drug Blogs
Citing the fact that these were personality-led blogs where the personalities concerned left the company, GSK has stopped updating its AlliConnect blog and the Johnson & Johnson-owned Centocor has let its CNTO411 blog wane. Both companies continue blogging in other parts of the organization.

Tips on blogging content from Your PR Guy
Focus on the stories that are most useful to your client base: success stories, problem solution stories and testimonials. These tips are aimed primarily at small businesses but should be considered by any corporate bloggers.

Social networking budgets on the increase according to eMarketer
Small businesses are expecting to spend more on social networking than on any other form of digital marketing over the coming year. Significantly, most of this group does not blog and apparently isn’t about to start.

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Facebook, Feeds and Micro-Blogging

It seems like no online marketing seminar is complete nowadays without at least one session on social media. SES San Jose was no exception – social media optimization is definitely creating a buzz in the industry (as it has been for at least the last year).

Moderator:
Kevin Ryan, VP, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies & Search Engine Watch

Speakers:
Andy Beal, Consultant, Blogger & Author, Marketing Pilgrim LLC
David Snyder, Search Specialist, JRDunn.com
Neil Patel, Co-founder, ACS
Brian Morrissey, Digital Editor, AdWeek

Andy:

Twitter
Make sure you secure your company name – even if you aren’t going to use it.

Basic symbols:

  • @andybeal directs a message to that user (public)
  • d andybeal sends a direct message that is
  • #olympics are used for tagging tweets
  • favorites are used to bookmark tweets you want to revisit
  • delete: this is possible but beware, Tweets can get syndicated in different places so even though you may delete a Tweet, it isn’t necessarily gone

Be selective with who you follow. You’ll realize why after a while. With Twitter it is easy to receive a lot of noise from people or subjects you don’t care about. Some people you might want to follow:

  • Peers
  • Press
  • Influencers
  • Customers

Look out for interesting conversations. The medium really supports these when they happen. Don’t send Twitter spam – this is such a conversational medium, any attempts to use it solely for commercial gains looks transparently salesy and just doesn’t go down well.

If you want to get into someone else’s network, think to copy your message into their thread using @[username] at the beginning of the post.  Their network of followers will see you message.

Use services like Twitterfeed to cross-promote blog content on Twitter (everytime you blog, all those following you on Twitter are automatically notified).

Your Twitter reputation IS your reputation so don’t get pulled into negative conversations – in most cases you can just let them play themselves out.

Use search to find those with similar interests (who you can choose to follow).

Brian:

As a journalist, I use Twitter to develop sources and find out who is writing on certain issues. Comcast and Zappos are good examples of companies using Twitter to manage their reputation online.

Neil:

Facebook
Some Facebook stats:

  • 73% of people are white
  • 30% make over 100k
  • 43% didn’t go to college

David:

Friendfeed
The best way to describe this service is as RSS on steroids – brings all social network data to one place and allow you to interact with that data. The big problem with social media is that it is so diverse. If you post images on Flickr, post on Blogger or leave content in any of a number of places across the web, then bring all your activity into one place with Friendfeed.

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

Enterprise software marketing research

If you are a marketer working in the B2B tech field, you’ve probably noticed there’s a dearth of marketing studies in this area. eCommerce reports are ten to penny but precious few researchers seem interested in this area.

For that reason I was particularly happy when I came across this report by Enquiro entitled ‘Marketing to a B2B Technical Buyer’. There are some great stats including research such as this into top online influences:

Enquiro Top Online Influences

So if you are interested in more figures in this area, go ahead and download the report now!

(Just to be clear, I’m in no way associated with Enquiro)

Is Google ranking less blogs?

This just came up as an issue in a meeting I just had – brought up by a developer who works in Web 2.0 community development. He had heard that due to the low quality of posts, Google was not ranking blogs so highly these days.

I had to say I haven’t heard anything along these lines. It did seem kind of strange given the nature of blogs – sites with regular, fresh content that link to each other. Also, how easy is it to say what is a blog these days, especially when so many news outlets are using this kind of format for their content.

Searching around I found this specific example from Common Craft (OK, that’s also where I found the videos I talked about earlier:

http://entrepreneurs.about.com/cs/marketing/a/blogvisibility.htm

One of the key things here is that Common Craft have managed to get top rankings by carefully choosing the categories. It seems to have worked like a treat because they’re still coming up for terms they ranked for 4 years ago. Time for me to do some category restructuring…