All posts by ChrisMarie

Pay Per Click Advertising and the Client Role

When you hire on a searchologist or Internet marketing firm to work on your pay per click campaign…you may never know the true importance of your input. Professional search engine marketers [searchologists] bring their knowledge of how to set up, run, create and track pay per click efforts. The knowledge you bring to the table is just as important to the success of the paid search marketing as the information and knowhow professionals offer.

As a professional in your particular market or industry, you will have more insight into what you are looking for and who you are trying to reach out to with pay per click advertising. You will have great insight regarding keywords, demographics, consumer profiles, and prospect profiles. This information you already have about these variables and more will impact the outcome of all paid search marketing.  

Be sure to share as much as you can about who you are targeting, what the profile of a “typical” audience member may look like [age, household income, male, female, etc.]. Having detailed discussions with your Internet marketing firm or consultant can save time, money, and trouble in the long run.

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Google Personalized Search…just got personal

Google has announced the Google personalized search experience. If any of you are keeping tabs out there…universal search, personal search, social search, real time search…this is why search engine optimization can be very difficult. Imagine trying to keep up with Google. I’m still not 100% sold on Google’s “do no evil” message.

I’ve been working on a client project recently and I’ve notices some VERY lame attempts by Google to lure away searching individuals with rather unsavory methods. The same methods that Google frowns on when advertising under competitive brand terms in Ad Words [to a very liberal extent]. Take a test drive for yourself. Type in “circle” for giggles. Take a look at the paid search results on the left side. Do you or do you not see a sponsored ad by Google asking if you are having trouble understanding the word ‘circle’.

So, what does this have to do with search results and all of the up coming iterations of said results? At some point search engine results need to become better at indexing and serving GOOD content. I’ve seen thousands of times now…very poor results based on excellent search terms. I think it could speak to the measure of fairness when dealing with the world’s biggest search engine.

Go on and Google pay per click advertising and tell me you don’t see Google’s ad right up at the top. They are just playing fair right…? Right?

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Hearding The Social Media Cats

I a fantastic post by Rebecca Lieb, “Here Come The Social Media Carpetbaggers” from Clicks, she discusses the hoard of social media experts who have come streaming out of the wood work with proposals in had and “expert banners” waving. I’ve said for some time now that social media should be taken in stride and should not be used to generate sales of any type. Sure, if sales “accedently” or unintentionally arise from social media marketing…that is a wonderful thing. If your objective is to accomplish this task it is going to end up a major epic fail.

I find it as amazing as Rebecca does, how everyone and their distant uncle can now execute, build, track, and offer bright shiney success stories about how well they have done for their clients with social media. Much like Rebecca’s comments, I firmly believe that if you are going to pursue social media you should do it in house. The cost in human hours to build out social media outlets, run comments, and interact with your auduience can be a very large task.

Don’t believe all you hear about how wonderful and magical social media is. It is what it is…a way for people to communicate online with each other. It is not a new toy or marketing outlet for you to make your next fortune. The majority of individuals on social networks are there to interact with each other, their friends, family, and grow networks. If you REALLY want to interrupt that interaction with ads, or annoying pokes into their “social webworking” I would hazard to say that you will be engaging in demanding your message is heard and it will backfire.

As I’ve said many times over now…social media, if used as a tool to allow for communication, idea exchanges, developing brand awarness, and credibility can crate a special relationship that will pay you back in the long term. Be wary of the salesperson who suggests a large investment in the social media space. If you are going to take the leap…get your goals, expectations, and self in check.

Social media is still very new [about 2 years old now] and Internet marketing is around 12 years old. We are still dealing with a new digital era. Social media should not be confused with direct advertising…social media is a communication tool and not an advertising tool. Use it wisely and you will prosper…force you message and it will come back to haunt you.

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Top Ten Search Engine Marketing Expectations – Busted Part 1

Many business owners I have spoken to have had great expectations about search engine optimization, pay per click, and social media. With this in mind…I wanted to address the reality of what search can do for your business and how you should REALLY prepare. Here is a quick list of Top Ten Search Engine Marketing Expectations Busted by Searchology 101.

