The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Say Cheese Please - How The Right Marketing Campaign About Lactose Intolerance Could Add $1.8 Billion To The Cheese Industry Annually


Marketing lactose free cheese in the United States.Hi. My name is Glenn Gabe and I’m lactose intolerant. That’s right, me and about 40 million other Americans. Although it’s not the worst thing that can happen to you, it’s definitely a bit of a downer. I was 32 when I figured out that I was lactose intolerant, and that’s also when I learned how much of a nuisance it was to exclude certain foods from my diet. And those foods were some of my favorite things to eat, including milk, cheese, pizza, ice cream, to just name a few. Cheese, in particular, is in so many foods and meals that you eat on a regular basis, that it’s almost impossible to avoid. Now, that’s assuming that I really do have to avoid cheese. More on that shortly.

What is Lactose Intolerance?
For those of you not that familiar with lactose intolerance, here’s a quick rundown. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. Lactase is the enzyme that your body produces to break down lactose. Lactose intolerant people don’t produce enough lactase to break down the lactose they ingest. And if it’s not broken down, it causes problems (to varying degrees). For most people the symptoms aren’t horrible, but can be more of an annoyance. Since milk is a core ingredient of cheese, you would think that cheese would cause serious problems for lactose intolerant people. Not so fast...

Cabot is Sharp (And I Mean Smart)
I was making lunch about a month ago when it happened. I’m typically stuck using some flimsy science cheese for my sandwiches or choosing from the anemic selection of lactose free cheeses available. That day my wife ended up taking out her favorite cheese, which is Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar. By the way, that’s like dangling a gourmet sandwich in front of a person that’s been stranded on an island for 5 years. :) After a quick glance at the cheese, I wiped the drool from my face and went back to my science project, I mean lunch. That was until my wife glanced at the side of the Cabot packaging. She noticed a small message on the side of the package that read “Lactose FREE”. Huh? I dropped my sandwich on the floor and ran over. Was this a mistake? Are they messing with me? I checked to make sure I wasn’t being punk’d and then I started doing some research.

Cabot's Packaging Promotes Lactose Free Cheese:
Cabot Labeling Showing Lactose Free Cheese.

After doing some searches, I couldn’t believe what I was reading… It ends up that MOST aged cheeses are lactose free. From what I gather, the aging process yields cheese with either very low amounts of lactose or 0 grams of lactose. That includes cheddar, swiss, romano, provolone, etc. Needless to say, I was ridiculously excited. I’m not sure if all the cheeses listed have 0 grams of lactose, but most have such a low amount that they cause no problems for lactose intolerant people.

Where Were The Cheese Companies?
Then it hit me…why in the world aren’t cheese companies promoting this? Is there some reason they don’t want people to buy more of their cheese? Why didn’t I know about this? And why doesn’t the greater lactose intolerant community know more about this? I know quite a few people that are lactose intolerant, and I’m convinced that few of them actually know what they can and cannot eat! While doing my research, most of the search results were to forums and question and answer sites where people like me were asking questions about lactose free foods. Almost none of the major players in cheese ranked for the topic. Finlandia did have a page about how its cheeses were naturally lactose free, which is great, but I think more needs to be done…

The Revenue Implications of Smart Marketing
I couldn’t help but think of the massive revenue impact of effectively promoting this message to targeted people. How could cheese marketers get the word out via a number of channels?

A Target Market of 40 million lactose intolerant people…
I don’t know about you, but a target market of between 30 and 50 million lactose intolerant people provides a pretty darn good opportunity. And the fact that many of those people are dying to eat the foods they once loved (like cheese) makes it even a stronger opportunity. If cheese manufacturers or the cheese industry, decided to launch a thorough marketing and education campaign, I can only think they would strike gold. Simply getting the word out that most cheeses are low in lactose, and many are lactose free, could be a windfall for the cheese industry. There’s actually nothing to sell… your target market wants to eat cheese. They just can’t eat it (or so they think). A well-crafted campaign combining TV, Viral Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Search Marketing, Blogger Outreach, etc. could be huge for the cheese industry. It could be a cheese extravaganza!

Here’s an example of how simple it could be given the desperate eating state of most lactose intolerant people are. Jim and Laura work together:

Jim: Hey Laura, you can’t eat cheese, right?
Laura: Yes, unfortunately I’m lactose intolerant… Are you rubbing it in?
Jim: No, I just saw a video on YouTube explaining that most cheeses are low in lactose and many have no lactose at all… You should check it out.
Laura: WHAT?? Get out of my way! {She tackles Jim to get at his computer, clicks play on YouTube and shoots out the door to the store to buy 16 blocks of aged cheese.}

Revenue Lift: Now That’s A Lot of Cheddar
Let’s do the math. If you reached even 25% of lactose intolerant people in the United States, and they ended up spending an additional $15 per month on cheese, then you are looking at a lift of $1.8 billion per year. That’s a lot of cheddar, pun intended. :)

40 million lactose intolerant people in the US
25% = 10 million people
10 million x $15 per month = $150 million per month
$150 million per month x 12 months = $1.8 billion per year in additional revenue

Moving Forward
If I ran marketing for a cheese company and I was looking for ways to increase revenue, I would launch a killer campaign that engages the lactose intolerant market. Why try and get a .5% lift from the people who already buy and eat cheese when you can get a much greater lift from people that are dying to eat cheese, but just THINK that they can’t.

Now that would be sharp. :)

GG

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A CM-Mess for SEM - How Content Management Systems (CMS) Can Be a Thorn in Your SEM Side


CMS-related problems for SEM.It’s widely known in the search community that CMS packages can cause serious SEO problems. These problems can sometimes be caused by the actual CMS being used or by the implementation of that CMS. There’s definitely a distinction. And to be clear, not all CMS packages or implementations cause these problems. You just need to be careful when choosing and implementing one. When you start to look at the impact from content management systems, the list of potential SEO issues can get quite long. For example, you might run into canonical issues, duplicate content, lack of content optimization, issues with flash seo, unfriendly redirects, etc. The irony is that CMS packages are supposed to make your life easier (and some definitely do), but there are times they can cause serious headaches.

But I Mentioned SEM, and Not Just SEO
Even though most of the focus has been on content management systems impacting SEO, paid search can also be affected. I’ve run into several CMS-related problems that can end up inhibiting the success of your paid search campaigns. From developing custom landing pages to accurately tracking conversion to implementing multivariate testing, content management systems can sometimes present their own obstacles (or little gremlins depending on the issue at hand). That brings me to the point of this post!

My latest blog post on Search Engine Journal (which went live today) addresses this topic and covers four categories of potential problems that content management systems can cause while running paid search. The post provides a description of each problem, recommendations for making changes, and a list of key takeaways. If you’re a search marketer that’s working with a CMS (or attempting to work with a CMS), then I recommend reading my post. :) And if you think I left out any problems, definitely feel free to post a comment below or on Search Engine Journal.

To learn more, check out my post now:
A CM-Mess for SEM – Does Your Content Management System Cause These Paid Search Problems?

GG

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Exploring AdWords Geotargeting - 4 Points About Location Targeting in Google That Are Often Misunderstood


Why many new bloggers and Twitter users get frustrated and drop off the social media grid.I receive a lot of questions from local businesses about how to best geotarget their paid search ads in Google. AdWords actually provides some robust ways to target your ads by country, region, state, city, and there is also an option for choosing a custom location to target. For example, you could create a polygon on a map to choose a very specific area to target. But just because those options are available doesn’t mean that everyone using AdWords understands how location targeting actually works. I’m going to explain four points in this blog post that seem to confuse advertisers (plus one bonus topic). My goal is to arm you with the right information about geotargeting so you can understand the best ways to structure your campaigns and drive outstanding results.

Here are four points (plus a bonus topic at the end) about location targeting in AdWords that you might not realize are in effect while prospective customers are searching for your products or services.

Query Parsing
Some advertisers are confused when they geotarget a specific location and end up seeing visitors from outside that area. I hear questions about this often. Some advertisers believe that there must have been a glitch in AdWords that showed their ads to untargeted searchers. What’s actually happening is that Google uses query parsing to detect when a search is local in nature. So, if you are geotargeting New York City, but someone in Alabama searches for New York Hotels, Google might show them your ads targeted for New York. Again, that’s even if you are targeting people only in New York. You should keep this in mind if you plan to geotarget your campaigns, but also want to reach people outside that area for specific keywords.

Query Parsing in Action
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Query parsing in AdWords.

