In House Search Marketing focused on the daily tasks and challenges faced by in-house SEOs and search marketers, dealing with everything from budgetary issues to office politics. In-house search marketing isn’t just for big businesses and household brands anymore — small businesses, start-ups and developing brands often utilize in-house marketers to manage all aspects of search, social and PPC as a way to fully control their online marketing efforts and expenditures. Columnists shared advice based on the successes and failures experienced as in-house SEO & SEM practitioners– whether getting executive buy-in and bigger budgets, employing search agencies and vendors, or recruiting additional in-house expertise. This column no longer runs as a standalone column and has since been incorporated into the All Things SEO column.

Prioritizing SEO Strategies In 2014: Where To Focus

SEO-girl Although there may not be a one-size-fits-all SEO strategy -- due to the fact that ideal strategies will vary greatly between industries, company capabilities and business models -- one thing remains true for everyone regardless of the size of the search team: ruthless prioritization of SEO efforts remains a critical component of SEO planning tasks. Still, prioritizing SEO efforts often presents itself as a common challenge, especially for those that lack direct experience managing both SEO and analytics regularly enough to gauge the impact of potential SEO changes. Proficiency in SEO pr [...]

Hummingbird In The Trenches: A Canary In The Coal Mine

canary-in-coal-mine I've been gathering and analyzing reports and in-the-trenches data from in-house marketers about Google's Hummingbird, and I believe what I am seeing is on par with finding a dead canary in a coal mine. Pardon the morbid analogy, but the writing is on the wall, folks, and it has been for a while. Change is here, now.  The following observations from other SEO experts and in-house marketing professionals all lead me to conclude that Hummingbird marks a new paradigm of SEO that revolves around concepts and not keywords. Keep reading for compelling evidence and, more importantly, what you [...]

Survival Tips For Becoming An In-House SEO

As my friends know, in January, I became an in-house SEO. Now that I have a few weeks under my belt, I thought I'd discuss some of the differences between agency SEO and in-house SEO, the type of traits it takes to succeed in-house, and some of the traps you can land in. Agency vs. In-house Let's start with some of the differences between agency SEO and in-house SEO. In-house Has No Hamster Wheel In an agency, it's inevitable. While waiting for clients to implement your recommendations, you hit roadblocks and dead ends. [caption id="attachment_152565" align="aligncenter" wi [...]

Dealing With People – The Hardest Part Of SEO

angry The really hard part about search engine optimization isn't the SEO itself but dealing with people within your organization who have (or should have) an impact on SEO. Optimizing H1s is easy. Dealing with people is hard. Really hard. What follows are a series of the most important lessons I’ve (maybe) learned while dealing with MBAs, devs, product managers, designers and my own ego. Don’t Think Everything Through We’ve been trained through years of education, higher education (and for some of people,  worse – consulting gigs) to deliver beautifully polished, thoroughly thought- [...]

How To Gracefully Retire A Brand Name

Retiring a brand name is a tricky challenge. On one hand, you don't want to confuse your marketplace by transitioning too quickly. On the other hand, you don't want the transition to take too long because it can cost more money and also cause confusion. We are currently going through a brand name transition with the Omniture brand being rolled up into the greater Adobe brand. The website is still in place, but you may have noticed that the last conference was called the Adobe Digital Marketing Summit rather than the Omniture Summit. For most external marketing and field even [...]

Recruiting: 12 Questions For Uncomfortably Hands-On SEO Interviews

I was shocked by the widespread, deeply negative reaction to the introductory paragraph of my column last month, in which I described beginning every interview with a math problem.  The response is probably best typified by EricM: Despite missing the entire point of the article (that you can use simple free tools to calculate confidence intervals for A/B split tests), Eric did raise an interesting challenge:  "are you going to let them go online and use this tool at the interview?" The answer? Of course I am. Why the hell wouldn’t I? I wouldn’t expect anyone to do their job with [...]

3 Guidelines To Scale Your SEM Team

There is a phenomenon within organizations that causes productivity to decline as teams grow larger. This phenomenon is described in economics as a diseconomy of scale and is caused by at least three factors including increased communication costs, duplication of effort, and top-heavy management. These three components can cripple an SEM team that grows larger than four or five members. On my current team, there are 31 people globally across SEO, Paid, and Site Search so we have to be careful to not fall victim to the diseconomy of scale. To combat decreased efficiency, I recommend thr [...]

The Most Destructive Lie In Search Marketing

lie-fingers-crossed-featured The biggest lie in search marketing is that paid and organic search are separate channels. From the customer's perspective, paid and natural search are nearly identical. In fact, according to this study done by Performics last year, around a third of all searchers don't even know the difference between a paid and a natural search listing. This lie wouldn't be a big deal except that it causes advertisers to under-optimize their search marketing programs. There have been several studies done to show that having a paid and organic listing on the same SERP can either cannibalize or have [...]

Do It Yourself A/B Testing

I always start marketing interviews with a phone screen of some variant of the following question: "Let’s say this is your first day at Urbanspoon and I show you the following data. We’ve just launched an A/B test of that I’d like you to evaluate. [The example can be almost anything you want to test different results for – from almost any search element, PPC campaigns, email subject lines etc. In this case, I’m using a PPC example.] Imagine you are running two different ads on a campaign with 50 kewords. We’ve been running Ad A for a while and have 17,235 impressions and 272 click [...]

