Archive for the 'SEO' Category

Inspiration in SEO

Friday, March 27th, 2009

I heard of a rapping Southwest Airlines attendant today … that is what online marketing is about. But can you plan that? No. The best ideas come from thinking outside the box and empowering employees to be the best for your clients.

Sometimes I can sound like a broken record – your business is different, there is no right answer for everyone, the answer is always “it depends.” But the goal in all of that is to make our clients and friends in the business take the examples we have seen and inspire ideas in their own lives. That is the ultimate goal in New Edge Media blogging, to inspire and be inspired. We know that each of us at NEM are learning everyday, no one knows everything in this business, and that is why we love it.

My inspiration has come from a large number of sources in the past year, but I want to focus on one. The mothers who have shaped and defined many parts of this business. Look around at some of the best minds out there and they are mothers doing what is best for their family and their own personal development.

Note: There are fantastic dads too, their countless and beautiful stories have inspired me as well. I don’t want to sound biased, it’s just moms have been very apparent in my world recently.

There is the now infamous Mothers in Business competition that host a number of well know names vying for your vote. I know we have all heard about this one. I am voting as often as I am reminded on twitter, but I more enjoy reading about and stumbling upon the businesses of the other lesser known mothers out there who have changed business because they are that strong. Their families supplement the strength they naturally have, and they turn that into a power to change the world.

I met a woman recently who started a daycare so that she could spend time with her then three, but going on five children. That business has grown to be one of the top 25 daycare businesses in the United States. She is dedicated to the care and development of all her children (not just the 5 biological ones) and her employees. She gets that it is her employees that make her business great.

New Edge Media was started by such a woman who wanted to support her family and start an agency close to home that had the values she held so dear. Brandy has been an inspiration to me and I would dare to say many others. Just like every other woman out there running a successful business. They are not doing it alone, but they are doing.

So just shy of mentioning specific women who have inspired me recently in the industry, I want to thank you all for being an inspiration to me and everyone else around you. You know who you are.

So what is your inspiration today?


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Optimization…What Does it Mean

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Optimization is a common term in the online marketing world that we use when speaking with clients, bosses, coworkers, and colleagues. It’s used in blogs, presentations, and proposals. But, do you really know or remember the actually meaning of the word?

I don’t mean that so much as an insult, rather as a honest question. Have you ever read the actual definition and thought about what it truly means?

“Optimization: an act, process, or methodology of making something (as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible; specifically: the mathematical procedures (as finding the maximum of a function) involved in this”

Optimization is not just a promise to make something better, not just increasing budgets, nor is it making something bad into “eh”. You have to analyze, strategize, and implement changes until what you are optimizing is “as fully perfect” as possible.

The word optimization seems to fade and lose most of its meaning in the second step of the process. In order to achieve true optimization you must continue to analyze, strategize, and implement changes on a regular basis. Look over your campaigns, really look, are they as effective as possible? Could the keywords you’re bidding on or the ad text be improved?

Here are some simple questions to review to get you started on the optimization process of paid search campaigns:

  • How many active keywords are you currently bidding on?
  • How many of those terms have not converted or resulted in any type of goal in over 30 days?
  • Why are you still bidding on those terms?

Removing poor performing terms can instantly improve the performance of an account by cutting out unnecessary cost.

Next go back over the website you are marketing, look to see if anything new has been added or maybe you missed something before. Try taking a different approach with the products or services being offered. Look for new keywords to add or try different keyword match types. Write and test out new ad text often and remove old ad text that did not do well.

Also try testing different landing pages to see which ones may have better results. Talk to your client or web designer about creating new landing pages for you to test. Sometimes simply changing a font color can have huge positive effects. Don’t let yourself get frustrated if the campaigns don’t perform well on your first try, just keep testing new ideas. The key to optimization is remembering that it is a constant ongoing process not just a onetime effort.


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Hiring a PPC Manager vs. SEO Manager

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Question: What skills are required of a PPC consultant/manager that are not required of an organic SEO consultant/manager?

This was perhaps one of the most intriguing questions I got when asking my favorite people on twitter what they wanted to know about PPC. More than anything it is tough because I consider myself both, I am an Internet marketer before anything else, a mutt of the industry. Because I think there are more like me than not, I have a feeling that there aren’t going to be large differences. There are so many things that each side does that are the same, just in different mediums.