IP Address
If Google can determine your location via IP address, then you might see ads based on that location. So if your IP address shows you are from Princeton, New Jersey, and you search for bakeries, then you might see ads for bakeries in the Princeton area. Notice that the query bakeries did not have a local qualifier (such as a city or town). Google has continually refined the way that it handles queries that it deems local in nature. You might have noticed a big change in March of 2009, when the 10 pack of local listings (now 7 pack) was triggered via non-geo keywords. Prior to that, queries with geographic qualifiers would trigger local listings (such as bakeries in Princeton, NJ). Now they can be triggered via broad terms (if Google believes it’s a local search). Keep this in mind when building your keyword lists for geotargeted campaigns.

Local Ads Based on IP
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Local ads triggered via IP Address.

Google Country-Specific Search Engines
This point relates to the Google domain you are searching on (and Google has over 100 country-specific domains). When people are searching on Google, they will see ads based on the Google domain they are using, such as google.co.uk, google.ca, google.co.jp, etc. So, if you are located in Canada, but are using Google UK, ads will be UK-focused. If you are in Japan, but you are using Google.com (US), then your ads will be targeted for the US. This is important to understand if you will be targeting people in several countries. You would want to structure your campaigns so they are extremely targeted for the locations (and languages) you are focusing on.

Google Domain Driving Ads
(Click the image below to view a larger version:)
Ads displayed based on Google domain.

Location Targeting on the Content Network
If you are running campaigns on the content network, then geotargeting does work and come into play. This essentially means that your ads will show up on sites across the content network (or via specific placements) when visitors to those sites are within your targeted locations. So, if you are targeting Washington DC and your ads show up on about.com, then your ads should only show for visitors from the Washington DC area (or on pages that Google deems local in content). The latter point is similar to query parsing when keywords are involved. For example, if you are reading information about Princeton NJ, but you are outside of the Princeton area, you might still see geotargeted ads for Princeton. Since your ads are contextually targeted on the content network, queries are not part of the targeting process (because there is no query to target). For example, visitors aren’t searching to trigger your ads across the content network. Instead, Google is analyzing the page at hand and determining if your ad matches the content on that page. Note, there’s a difference between a query and a keyword. :)

Geotargeted Ads on the Content Network
Geotargeting on the Content Network.

Bonus: A Quick Note About Local Extensions (A Form of Ad Extensions)
Wouldn’t it be valuable to include your address in your text ad when it’s extremely relevant to the person searching? That’s a leading question, isn’t it? :) Location extensions enable you to do this and they are very easy to set up. If you are a business owner with a Google Local Business Center account, then you can attach your business address to your ads. Note, your listing must be validated in Google Local Business Center for your address to show up. When you use local extensions, your business address will show up below your traditional text ad as seen in the screenshot below. If you don’t have a local business center account, then you can manually enter up to nine addresses that can be used as local extensions. Check out the AdWords help center to learn more about local extensions.

Local Extensions in Action
Query parsing in AdWords.

Be Prepared to Target
I hope this post clarified some of the nuances of geotargeting in AdWords. As a paid search advertiser, it’s important to understand how Google uses location targeting so you can build your campaigns to maximize your results. From query parsing to Google domains to IP detection, there are several factors that can trigger your ads beyond the locations that you think you’re targeting. Now aim for the bullseye and target away. :)

GG

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Announcing The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway from G-Squared Interactive


The Search a Small Business Holiday Sweepstakes from G-Squared Interactive.The holidays are always a great time to reflect upon the past year in online marketing. Looking back at 2009, it’s interesting to analyze how various companies utilized new technologies and marketing channels to increase sales and engage prospective customers. I feel fortunate to be in a position where I get to speak with many marketers from a wide range of companies (both large and small) to learn which tactics they are using to grow their businesses. I think it's been an amazing year, with Search, Social Media, and Mobile attracting a lot of attention from a wide range of companies and organizations.

However, looking back on my conversations and projects over the past year, it’s hard to ignore the lack of resources available to ultra small businesses. These small businesses unfortunately don’t have the time or budgets to tackle online marketing the way larger companies can. They also happen to be a critical component of our economy, so it just doesn’t seem right.

Ultra-Small Businesses & Online Marketing
To me, ultra small businesses are companies run by one or two individuals, employ less than ten people, generate under $500K per year in revenue, and move at light speed to keep their businesses moving. Ultra small businesses are critically important for our economy, but tend to be overshadowed by news from larger brands and companies. As article after article is written about multi-billion dollar powerhouses, the small business owner remains somewhat anonymous. Yet, those very business owners in aggregate employ millions of people and are an important part of the framework of commerce in the United States.

This got me thinking. What could I do this holiday season to help a small business start 2010 the right way? Let’s face it, many small businesses don't have the time to learn about the latest in online marketing and how to leverage those tactics to increase sales. But, just because they don’t have huge budgets and big brand names doesn’t mean they have to be left out in the cold!

The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway
So in the spirit of the holidays, I decided to launch The “Search a Small Business” Holiday Giveaway here at G-Squared Interactive. Over the next week, small businesses that meet the requirements listed below can simply send us an email to enter the contest. The winning business will receive a free online marketing audit, which includes an analysis of how their current website is performing. And more importantly, the analysis will provide recommendations for improving the website and various online marketing efforts. Insights from the analysis could include recommendations for improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Paid Search (SEM), Social Media Marketing, Website Optimization, and Web Analytics. The goal is to help the winning company quickly understand changes that can impact its business. The analysis will be performed by myself and Matt Leonard, an incredibly smart online marketer and good friend of mine that has agreed to help. For those of you on Twitter, Matt is @mjleonard and you should follow him now if you aren’t already. Together, we plan to arm a small business with key information for improving its online marketing efforts.

Please review the following requirements before entering the contest to make sure your business is eligible.

In order to be eligible, you must:
* Have less than 10 employees.
* Already have a website. Since this is an online marketing analysis, we need something to analyze. :)
* Be located less than 60 miles from Princeton, NJ and be a NJ business. This is because Matt and I will present the results to you in person at your office. I recommend you check Google Maps to see if you are eligible.
* Be willing to let us write follow-up blog posts about the giveaway and project. We would like to provide updates about how the winner is using the information provided in our analysis.
* Be willing to make changes! The analysis can only go so far. You will need to act on the recommendations in order to see an impact.

To read the official rules and regulations, please click here.

So let us help your business start off 2010 with the right online marketing strategies in place! Enter now by emailing us at smallbizmarketing@gsqinteractive.com. Be sure to include all of your contact information so we know how to get in touch with you, including your full name, business name, business address, number of employees, phone number, and website URL. We will be accepting emails for the contest from Monday, December 7th, 2009 through Monday, December 14th, 2009. We will announce the winner on December 15th on this blog (and directly contact the winner via the information they provide when entering the contest).

Happy Holidays!

Glenn Gabe and Matt Leonard

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Paid Search and Meeting Visitor Expectations, How The Right Ad, Right Offer, and Right Landing Page Can Lead to Increased Conversion in SEM


East Coast Photo meeting customer expectations in Paid Search (SEM).Leading up to the holidays, it’s only natural that paid search campaigns heat up. Companies start pumping more dollars into their campaigns knowing that people are more apt to buy. Being neck deep in paid search, I always keep and eye out for great examples of SEM. And by "great", I don’t mean ultra-elaborate (and I’ll explain more about that soon). In SEM, I think a lot of people end up paying an exorbitant amount of time on keywords and ads and not enough attention on landing pages and meeting visitor expectations. This always seems odd to me, since the goal of SEM is to not only drive targeted visitors to your site, but to convert them. Also, when companies actually do focus on landing pages, I think the tendency is to focus on the design and slickness of the page versus the functionality. Although I think that’s a natural tendency to have, it’s amazing what a well though out landing page can accomplish… And I’m not referring to slick design, beautiful imagery, or an award-winning UI. I’m simply talking about meeting visitor expectations based on what they searched for. I know, that’s a novel idea, right? :)

The Search Marketer Becomes The Consumer
This brings me to my latest SEM experience (as a consumer and not an online marketer). Since I’m the person that’s typically launching paid search campaigns, it’s always a bit strange when I become the prospective customer (AKA the searcher). This past Saturday, I found myself in buying mode. I needed a new rechargeable battery for one of my digital cameras and started searching the web for the right product, at the right price, and with the right offer. I launched Firefox and started entering searches in Google. It only took a minute or two to find a great example of how paid search should work. So I did what every Search Marketer does in this situation, I launched Photoshop and started taking screenshots! :)

Right Ad, Right Offer, Right Landing Page, and Right Price
Armed with the manufacturer and camera model, I began searching for a new battery. I saw an ad from East Coast Photo ranking third in paid search. The ad title was a perfect match for what I was searching for and the description included their offer for free shipping. That offer for free shipping was extremely important to me, since the price of the battery probably wouldn’t be more than $20. It always bothers me when shipping is almost as much as the product you are buying!