Top 3 Paid Search Marketing Features Underused By In-House SEM’s

Are in-house search engine marketers taking full advantage of all the features and tools at their fingertips? Being more organized, efficient, or better informed may not require additional special tools or staff, but just better utilization of the fantastic features already provided for free by search engines. In-house marketers are always under pressure to do more and taking full advantage of these features and tools is a step in the right direction. My Client Center That agencies and consultants are the only users of AdWords’ My Client Center is a common misconception. While the multi [...]

The Hidden Lever In Paid Search Optimization

There have been many articles written about paid search optimization, but there is one piece of the optimization puzzle that continually gets left out. The hidden lever in paid search optimization is prioritization. Prioritizing optimization opportunities is equally as important as doing the optimization itself. I have seen double digit increases in performance and significant time savings in every program that has implemented a prioritization process, even if they were previously using a fixed schedule for optimization. There is so much work to do on a paid search account that someone cou [...]

Optimizing Search Engine Marketing For Seasonal Opportunities

Many in-house search marketers operate within a seasonal framework, whether a retail high season culminating in Christmas, a peak summer travel season, or another cyclical ebb and flow of sales time. Additionally events, like the Olympics or a presidential election, can impact search engine marketing for many businesses. Staying on top of these trends and events can uncover opportunities for in-house marketers to grow and optimize search marketing programs. Identifying The Opportunities & Trends The first step is recognizing important trends and events and their timing. A seasonal tim [...]

7 Steps To Achieving Nirvana By Using A Media Plan

Due to the agile and complex nature of paid search, managing a paid search program can often degenerate into a constant barrage of fire drills and ad hoc report requests. I have been there and it is not fun. I have also found that there is a way to dig out of this chaos and achieve SEM nirvana. The trick is to plan effectively. Developing an effective media plan not only reduces fire drills and ad hoc requests, but also builds trust with stakeholders and promotes long term success. How does one create a media plan that will produce nirvana? After developing over 30 media plans over the [...]

Justifying Conference Attendance For In-House Search Marketers

While search engine marketing conference attendance for agency staff is almost a given of the job, in-house search engine marketers may find themselves more challenged to justify the expense, both in time and money of conference attendance. Conferences like Search Marketing Expo (SMX) provide a host of benefits that more than justify the cost; the challenge is in convincing the budget gatekeepers to agree. Show The ROI Unlike more static professional disciplines, search engine marketing, both paid and natural, is in a constant state of evolution. In-house search engine marketing is a youn [...]

How To Build A “Navy Seal 6 Team” Of Search Marketers

us-navy-featured In the last nine months, I have seen a hiring blitz as Adobe moved its search program in house. Seventeen search marketers were hired and each has turned out to be extremely capable. One colleague compared the new search marketing team to the Seal Team 6 that took out Osama Bin Laden. Through an interview with Jay Middleton, Sr. Manager of the Worldwide Search Marketing team, and my own observation, I identified three principles that have been fundamental to this team building process. They are: Have a clear and compelling vision Make hiring the top priority Hire passionate people [...]

Google Fails To Trounce Bing (Again): The Fallacy Of The Superior Search Engine Revisited

A year ago, I wrote a quick post called, Google vs. Bing, The Fallacy of the Superior Search Engine, in which I selected twenty search-difficult queries and ran a subjective head to head evaluation of the search results from Google and Bing. The end result confirmed what I had long anecdotally experienced – the difference in result relevancy between the engines was really not that much. In fact, Bing bested Google slightly. Admittedly, my little test, with n=20, had the academic rigor of a Sarah Palin geography lesson. I was rightly skewered by some readers, including one who called th [...]

5 In-House Search Marketing Game Changers In 2011

Looking back on 2011, as always, there’s lots of change in the search engine marketing world! New ad products, new features and new media keep in-house online marketers ever on their toes to stay up on the latest and greatest opportunities in an increasingly complex field of online marketing. What were the most interesting and impactful search marketing innovations for in-house marketers in 2011? 1. Google’s Panda Update 2011 kicked off with a series of Google natural search algorithm updates that the blogosphere still buzzes about, Panda. There have been eleven updates in all as of t [...]

A Letter From Santa To The Search Community

December, 2011 The North Pole Dear Search Community: Thanks so much for your many letters to the north pole. Your nicely written texts and emails included some familiar requests from last year and some entirely new ones. Lisa and Ian, I’m very sorry, I can’t drop that referring keyword data  from signed in users down the chimney. And Eric, I'm really sorry that the European Debt Crisis, which was my answer to your request from last year "Give European regulators something else to think about" didn't really pan out. So I’m taking time off from wrapping all those iPhone 4s and Ki [...]

What Brands Need To Know About Google+ AdWords Social Extensions

Google’s early gaffe of not adequately addressing the demand for brand pages for Google+ has quietly given way to several new business-oriented Google+ features for in-house marketers to utilize. Brand pages, social extensions and a trusted verification process are all features in-house marketers should immediately engage with to increase their Google+ counts and brand profiles. A Definition Of Social Extensions Similar to other AdWords extensions, like Product or Sitelink extensions, Social Extensions are appended to the Campaign level and associate an AdWords campaign with a Google+ p [...]

Six Ways Online Retailers Can Better Optimize Listings For Amazon

While Black Friday may be famous for kicking off the holiday shopping season and attracting flocks of consumers to brick-and-mortar retailers, Cyber Monday has certainly made its presence known in the online shopping community. Just last year, Cyber Monday online sales increased 19.4%, pushing the average order value up from $180.03 in 2009 to $194.89 in 2010, according to an IBM Coremetrics report. This year, many retailers are anticipating an even higher increase in sales. So, for all of us looking to make the most out of this opportunity, it is time (or never too late) to start prepar [...]

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