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March Mayhem

How is mayhem a good thing you say? Why is that the title of our monthly positive recap? Well … have you met any of us? Mayhem is the New Edge middle name. Anything to make people laugh makes us happy, even if the authorities disagree. (I’m kidding, swear)

First up is the exciting New Edge News

  • Anna bought a new HOUSE!!! Yay!
  • Kate attended PubCon South and spoke on a few panels – and had a blast having everyone in her home town! (Guess where South will be next year?? It’s looking like DALLAS!)
  • The New Edge Team is doing the Walk for Lupus in Dallas on April 25th! Please consider donating. :)
  • Kate had an article published in the SES Magazine on Paid Search: In-house vs Outsourced
  • Brandy’s daughter Erin was accepted to the Gifted program at school. Chip off the old block!
  • We all weathered the Texas Storms (read: HAIL) very well. My car is fine (phew), Brandy got a new roof, and Steve’s new Corvette is still shiny and new!
  • Brandy’s family celebrated her brother’s 38th birthday when he was told he only had 3 months to live at 35. Totally healthy and cancer-free now.

Industry Happyness


Paid Search Questions on Twitter

On December 3rd, 2008, I broke down and asked twitter what paid search questions everyone had. I was hunting for blog topics and as of this week they are finally done. So I wanted to review what was asked and the answer provided. There are some that I cannot find the original reply. If you asked and want credit, please let me know! I posted the articles all over the interwebs so here goes.


Google Does Landing Page Optimization Too

I was doing some research for a client and came across something fairly interesting. Have you ever been in a restaurant where they dimmed the lights and you look around wondering if the lights really went down, or if you imagined it? Well I had that feeling as I was pulling SERPs from Google … the text color changed. Yes, changed. Not a LOT, but just enough for me to wonder if I was going insane.

Nice thing was I was smart enough to take screenshots. Promise this isn’t photoshoped. Well, I cropped them, but promise no more than that.

Dimmed Color

Darker and Normal

Darker and Normal

So what is this all about? I am thinking Google is like the rest of us, they are doing landing page optimization. I am not liking the new color, but hey, they are trying things!


February Fun in Search Marketing

I did a review of all the positive things that happened in search marketing and New Edge Media in January, so we are going to continue the trend. February is a short month, and our posting has been light (sorry!!), but we have been turning the wheels furiously behind the scenes.

February has been short on days …
but not in new events at New Edge Media:

  • Our very own Anna is expecting a bundle of joy in late June!
    [Can't even begin to tell you how excited we all are about this!]
  • Manda and Brandy Quit Smoking [*claps*]
  • Kate completed the Austin Half Marathon! [I is tired]
  • Trisha went on vacation to the Bahamas! [JEALOUS!]

The Search Marketing world had it’s own dose of fun:


Google Personalization in Paid Search

Are paid search ads customized when you are logged into Gmail [Google] like natural listings?

We talk a lot in search marketing about personalization in natural search. Basically how you are not guaranteed first position every time because Google changes results based on user settings and past searches. People get what the algorithm thinks is most targeted to them and their tastes. But is the same true when dealing with paid search? A resounding yes!

Advertisers are always looking to restrict their audience based on demographics and geography in every medium. Paid search campaigns run the best when you are logged in because Google then knows where you are exactly (doesn’t have to rely on IP address), male/female, etc. All of this data is of course only used if you gave it to Google, but it is used. You will receive better targeted ads if you are logged in for that reason.

Besides that, Google has to know how many times you have visited that link and keyword. They track click fraud that way. How good that tracking is, well I’m not touching that subject. There are too many other more knowledgeable people on that subject.

There are a few other articles on this topic. The first is from mid-2007 on SEOmoz covering four new changes to AdWords at that time. Seems that April 2007 is when it first hit, mainly that Google was changing ads substantially to target your interests. We had seen a lot of testing around that and the showing of ads from a previous search in search results as well. I did a post on it for our friends Search and Social recently.

So the short answer is yes. Keep in mind Google is always testing things, so how far they go with that data is always changing.


January Fun in Search Marketing

It seems that January 2009 was a month of renewal, hope, and fear. Wait, what? Yeah, we all know that the economy sucks. Business is down. The only people making money are Amazon and Exxon. That says something about our economy right there.

Never-the-less, New Edge Media is all about the positives and January 2009 is no different. Let’s see what good happened this month to New Edge and the rest of search marketing. Why not the world? Well, we already know all that, and we are in our own little world anyway. Hehe.

Search Marketing January Rockin It

New Edge Media Awesome Events

  • Trisha Lyn Fawver attended Affiliate Summit West and turned heads with her knowledge and personality. We have seen tons of leads from her efforts there.
  • We closed some awesome new clients! Yay for new business!
  • Brandy tried to take time off the Interwebz – but the ice storm in North Texas canceled the camping trip. She tried though! Instead she did something even more fun … WORK! ;)
  • I went skiing at Whistler and managed to find two locals that did Search Marketing for a living! How crazy is that?!?!
  • Did we mention that our blog is starting to kick booty too?
  • And … we hear a rumor that our very own Amanda Otto’s jewelry design is going VERY well.

So what did I miss?? What great happened to you this month? Let us know! I’ll update if it’s something I really forgot. :)


Hiring a PPC Manager vs. SEO Manager

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.


Does SEO improve your PPC Quality Score?

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.


Using PPC for SEO

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.


Why pay for search traffic when organic is free?

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??? ;)