Let’s start with an example job description for each, they are listed at the bottom, sorry, but they are long :). These are real but I’ll take out identifying marks. Remember these are just examples, we are a young industry and therefore the job descriptions can be extremely variant. There are probably more requirements than I list here, so if you have more differences that you know of, please list them in the comments.

Intersects

There are more similarities than differences in these two areas of Internet marketing, which does not surprise me. They are both mid level positions and therefore require 2 years of experience and a Bachelor’s Degree. Please note that one requires it and one it is optional. From what I can tell in experience, a degree is not required because no one teaches this subject yet. But I think it helps when going for either position.

Personal skills required in both are attention to detail, organizational skills, and relationship management. I think attention to detail is listed in almost any job description, but Internet marketing it is a major requirement. In paid search, if you mess up one destination URL, you could spend thousands of dollars on exactly nothing. And in SEO … well just look at code, enough said. The same can be said for organizational skills, try building a campaign or css stylesheet without it.

The relationship management area covers a lot of things, verbal and written communication with the company is the main area. Being in a new industry means that we all must be able to work with every department to build the best campaigns possible.

More specific skills include keyword research, copywriting, competitive research, and reporting. Everyone has to love Excel and we know that. Name one internet marketer that doesn’t know Excel or a similar program and I’ll show you someone not doing their job right.

The final similarity is in industry knowledge; we all have to know the new industry trends. Reading everyday is always and will remain part of our job duties. Otherwise our skills become archaic and the methods we use become stale.

Differences

First off, lets begin with SEOs. The one major difference is that SEOs have to be self-starters. I think this is actually true of SEO versus PPC. Yes, there is some of that to PPC, but it’s more of a requirement for an SEO. PPC has the metrics and goals that are set in stone and tied to the company finances (which I am about to go over). SEOs have the task of navigating something that fewer people understand (or pretend to understand). SEOs have to work with IT people, web designers and executives that do not get anything, so they almost have to make their own to do list.

Now for the answer to the question: I know that was a long lead in …

The things that a PPC manager needs that an SEO manager doesn’t necessarily have to have are all focused around money and testing. A PPC Manager has to have their main focus on ROI. There are numbers tied directly to what they manage and reporting those numbers and keeping to goals is more prevalent in PPC than in SEO. Each has goals, but in the eyes of a CPA, PPC is more focused on the bottom line.

In that same respect, a PPC manager is also very focused on budgets and spending. Again, there is a taste of this in SEO, but a PPC manager needs to have full understanding of the budgeting process and be able to comprehend the process over time. It’s not about “set it and forget it.” If you are doing that, you are doing it wrong.

The final area that a PPC manager has to focus on that isn’t required of an SEO manager is the testing of campaigns. Testing landing pages, keyword match types, and ads are a daily occurrence for a PPC manager. There is not an end to the cycle of testing; things can always be tweaked to be better. Keeping up with those tests, analyzing results, and making the necessary changes is not usually something SEOs do on a regular basis.

Conclusion

My final findings … the differences are minor. If an SEO wanted to get into PPC, there is little they’d have to change. Focus and goals are the major differences, but as for traits in the person, those are the same. Take your drive for code and make it into a drive for ROI. It might take some time getting used to testing what seems like the same thing over and over, but understanding the small differences and exact science of the relationship of landing page, keyword and ad is what makes this fun.

Looking for a job as an SEO or PPC manager? Check out our favorite job search site: The Online Beat

Example Job Descriptions

SEO Manager

Responsibilities

  • SEO strategy and implementation tactics
  • Identifying and building relationships with key industry contacts
  • Research keywords, clients and competitors
  • Keeping on top of industry trends/innovations with regards to search engines
  • Manage all aspects of SEO campaigns from generating reports to conducting site audits to client contact
  • Generating all keyword/link/rank/index related deliverables
  • Maintain brand identity while pushing creative boundaries and exceeding client expectations
  • Own your project and follow it through to launch
  • Form close and productive working relationships with staff from all departments
  • Recommend/implement optimization tactics from data intensive reporting