1. No one can get you to the top of Google for your top keywords overnight. Search engine optimization takes time…and it can take months to gain higher raking on important keywords.

2. Search engine optimization professionals don’t know the “Google Code” to get you to the top of the Google search results. The Google algorithms are a mystery to all but Google. Most SEO professionals know a great deal to get you better natural search results but can’t promise top listings for high search terms.

3. The social media craze is not the new search. Yes, social media is very cool and it makes it very easy to stay in touch…but it is not a tool to drive sales. It should be used to build your brand, build brand awarness, offer consideration for purchase…if you intend to use it to build sales…think again.

4. Pay per click advertising is not “wizzbangery” – there is no little man behind the green curtain. It takes time to get keywords and ad copy to work together. Time to let the search engines assess the work and for the paid search professional to do their job.

5. Google is not the only search engine out there. Yahoo has over 420 million searches every day…and Bing is close behind. There are many more search engines which deliver good results as well.

6. You should always advertise under your brand name. You competitors will do it if they can and you need to take full ownership of your message, product, service, and good name.

7. Google analytics isn’t always right. Looks like there may be a pretty big issue with Java and Google analytics.

8. Know your market and know your audience. If you don’t have a good idea about the profiles of people and visitors you would like to attract to your website…how can you write content for them?

9. Google recently had a 10 year anniversery [this year] so when you hear “professionals” say they’ve been in the Internet marketing industry for 20 years. Yahoo was founded in 1995…Google Ad Words launched in October 2000.

10. Advertising using your competitors brand terms is okay…just be prepared for retaliation.

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Competition – How far do you go?

I’ve been asked many times over the years…”So, how can I go after my competition? Can I use their name(s) in my ads? Can I go after their keywords?” These are vary tough questions to answer and very easy questions to ask. To give you the very simple answer. No, do not go after your online competitors online by using or marketing under their own company or brand names. My reason, do you like it when they do the same to you?

I have had a few lawyers in my day contact my peers to have them cease all online marketing under competitive brand terms. I’ve personally witnessed red faced lawyers screaming through the phone swearing a holy judgment and legal action to the end of days because of using branded terms and company names to display ads and market online.

To most individuals that are online marketers or searchologists…I say don’t do it. Your competitors will figure it our sooner or later and return the favor and you are not going to like it one bit.  To my clients I say don’t do it because you may end up starting a bidding war or a minor legal battle which will not be worth the time.

However, it’s gone beyond the pale these days. Yes, now I’ve seen it all. I know it’s been going on for a long time but I’ve never EVER have believed it until I saw it with mine own eyes. There are companies out there so brasien as to add their competitors keywords and brand names in search engine optimiztion keywords.

Yes, there is an upside when it comes to pay per click advertising under competitive brand names and terms. This is a little more acceptable…especially when the tables have been turned on you or your client in the first place. Then yes, it is a little about revenge and it is a lot about solid ROI at a lower cost per lead or sale. But when you start throwing stones at glass and add these terms into your own website and page copy…you’ve simply gone way to far. Too far.

Yes, there are companies and individuals willing to support adding in other competitive brand terms and names into their page descriptions and title tags. Yes, it has come to this. It is a wonder why some companies and individuals involved in search engine optimization and search engine marketing have crappy reputations. Sure, it is not just about redicously high prices…the other reason they have MUD for a name is due to ADDING COMPETITIVE TERMS INTO SEO PRATICES!

As I mentioned…to use other compeitive terms and names in pay per click can be acceptable under optimal circumstances…but I do not like the pratice and have only done so under extreme situations. Never, would I nor should you work with…an search engine optimization company or pay per click service provider which recommends doing so first thing out of the gate. Run, and keep going. It is a very bad practice and frankly, rude. As I said…would you want your competition to do it to you? No, then don’t start a nasty cycle. Life can be difficult enough. Let’s all try to be a little nicer and possibly we can learn how to get along just a little better when we market on the Internet.

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Google is Going Social

An article recently released on Informationweek.com, Google plans to tackle the social search. Soon Google Labs will allow Google account holders to open new accounts and allow their social information to become integrated into Google search results. My first knee-jerk reaction is; oh, boy, here we go…social media is going way beyond the boundaries of providing information up to the second…that is…information ON YOU.

