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.

Forget Search: Let’s Go Social

If you have an extra hour in your very busy workday day, don’t spend it fine-tuning your site for algo search, or optimizing your SEM campaigns for efficiency, ROI or profitability. Spend it building out and executing on your social media strategy. I know, shocking advice coming from an old search jockey like me, but I mean it. Seriously, how much cash are you really going to squeeze out of your already-optimized site or SEM program compared to the huge opportunities in front of you in social media? Let me take a half-step back. First of all, I just finished a monster piece on the Yahoo! [...]

Of Linkbait And SEO Bank Shots

There's a subtle, but meaningful, connection between billiards and SEO. How so, you ask? Well, when I was younger I was a pretty good at billiards. I could see all the angles really well, and I understood when to use bank shots (using an indirect shot off the bank of the table rather than a direct hit on a particular ball), and when to avoid them. I use the lessons I learned from winning at billiards to improve my SEO performance. When I relate bank shots to the world of SEO, I am thinking about links. I am going to explore two ways that bank shots are bad for you in SEO, and one way in [...]

Enterprise SEO Tools, Part 2: The Cloud

Get ready for Part 2 in our series on enterprise SEO tools! Next up: web-based (or cloud hosted) tool sets for link research, SEO diagnostics, and competitive research.

The Yahoo/Microsoft Search Alliance: Managing Campaigns Through The Transition

You’ve heard about the Microsoft/Yahoo search alliance, but what does it really mean for your paid search marketing campaigns? To minimize the disruption to profitable paid search programs, marketers will have to be thoughtful about campaign structure as they begin to understand the traffic and consumers from the combined search engines.

Paid And Organic Search: Understanding The Math (And The Truth)

In last month’s column I talked about buying brand keywords and some of the great (somewhat) new ad products available to advertisers. All that talk about buying brand keywords brought me back to a familiar topic about which, if you read my post with any frequency, you just might be getting a tiny bit tired of hearing me rant. In spite of that, I’m back for one more round of discussion about the relationship between paid and organic search traffic, this time with some real math to show for myself. Bear with me, this one’s worth it. I mentioned in my previous post about paid and organi [...]

A Turning Point In The Field Of SEO

We are at a turning point in the field of search engine optimization (SEO)—a positive turning point. For those of us who have been around for a long time, it's an interesting (and very good) time to be involved in search. But it must be daunting for those outside the industry, or just getting started with their careers. I can't remember a time when there was more "noise" and opinion out there, thanks to the power of the web and social media. There is a tremendous amount of information generated every minute, not all of it accurate or even useful. I have hundreds of subscriptions in my [...]

SEO Implications Of Google’s “Reasonable Surfer” Patent

On May 11, 2010, Google was granted a new patent that basically states that all links on a page do not have to carry (or pass) the same weight. The concept is that the value a link should pass to a target page will be largely based on the probability that a user would click on it (hat tip to Bill Slawski who wrote a great post deconstructing Google's reasonable surfer patent). Some simple examples of how this might work include: Links to unrelated content are highly unlikely to be clicked Specific types of content, such as "about us" or "privacy" pages, may be more—or less&mdas [...]

The Search Marketers Guide To Facebook Ads

With more than 400 million active users on Facebook, advertisers are salivating at the opportunity to reach targeted and engaged audiences through Facebook ads. But paid advertising on Facebook is still in its infancy. Few organizations have figured out how to effectively leverage Facebook ads, and in many cases resources and budgets have not yet become available for investment in the channel. For smart search marketers, this uncertainty around Facebook ads represents an opportunity. Just as advertising on content networks required a shift from intent-based to contextual advertising, Fac [...]

Enhanced Brand Keyword Ads = Industrial Strength SEM

Are you still arguing with your management about whether you should buy your brand keywords or not? Good news for you: I’m here to make sure you have two more good reasons to go ahead and buy that brand and feel good about it. A few months ago I wrote about how advertisers should think about buying their brand keywords on search engines. Since then I have been happily buying a number of brand keywords and can safely say I’m delighted by the fact that there are now several viable enhanced ad products offered by the major search engines that can bring absolute joy to the open-minded searc [...]

Google’s Push To Speed Up Your Web Site

Google continues to make a big push for improving your website download performance. Earlier in May Google's Maile Ohye posted a video on the Google Webmaster Central Blog on the case for speeding up your site, tools for helping you find speed related problems, and some specific speed optimization tips. Some of the more interesting data points from the video include: Shopzilla ran an A/B test comparing the impact of the download speed their pages had on conversion. They found that the faster pages delivered 7% to 12% more conversions than the slower pages. Firefox ran a similar test, [...]