Qualifications/Skills Required

  • Bachelors Degree
  • 2-4 years of hands-on SEO experience (preferably in an agency setting); SEM knowledge
  • Proven track record of successful SE0 strategy and implementation
  • Strong knowledge of search properties, search engine algorithms and ranking strategies
  • Proficiency with SEO reporting, analytics tools, Word, Excel, HTML and JavaScript
  • Excellent written skills: experience writing professional/technical documentation skills
  • Excellent verbal skills: ability to communicate complex SEO issues in an articulate manner to all audiences
  • Solid understanding of interactive marketing/online media space
  • Strong organizational skills, problem-solving skills, and attention to detail
  • Self-motivator always looking to improve upon OGM’s projects and processes

PPC Manager:

Responsibilities

  • Manage PPC campaigns across three major PPC platforms (Google, Yahoo!, MSN).
  • Achieve a targeted ROI for all ad spends.
  • Ensure optimal campaign performance.
  • Manage keywords and messaging based on performances of campaigns.
  • Perpetual testing and optimizing of new keywords, ad text, position and landing pages.
  • Reconciliation of budget spend for PPC clients.
  • Monitoring and comparison of competitor’s campaigns.
  • Work with Account Reps to manage relationships with our clients.
  • Utilization of proprietary and third party reports and analytics tools.
  • Analyze click and conversion data, ad expenses, ROI, etc.
  • Research other PPC related online marketing opportunities that could be viable to our clients.
  • Must have excellent attention to detail and the ability to effectively multi-task in a deadline driven environment.

Qualifications/Skills Required

  • 2-4 years experience in managing PPC campaigns.
  • In-depth knowledge and experience with Google, Yahoo!, MSN PPC platforms.
  • Proficiency in working with Excel spreadsheets and analysis.
  • Experience with keyword research, keyword research tools and keyword selection.
  • Knowledge of web analytics applications.
  • SEM copywriting skills.
  • Detail-oriented organizational skills and above average written and communication skills.

Additional Qualifications/Skills Preferred – Not Required

  • Experience using third-party PPC bid-management applications.
  • Bachelor’s degree with interest or emphasis in communications, marketing, advertising, computer science, or related field.
  • Industry experience.
  • Google Ad Words Certified.


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Stop Looking at Your Ranking Reports

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Oh yeah, I love football and I have another analogy for you all.

Have you ever paid attention to how often a coach looks at the score board? When they do they are usually checking the timer, not so much the score. Not that they don’t care about the score and they are very well aware of it but they spend most of their time watching the plays. They watch the offense, the defense and the opposing team. They know every detail of what is happening on the field.

You should be watching your website analytics and focusing less on your ranking reports. Ranking reports are helpful to know where you rank competitively but you need to know what is happening on your website like which pages visitors spend the most time on, do visitors abandon the check out process and what keywords brought them to your website.

I’ve had many clients that could tell me where they ranked organically for almost every term that they thought was important off the top of their heads by memory. However, when asked average bounce rates they had no idea. Remember if you spend all your time watching the score board you’re going to miss the entire game.


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Does SEO improve your PPC Quality Score?

Monday, January 5th, 2009

People have been going bananas recently about Google’s Quality Score and how it affects their campaigns. I am going to agree with most articles out there and say the buzz around it is a little much. And some people are getting the wrong information. So here is the DL on Quality Score in 10 seconds:

It takes into account the relevance of the keywords in your ad group, the ad, and the landing page in a campaign. The closer related they are the better. Brad Geddes has a good list of what is known as parts of the quality score.

“The reality of the quality score is actually quite simple … Essentially, it’s a measure of trust – difficult (but not impossible) to manipulate – and it causes far too many people to run around in circles chasing their tails.”
Dave Collins

So a friend asked on Twitter if SEO could improve PPC quality score. Yes. Like everything else in Internet Marketing, SEO and PPC are very closely related and can impact the other. Just like PPC rankings can increase the trust of a natural ranking, SEO principles can help improve PPC quality scores (if they are in need of help).

In SEO there is a focus on keywords and relevance of pages to popular keywords. Looking at quality score, if your landing page isn’t being viewed by Google as relevant, you can work on SEO elements like content, title, and meta tags to make the page more relevant. Google’s Quality Score algorithm is becoming much like their natural algorithm, both focused on relevancy using popularity (CTR) and keyword similarity. Playing the game means building pages for your searchers/clients. The better they like it, the more relevant it is, and the less you will pay for the traffic you get.