My second reaction [the other knee], was…I’m going to be the first to sign up for this one. Who knows how much will be served and indexed? Will I [we] be able to choose which social channels are posted? Or will it be all for one and one for all?

Once my initial ‘shock’ was over…this is not a surprising move. The search is all about search results based on keywords, lightning fast and accurate. Why not include ALL the information about your personal life and social life?

Consider how much fun it will be explaining to a future client or employer how an erotic monkey got on your Facebook page. When you get tagged with a photo or video…it does not exist in a location where you can alter it. It exists on the posters site and shows up on your profile. Will this type of garbage show up in the SERPS?

The issue really comes down to this: if you are socially adept online and in person this can be a very good thing. I may provide credibility, link juice, added content and it would be kind of cool to say, “Google me.” However, all things are not created equal. Well, without a question social graces are not learned and executed equally by all people. You can control what you say but you can’t control what others say or tag about you on various sites.

Will this lead to some type of consistant need to survey and monitor all of your social profiles? Could be the case. Then again, you don’t have to participate. But this is the shot across the bow, social media is going to go just one step too far and invade our social networks and channels. This is going to be a really interesting ride kids. Bring your Scooby Doo lunch box and an extra snack.

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Social Media Optimization – Is it really worth it?

There is so much talk, blogs and articles flying around about social media optimization and social media. According to some of my sources, social media optimizaiton has been around for about two years or so. I first read about social media optimization from Rohit Bhargava’s blog on the subject of SMO. The online marketing industry moves so fast it can become a full time job just to keep up with it all. Social media added a whole new dynamic to an already complicated and challenging online environment.

I believe that social media is way overblown and too much is being made out of a small splash in the marketing ocean. Let me be clear; there are huge benefits to using social media channels in the right way. If your business model requires new leads on a weekly, daily or monthly basis…don’t waste your time, money and energy diving into the social media clown car. Social media should be used as a way to open the doors of communication between your company and your consumers\markets.

In addition, social media should be used to generate brand awareness and encourage brand-company-consumer interaction. In a recent study by Group M Search [social media report], consumers exposed to pay per click and a solid brand strategy on social media sites, showed searches seeking the same product brands by 2.8 time more than if just exposed to pay per click alone. This means that social media did provide a lift to brand term searches and product searches. Further, the study suggests searching individuals exposed to brands on social media sites were, “far more likely to search for brand and product-related terms.”

The researchers may be pushing the sale a little to hard, however, it is not hard to imagine the old marketing adage…first to mind is first to the pocket book [or something to this effect].  Much like running banner ads…the ads do in fact provide a lift to brand terms and product related terms. All of this may seem like I am in the middle of a real big fat contradiction.

Nope. Another study compiled by Knowledge Networks suggests that 83% of 13 to 54 year old individuals use social media channels. Less than 5% rely on social media outlets as aids in buying decisions [in any of 9 product\service categories] and only 16% said they would be more likely to buy from advertisers on such sites. Knowledge Networks points out that individuals are using social networks to be social with friends and family not to be friendly with brands.

So what does this all mean? Is social media optimization really worth it? In a word, no. If you are seeking to promote your brand and encourage some type of interaction or offer another outlet for consumers to reach you…social media is totally worth it. Brands and companies need to regain trust of consumers, more than ever. Offering a new way to reach out to a service provider or brand can help build trust and brand but not sales.

Social media is not only about MySpace, FaceBook and Twitter. There is a lot more to it. Just keep it all in perspective and hold on to your check book. Use social media to reach out and communicate not to sell or prospect. Use social media to get your brand out there…not to offer the next big sale…use social media as a way to build your credibility not to increase your bottom line. Consumers have enough ads bombarding them on a daily basis and I can assure you, if you push your genuine imitation ostrich leather wallets where they socialize…they will shut you out. Imagine if you were out to dinner with friends and a man comes up to you and starts a sales pitch for insurance…would you give him the time of day…no, you would not.