Paid Search Advertisement for the Battery I Was Looking For:
Paid Search Ad Text Using Descriptive Title and Special Offer

So I clicked through and was taken to a landing page that took me from visitor to customer in less than 30 seconds. It wasn’t beautifully designed, I wasn’t in awe of the functionality on the page, and it probably won’t win any awards (unless there’s a category for conversion at the next Webby Awards). The landing page simply made it easy for me to convert. When other sites drove me to pages that made me dig to find the right battery, East Coast Photo made it simple. I think everyone with an electronic gadget has been in a frustrating situation when trying to buy parts. There are so many models and you don’t want to choose the wrong one. If you’re off by even one character in the model name, you could end up with a battery that won’t work, and more importantly, you’ve wasted valuable time.

The East Cost Photo Landing Page
What made the landing page so good? East Coast Photo sent me to a pre-populated version of their battery finder (with the correct manufacturer and model already selected). Underneath the battery finder, there was a photo of my camera and a product listing for the battery I was looking for. It was so simple, yet so powerful. Since I was able to see the selection of my camera in the battery finder, I knew this was the right part for my needs. And even if it wasn’t, I could easily use the battery finder to locate the right part. Brilliant. The price was right and they were offering free shipping (like I was looking for). So, I immediately added two batteries to my cart and started the checkout process.

Was it sexy? No. Was it efficient? You bet. Did I find what I needed in less than 30 seconds? Yes. And are other people going through the same process right now as you read this blog post? Absolutely.

Paid Search Landing Page With Pre-Populated Battery Finder:
Tailored and Effective Paid Search Landing Page by East Coast Photo

What About the Competition?
Upon clicking other paid search advertisements, I was sent to product pages without knowing if the products being displayed were the right ones for my camera. I was also dropped on holiday sales pages without any battery listings, and I was dropped on generic “camera battery” pages. Dropping me on product pages would be ok if I knew those pages contained the exact product I was looking for. Unfortunately, there was no sign that it was the right product… Dropping me on a holiday sales page is a waste of money for advertisers, given my specific search. And, the generic “camera battery” page was a complete waste of money for the advertiser and even looked a little suspicious… Remember, I entered a specific manufacturer and model along with the keyword battery. If someone enters that query, then they aren’t looking for a holiday sales page or a generic camera battery page… They want that product and fast.

Key SEM Learnings From This Example:

1. Keep it Simple and Meet Visitor Expectations
If someone is looking for a specific part or product, make sure you take them to a page holding that product or part (with confirmation that’s it the right product for their needs). I know that sounds overly simple, but it doesn’t happen often enough in paid search. Think about the difference in conversion by sending someone to a page that holds the product they are looking for (and with additional signals that it’s the right product). East Coast Photo provided a photo of my camera and a pre-populated version of their battery finder, based on my query. It took me less than 30 seconds to see that this was the right battery for me. I also ended up adding two batteries, which is something I probably wouldn’t have done unless I knew I was getting exactly what I needed.

2. Be Specific in Your Ad Text and Include Special Offers
You don’t need to be an award-winning copywriter to craft an advertisement that converts well. But you should be as specific as possible. If you take the time to set up paid search for specific products, then make sure you add the product names in your ad text. I searched for a particular manufacturer and camera model and the ad I clicked on had that manufacturer and model in the ad’s title. In addition, I was specifically looking for free shipping, and the ad provided that in the description. If you are providing special offers, then make sure it’s in the ad text. I’m not sure I would have clicked through so fast if East Coast Photo didn’t have their offer listed in the advertisement.

3. Take Prospective Customers As Far As You Can Into the Process of Finding What They Need
In my opinion, there are too many companies dropping paid search visitors off on their homepages, category pages, and deal pages when they are searching for specific products. If someone searches for a specific product, take them to that product, and make sure they know it’s the right one (as mentioned above). The web provides a unique opportunity for e-commerce merchants. They can leverage intelligence and functionality to provide a user experience that’s unrivaled in the offline world. Use that power to take prospective customers as far into the process of finding what they need as possible. For example, East Coast Photo leveraged their battery finder to pre-populate the tool with the manufacturer and model that I searched for on Google. I can tell you that their extra effort led to me converting quickly on their site. Think about the functionality you already have on your site and how it can be used in conjunction with your marketing campaigns. And don't just think about search engine marketing…think about email, display advertising, social media marketing, etc.

“Wrapping Up” this post – hey, it is the holiday season! :)
If you are running paid search for your business, then think about the entire process that prospective customers go through when clicking your ads and visiting your site. Are your search advertisements strong enough? Do they clearly explain the products and offers you have? And does your landing page meet their expectations? Creating tailored and effective landing pages doesn’t require award-winning designers and developers. You just simply need to think about what people are looking for and provide that information in an easy to use format. If you do that, then you have a much greater chance at converting browsers into buyers. You never know, it could be as easy as providing a battery finder.

GG

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Invalid Clicks and Click Fraud in Local Search Marketing (SEM) - Giving a Whole New Meaning to the Term HyperLocal


The Impact of Click Fraud on Local AdvertisersI’m currently helping several businesses focused on local advertising with both SEO and SEM (Paid Search, PPC). Depending on the industry and market, Local PPC can be both extremely competitive and pricey. Of course, the upside is capturing those highly targeted clicks and turning them into paying customers, which could yield hundreds or thousands of dollars per conversion. When the difference between page one and page two could be significant amounts of revenue, the companies vying to gain those clicks can become hyper-competitive (and that’s an understatement). I’ve heard stories about some companies incorporating clicking through competitor ads as part of their morning routine… That’s not cool, but very real for the industry and market they are located in.

Based on what I just explained above about, the dark side of paid search ends up rearing its ugly head for some local businesses. In highly competitive industries, and in highly competitive markets, click fraud can run rampant. The thought process is simple (and unethical). Eat up your competitor’s budget so you have more of an opportunity to catch highly targeted clicks. As mentioned above, those highly targeted clicks could yield thousands of dollars per day from new customers (depending on the industry).

I think a lot of people have heard about click fraud, but few have actually explored the problem and how it’s affecting their campaigns. For many local businesses attempting to land the ultra-targeted, “ready to buy” customer, click fraud can be a real click, I mean thorn, in their side. That's not good for anyone involved (including Google and the other search engines).

How Big of a Problem is Click Fraud?
So how much of a problem is click fraud for local businesses? It depends on the industry and market, but I’ve seen click fraud rates as high as 35%. Click Forensics publishes the Click Fraud Index and found that the industry average for Q3 2009 was 14.1%. That’s definitely high, but the abnormally high click fraud rates for local search give a whole new meaning to the term hyperlocal. :) Click fraud rates that high can make a serious dent in your budget, put a strain on ROI for your paid search campaigns, and can end up intensifying the overall click fraud problem (increasing the amount of click fraud as some business owners retaliate). So yes, click fraud is a big problem (and can be especially fierce in local advertising).

Defining Click Fraud:
For those of you not that familiar with click fraud, I’ll provide a quick rundown. There are actually several types of click fraud (and reasons for committing it), but I’ll focus on the act of attempting to deplete a competitor’s paid search budget by clicking on their paid search advertisements. And of course there is no intention of taking action on the competitor’s website once clicking through. In a nutshell, it’s Business A clicking on Business B’s ads in order to deplete Business B’s daily budget. Also note that it doesn’t have to be in the form of repetitive clicks from one location. Business A might hire other people or companies to help click on competitor ads (which can be accomplished via click farms, bots, etc.) You can read more about click fraud in Google’s Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center.

Google and Invalid Clicks
Many local businesses running paid search have no idea that Google actually provides statistics on the “invalid clicks” they catch. And by the way, “invalid” is a nice way of saying “click fraud.” :) Google provides some great reporting functionality as part of AdWords and I think too many companies (especially small businesses that are moving at light speed) never tap into the reporting to track campaign performance.

To access the reporting interface in AdWords, you can click the Reporting Tab, and then Reports. Then you can Create a New Report and choose to run a Campaign Performance Report. As part of setting up this report, you can click Add or Remove Columns to customize the report. Then you can click the checkboxes for Invalid Clicks and Invalid Click Rate to view the statistics at an account or campaign level. Depending on your line of business and where you are located, you might be surprised at how many invalid clicks were recorded for your campaigns…

Accessing AdWords Reporting Functionality:
Creating a new report in Google AdWords

Running An Invalid Clicks Report:
Running an invalid clicks report in Google AdWords


What is an Invalid Click?
Google’s system is continually analyzing clicks and looking for patterns that may be fraudulent. For example, clicks from the same IP address, duplicate clicks, clicks from “known sources of invalid activity”, etc. You can read more about how Google calculates invalid clicks in AdWords help. The system is essentially looking for any type of suspicious activity.