Enterprise SEO Tools, Part 1: The Browser

Everybody loves tools! For search marketers working on any level—a 10 page site or a 10 million page site—tools are essential. They save us time, they help us diagnose issues, and they give us a peek into what our competitors are doing. They can even give us a peek into what the search engines are doing (more on that in a future article). This article will outline a selection of tools I feel are most useful for enterprise-level SEOs working on large, complex websites. These are the tools we use every day, and the tools we recommend to our clients. This is not an exhaustive list; [...]

Urgency Marketing Strategies Using Google Ad Parameters

In today’s competitive, crowded and often copycat online advertising environment, advertisers are continually looking for new, innovative, cost-efficient ways to get their message though to target audiences. They’ve studied and implemented all the standard best practices into their ad copy—strong calls to action, keywords in the creative, trademark symbols and even dynamic keyword insertion—but many still experience challenges driving their unique value proposition through the "clutter" of similar messages and formats that have been implemented by competitors. So what is a [...]

Search & Affiliate Marketing: Making Them Work For You

Search marketers will often say that you shouldn’t run affiliate programs because your brand will be damaged by affiliates. That’s a cop-out. To suggest that you will lose control of your brand by having other marketers drive sales for you is insulting to those of us who understand the business.

SEO: To Outsource Or Develop In-House Resources?

Online marketing is complex, and it seems that the number of factors you need to consider to make sure you have the optimal strategy is only increasing. Therefore, it might be tempting to conclude that SEO, or more broadly, online marketing, is something that needs to be outsourced. There is certainly a strong case to be made for hiring external expertise, but outsourcing your SEO strategy completely does have some disadvantages. On the other hand, bringing people in-house has some advantages, but requires in-house people to stay current with developments in the industry. Today's column wi [...]

5 New Paradigms For Link Building Success

Link building has changed. Over the past several years, a shift has taken place that has removed much of the meritocratic, or natural reward, of high-quality content with quantities of high-quality links. This self-guided sharing by website owners is becoming rare. Competition and noise on the web, combined with financial incentive surrounding links, has made it hard for great content to get noticed on its own. Today, great content needs help to get noticed—sometimes a lot of it. There are really two primary types of link graphs on the web: the natural link graph and the commercial li [...]

Paid Search & Social Media: Can They Be Friends?

As a large-scale paid search marketer, you may believe social media marketing has little to do with your craft. After all, most marketers hold true to the notion that paid search is extremely measurable, focused on bottom-line ROI and grounded in analytics, whereas social media, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and viral video, is experimental, difficult to measure, and all about engagement and branding. But the reality is that search and social are becoming more and more similar, with each marketing tactic influencing the other in important ways. Auction-based advertising models for lea [...]

Five Questions To Ask Before Going Global

One of the things I mentioned in my previous series on Global SEM is that there is no such thing as going global. Going global means going local in 25 different ways. This holds true not only for brand campaigns, but even more so for broader marketing initiatives. Since I wrote about supporting a global brand re-launch with paid search last fall, I have had the pleasure of working with Yahoo's international teams on a broader scope of marketing initiatives, and I thought it would make sense to jot down a few thoughts in the hopes of making others’ efforts more successful. Let me first [...]

Getting Top Management Buy-In For Enterprise SEO

My last post focused on selling the benefits of SEO in a large enterprise. Once you have done that you will already have made great progress, but now you need to take the next step: getting your management team to understand what is means to pursue SEO, and how it affects the business at an operational level. You want to explain this as at a very high level, in 20 minutes or less, because you will not be likely to keep the attention of top executives if you take much longer than that. The goal in this post is to outline a strategy for overcoming internal objections and obstacles to effect [...]

Internal Linking Tactics For Users & Search Engines

The internal linking structure of a website represents a wealth of (usually) untapped opportunity. Back link acquisition is always going to be fundamental to organic search efforts, but before reaching out across the vast web for links, look within. You may have more potential juice to leverage inside your own site than you would get from several links from other sites, and manipulating your own links is (usually) much easier than securing links on other sites. It's important to recognize that internal linking isn't just about SEO. It's intimately tied together with site architecture, conv [...]

Offline Conversions: How To Measure The Real ROI Of Paid Search In A Multi-Channel World

Search engine marketing no longer exists in an online vacuum. In today’s multi-channel world, people search online, visit stores to test out products, return to the internet to compare prices and then complete purchases in-store, online or via a call center. Over $155 billion worth of consumer goods was purchased online in the U.S. in 2009, yet a far larger portion of offline sales were influenced by online research, according to a March report from Forrester Research. Forrester estimates that $917 billion worth of retail sales last year were "web-influenced," with online and web-influenc [...]

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