Advertising online is now permission based. Visitors do not have to interact with your ads or your social sites. If you provide useful information that really helps or provide excellent conversation…the opportunity to win new users and visitors will increase. If Knowledge Networks is correct [and I believe they are] social media is a tool for communication, sharing ideas, providing sounding boards for clients and consumers. It is not a tool to use and abuse.

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How To Be A Good Client

I’ve read many articles about how to pick a good search marketing agency or when to dump your search marketing agency…but I have not read much of anything about a client’s responsibilities as they pertain to internet marketing. Sure, there are clients who ‘know enough to be dangerous’ and can sabatoge [unintentionally] online strategies and online marketing efforts. I’ve personally heard of clients getting dumped because of various reasons but mostly it was due to lack of payments or “knowing better” than the online marketing person or firm.

As this is not a perfect world these things will happen. Conflicts may arise and personalities may clash a bit here and there. For the most part, if both sides of the bench agree on goals, key preformance indicators, expectations, budgets, etc., everything should turn out for the best. It is possible for all parties to come out on the other side with warm fuzzy feelings and sign up for another contract term.

While the above description is the best outcome for all parties involved, I think a big step can be missed when setting up a strategy and working with a new client for the first time. All clients have an active role to play in online marketing. It is not the same ‘sit back and let the cash roll in’ as was once customary with traditional forms of advertising. 

A good search marketing client needs to play an active role with many issues that may arise from tracking to banner ad approval. Taking an active role in your company’s online marketing is a sure way to gain more insight into what search engines can produce for your bottom line and how search engines work. Actively participating in search marketing efforts will certainly help create a stronger relationship between you [as the client] and the search firm or independent marketing consultant. By pealing yourself off the wall or the leather chair the advice and information you provide to your online marketing team or consultant will help the fully understand your business and business model.

Micromanagement over online marketing efforts is not a good idea and can make a difficult job almost impossible. Depending on what type of search engine marketing you have engaged in, it will take time for search engines to find your site or for the data to come in. Taking immediate action based on 4 weeks of information is not enough time to make the proper adjustments for all of the possible variables that need to be addressed for almost all forms of online marketing.

I could go on for a long time about what makes a good online marketing client. I would prefer to spare you a potential box with me on it and give you a punch list of ways to improve your ‘client-ness’  and in the long run it will really help your online marketing efforts.

How to be a Good Client – A guide by Searchology 101

  •  Question – There is no such thing as a dumb question as they pertain to online marketing.
  •  Patience – Pulling the plug or checking data on a daily basis will not make visitors come to your website any faster or convert any better. 
  • Participate – Help or offer with keywords, content writing, competitive information, articles or anything else that may prove to offer more information about your business, goals, and objectives. These should be appreciated by your online marketing consultant or search firm.
  • Learn – This is much different that asking questions. Learning is a process which takes more than queries about this and that. Learn what you can and take notes if you like. I have many clients that do just that….take notes.
  • Dedication – If it is your first time diving into search engine marketing…be prepared that results take time and knowing that is half the battle.
  • Relationship – Your internet marketing consultant or search marketing firm are not simply outsourced…but should be a part of your company and an extension of your brand. Treat them as you would like to be treated and the whole process just may end up becoming a little more like fun and a lot less like work.

These are only my suggestions and recommendations on how to be a good client. When I wear my consumer hat or client pants I do  my best to make it a learning process and enjoyable endevor. My hope is more of us, on both the client side and vendor side, gain a little of our humanity back into doing business. Business can be a lot of fun and quite pleasureable if we can be both good service providers and good clients.

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Should You Get Paid Commission Only?

Recently, one of the marketing greats, Seth Godin wrote a blog post called “Everyone gets paid on commission” in which he suggests that you should get paid for what your produce. In addition, with web 3.0’s ability to track damn near about everything all of us are working on commission. And for those that don’t produce…find the door.

Normally, I stand behind most of what Mr. Godin says and I admire the hell out of him. I love reading his fast hitting and concice writing. No kidding, I really dig this guy. However, not on his point; everyone gets paid on commission. Although it may be a step or two away from pretzle logic…most of us in the working world are treated as if we work on commission only. For those of us who have had to work commission only jobs they are brutal and can be very detrimental to a persons well being.