Local Showing a Higher Rate of Click Fraud:
Based on running invalid click reports for a wide range of clients, I typically see a much higher percentage of invalid clicks for companies focused on local search. How much higher? Well, comparing invalid click rates across industries, I’ve seen local-centric clients receive 4X to 5X the percentage of invalid clicks. That’s a lot of clicks, and more importantly, a lot of potential money at risk. Now you might be asking, “Glenn, if Google catches the invalid clicks, then the companies shouldn’t get charged, right?” True, but that’s only for what Google catches… Their system isn’t flawless (especially because well-crafted click fraud is nearly impossible to identify). That’s just an unfortunate reality. So, if you see a 20% invalid click rate, it just might be 30-35%.

The Impact on Budget
Let’s add a monetary value to the click fraud problem I mentioned above. In some industries, local businesses are paying $20-$30 per click (yes, you read that correctly). For argument’s sake, let’s say you receive 100 clicks per day at $20 per click. If Google picks up a 20% invalid click rate, and we estimate that it’s really 30% (just for this example), then there is 10% still getting past Google’s filters. So, the 100 clicks coming through are “actual clicks” according to Google (since it won’t charge you for the invalid clicks, or the 20% it caught). Out of the 100 actual clicks that you are being charged for, the 10% of invalid clicks that slip through equate to 10 clicks at $20 per click (or $200 per day). Over a month, that’s over $6000 per month potentially wasted. For many small businesses, that may be too much to overcome. And that’s exactly what the people committing click fraud want to happen. They want to push competitors to the point of quitting AdWords (and paid search in general), which leaves the fraudsters in control of the paid listings. Needless to say, this isn’t good for the paid search industry, the local businesses getting hit by fraud, and of course Google (since Google makes a majority of its money from paid search).

What Can Local Businesses Do About It?
Although click fraud is a big problem, and one that’s hard to overcome, there are some things you can do to stay on top of the problem. I’ve provided a list of recommendations below to help you stay informed, track your clicks, and potentially fight click fraud. The more you understand what’s going on, the more you can develop a strategy for documenting and combating the problem.

Here’s what you can do:

1. Run invalid click reports on a regular basis. This will help you understand how many invalid clicks are occurring, if they spike during certain times, and which campaigns they are impacting. You can also speak with your Google rep (or any rep at AdWords) about the problem, based on the data you collect.

2. Break up your campaigns logically. You can run invalid click reports on an account or campaign level (but not ad group). If you lump all of your ad groups into one campaign, you won’t get as clear of a picture of the click fraud problem impacting your business.

3. Analyze your log files to determine problematic IP’s. Unfortunately, Google isn’t going to provide details about the invalid clicks they find. They will just show you a total number and not reveal who is committing the click fraud. I think that’s unfortunate, but it’s just the way it is right now. But, you can get in touch with your hosting provider (or your IT department) to analyze your server logs. If you competitor is clicking from a specific IP (like their office down the block from you), you might be able to pick it up. Then work with Google and your lawyer on next steps.

4. There are third party solutions that can help you track and identify click fraud. If you believe that your business is the victim of severe click fraud, you might want to go down this path. For example, Click Forensics (which also publishes The Click Fraud Index mentioned earlier) provides services for ad networks, publishers, agencies, and advertisers. There are also several other solutions for tracking fraudulent clicks that are relatively easy to set up. Do some research and demo the various solutions. They could end up saving you a lot of money.

5. Get familiar with Google’s Ad Traffic Quality Resource Center. There’s some good information about click fraud in the center, including an overview of the problem, key definitions, a help center, ways to contact Google’s quality team, etc.

6. Don’t participate in click fraud. Although it should be obvious, contributing to the overall click fraud problem isn’t going to help anything. You should focus your time and attention on running ethical and ROI-driven paid search campaigns and then deal with click fraud legally. Work with Google, your IT staff, your hosting provider, third party solutions for tracking click fraud, and your lawyer in determining the best path to take.

Not All Clicks Are Created Equal
Is click fraud a problem for local businesses? You bet. But you don’t have to sit there in the dark as your competitors click your ads. You should educate yourself about click fraud, stay vigilant, remain white hat (ethical), and analyze the situation to the best of your ability.

As mentioned earlier, Click Forensics says the industry click fraud rate was 14.1% in Q3 of 2009. As a business owner focused on local advertising, you need to decide if you’re ok with that number... Is click fraud just part of doing business in Local PPC or should you fight to save your budget (and the potential customers that would come from that budget?) Like I said earlier, local click fraud gives a whole new meaning to the term Hyperlocal.

GG

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Monday, November 09, 2009

FaceYahoogle – The Impact of Facebook, Yahoo, and Google on Website Traffic


The Power of Google, Yahoo, and Facebook on Site Traffic
It’s hard to get through a conversation about online marketing right now without bringing up Google, Facebook, and Yahoo (among other popular companies). However, if you’re not heavily involved in online marketing, and you’re not close to the actual referring traffic numbers from Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, then their influence can easily become nebulous. It’s easy to say, “Google is a powerhouse” or “Facebook has 325 million members”, and “You need to be there”, but how powerful are they really?

From a traffic perspective, the three companies are so powerful that I’ve given them their own combined name, or FaceYahoogle. The power of FaceYahoogle ends up becoming very real for my clients after I complete a competitive analysis (which includes identifying major sources of traffic for their company, as well as their competitors). The numbers I present across websites typically show extremely high referral data from FaceYahoogle, and by viewing the actual traffic numbers, you start to get a feel for how much impact the three entities have traffic-wise and potentially revenue-wise.

Digging Deeper into FaceYahoogle
If you’ve read previous posts of mine, then you already know that I’m a big believer in using data versus opinion to make decisions. The power of analytics in online marketing enables you to see granular performance data across a number of key metrics. And the more websites I analyze, the more I see a significant trend across industry categories. I see FaceYahoogle sending large amounts of traffic to a wide range of sites. The abnormally high percentage of traffic coming from Google, Yahoo, and Facebook is not only amazing to see, it’s actually scary. With thousands and thousands of potential referring sites on the web, to see FaceYahoogle send that high of a percentage of traffic is alarming. I think you begin understand how Google built up a $22 billion war chest! :)

I think many people would suspect Google being high on the referring sites list, based on having ~70% market share in search and also having Gmail, Google Maps, Google Docs, etc. However, I’m not sure many know how much actual traffic is coming from Googleland. Also, we hear that Facebook has over 300 million members, which is powerful, but are those members visiting your site via the social network? I’ll answer that question below via screenshots. And then you have Yahoo, with turmoil somewhat cloaking the power of its sites. How much traffic actually comes from Yahoo Search, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo News, Finance, Answers, etc?

So that’s my quick introduction to FaceYahoogle. Now let’s take a look at some numbers! I have provided Compete data (September 09) for a number of popular websites across a range of categories so you can view their referring sources. Note, I know Compete isn’t perfect, but it does provide a wealth of information to analyze for each website (especially for sites that receive large amounts of traffic).

Referring Sites for NYTimes.com
31% from FaceYahoogle (and 17% from Google alone…)

Referring Sources for The New York Times

Referring Sites for LinkedIn
36% from FaceYahoogle, and over 8% from Facebook.

Referring Sources for LinkedIn

Referring Sites for Weather.com
24% from FaceYahoogle

Referring Sources for Weather.com

Referring Sites for JCrew
31% from FaceYahoogle

Referring Sources for JCrew

Referring Sites for The Huffington Post
33% from FaceYahoogle (and almost 8% from Facebook)

Referring Sources for The Huffington Post

Referring Sites for Yelp
A whopping 55% from FaceYahoogle (and 43% of that from Google!)

Referring Sources for Yelp

Referring Sites for ESPN
25% from FaceYahoogle (and nearly 10% from Facebook)

Referring Sources for ESPN

Referring Sites for Amazon.com
25% from FaceYahoogle (cha-ching…)

Referring Sources for Amazon.com

Referring Sites for Apple.com
28% from FaceYahoogle

Referring Sources for Apple.com

Let’s throw in a military site to see how the 3 headed monster works here:
Referring Sites for AirForce.com
Over 40% of referring traffic from FaceYahoogle

Referring Sources for The US Airforce

The screenshots above make it a little more tangible, right? FaceYahoogle is accounting for 40%+ of referring traffic for some websites. If you analyze website traffic often, then you know how insane those numbers are… But that’s not the whole story. The downstream data is important too. It ends up that a large percentage of traffic from these websites is going back to FaceYahoogle. Let’s take a look at just a few from above.

