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.

Digital Marketing Trends & Predictions For 2011

For search marketers, the holidays are all about giving—that is, giving an ever-increasing share of your advertising budget to Google. But for columnists, we get to give the gift of predictions. In this Industrial Strength column last year, I examined a number of trends in the paid search industry and even made several bold predictions. Before we stare into the crystal ball for 2011, it’s only fair to recap how my prognostications from last year played out. It’s safe to say I was on target when predicting that rising CPC’s would drive increased interest in Quality Score optimiza [...]


My Holiday Search Marketing Wish List

Ah, the holiday season. Creative refreshes, keyword expansions, bidding up to capture all those credit card-wielding customers. As yet another action-packed holiday season descends upon us, while we light the menorah again and again, exchange gifts and happily hang delicate decorations on the tree, as we make lists and check them twice, I want to reflect on my own wishes for the industry I’ve grown to love over the past decade. Here is my search marketing wish list for the holidays this year, in no particular order: Better SEM planning tools. I know, I know. SEM planning is tricky&mdas [...]


Last Minute Holiday SEO Tactics

The holiday season is underway, and unfortunately many of us have waited for the last minute to attend to our SEO for the season. SEO for the holiday season really is best done in August, September or October. But what if you didn't get to it this year? Is it too late? Not necessarily. There are some things you can do. Go get some blog links. Links from blogs, particularly prominent ones, are picked up and counted very quickly by the search engines. This is because of a concept we in the industry call "query deserves freshness" (or "QDF"). This is the notion that certain user queries [...]


3 Important Ecommerce Trends To Watch

The web is shifting rapidly, again. Search has seen accelerated growth over the last two years, at a quicker clip than any time over the last ten. This has been fueled primarily by innovations at Google. However, Bing is also pushing innovation rapidly and was cited by Google CEO Eric Schmidt as, their "biggest problem" and competitor. Schmidt conceded to the Wall Street Journal that, "Bing is a well run, highly competitive search engine." While Google is dominating market share, you can bet they are keenly watching Microsoft's every move in search. Perhaps more importantly, however, the we [...]


Managing Huge PPC Campaigns? Try These Best Practices

Reading search marketing advice, you will find an abundance of information about best-practices that are easy to apply to a campaign or ad group level. Common best practices such as keeping ad-groups small and targeted, with relevant and keyword specific ad-copy have demonstrated great results. Moreover, the value of managing match types and negatives to control or avoid poorly targeted impressions can’t be stressed enough. However, as anybody who has managed a large-scale search program understands, knowing the best practices is only part of the equation. To be truly effective, yo [...]


Next-Level Optimization: Measuring Success In Paid Search

You’ve made the case for advanced optimization, implemented loads of slick technology and deployed across some or all of your paid search programs. Did you do the right thing? Did you make more money? If so, how much more? To answer the question "did I make more money" implies a baseline. Trouble is, you don’t really have one. What you’re really asking is "did I make more money than I would have otherwise," and it’s hard to tell with paid search, because the market is inherently dynamic, as are the programs we manage in these markets. This makes benchmarking really tough, and scient [...]


Leveraging The Tension Between Conversion Optimization & SEO

In today's post I am going to discuss the importance of conversion optimization (or landing page optimization), why it is critical to online marketing success and how it interacts with SEO. I am not going to cover conversion optimization in as much depth as the team that writes the conversion science column, but will set the stage for understanding the way it impacts SEO. There are a few major factors which are at the root of conversion optimization, such as: Where the user is in the conversion process. Are they ready to buy, or are they just browsing for info? Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenber [...]


Search Engine Metrics Are Horrible (And Why That’s Okay)

The condition of standard SEO metrics search engines provide the web community (if the term "metric" can even be used here) is pretty deplorable right now. Back in February, I wrote: "...the convention of using indexed page counts and backlinks to benchmark and report on site performance is facing a similar demise [to ranking reports]." Looks like those words are now ringing true. Matt McGee covered the indexing problems Google has been facing recently Is Google Broken? Sites Big & Small Seeing Indexing Problems. This is an issue we're forced to confront every day in our work, as o [...]


TV, Meet Search: Integrating Television & Paid Search For Maximum Results

Effectively coordinating your TV commercials with paid search marketing programs could be the key to driving measurable results and overall improvement in your marketing programs across channels.


Next-Level Optimization Part 2: Beyond Paid Search

Last month we took a look at identifying some ways to leverage targeting options and automated algorithms to ensure your paid search campaigns are well optimized. Now its time to up-level your optimization efforts by considering media other than paid search.


Are We Getting Mixed SEO Ranking Signals?

