Searching Beyond the Paid

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What I'm Thankful For - SEM Edition

I know it's kind of hokey, writing a "thankful" post for Thanksgiving, but I'm doing it anyway. Over the past couple of months, there have been times that I've let the stress of everyday living overshadow all the blessings in my life, so it's time to right things around.

A Great Job

I don't say it often enough: I'm thankful for a great job at Fluency Media that allows me to learn and grow every single day. We're not a huge company, so I get to be involved in almost everything we do - and that helps me learn. My co-workers are a diverse group of super-smart digital marketers, and that makes us all better at what we do.

Great Clients
I don't talk about our clients a lot - I'm not usually a proponent of violating NDAs. That said, I'm thankful for our great Fluency Media clients, who challenge us with their toughest marketing problems. They are truly partners, and they make our jobs fun!

A Great Career

I've written about how I got started in SEM - it was almost a fluke, really. Yet I'm continually grateful to be a part of this ever-changing industry. It's a true blessing to have a career that's really fun - it makes work seem, well, more like fun than work.

Great Friends In The Industry

Back when I was getting started in SEM, I was an avid reader on many search engine forums, including the Search Engine Watch forums. I read every newsletter I could get my hands on, from experts like Jill Whalen and Andrew Goodman. I was shocked when these esteemed experts replied personally to the questions I asked on the forums! I was dumbfounded when they actually took the time to talk to me at search marketing conferences! It felt like hanging out with rock stars. Nowadays, I count many of those same experts among my closest friends in the industry. There are many more that I've met on Twitter and have yet to meet in real life - yet they fall into the same "great friends" category. I'm thankful to have such a great network of friends who really love to help each other out.

An Unbelievably Awesome Family

I don't write about my family much either - I believe some things should be private. But I'm forever thankful most of all for them: my husband of 18 years, and my super-awesome 13 year old twins. Teenagers are challenging, yet my kids astound me every day with their insight and thoughtfulness. I am truly blessed this Thanksgiving.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Effective PPC Ad Copy Testing

Ad copy testing is one of the easiest ways to improve PPC conversion rates, yet I've seen many advertisers who just don't do it. In June, I spoke at SMX Advanced on this very topic. The gist of my presentation was basically "Never Assume." Don't assume you know what ads will work and forgo testing altogether. Don't assume one ad is the winner by eyeballing the results. And don't assume that Google is always the best-performing engine.

Check out my Test That Ad presentation and let me know what you think!

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Click Fraud: Big Problem, or Fear-Mongering?

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article for Search Engine Watch about click fraud. In it, I claimed that it wasn't on the radar of most SEMs anymore, and that the engines basically do a good job of filtering out most of the invalid clicks anyway.

The discussion in the comments is interesting. One commenter suggests abandoning PPC altogether in favor of "inverse search." Okay….. Another commenter called me a "fear monger." Okaaaayyy…..

Despite these odd comments (and let me be clear - not all of the comments were odd), I still don't think click fraud is a huge issue. We diligently monitor our PPC client campaigns for fraud, and I'll be honest - I can't remember the last time I discovered out and out click fraud. Low-quality clicks, yes - but click fraud? Nope.

What do you think? Are you worried about click fraud? Have you reported fraud to the search engines lately? Is it on your radar?


Friday, November 05, 2010

Integrated Search Marketing - The Big Takeaway from SES Chicago

It's hard to believe that SES Chicago was 2 weeks ago already. As always, it was a great conference, with informative sessions and fantastic networking.

One common theme throughout several of the sessions I attended was integrated search marketing. Interestingly enough, we've been preaching the integration gospel at Fluency Media for a while now. A year ago, I wrote a series of articles for Search Engine Watch on integrating PPC with other online marketing channels. And now, it seems as though everyone's on the integration bandwagon.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the session called PPC or SEO: The Ultimate Search Marketing Battle. It wasn't even a battle, really - both sides ended up saying that both PPC and SEO are necessary for maximum SEM success.

Despite my disappointment at the lack of blood in this session :), here are some of the key takeaways:

• Use PPC to inform SEO! Where have I heard this before?
• Integrating PPC with SEO yields better results, efficiency, and cross-channel intelligence.
• Combine the two to reduce your risk. You need to do both PPC and SEO to effectively mitigate your risk.
• Use SEO for niche, long tail terms. (I actually disagree with this - SEO works well for broader terms that are expensive in PPC, while PPC is great for niche & long tail terms.)
• Build your site with SEO in mind. I wish more companies did this!
• Build inbound links.
• PPC helps with immediate presence. (In other words, SEO takes time; PPC can bridge the gap until your SEO kicks in.)
• Use PPC for top ranking on competitive terms that you'll never rank for organically.
• Use both to dominate real estate above the fold. A Google case study showed that top organic & paid listing increases unaided awareness by 17x!
• Resolution Media ran a test with their clients where they paused brand terms in PPC for a month to test. They found that not bidding on brand terms led to 42% overall decrease in traffic on paid AND natural search. I actually wrote an article for DM News on this very subject - we found that not bidding on brand terms also decreased direct traffic.
• Perform landing page testing in PPC to decide what pages to optimize for SEO. (GREAT advice!)

I thought these were great tips. Do you have any to add?

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