Downstream Data for Apple.com
26% of visitors leave Apple.com and go back to FaceYahoogle

Downstream Traffic from Apple.com

Downstream Data for AirForce.com
31% of visitors leave Apple.com and go back to FaceYahoogle

Downstream Traffic from AirForce.com

I saw the same trend across the other sites.

So, FaceYahoogle is driving enormous amount of traffic, but it’s also the top recipient of traffic from many sites. In particular, Facebook provides some unique opportunities with regard to downstream traffic. Give your visitors something to take back and you can possibly end up with even more traffic (WOM-based or possibly viral-based). And with some Google and Yahoo traffic going to back to Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Answers, etc., you also have opportunities for spreading the word about your products, company, brand, etc. Let’s quickly take a closer look at each part of FaceYahoogle below.

Google
As you can see, Google is an absolute powerhouse, even showing 43% of Yelp's overall referring traffic. That’s outrageous! And it’s not just any traffic, right? Many of the visitors from Google just searched for specific products or services that each site provides (AKA, high quality visitors). Imagine the revenue impact of Google traffic for those sites. In case you are wondering, Google traffic numbers include Search, Maps, Mail, Docs, Video, etc.

Seeing the high percentages from Google across sites, you can start to understand why SEO and SEM have been incredibly hot in online marketing… Some companies survive based on Google traffic alone (via paid and organic search traffic). A slip in rankings can be catastrophic for some websites, with the potential of impacting millions of dollars of revenue. Think about it. If you have 40% of your traffic coming from Google and slip to page two, three, or beyond, you will lose many targeted visitors, and the money they would have spent on your site. So is Google powerful? You bet it is. The numbers combined with my experience tell me so. :)

Facebook
Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years and is estimated to have 325 million members now. Clearly people are signing up in droves, using the platform at a staggering pace (104 billion pageviews based on Compete September 09), and oh yeah, they are visiting websites from Facebook. As you can see in the screenshots above, Facebook ranks in the top five referring sites for many of the properties I checked. Actually, it was typically in the top three. And in case you’re wondering, Twitter is moving up the charts too. Depending on the focus on the site in question, I see Twitter sending large amounts of traffic (and that doesn't count desktop clients which many Twitter members use). On that note, to read an example of how Twitter can impact exposure, traffic, and subsequent SEO power, check out my post about the Twitter effect on SEO. It’s a great example of how Search works with Social.

So, if your company is ignoring social media, then go back through the screenshots above and take note of the percentage of referring traffic from Facebook again. In meetings, I find myself saying more and more that if you ignore social media (and especially Facebook and Twitter), do so at your own risk. Again, the numbers are pretty convincing.

Yahoo
Although Yahoo has taken a back seat recently, the numbers are still strong from a referring source perspective. Between Yahoo Search, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Answers, Yahoo News, Finance, etc. there are still millions of people visiting each property per month. And yes, those sites end up as top referring sources (impacting traffic, sales, sign-ups, twitter followers, Facebook fans, etc.) Yahoo consistently showed up in the top five referring sites, and often number one or two. Don’t count out Yahoo just yet. If you do, you’d be dismissing a huge traffic source (when you take all of their properties into account).

The Future of FaceYahoogle
I’m sure you are wondering which sites will be the major sources of traffic in 2010 and beyond? Will Twitter beat out Facebook, will Bing surpass Google, will Yahoo be non-existent? The beauty of the web (and technology) is that we never know. But the data does tell us something… don’t ignore Search and Social, and how they can work together.

People are searching and people are talking. And the people that are talking can impact how people that are searching find your website. And people searching can lead to sharing on social networks, based on what they find. Look at the numbers again. Don’t discount Facebook because you think people are tagging photos or playing games all day. You also shouldn’t disregard Google’s dominance. It is too powerful to ignore. And Yahoo isn’t dead yet. There are millions of people visiting Yahoo Sites on a regular basis.

Last, to emphasize that we never really know what will take off, I have provided Twitter’s trending below (Compete data over the past 24 months). I bet many people don’t even know that it was around in 2006 and 2007… and that it crept along until 2008 when it gained serious traction. So, is the next Twitter out there right now slowly growing and about to gain traction? Good question. :)

Click the image to view a larger version:
Twitter Trending 24 Months

GG

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Sunday, March 08, 2009

SES NY Series: Advanced Keyword Research for SEO and SEM, An Interview with Frederick Vallaeys from Google


The importance of advanced keyword research.Keyword research is a critical component to any search marketing initiative (for both SEO and SEM). Although most search marketers understand the importance of keyword research, many people outside of Search are not extremely familiar with the concept or the various tools at your disposal. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t perform extensive keyword research, you run the risk of missing key opportunities. Actually, you could end up basing your campaigns on guesswork and intuition versus actual data. Needless to say, that’s not a good thing.

I've written previous posts about the importance of keyword research, the power of the long tail, and how to get the most out of Keyword Discovery, and I always like to speak with other search marketers to share ideas. There's always something new you can learn (and then use immediately in your campaigns).

Why is keyword research so important?
In both paid and organic search, if you don’t target what people are actually searching for, you’re going to have a hard time succeeding. For example, if you target infant bedding, but people are searching for baby bedding, will they find you? If you target notebooks, but people are searching for laptops, will they end up finding your computers? Imagine you just launched a major SEO initiative and you spent a lot of time and resources optimizing your website…but for the wrong keywords. Will that yield adequate results? Will it yield ANY results? And beyond just finding the right keywords, you need to analyze how competitive those keywords are, how much they cost, and if you actually have supporting content. i.e. Are you providing answers to questions about your category, products, services, etc?

So if you can’t tell yet, I think keyword research if pretty darn important. :)

SES NY Session: Advanced Keyword Research
Frederick Vallaeys from Google.Based on what I wrote above, it should be no surprise that I’m very interested in the session at SES NY that covers Advanced Keyword Research. In order to find out more about the session, I decided to ask Frederick Vallaeys from Google about what he will be covering during the session. Frederick is Google’s AdWords Evangelist and he helps advertisers better understand which Google products can help them achieve their marketing goals. After interviewing Frederick, it was easy to tell that he is passionate about helping people maximize their AdWords campaigns! If you will be attending SES NY, the session will be held on Thursday, March 26th from 10:30 to 11:45. You can read more about the session on the SES NY website.

So without further ado, here is my interview with Frederick:

Glenn: What are some of the key points that people will learn at your session?

Frederick: The session should be fast-paced with myself and 5 other panelists. I will try to share as many ideas as possible for finding new keywords with Google tools like Insights for Search and the Search-based keyword tool and I'll also share some thoughts about how our different keyword matching options can be put to work for advertisers.

Glenn: I come across many marketers that aren’t familiar with keyword research, let alone how to organize the data, use it when building their content, landing pages, ads, etc. Will you be providing an overview of why keyword research is important and how it should be used in both organic search and paid search? Also, will you cover the core differences between using keyword research for paid search versus organic search?

Frederick: I won't go into keyword research for organic listings but you're right that there are different tools and methodologies for researching keywords for paid search. Users simply have different expectations for paid and organic listings. Google and Compete did a study in September 2008 with retail advertisers that showed that paid listings were up to 50% more likely to convert than organic listings. Selecting highly targeted keywords is a big component of driving conversions and because you're paying per click, you want to ensure your keywords attract the right type of users.

Glenn: With Quality Score becoming more and more important in Paid Search, will you explain how to use the keywords that you are targeting to achieve a stronger QS?

Frederick: I'll touch on a few best practices about Quality Score but I'm also doing an entire session on this topic at 2:15pm so I recommend you attend that one if you can. The gist of it is that ads should be useful information and if you choose highly targeted and relevant keywords, users will like your ad and this will help establish good Quality Score which in turn will improve your rank and decrease your cost.

Glenn: Will you be explaining advanced matching options? I know there is a lot of confusion with what they are, how to best use them, etc. (especially negative keywords…)

Frederick: Our keyword matching options are one of the most powerful ways of ensuring your ad reaches the right audience so I'll definitely touch on this. With negative keywords, you can tell Google which queries not to show your ad for and when you combine this with broad matched keywords, it's a great way to maximize your clicks while ensuring a high conversion rate.

Glenn: The long tail is incredibly important and powerful. Will you explain how to target long tail keywords, which can ultimately yield more targeted visitors from organic search and a lower CPC and a higher ROI from Paid Search? I think too many companies initially target just a few head terms, and completely miss the power of the long tail.