Speculation time! In this week's post I review scenarios where I believe that Google's alleged ranking signals might not be what we accept or even conform to guidelines published in Webmaster Central help files. Here are some of the factors that I find ambiguous or unclear, along with some thoughts on why conventional wisdom might be wrong. All indexed pages pass PageRank—or do they? Consider an e-commerce category page that has links to 100 products on the same site. The e-commerce category page has a PageRank of 2, or lower. The page has no text to speak of, except for a title t [...]


Consistency Is King In SEO

In SEO, the small stuff truly matters, and consistency is especially powerful. At the enterprise level things like page titles, internal links and duplicate content may seem almost trivial compared to the overall complexity of the site. But they are hugely important, and when well-optimized in sum can literally make or break a site's SEO potential. I have been fairly vocal about the importance of looking beyond the basics of SEO to creating Big Ideas that scale well for both users and search engines. I have spoken and written repeatedly about why SEO at the 101 level (and beyond, actually) [...]


Maximizing Paid Search Campaigns For The Holiday Shopping Schedule

The holidays are just around the corner, and with shoppers gearing up for the holiday rush, smart marketers are already preparing their paid search campaigns for the 2010 season. By evaluating consumer trends from last year’s holiday season we found some interesting insights that will help marketers be even more successful this year, including a few observations that run counter to conventional wisdom. In general, retail search programs performed as expected: starting to increase in traffic and conversion rates in the final week in November and running significantly more profitably than t [...]


Next-Level Optimization For Search: When And Why You Need It

Used to be that you could optimize your site for search, buy some keywords and reap the benefits of plentiful and profitable search traffic. Turns out those days are long gone. A couple months ago I wrote about how incredibly complex and nuanced SEM and SEO tactics have become, and how perhaps some of our time was better spent working on social media instead. You’ll be relieved to find out that I have since regained my senses and have decided to take a deeper look at some of the more advanced optimization tactics in search marketing, and how they apply to large, complex programs, like some o [...]


The Art Of Link Building For Established Brands

Building links for a well known brand site that already has 100,000+ links (or even one million plus links) is an interesting challenge. If your site has that many links, chances are that your competitors have a lot as well. When your link building challenge is this big, you need to think about the problem a bit differently. Today I will review some of the things you need to consider in this type of environment for your link building to have an impact. Very high value links As with any link building strategy, you will want to include targeting very high value links. For well known brand [...]


Paid Search Strategies For Boosting Holiday Season Profits

Will this year be the year when online holiday sales return to double digit growth? Or will the holidays once again deliver lackluster growth in the low single digits for online advertisers? While predicting how much consumers will buy may be difficult, predicting how they will likely behave is not. We recently conducted a study of paid search behavior patterns for holiday shoppers in the 2009 season. The results of this study provided some interesting insights that can be applied to the 2010 season. We looked at month-over-month changes in key metrics for paid search campaigns from Nov [...]


Getting Started With Social Media Valuation

Even with all the buzz about social media, many people have questions about how to value social media marketing efforts. It's not uncommon to hear (very legitimate) questions such as: "How much is it worth for a user to become a fan of ours on Facebook, or to follow us on Twitter?" "How much revenue is social media really bringing in?" "How should I think about hiring or putting resources against our social media marketing efforts?" These are the questions marketers and managers alike are asking, in companies small and large. In large companies in particular—such as Yahoo, wh [...]


Tracking Seasonal Search Behavior

Many products are naturally seasonal in nature. For example, Halloween costumes are generally only sold in the weeks preceding the holiday each year. However, while this seasonal behavior is easy to conceptualize, it can frustrate your ability to measure the progress of your SEO efforts, and the traffic growth you would like to see from those efforts. For example, if the overall market for your product is down 20%, and traffic stayed flat through a normal seasonal decline, you have actually made progress. Your SEO efforts have completely offset a pretty significant market trend. Tools f [...]


5 Rules For Successfully Selling Search Services

I'm a pretty idealistic person. I've been known to put unicorns and rainbows in my presentations. And I like to sit back and fantasize about various pie-in-the-sky scenarios. In one such (recurring) "blue sky" daydream, I head to the office on my bike under dawn's pink glow. As I enter the office, the sun is shooting rays of early morning light through the windows. A fresh gourd of yerba mate sits on my desk next to a bowl of glistening orange nectarines and red cherries. And a steaming plate of crisp bacon. Some sort of perfect music is on. It's going to be a great day. As I power up for t [...]


What Google’s Preferred AdWords API Pricing Change Means For Enterprise Search Marketers

Back in late April, Google announced that it was changing the way AdWords would work for agencies and application providers managing paid search via the AdWords API. This seemingly simple change from Google levels the playing field between in-house and externally developed search engine marketing tool providers.


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