Industrial Strength is written by search marketers responsible for managing SEO for huge websites and running massive search advertising campaigns. Topics range from handling technical challenges to working with multiple key stakeholders and getting everyone to play nice together.

3 Reasons To Form A Direct Marketing Center Of Excellence

If you’re at all like me, you’re marketing a variety of different web assets – products, properties, businesses – and you’re working alongside a number of other marketing channels in a larger group. In our case, it’s the Direct Marketing (DM) group – in your organization, it may be called ‘acquisition marketing’ or ‘performance marketing’. In any case, how can you be sure you’re supporting the proper marketing initiatives with the appropriate marketing mix? How do you make budgeting decisions for each of the channels - search, display, email, affiliate marketing? [...]

The Coming Tide Of SEO Tattletales

tattletale-secrets-featured Be ready, because there's a new wave coming: competitive sabotage through SEO due diligence and outing. Competitive analysis will always be fundamental to search engine optimization. SEO, by nature, is a competitive pursuit: a site climbs the ranks on the backs of other sites, and there's only room for one URL at the top. Because of the large amount of money at stake, and the dramatic increase in CTR a top position grants, every SEO professional worth their salt will undergo deep competitive analysis if they hope to compete. It is a cornerstone of the work. And yet, some companies are te [...]

Keeping Pace As Competition In Paid Search Heats Up

Back in December 2010, I was relatively convinced that click prices were going to continue increasing in 2011, but Marin Software recently released a study of large scale paid search programs that suggests otherwise. The Paid Search Quarterly Benchmarking Report showed that although average cost per click (CPC) has increased since December 2010, it hasn’t changed year-over-year. However, the underlying trend is the same trend we’ve seen for the past couple of years: advertisers continue to migrate dollars from offline to online advertising, driving spend on paid search higher. The fi [...]

3 Ways To Connect The Dots With Search Marketing

At a conference last month, I had the privilege of speaking on a really fun panel with some of the brightest minds in Search, where we told some stories about integrating search into larger marketing efforts. We called it ‘Connecting The Dots’. I love these kinds of tales because they nod to the promise of search marketing – leveraging the comparatively precise nature of search data to inform other marketing channels in ways that only search can. And because I’m a search geek at heart, I get really excited when I think about ways to use search marketing for something other than just [...]

Speculating On The Next Shift In Google Search Algorithms

On February 23, 2011, the day that Google's Panda update was released, a significant shift in search algorithms and SEO in general happened. For the first time, user experience and content quality became ranking factors in SEO for Google. Google clearly liked the impact of that change, since they followed more recently with an update, rolling out Panda to more audiences, and also applied it to sites with less traffic. So Panda is here to stay, and you can expect more and more updates along the same lines. So what's next? What is the next shoe to drop? I believe that it will be in the [...]

5 New Tactics For SEO Post-Panda

chess-board-featured I hear this question, in various forms, quite often these days: "What's up with Google now, post-Panda/Farmer/whaddayacallit? What am I supposed to be doing for SEO?" (Usually accompanied with a deep sigh, aggressive hand gestures, and/or grimacing.) It All Started With Caffeine "Caffeine lets us index web pages on an enormous scale." - Carrie Grimes, Google   If we look back a year ago, when Google rolled out Caffeine, which was (and still is) unprecedented in search, it was this infrastructure change that allowed for the dramatic algorithm improvements we've seen recentl [...]

5 Tips For Large Scale Mobile Advertisers

More and more consumers are accessing the Internet on their mobile devices each day. There are over 5 billion mobile phones worldwide, and according to recent Neilsen research, over 50% of the mobile phones in the US will be smartphones (capable of internet browsing) before the end of 2011. The majority of these mobile users are performing Google searches, providing a growing marketing opportunity for paid search advertisers. In addition, rising smartphone use means consumers are expecting more from their mobile experience. Instead of looking up restaurants or hotels before heading out, [...]

PPC Tactics For Large Enterprises: Search Network Targeting

At SMX West last month, I spoke at length about what it means to manage PPC programs at large companies.  One of the topics I covered at some depth was using the various search engines’ targeting options to break keywords down into smaller bits of data to optimize them individually. This type of tactic can turn the ‘head’ of your portfolio into more of a ‘tail’ and makes it work more efficiently for you. But if you’re like us, and you have super-sized SEM programs, how do you tackle this in a manageable way that will drive incremental profit to your group or company, and make y [...]

Post Panda Social Engagement Measurements

Since the advent of the Panda update (aka Farmer) people have been scrambling to understand what happened, and how to move forward. Vanessa Fox has provided some great info on Panda as well as the latest on Panda from SMX West. I decided to dig a bit into some of the data on the winners and losers. My particular focus was on social engagement metrics. To get access to this data on other sites I made use of the Pro level service from This allows me to look at metrics such as time on site, pages per visit, and visits per person. Unfortunately, bounce rate was not available [...]

Why Quality Is The Only Sustainable SEO Strategy

pearls-red-satin-featured One of the most important takeaways after the Panda Update / Farmer fallout is to make your sites as high-quality and useful as possible. The next year should be interesting, as some sites invest in quality, while others try to game signals seeking shortcuts to the hard work. Both are valid, as long as you're ready to accept the risk of shortcuts, but only the hard work will continue to yield results long-term. Matt Cutts and Amit Singhal conceded that there are signals in the latest algorithm update that can be gamed. (Any algorithm can be gamed.) What are they? It will take time, but even [...]