Frederick: Long tail keywords are extremely important when you consider that 1 in 5 queries on Google has not been seen in the past 90 days, if ever. Users search for keywords that are so diverse that any marketer would have a tough time predicting all the variations. Fortunately, Google's broad match keywords automatically capture any tail terms that are relevant to your ad. When you add them all up, queries that were captured with broad matches deliver roughly a third of all conversions for our advertisers.

Glenn: I’m sure you will be covering the Google Keyword Tool. :) Will you be explaining some advanced features and ways to maximize its use? If so, can you list some of the features you will cover?

Frederick: We have a brand new search-based keyword tool that generates a list of relevant historical Google.com search queries for which a particular site has no ad presence. For each keyword, it also suggests a landing page, bid, and ad group. It's a really great way to find missed opportunities in your existing campaigns. You can try the tool at http://www.google.com/sktool

Glenn: Analytics is obviously extremely important for tracking both organic search and paid search at a granular level. Will you be explaining how to glean insights from your reporting in order to target the right keywords?

Frederick: Analytics has a tremendous amount of data you can apply to your paid search campaigns. For example, you could use the "Keywords" report or the "Site Search" report to learn which keywords drive traffic to your site and what people search for once they're on your site. Combine that with data about conversions and you've got a powerful new source of potential keywords for your account.

Glenn: For Paid Search, will you be explaining how to estimate the cost for keywords and campaigns, once you have completed keyword research? I know the Traffic Estimator tool can be helpful in this situation… I’ve found that many marketers don’t know how much to spend on paid search, how much their initial budget should be, how to calculate that, and then what to do once their campaigns are running.

Frederick: Unfortunately I probably won't have time to cover this in my session but I'm happy to share some of my thoughts here. Because paid search is so measurable, we really hope that advertisers will analyze their results and tweak their targeting and other settings to ensure they are meeting their ROI goals. If you can show a positive ROI from placing paid ads on search, there should be no reason not to spend as much money on this as possible. Instead of thinking about paid ads as money that goes into a black hole, think about it as a cost of sales and use it to drive as many profitable conversions as you can possibly handle.

We have some tools and reports that provide guidance about how much potential traffic you could get and you can estimate your potential conversions from this. And once you've maxed out on search advertising, look for the next big opportunity such as ads on the content network or ads on new formats like mobile or video.

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To quickly summarize, there are many important aspects to consider while researching keywords to use in your campaigns. That includes using various tools and software to perform keyword research, estimating traffic, understanding the potential cost, increasing your quality score, conversion, and ultimately your ROI. To learn more about the Advanced Keyword Research session at SES, definitely check out the session details on the SES NY website. I’ll be attending the session and tweeting key points as they come up! I’ll also be recapping each day at SES NY here on my blog.

Are you new to keyword research and confused with where to start? Post your comments below. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

GG

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

SES NY Series: Key Points in Launching a Global Website and International SEO, My Interview with Motoko Hunt from AJPR


Global website strategy and international SEO.As companies start to develop global digital strategies, they begin to face new challenges and obstacles. This is often uncharted territory for many people. Sure, US-based online marketers feel comfortable when targeting US consumers, but what if they had to suddenly target consumers in Japan, England, France, or China? Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to assist several large companies and brands with building global website strategies, including international SEO. I have found that there is a lot of confusion with how to target multiple countries, as well as how to rank across country-specific search engines. Actually, I’ve spoken with several companies that were going down the wrong path...

Globalizing your website might sound easy at first, but unfortunately, it’s not as simple as setting up additional domains, pushing your content to local markets, and then ranking across country-specific search engines. And if you’re thinking about keeping just one website that will target multiple countries, you have another set of problems to deal with. There are several key items you need to work through before you can have a successful global presence.

Global Obstacles and International SEO
From an SEO perspective, you need to address several factors, such as performing keyword research across various languages, addressing cultural issues, understanding top search engines in other countries (yes, Google is not the top engine in every country), and how to adapt to unique market trends. You need to understand the optimal technical setup for your global website, including hosting, ccTLD’s, geotargeting, localized inbound links, etc. Actually, to understand more of the challenges that search marketers face, you should visit some country-specific search engines and start entering your queries. Chances are you will see some interesting results, to say the least. :)

SES NY Session: Key Points in Launching a Global Website
So, when I was reviewing the agenda for SES NY and saw a session about Key Points in Launching a Global Website, I was all over it! Since I know there are a lot of questions about global website strategy and international SEO, I decided to interview one of the panelists to find out more about the session. I tracked down Motoko Hunt, Founder and Search Marketing Strategist of AJPR. Motoko is a seasoned search marketer focused on helping clients enter the Japanese market. She has a thorough understanding of Asia and has helped some of the world’s top brands with their search marketing initiatives. By the way, the session is on Tuesday, March 24th at 11:45 in case you’ll be at SES NY.

Motoko was nice enough to answer some of my questions and I have included my interview with her below. Definitely feel free to post your comments after reading the interview. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Glenn: What are the top 4 or 5 things people will learn at your session?

Motoko: People will learn some important points that will help them better prepare for launching a global website. Often times, people experience these issues during or after the global website has been completed, and wish they'd known that at the beginning. Research indicates more companies will launch or relaunch global websites in 2009. I believe this session will have something for everyone, from agencies to in-house marketers, from small to large-sized corporations.

Some of the key issues I'll cover are:
- Language and cultural issues
- Geographical issues
- Cross-border management issues
- Leveraging standardized templates to develop global websites

Glenn: What trends are you seeing with regard to how clients and companies are approaching international SEO? For example, when clients begin speaking with you, what are you hearing, are they going down the wrong path, is there confusion, etc?

Motoko: Since most of my clients are in the US and Europe, the decisions often times come down from the HQ in Western market to receiving ends in Asia. I see that one of the biggest challenges is how to carry out the project that was planned by the HQ and dictated to each local market. The size of in-house teams in local markets are usually much smaller than what they have at the HQ. Also, they usually have less understanding of SEO, or have different challenges in doing SEO like different target search engines and different search user behavior.

I hear loud and clear that local teams are struggling to keep up with the globalization projects sent down from HQ, while trying to create and maintain the site that "works" for local markets. The companies who give some room for local teams to adopt the local trends seem to have greater success with their globalized website.

Glenn: What are a few core things you want people to know about launching a global website (or multiple websites targeting specific countries)?

Motoko: During my presentation, I'll try and identify the top issues. Some address the technical issues such as keyword research and content localization, CMS, hosting and geo issues. Some countries may have unique regulations about the products you can sell online, or keywords you can bid on. Some are the organizational issues such as manpower, budget, project management and education.

When companies consider "globalizing" their website, some of the benefits they expect to see include cost and time savings. However, by not taking these issues into consideration before they kick-off the globalization project, it ends up taking more time and costing more money.

Glenn: Are you going to touch upon some of the technical items that marketers should address for global SEO, like ccTLD’s, Google Webmaster Tools (geo targeting), inbound links, hosting, duplicate content, etc?

Motoko: These technical issues are often overlooked or unnoticed until it causes some problems after the website launches. I'd like to cover as much as I can within the given time limit. ;-)

Glenn: Should companies just focus on Google or understand more of the global search landscape? (OK, that was a leading question!) I know many marketers in the US understand that Google is dominant here, but there are a lot of people that don’t know the leading search engines in other countries. i.e. Yahoo Japan, Naver in Korea, Yandex in Russia, etc.

Motoko: You know, they shouldn't just focus on Google. Unless of course their "globalization" target markets are limited to those where Google is the dominant engine. When globalizing a website, you need to know each market you'd like to target to determine what types of adjustments are required. If you have an in-house team in a local market, talk to them, use their knowledge, and let them add what is needed to succeed in that market. If you are going to hire an agency, make sure that the agency really knows the market. Having native staff is a huge plus. You want to work with someone with globalization experience, and someone that understands the culture, including how consumers behave and how business is conducted there.

Glenn: I think keyword research is a big issue, including translation. Several tools only focus on certain languages and countries. What are you going to cover that will help people go down the right path? Also, once they find the right keywords and content, what’s the best way to have that content translated?

Motoko: Keywords are the starting point for both SEO and PPC campaigns. If you use the wrong keywords, the entire SEO program and PPC campaigns would fail. Simply translating keywords for other markets never works well. I'll talk about the process of keyword research that has worked really well for my clients. The content should not be simply translated, but localized for each market. I'm sure you understand that the translation tools are not perfect. In fact, they are far from perfect when it comes to Asian languages. You should invest in editing the content by an in-house team or local professionals. You'd want to avoid giving the impression that you are just pushing US-centric services to other markets, which will be viewed as you don't value the market enough to take it seriously.