If it’s knocking on doors or pounding the phones, everyone deserves a fair days pay for a fair days work. Sure we can break into symantics on what type of work should reveive what type of compensation…but at the end of the day is it not our time which is the most valubale “thing” we have?

So, why should it be that we are all working on commission? Is our personal time and sacrafice of this time not worth a solid reliable paycheck? I believe it is thinking like this which has allowed millions of people to feel as if they have no real life of their own. It is get up, do the morning routine, go to work and come home for an hour or two and do it all again.

When people sacrafice so much already for a paycheck…is there really a need to bring it down yet another level Mr. G? No, it is not. Work hard, get paid hard…whatever you want to call it. We are all human and should be treated as such. Human. Commission really brings compensation down to a very uncomfortable level.

A person can work his\her fingers to the bone at a commission job and that does not make their work any less vaulable or productive than that of the individual standing nearby. Nope, maybe their conversion rate was off…I think we should all reconsider compensation packages and start with A.I.G. and work our way top down first.

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Pay Per Click Works – Patience Is A Must

Does pay per click work for business?

Does pay per click work? The short answer is, yes. Does pay per click work overnight? No. Pay per click marketing takes time to generate information [data] in order to figure out what has been working and then make adjustments and optimizations in future application. I have experienced much frustration with clients who want to stop all paid search marketing within days or weeks of initial campaign launch because it is not producing as fast as they may have expected.

Pay per click marketing on Google, Yahoo, and MSN\Bing requires the search marketer to preform keyword building, ad copy building, account set up, tracking, bid management and more. Does it make sense to give such an undertaking only a few days or weeks to generated perfect results? No, it does not.

In fact, it is quite normal, for an adjustment period of a month to three months before key performance indicators (KPIs) begin to produce positive results [positve or negative]. There are a lot of variables to consider which impact pay per click results; strategy, location, demographics, competition, user behavior, click to conversion rates, impressions, ad variations, dynamic insertion to name a few. It is very possible it may take up to a month to find out that a new strategy is needed to combat thick competition. This could require a full blown reconfiguration of everything. Is this a painful choice? A little. Is it the end of the road? No, it shouldn’t be.

It is no wonder many search marketing firms and online marketing professionals require contract terms with minimum time frames. Pay per click marketing is not perfect but if you were to weigh, on a cost per lead or conversion rate, effectiveness of PPC versus traditional media PPC will win hands down. It is much easier to effectively track and adjust PPC daily, in a paid search user interface, than it is to change a national advertisement on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, billboard, or newspaper ad. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can’t change those media vehicles in minutes.

Unless you are tracking response rates with a unique phone number knowing the true conversion rates and cost for each conversion is nearly impossible. However, pay per click can be assessed down to each single response to your ad. It is the ‘click’ which indicates interest, curiosity, possible intent, and conversions. Real trackable people looking for your product or service.

Traditional media (tv, radio, print, billboards, and direct mail) is a direct interruption of an individuals time and concentration. When a person sees these advertisements you are interrupting their daily routine and demanding their attention. More than likely, your ad will be fast forwarded or ignored and the message [for the most part] is lost.

With pay per click marketing, the individuals clicking on your ad are interacting with your company by will. There is no force…there is no demand for attention. The business ad is positioned at the right time, at the right place, during a decision or buying cycle. I would say that it is more important than ever to let the data collect and revise paid search than to pull the plug.

Sure, it is another issue if your pay per click manager lets money bleed out on a daily basis. Then it is your online consultant who needs to get pulled not your ad dollars.  * More on this in another post. Keep your ad dollars in paid search and be patient. It takes time for ads and keywords to work. It takes time for your campaign manager to locate the correct combination to your target audience.

My recommendation: if your paid search is bleeding money, find a new campaign manager or search firm. If your pay per click marketing isn’t exactly what you want it to be a week, month, or two months from when it first started, be patient. Pay per click does not work for all businesses and it is not the perfect solution to your marketing needs but it works. The only way you will find that out is to give it a chance and breathe.

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