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Google – Now with Personalized Feed Search Goodness

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Over the past 2 and a half years Google has fine tuned it’s algorithm around Universal Search.  In the normal SERPS (search engine results page) Google shows news, images, local listing, videos and more blended in with its normal results.

Recently Google has started to roll out its new algorithm which includes 2 primary features – Personalized Search and Real Time search.  Personalized Search launched last week and means that Google will attempt to learn your preferences over time and adjust it’s SERPs on an individual basis.  This has the promise of much better results for the user, however as a search marketer I have no idea how will track individually targeted keyword rankings.  My guess is that will have to focus on referring keywords at a site level rather than the SERPs.

The second is Real Time search which is coming online this week.  Google will now include a Feed Box along with its other Universal Search listings.  The Feed Box will contain the latest updates from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.  I was listening to a podcast with Bruce Clay a few weeks back and they understandably had significant concerns for the impact this could have on brands – this looks like a big fat wait and see!

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Written by Greg M

December 9, 2009 at 11:45 am

Posted in Tips

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Net Neutrality Debate Heating Up in Congress

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net neutralityA quick summary of Net Neutrality is that no content on the web should be given preferential treatment by the owners of the pipes, wires, switches, ISPs, etc.  Net Neutrality would prevent someone like ATT from speeding up (prioritizing) the delivery of content through their pipes based on say an advertising deal.  For example, ATT would get ‘free’  advertising space on ESPN if they gave priority to Disney content.

While listening to the October 29th podcast of Webcology on Webmaster radio the hosts talked about some of Google’s new offerings and the potential implications of Net Neutrality.  When one services owns such a commanding share of the web it begs the question – Do we also need Google Neutrality?

Here are some resources for Net Neutrality education and action.

Webcology 10/29 Pocast

Save the Internet Petition – Sign Up Now!

Save the Internet Video on YouTube

Written by Greg M

November 1, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Posted in Podcasts, Tips

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Foxy SEO Tool, Firefox’s Growing SEO Add-On

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firefoxI installed Foxy SEO last week to help with search optimization and analysis.  While I haven’t tapped it’s full potential I have been using it quite a bit to check backlinks and Google Pagerank.  Aside from the usual search engines (Yahoo!, bing, Ask), it includes menu options for directories like the Yahoo! Directory and dmoz, research tools like Alexa and Compete, and social media options like Twitter, digg, Yahoo! Answers and more.

Foxy SEO Tool has some helpful page analysis tools which analyzes keyword density, looks for 404 errors, meta tags, robot.txt files and sitemaps.

While Foxy SEO has been out for just over a year it looks like most of the meat was added in 2009.  As such I think it’s still a bit of a work in progress but if you’re an SEO professional it’s worth checking out.

Written by Greg M

October 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Tools

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SEM Ad Text, What to Test First?

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ad text

I’m starting work on develop an SEM campaign and in the process of writing copy started wrestling with some different testing options for the ad text.  My testing options are limited in two ways.  First, we’ll also be conducting an A/B landing page test for each ad group shortly as soon as possible once the campaign launches.  Secondly, since it’s a new campaign we intend to ramp up slowly so the initial focus will be on the long tail, greatly limiting our volume and quest for statistical significance.

It’s imperative that we start of with an ad text test but it will need to be small.  The options seem to be a 3×1 or 2×2 test matrix – 3 headlines and 1 body copy for 3 total combinations or 2 headlines mixed with 2 sets of body copy for a total of 4 combinations.  Best practices suggest that the headline copy tends to be much more effective than body copy so I’m leaning toward the 3×1 option.  With fewer combinations than the 2×2 test we’ll be able to roll into the landing page test more quickly as well.winning results with google ad words

Another short cut I’m considering is combing the ad text results across the engines.  No doubt Google, bing and Ask would have some performance nuances with regard to ad text click through rate but I’m willing to assume they’re constant for the sake of speed.  Yet another example of the digital marketer balancing speed and accuracy!

To learn more pick up a copy of Winning Results with Google AdWords, Second Edition at Amazon.com

Written by Greg M

August 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

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The Landing Page Optimization Podcast Talks Copywriting This Week

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success worksThis week Tim Ash of the Landing Page Optimization podcast talks this week with Heather Lloyd Martin of Successworks about balancing direct response copywriting with SEO needs.  I really enjoyed this cast because I have a difficult time reading copy like a ‘normal’ person once the SEO hat comes on.  I always need to find someone untainted to see if my copy still makes sense to a human and not just the Google bots.

Some key points that Heather had to say about copy writing:
○ PR, blogs and site copy all have different audiences and necessitate a different style and tone – but all are great SEO opportunitieslanding page optimization
○ SEM landing pages can be off menu, for direct response campaigns like we find a lot in SEM visitors may not want to weed through a ton of copy
○ At the end of the day, responses are emotional, and we rationalize them with fact – so make sure your copy has a little bit of sizzle

To learn more about Tim Ash and landing page optimization, check out his book Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions

Written by Greg M

August 19, 2009 at 11:40 pm

Bing and Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal: Answers from Office Hours

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So big time news on the search front over the past couple of weeks.

First, Microsoft launches Bing – but haven’t we seen this movie before?  New algorithm, rebranded site, Google still rules – The End.  bingMicrosoft’s search strategy has been about as original as another Friday the 13th sequel.  But in a shocking plot twist the latest move seems to have forced the hand of Yahoo! to join up with Microsoft in a long term search deal.  Given the public courtship between Microsoft and Yahoo! maybe I should have seen it coming.

I’ve started listening to a new podcast on Webmaster Radio – Office Hours.  The SEO and SEM implications of the new Bing/Yahoo! Deal are far reaching.  Vanessa Fox breaks it down on the July 30th episode of Office Hours.

To learn more grab a copy of Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day!

Written by Greg M

August 8, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Posted in Podcasts

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Is Branded SEM Worth It?

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branded searchBack when I was client side our SEM agency looooved branded paid search terms.  They did wonders for the overall CPA of our search campaigns.  But for the very generic phrases (e.g. no specific product mentioned) I questioned if there was any additive lift to the overall leads the site was generating – especially given the expanded search results that Google started to show on the SERPs.

We did a couple of on/off tests with the paid search campaigns’ top 3 phrases and compared leads generated from SEM and leads generated from the organic listings in Google.  What we found is that there was lift – but not much.  We found that only about 5% of the leads were actually incremental.  In other words, for every 20 leads generated we would have landed 19 of them.  So if our original CPA for generic branded search phrases was $7, the true CPA ballooned to $140.  Subsequently we used our funds for terms with under $100 CPA that had little to no SEO traffic – the result was an overall lift in total leads generated by the site.

If you’re spending a lot on generic branded search campaigns, try some on/off testing to try and determine your true ROI – you’re online marketing funds may be better used elsewhere.

To pick up some other search marketing tips try reading Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company’s Web Site (2nd Edition)search engine marketing inc

Written by Greg M

August 8, 2009 at 6:10 pm

Posted in Tips

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