Glenn: Are there any case studies you are going to provide (along with statistics) for companies that have successfully launched global websites or that are having success with international SEO?

Motoko: I've just finished a case study with Autodesk's Japan team. Maura Ginty will share the results of the case study in her presentation. Also, I will share some of the feedback I received from a client's in-house team in an Asian market about their globalization projects.

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As you can see from Motoko’s answers, launching a global website is no easy feat. :) To learn more about Motoko’s session at SES NY, check out the session details on the SES NY website. The session is being held on Tuesday, March 24th at 11:45 and is part of the Search and the Future Track. As you would guess, I’ll be attending the session and tweeting from the conference. I’ll also be recapping each day at SES NY here on my blog.

Are you launching a global website or focusing on international SEO? Definitely post your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

GG

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Using Keyword Discovery for Keyword Research, Some Commonly Overlooked Features and Functionality


Commonly Overlooked Features in Keyword Discovery.If you’ve read any of my posts about SEO or SEM, then you probably know how strongly I feel about keyword research. I believe performing extensive keyword research is critical to understanding what people are actually searching for versus what you think they are searching for. Opinions are nice, but you should always try and back your decisions with real data (at least as much as possible). In case you are interested in learning more about Keyword Research, you can read my blog post about using Keyword Discovery and WordTracker. I’m a fan of both tools, but I must admit that I’m a bigger fan of Keyword Discovery (KD). Actually, I couldn’t imagine focusing on Search and not having KD by my side. But something hit me about a month ago…I was overlooking some of the outstanding functionality included in Keyword Discovery. Actually, based on my conversations with other marketers, I believe many aren’t using all of the power of Keyword Discovery… So I’m going to help you (and them) by identifying some of the functionality that might be easily overlooked. Let’s get started.

Global Premium Database, Historical View (Past 24 Months)
Keyword Discovery enables you to choose various databases to tap into while performing keyword research. Their Global Premium database holds a few billion searches, looking back 12 months. But, did you know you could actually look back 24 months? Yes, you can and it’s simple to do. Just click the checkbox for “Historical” while searching for keywords.

Historical Keyword Research (24 months) in Keyword Discovery

Why would you want to search historical data?
Depending on the keywords you are researching, there are times you would definitely want to see back past a year. There might have been specific things happening in the past 12 months that would skew your data (think about a presidential election) or a new movie that comes out.

X-Ref (Cross Reference Tool)
I love this tool. Let’s say you are researching a prospective client’s website and want to check a competitor’s site for the keyword set you just searched for. Easy, just click the x-ref tab and Keyword Discovery will prompt you for a URL. Enter a competitor’s URL (the exact page you want to check) and KD will display how many times those keywords show up in the title tag, meta keywords, meta description, and in the page copy on your competitor’s webpage. Keep in mind, the cross reference tool will check at the page level and not at the domain level. This is important…you wouldn’t want to run back to your client and show them one page’s data thinking it was for the entire site. However, it’s a great way to check other pages that rank highly for the terms you are targeting.

For example, let’s enter the keyword “Halloween” and cross reference BuyCostumes.com (my favorite online Halloween shop). Keyword Discovery returns the following results for the homepage:

Click the image below to see a larger version:
Using x-ref to cross reference another webpage in Keyword Discovery.

Permutations
There are times where you want to see the volume for several keywords working together, but ordered in a different sequence. This tool will enable you to target your selected terms (only those terms) and show you all the permutations in the database. This can help you decide which permutations to target (based on the volume of searches you find). To use the tool, simply enter the keywords you want to target, separated by commas.i.e. keyword1,keyword2,keyword3

For example, let’s enter apple,nano,video:
Viewing all permutations for a set of keywords in Keyword Discovery.

Language Translation:
There are times you will be targeting languages other than English. Well, if you are setting up projects in Keyword Discovery to organize your work, then you can also translate your projects into other languages. Yes, this is a very cool piece of functionality that KD provides (although it’s somewhat hidden). Simply create a project, research keywords, and populate that project with those keywords. Then open your project and scroll down to view the icons at the bottom of the results. You will see the Babel Fish icon (a yellow fish icon). When you hover your mouse over the icon, it will say “Translate Keywords”. When you click the icon, you will be prompted to translate your project from English to either Spanish, French, German, or Italian (or vice versa). Select which translation you want to perform and click submit. Voila, your keywords have been translated. Note, you probably wouldn’t want to just take these translations at face level. It’s a good starting point, but I would try and work with someone fluent in that language before implementing a campaign. ;-)

Using language translation in Keyword Discovery.

Trending Graphs
This feature isn’t overlooked as much as the others, but it’s worth mentioning here. Whenever you perform research in Keyword Discovery, there is an option to view trended data for each keyword (as shown below). This enables you to view keyword data over the past 12 months graphically and is extremely important if you are targeting terms that are seasonal. Think about “roses” and Valentine’s day. You can view charts based on historical data, monthly, trended, and you can see market share by engine. This data can help you and your clients map out strategies for targeting groups of keywords throughout the year.

Viewing trending graphs in Keyword Discovery.

Now Don’t Overlook These Great (But Commonly Overlooked) Features!
If you are currently using Keyword Discovery and don't use these features yet, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. If you aren’t using Keyword Discovery, you should be. I don’t view it as a nice-to-have, it’s a required tool in my arsenal. Once you are comfortable researching keywords, working in the interface, and understanding what the data means, then definitely test out the features I listed in this post.

GG

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Whuil? Why Cuil Has A Long Way To Go Before It Can Compete With Google


Cuil versus Google, Which search engine is better?.With all of the hype about the "Google Killer" Cuil over the past few weeks, I definitely wanted to give it a little time before officially commenting. When I heard a rival to Google was launching, I was absolutely intrigued, to say the least. I love Google, but I’m not sure any company should have 70% market share in any industry! :) That said, I never thought Cuil could hit the scene and pose a serious threat to Google, but my hope was that it could be a solid alternative to the search giant. The problem for Cuil, or any Google competitor for that matter, is that gaining users doesn’t entirely have to do with the quality of search results (although that is an important factor). Google is so ingrained in our society that it’s going to be hard for any search engine to stroll in and make a dent in big G. I’m neck deep in search engine marketing, including both SEO and SEM, so you bet I’ll try it out. But ask my mother if she knows of another engine… I’ll save you the time, she doesn’t. And let’s face it, Google does an incredible job with Search. It’s not like they provide horrible results with no variety. People wouldn’t use it if it did! More on that later.

Data Typically Doesn’t Lie
So what do I think of Cuil? I’m actually going to let the data do the talking. I tested out both Google and Cuil using the same search terms with the goal of viewing the relevance, quality, and variety of search results. Of course, I’ll add my own commentary to help give you a better picture of what I saw along the way. This is by no means a final test, but I think it gives us a good feel for how Cuil compares to Google right now. Let’s hop in.

DVD’s and e-Commerce
Let’s hit the web to buy one of my all time favorite movies… Jerry Maguire. A search on both Cuil and Google for Jerry Maguire DVD Prices yielded:

Google: Great listings leading me to Amazon.com and other e-commerce websites. Google also provided shopping one box results for the DVD, linking to various ecommerce websites. In addition, you can always click the shopping tab in Google to see a listing of Jerry Maguire DVD’s with their associated pricing. Google had me at hello. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. ;-)

Cuil: This was easy, Cuil returned NO RESULTS. Are you kidding me Cuil? We’re talking about Jerry Maguire here!

Learning something new and defining terms:
How about a search to define a term? Mobile technology is ridiculously hot now, so let’s define Bluetooth. I entered Define Bluetooth and found:

Both Google and Cuil returned good results, although I would argue that Google did a better job of providing more variety (giving you the ability to search news, blogs, etc.) I won’t knock Cuil too badly for this one. Let’s call it a slight advantage to Google.

Local Search
I recently looked for a plumber in our area, so let’s try both Google and Cuil for plumbers in Princeton, NJ:

Google: Outstanding results. Google's local results provided 10 local plumbers with the ability to read reviews, print coupons, watch videos, etc. In addition, Paid Search provided some interesting results too. I like the variety and the local search results. Nice.

Cuil: Unfortunately, Cuil returned misc. plumber sites, no reviews, a few weird, off-topic results like Foreign Affairs Author Page (what??). Winner, Google by a mile!

Maps and Directions
I recently played Lederach Golf Club in Pennsylvania, so let’s search by address in both engines. I entered 900 Clubhouse Drive Harleysville, PA and found:

Google: Displayed a Google Maps one box listing at the top, with a link to the full Google Maps listing. There I had the ability to get directions and find the best route. Excellent.

