Web Metrics | Search Marketing
Site Strategy

"In a nutshell, Jason created our marketing analytics capability. He was able to figure out what data we collect, where it is, what was missing, and hook it all up so we canget meaningful, actionable data. Our marketing efforts have improved leads and conversions in some cases by an order of magnitude. He knows his stuff."
Chris Foleen, Marketing Project Coordinator, TransCore, Inc.


Monday, February 08, 2010

The Value of Adwords Local Paid Search

I have consulted with many small businesses about their local search needs.  These are businesses who live off the local market--attorneys, tradesmen and other service providers that cannot sell their services nationally.  They want to use the internet to help them.  They are building or upgrading their websites.  They are interested in some local advertising and they are thinking about local paid search.  We talk.  I find out about their business, where they want to go, how they want to use search, and then I get back to them with some estimates and some hard realities.

The truth is that I have not found a local, small business that would get any real value out of Adwords local.  Depending on their industry other services might work--CitySearch, Angie's List, etc.  But because Google is synonymous with search, Adwords is invariably what they are looking for.  After using the Google tools, we may set up a test account with a reasonable budget for a reasonable time.   At the end we review the results.  90% of the time the answer is the same:  "You can use Adwords Local if you want.  It won't cost you much.  But it won't deliver the volume of business you are looking for either."  In the end, it becomes a question of do they want to put the time into managing it when they may only get a handful of leads every month.  It almost never makes financial sense for me to manage it for them, and I tell them that right up front.  The low volume keeps click costs down, but management time and energy are costs that need to be considered too.

We also have a conversation about bridging the online-offline gap for lead tracking.  Local businesses almost always do better when someone calls them, rather than fill out a form on their website.  How do you measure this?  They may have anecdotal information about the number of calls they get that come from their website, but that is not really good enough for ROI calculations.  When we get into topics like unique phone numbers and call tracking (most of which a small business does not have in place already), then the burden becomes greater.

There is a lot of promise in local search and many people forecasting it to be the future of search.  This also means it may be the future of search marketing dollars.  However, I can't in good conscious sit down with a 2 person law office and sell them the benefits of local paid search without also being realistic about the insignificant impact it will most likely have on their business.

Like I said, other services like CitySearch or SuperPages may be a better fit for them.  Unfortunately, half the time these businesses have already tried this and been turned off by the costs and poor results.

So, when is paid local search a good value?

1.  Get the tracking in place to measure it correctly.
2.  Have almost no expectations around the volume of business it will produce.
3.  Be willing to try some short term testing campaigns with a reasonable budget.
4.  Be willing to learn to manage it for yourself.

If this sounds okay, then Adwords Local may be just right for you!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Social Media and SEO Webinar by Webmarketing123

Here are my notes from this webinar I attended today. Overall, I gave the webinar a 3 out of 5 but there were some key problems with it.

SEO Benefits
1. Very high ROI (1st page = free marketing)
2. No direct cost for unqualified clicks (a big worry in PPC)
3. Stability--good sites that rank well stay ranking well.
4. A Google serp listing is essentially a trusted 3rd party endorsement.

My comment
The key here is " no direct cost". SEO normally is an indirect cost. One of my clients is spending a ton of money on a new website and one of the primary motivators is to get more benefit from SEO. That is certainly a cost, but what kind of cost? And how do you measure ROI for it? In fact, it is almost impossible to truely measure ROI for an SEO effort. The points about stability and endorsement are good ones. The issue of cost is a complicated one that is being over simplified and maybe a little mis-stated by Webmarketing123.

Social Benefits
1. Humanizes your business, creates relationships and dialogs
2. Encourages loyalty and brand trust
3. Provides a way to be responsive to concerns

Website Optimization
1. Onsite Factors:
  • Keywords in the title,
  • Keywords in the URL
  • Keywords in the visible page content. Keyword density is not as important as creating a keyword theme across several pages.
  • Keywords in your internal links.
2. Offsite Factors:
  • Keywords in the anchor text of links coming from credible websites.
My comments
This is all pretty basic SEO stuff. One thing I think they were soft on was the value of the keywords in the URL. The examples for this were of users reading the URL and understanding where the link went. Considering this section of the presentation was about SEO and algorithm influencers, using a human example was not relevant. Sure, it's nice that people will understand the URL, but how do the bots understand the URL? That is the SEO factor.

How to Twitter -- Social Media Example 1
They used Zappos as an example.

1. Use @ replies
2. Re-tweeting content is flattering to the original tweeter.
3. Include casual tweets along with your business tweets. This adds personality and makes your tweeting more interesting.
4. You don't always have to include links in your tweets, but use a lot over all.

How to Facebook -- Social Media Example 2
They used Betty Crocker as the example.

1. Wall posts engage your fans.
2. "likes" are viral because they get reposted.
3. Comments become viral because they get reposted.
4. @name references become viral because they get reposted.
5. Pictures, vids and events are more engaging and appealing than just text posts.

For B2B, Facebook offers higher qualified leads, but not high quantity like B2C might. This is a key differentiator B2B users should understand.

My Comments
Calling the Facebook spam-house "viral" seems like a stretch to me. It can be viral if it is propagated by other users, but I wouldn't say it's viral by default.

How to Linked In Groups -- Social Media Example 3
1. Discussions get the most activity
2. The News tab has updates
3. You get more comments if you make more updates.

There was a question from the audience about how to reach "C" level people (CEO, CIO, etc.) with social media. The answer was that even though these people are doing social media, you probably won't be able to reach them (what!?). Who you should shoot for are the "gate keepers" and decision influencers who can take your message to the "C" level decision makers. I really didn't find this answer helpful at all.

Tracking Social with Google Analytics
Pros -- You can see which websites refer traffic.
Cons -- Can't see what they do when they get to your website. Can't see who they are or what they are saying.

My comment
What?!? They went so fast through this section that I doubt these people have ever used Google Analytics. This analysis is completely wrong. So wrong, in fact, I'm wondering if I misunderstood what they said. I tried to go back and listen to the webinar on their website, but the link was broken. 123-Fail.

Brand Monitoring
Measuring sentiment is extremely important. Use tools to measure volume of positive and negative comments. Make sure to double check what the tool says, because tools can't recognize sarcasm.

The only tool they mentioned was www.socialmention.com, even through they were emphatic about the need to measure and monitor comments.

My comment
This section on measurement was full of emotion and emphasis but had very little substance. Also, tools don't recognize sarcasm thereby requiring you to double check their findings, how useful is that tool?

Social Helps SEO
Blogs were the main reason that social helps SEO by optimizing inbound links to your main site.

If you start your own blog, there are two ways to do it and they each have a different benefit.

blog.yourdomain.com. Using a sub-domain helps create inbound links to your main website.

yourdomain.com/blog. Using a sub-folder helps with content development.

Use social listings and your main site to own the whole 1st page for your keywords.

Real Time Search is coming and catapults social commenting into prime SERP position.

My Comment
This is a valuable thing to point out because most companies that want to start blogs have no idea about the different kinds of value a blog can represent.

My Overall Summary
This webinar was good for beginners, but lacked any real substance for people who work in this industry. The section on measurement was particularly weak to the point of being misleading. The section on SEO costs was incorrectly stated.  They did make a few good points though, and provided some good (very general) guidelines for how to use social media. In general, the relationship between social and SEO was pretty superficially stated. I rated it a 3 for basic info about social and SEO. As someone who has a special interest in measurement, it would score lower.