So SEO and PPC – go out to lunch, become friends, swap stories, and share information. It’s amazing what you can learn from each other and how this information can make your individual campaigns work much more efficiently.


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Using PPC for SEO

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

After reviewing why you should be paying for traffic rather than just relying on organic results, the team at New Edge Media want to take it a step further. One of the reasons to use paid search was to balance your online campaigns. But we are sure people (and clients) want to know how a paid search campaign can improve the performance of an organic campaign? Basically how do they balance each other … well here we go, how to use PPC for SEO purposes.

Keyword Research

There are a plethora of tools available to SEOs when it comes to keyword research. Google made us all happy when they added numbers to the AdWords Keyword Tool. But none of that is worth a thing without knowing what actually converts visitors. There are keywords that are traffic builders but not converters. Running a paid search campaign allows you to see within the first few months exactly which words convert to your company’s end result, be it sales or form fills. That allows your SEO team to see which keywords they should be optimizing for before the others in their campaigns. Internet marketing is and should be about conversion first, not traffic.

Share of Market

Your analytics program will only let you see the traffic that is hitting your site. There is no way with pure SEO tools to see total market share. Even the numbers that Google publishes are spot on. Really, none can be, all numbers are inherently just a bit off, but running a PPC campaign can give you a better idea of how many people are searching for the products you offer. Using that number and the number of clicks, paid and natural to that keyword for a certain time period can give you a good idea of market share. One metric that all marketing and business people understand.

Conversion and Trust

There has been a large amount of research done to prove that running paid search along side naturally high ranking keywords results in not only a higher click through rate on the organic side, but also increases conversion rates. This is because searchers trust the business that is ranking organically and paying for advertising, it’s a sign of relevance and stability.

The take away here is that for most companies the balance is what you should be going for. Use all sides of marketing to do your best. There is no one set combination of mediums that will work best for you because it’s different for everyone. But for the 80% of companies out there that paid search works for, utilize it for your SEO campaigns too. Just as social works to increase SEO, paid search impacts it too.


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Why pay for search traffic when organic is free?

Monday, December 15th, 2008

I recently asked some twitterfolk what questions they had about PPC since most of the people I follow are SEOs only. There was one response I liked, but it was meant as a joke. It was the question that leads this post. So I’m going to answer the question in true New Edge Media Tradition. Start out with the fun answers and then get to the real ones. Deal?

Why pay for search traffic when organic is free? Fun Edition.

  1. Everything is better when you pay for it … just laugh.
  2. You get highlighted! It’s like glitter for search.
  3. Satisfies your screaming boss  – “I WANT IT NOW!”
  4. Messing with your competitor’s head by running an ad with their name on it is fun. (I’m kidding!)
  5. You make more money in paid search … (Again, I’m kidding people, see the “fun edition thing up there? KTHXBAI)


Why pay for search traffic when organic is free? Real Answers Edition.

  1. It’s all about the blend … you can’t run a marketing campaign online without balance.
  2. Paid search provides immediate results and can be run while SEO objectives are being pushed.
  3. You can’t rank #1 on EVERYTHING.
  4. Your CEO prefers to see tangible results and reports, might as well give it to him now while your kick ass SEO is working his/her magic. Your CEO will thank you later.
  5. Testing is easier on a paid campaign. What you learn there can be used in every other marketing area.


So basically what it comes down to is that paid search is not any better than organic and organic is not better than paid search. Both sides have to be used in conjunction with the other and the rest of the company marketing objectives. You should be paying for traffic to learn searcher intent. That can be used to modify link anchors, navigation, and other integral parts of the optimization equation.

Now can’t we all just get along??? ;)


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seoMOZ Toolbar – A Review

Friday, November 21st, 2008

We got permission to blog about it, we promise.

I received my invitation to officially beta test the new SEOmoz toolbar late Wednesday afternoon. I was all over it a mere 5 minutes later. My marketing experience isn’t so much in SEO as it is in Paid search but the information, as we all know, is beneficial to all online marketing efforts nonetheless. The better amount of my researching time is spent bouncing between tools, websites, twitter, tools, Google, more websites, more tools… you get the picture.