Cuil: Decent results, but if I'm entering an address, you can probably guess I'm looking for directions and a map. There were also some results for places to visit and stay in the general area (nice, but not really what I was looking for). Winner: Google hit a 300 yard drive and Cuil ended up in the fairway bunker. Both have a shot for par, but Google has the easier path. :)

Shopping and Coupon Codes
comScore recently reported that coupon sites have seen a surge in visitors. This makes sense, given the economy, so let’s start searching. I entered Coupon Codes Lands End and found:

Google: Solid results. Great coupon code websites, with retailmenot.com at the top of the list (one of my favorites). Paid Search also provided some good coupon code websites.

Cuil: Not so good. Although there were a few coupon code websites listed, there was one listed over and over again (allinonecoupons.com). I wasn’t thrilled with Cuil’s results and found myself wanting to see Google’s results again.
Winner: Enter “Google Wins” during checkout to receive a 20% discount! ;-)

Images and Photos
Let's search for some photos. I searched for Statue of Liberty Images and found:

Google: Image one box results with a link to Google Image Search. Needless to say, I found exactly what I was looking for in mere seconds in Google. There were also stock photography sites listed.

Cuil: Random weirdness with almost no images listed. Come on Cuil…it’s the Statue of Liberty! I know images aren’t what you do well, but if you are going to rival Google, images have to be part of the equation.

Obama versus Mccain
No need to explain why I’m searching for this one given our election in a few months! A search for Obama versus Mccain yielded:

Google: Google News one box results listed at the top of the page with one click to the latest news about Obama and Mccain. In addition, major news websites were listed like businessweek.com, The Washington post, newsweek.com, etc. This is hard to beat…

Cuil: I found some 404’s, random blogs, and overall average information. I wasn’t impressed.
The State of the Union? Google wins the election in a landslide.

Cuil as a Google Killer? Not yet…
So there’s my test and the subsequent results. You tell me, which search engine seems better to you? Would you stop using Google and use Cuil instead? I wouldn’t…at least not yet. I do hope Cuil improves and gains in popularity, but it’s not going to be easy. Cuil has a long way to go before the masses move to a new engine.

Google simply offers higher quality results that are more relevant, along with a wider variety of content. And, you can further target your results by selecting one of the major tabs Google provides (like news, blogs, finance, images, video, etc.) That’s hard to beat.

If I were the founders of Cuil, I would work hard to at least return high quality and relevant search results and then move on from there. If they can’t at least match Google's search results, then they are dead in the water. Actually, I believe that any new search engine trying to beat Google will have to bring a unique model to the table…much different than just showing search results. It’s hard enough to change people’s behavior, and that's especially true if you show no results for Jerry Maguire! Rod Tidwell would not be happy. :)

GG

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tagging and Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing Campaigns in Google Analytics


Tracking Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) Campaigns in Google AnalyticsDisclaimer: Before I begin to cover tagging and tracking your Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns in Google Analytics (GA), I highly recommend using an integrated search marketing package to manage your Paid Search campaigns, such as Coremetrics Search Marketing Tools or Omniture Search Center. Using a robust set of search marketing tools that are integrated with your web analytics package is obviously the optimal way to go (if that’s possible for your organization). Now let’s move on!

I Can Easily Analyze Google AdWords in Google Analytics, but…
Since many companies are now using Google Analytics, I often receive questions about how to best track Yahoo Search Marketing (YSM) campaigns using GA. When you use Google Analytics, your paid search campaigns using Google AdWords are tracked natively, so there is no additional tagging that you need to implement. You will be able to drill into your campaigns, ad groups, and keywords easily from within GA and view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and cost. This is a great feature, because tagging your paid search campaigns is about as fun as writing "I will always remember to tag all of my Paid Search campaigns properly." a thousand times on a chalk board. :-) So I’ve decided to write this blog post offering you a good option for tagging YSM campaigns for analysis in Google Analytics.

It’s All About the Tagging…
For those of you not familiar with tagging, it’s the process of adding querystring parameters to your campaign URL’s so Google Analytics can accurately track your campaigns. I’ve written a previous blog post about tagging emails for analysis in Google Analytics here. To track YSM campaigns in GA, some marketers are tagging at the keyword level and some at the ad level. I recently helped several clients use a technique that enables them to tag their YSM campaigns at the ad level and utilize some of YSM’s enhanced tracking parameters to analyze their campaigns in GA by Ad Group, Keyword (the keywords you are bidding on), and Raw Keyword (what people are actually entering).

YSM Enhanced Tracking Parameters (Dynamic Values from YSM)
If you turn on “Tracking URL’s” in YSM, then you can access a list of Enhanced Tracking Parameters each time someone clicks one of your keywords. You will use two of these tracking parameters for our GA tagging example.

The 2 Enhanced Tracking Parameters You Will Utilize Are:
{OVKEY} – or the keyword that a visitor clicked on. Note, these are the keywords that you bid on, not the original query from a visitor.
{OVRAW} – Yes, you got it… It’s the original query (or raw query) that a visitor entered in Yahoo.

*Note, there are several other enhanced tracking parameters available, but we’ll use the two listed above for our tagging purposes.

The Yahoo Search Marketing Tagging:
I’ll begin by providing a tagged URL below and then explain the parameters. Note, you will be tagging your URL’s at the Ad Level. So, you’ll create your ad (or access one you have already created and use this dynamic URL as the destination URL for your ad). Then you won’t need to tag at the keyword level. Yes, this will save you hours of work and hopefully meet your tracking requirements as well. :-)

Tagging Your YSM URL:
http://www.yourwebsite.com/products.asp?product-id=25&utm_source=Yahoo&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term={OVKEY}&utm_content={OVRAW}&utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen

Let’s quickly cover each parameter:
utm_source=Yahoo, This is simple, it’s just the traffic source. For our purposes we are using Yahoo to signify YSM.

utm_medium=CPC, Signifying Cost Per Click.

utm_term={OVKEY} This is the keyword that was clicked on. Note, this is the keyword you are bidding on and not the raw query. The beautiful part of {OVKEY} is that no matter which keyword was clicked on, the {OVKEY} enhanced parameter will hold that keyword. It's basically a variable for the programmers out there...

utm_content={OVRAW} This is the raw query that was entered into Yahoo. This is valuable information and I’ll explain more below.

utm_campaign=Spring%2BClothing%2BMen This is the name of the campaign, which will show up under the Campaigns Tab under Traffic Sources. BTW, %2B is a plus sign, %20 is a space (these are URL encoded characters, which you should always use in your URL's). You should be descriptive with the campaign name so you can easily find your campaign in the list within GA.

Why Did I Tag the URL This Way?
Good question. Because I want you to quickly access your campaign reporting in Google Analytics and be able to segment your reporting by keyword and raw query. Now, let your test campaign run for a day and then access your GA reporting. Click the Traffic Sources tab and then click Campaigns. You should see a campaign titled, “Spring+Clothing+Men”. You can review your top level information for the campaign here, like Ecommerce Revenue, Goal Conversion, and Site Usage. Click this campaign to drill deeper. Once you are in the Campaign Details report, you can easily segment the report to analyze keywords and raw queries. Click the segment dropdown and choose Keyword. This will show you the keywords (that you bid on), that led to your site. You can easily view site usage statistics, sales, and goal conversion per keyword. Click the segment dropdown again and select Ad Content. Now you are viewing the raw keywords (or the query) that people entered in Yahoo to view your ads. This is especially powerful, since you can find new, longer tail keywords for your campaigns (which will probably yield a lower CPC). You can easily export the raw keywords and then import the ones you want to use in your YSM campaigns. For example, you may be bidding on the word Khaki Pants, but you might find that visitors are entering New Dark Khaki Pants or 32 inch Khaki Pants. You would export these raw keywords and then add them to your campaign. You get the idea…

Screenshot of the YSM Campaign Reporting:
Click on the image below for a larger version:

Viewing YSM reporting in Google Analytics

To summarize…
So there you have it. A nice way to tag your YSM campaigns, save time, and accurately view your Paid Search reporting in Google Analytics. I still recommend using an integrated paid search package when possible, but regardless, this technique will definitely save you time and frustration. It’s a nice way to drill into your YSM campaigns to view sales, goal conversion, site usage, and all by campaign, ad group, keyword and raw keyword. Now, I would still love to view YSM campaigns with the ease of AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics, but for now, I’ll just keep using this technique. I hope this helps your paid search efforts! Let me know how it works for you.

GG

Related Content:
* Analyzing Your Holiday Email Marketing Campaigns Using Google Analytics

* Site Search in Google Analytics

* The Referring Sites Report in Google Analytics

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