3 Ways The iPad Pits Consumer Privacy Against Advertising Measurability

Apple’s iOS platform, which powers the iPad, iTouch and iPhone, is currently used by 130 million consumers. The latest iOS device, the iPad (now into second generation sales of the iPad2), has already sold over 15 million units since its April 2010 launch. As iOS-based devices become more popular, advertisers should be asking critical questions about marketing on this new platform, including: Can marketers reliably gauge traffic and conversions originating from iOS devices? Do iOS users behave differently than typical Internet users? Given the proliferation of iOS devices, what sh [...]

In-House PPC Programs For Big Companies – Part II

Having just spent a spectacular few days at SMX West, the real challenge was getting past the buzz around content farms. But if you bothered to dig a bit deeper, there was an astounding amount of great, um... content, covering the many facets of search marketing other than search algorithm changes. Aside from the usual schmoozing opportunities (I even went to my first NHL game – Go Sharks!), the best thing about SMX is the attendees’ ability to go as deep or as broad as they want, soaking up search marketing goodness at whatever pace they see fit. As I mentioned in my last post, my s [...]

The Importance Of Differentiated Content

I puzzled over the title of this column for a bit. The initial title I wrote was "The Importance of Unique Content", and I actually mean something different than that. Most of the time when we talk about unique content we mean not simply using copies of someone else's text (whether it be plagiarized or licensed). What I am going to focus on today is the importance of covering different topics than other people do. Let me illustrate the problem using the mortgage marketplace as an example. First of all, if we perform a search on "mortgage" in Google, we get the following results: As yo [...]

Why Is Project Management Undervalued In SEO?

I'll be the first to admit that I have little knowledge of formal project management. While I cherish quality project managers and certainly know the importance of prioritization, stakeholders, and overall project management, it is not my job. My job is to bring the best SEO strategies and ideas into an organization. Luckily for me, I have an entire team at AudetteMedia that includes skilled account and project managers, so I can blunder around with a lot of ideas in my head and not worry too much about how they're organized. But SEO is a unique discipline and requires very unique projec [...]

Why You Should Pay Attention to Customer Loyalty + Lifetime Value

Consumers don’t always make a purchase within the same day or even the same week that they click on an ad, but that doesn’t mean the ad didn’t drive a sale. Many online marketers see significant latency between a paid click on an online ad and a purchase. Moreover, your most valuable customers are the ones who make a purchase and keep coming back, compounding the challenge of measuring latent conversions and optimizing bids. In general, as time passes, marketers often see more and more value attributed back to an initial PPC click, but revising bid calculations after the fact res [...]

SMX West Preview: Managing PPC For Large Companies

Next month, I’m going to be speaking at SMX West, talking about one of my favorite topics, managing PPC campaigns at big companies. To be honest, I’m pretty passionate about this stuff and I have a lot to say on the topic. I’d like to use this space to add some detail to the presentation I’m going to be delivering next month at the conference. This month, I’ll cover some background on how we think about PPC management at Yahoo!, deep-diving into topics such as valuation for PPC and making in-house vs. outsource decisions for PPC. Next month, right around the time of the conference [...]

The Rise And Fall Of Content Farms

With Demand Media having gone public last week, it is worth taking some time to discuss the future of content farms. Clearly, lots of people are seeing value in the business model, as shown by the street's willingness to accept the IPO, and the acquistion of Associated Content by Yahoo! last May. But what is the real value, and where is this headed? That is the subject of today's column. I will begin the column with some background, and then finish up with my commentary on why I think this model will ultimately fail (hint: it won't be because of Google). Looking at the Demand Media IPO [...]

Case Study: How Negative Keywords Can Pump Up Paid Search Performance

Once campaigns reach a certain size, successful paid search marketing becomes less about generating traffic and more about identifying and driving the highest value visitors. At the same time, however, scale makes creative testing and ad group refinement difficult to implement across hundreds of thousands or even millions of keywords. In a high-volume world, actively managing negatives is possibly the single most impactful opportunity you have for increasing conversions and decreasing costs. Keyword building is a continuous process for both positive and negative keywords. If you have not [...]

My Search Marketing New Year’s Resolutions, 2011 Edition

Looking through some old material the other night, I came across a column I wrote in 2009 about my Search Marketing New Year’s Resolutions. Not surprisingly, like many New Year’s resolutions, some of them didn’t get accomplished. But enough of the world has changed since I inked that column two years ago that I thought it made sense to update it a la 2011. Here we go! Resolution #1: Integrating SEO & Social Media Marketing (SMM) Strategies Everyone’s doing it, or at least claiming they are. SEO and SMM teams working hand-in-hand, harmonizing messaging across Facebook, Twitter and [...]

Looking Ahead: What’s Next In The Evolution Of Local Search?

Recently I posted an open request for SEO questions on my blog. The first response was from Eric Itzkowitz, who asked about which business opportunities might become sustainable models in local search. The local search space is proving to be a major dynamo, and the rate of change is frenetic. Locally Oriented Searches Very recently, Google made a huge change to their search results. To illustrate, let's look at the results for a query I typed on for "pizza": Notice how all the results in the left column as in fact for local establishments. Basically, all places I can drive to. In [...]

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