The tool bar offers an invaluable amount of data-fetching right at your fingertips. As you are on a website, a simple scroll and click of the “Tools” menu offers you the ability to obtain a backlink analysis, perform a website crawl, get a basic Linkscape report (a more advanced Linkscape report is available to Pro-members at a very reasonable rate) and a plethora of other beautiful reports (related to said website) in a matter of seconds.

The toolbar alone, offers instant “as you surf” data, always displaying a series of 6 indicators:

1.)
mozRank (mR) – The raw link popularity of this URL based on our analysis of the URL-level link graph of the web. Comparable to link popularity metrics used by the search engines.

2.)
mozTrust (mT) – A score based on the cumulative trustworthiness of a URL based on the links pointing to it from other trustworthy URLs. Comparable to trust metrics used by the search engines.

3.)
Domain-Level mozRank (DmR) – Domain-level mozRank describes, on its own logarithmic 10-point scale, where your domain stands amongst all other domains. DmR is computed for both fully-qualified and pay-level domains, and are not directly comparable. DmR uses the same mozRank algorithm but applies it to the “domain-level link graph.” Doing so offers additional insight about the general authority of the domain. Just as pages can endorse other pages, a link which crosses domain boundaries (e.g., from some page on searchengineland.com to a page on www.seomoz.org) can be seen as endorsement by one domain for another.

4.)
Domain-Level mozTrust (DmT) – Just as mozRank can be applied to domain-to-domain links, so can mozTrust. Domain-Level mozTrust considers the trust garnered by all site-level endorsements. New or poorly linked-to pages on highly trusted domains may inherit some natural trust by virtue of being hosted on the trusted domain. Domain-Level mozTrust is expressed on another 10-point logarithmic scale.

5.)
Page Rank… duh.

And
6.) Looks something like:
Showing you external links. The raw number of URLs from external domains found to have links pointing to this URL.

Thus eliminating a HUGE amount of time wasted, bouncing between tools. The only thing keeping this toolbar from knocking it out of the park is for it to show me how many social bookmarks the site in question has and when to feed the cat.

I was told by a pretty awesome SEOmoz source, that the officially release will be sometime in December. Are you excited yet?


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ScarySeo was Indeed Scary

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

I’ve had the opportunity to attend a variety of conferences throughout the year. The one that has officially left its mark is Scary SEO. The inaugural event took place in Deerfield Beach, Florida and lasted only 2 days, just enough to time to do an equal amount of learning and “networking”.

Immediately upon landing, it was safe to assume, Toto, we were no longer in Kansas. With one hour to spare for check in, I managed to stuff my humidity activated fro in a cab and get my boss to her first speaking event just in the nick of time. I even had time to gracefully cram one of the cute little cake tarts in my mouth before heading in to the conference.

To Lisa Barone’s point, the circular tables that were being utilized over the traditional buffet style tables did indeed force you to interact face to face versus side by side made it nearly impossible to do the fake “I’m so engaged in the speakers, I can’t possible talk to you” maneuver. The sessions were jam-packed with knowledgeable speakers sharing their valuable wisdom with the audience in a personable fashion that felt more like a peer to peer pow-wow than a stream of unsiftable data.

I have the attention span of a small to medium sized house plant so one of the elements that I appreciated the most was that the speaker sessions all took place in the same room. Not having to make the agonizing decision of which panels to attended made directing my focus on the only one panel in action so much easier. I was able to find a nice spot near the back thanks to the lovely Pat Sexton of We Build Pages. Even the break for lunch was perfectly timed and included an actual warm meal instead of the typical cardboard sandwich. Nothing but the best from the folks over at Search And Social.

Hard work was followed by an opportunity to play hard as the evening was started boarding a bus equipped with a pole that was used to gain leverage as the bus made its way to the to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Much debauchery was had in the hours that took place somewhere between Fairway Drive and Seminole Way.

All in all, I learned a lot and had the pleasure of meeting some incredible people in the process. Something many of the conferences don’t offer up as easily. I look forward to the next event these guys throw. I can assure you I will be there with my best feedbag.


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