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Search marketing essentials is our weekly round-up of what really matters in search marketing if you're a marketer or digital marketing specialist. Since Google is dominant in search in most markets, we focus on the changes made by Google to it's search experience and the implications for SEO and Paid Search.
Unlike the portals specialising in SEO and PPC we will only select posts from around the web which are "must-read" for marketers managing search, but also responsible for other areas of marketing. Of course, if you are a busy search specialist, aren't they all, we hope you find our updates useful.
Sign-up to our enewsletter if you'd like a reminder of the updates each Friday.
Commentary: Still quite a new tool in the PPC channel, impression share is a great competitive benchmarking tool. Essentially it tells you out of all the searches on your keywords, the % of times you appear based on your budgets, day parting etc.
Implication: Using this tool you quickly determine if you need to edit settings on top performing keywords for example to make sure you are getting the maximum exposure. A great tool for tweaking your campaigns and spotting
Commentary: With the Yahoo Search transition to Microsoft / Bing now complete the great webmaster data that Yahoo used to provide is now no longer available. While they have said that they will maintain the site explorer function the more advanced query parameters will now display no results.
Implication: There are other tools that can replicate & do more than Yahoo"€™s advanced query parameters. If you used to find these parameters useful make sure you checkout this blog post.
Commentary: An area so easy to get wrong & with big consequences. Matt Clarke, a Smart Insights commentator outlines the 5 steps you need to take to make sure your site migration runs smoothly and benefits your business in the long run.
Implication: There are a whole host of reasons why you might need to migrate your website(s). The internet & online businesses move quickly (sometimes too quickly) which can leave aging sites, dated campaign sites etc in need of migrating. If you find yourself having to do this make sure you check this guide out, it will be invaluable.
Commentary: Quite a controversial move from Google. I think this update is one where there are just as many arguments to keep it live as there are to drop it. Essentially the Google SERP"€™s can now display as many pages from one domain as they deem necessary. The example they provide will help you fully understand the update.
Implication: This will be quite a business specific update with regards to who it affects but do monitor your main keyterms to see if you see the results changing at all. In terms of how this affects your marketing efforts, its still about good, easy to find content that is within a well structured website. If you have spent time and effort on this already then you are likely to benefit from this update.
Commentary: A common issue from my personal experience and from reading this article on seomoz it would appear its not just me. Researching "why a page isn"€™t ranking" or "determining why a page has been penalized" can be a big & complex job. Don"€™t call in the experts just yet, this article is a great starting point.
Implication: If you are currently asking yourself the question above or this has been an issue before checkout this article. Work your way down the list completing the checks. I would imagine 80% of the time the issue will have been resolved by checking the items mentioned.
Commentary: We often forget to look outside of our own Google Account, so much to look at, tweak & change within our accounts why would you?! As this article rightly points out the click-through rate metric could be affected by competitor offers or messaging. Time for a quick look outside of the box.
Implication: Take a look at the article, choose some of your best & worse performing keywords and run some searches within your chosen search engine. Make a note of key competitors, the ad-text they use & design / messaging of their landing pages. Once you have a good selection of competitors its likely to be time to start running some a/b tests.
Commentary: The first of many new guides from Smart Insights is now live and available to view or download. A great tool just to help & remind you about how to best utilize your webpages to help your wider search efforts.
Implication: After reading the guide, depending on your role within the business you should be either printing it off to pin it up nearby or using it to create a brief so you can have your website tweaked so each page is fully optimised.
Commentary: Outlining 7 key things to look for when SEO agencies are pitching for your business. A process most SME"€™s & large corporations have to go through whether for the first time or to replace a current agency.
Implication: Take a look at the blog post and make notes on items you think are most relevant for your sector. Use your notes during each pitch to ask questions, review their slides and remember to listen to all agencies before making a decision.
Commentary: This policy update has been live in the USA for sometime now but it has finally come to the UK, Ireland & Canada. The policy relates specifically to the use of trademarked key terms in your campaigns & ad-text. The policy in a nutshell says "€œGoogle will no longer prevent advertisers from selecting a third party's trademark as a keyword"€. A Google update well worth taking the time to understand.
Implication: Depending on your website & competitiveness of your market this maybe something you want to consider really understanding. I recommend reading the full article to get to grips with the various areas it affects and the rules that are still in place. Once you have understood it properly see where new keyterms may fit into your campaigns & if it is relevant to use trademarked terms to improve ad-text click-through rates.
Commentary: A great blog post from the Einsenberg brothers displaying tools & ways you can easily understand your marketplace and competitor activity without having to spend £"€™s on tools like hitwise. While constantly following & copying your competitors isn"€™t a healthy way to grow your business its a good idea every quarter to understand what competitors are doing and equally to take stock on the market place, it will hep with new ideas as well.
Implication: Have a read of the blog and click on each of the tools they recommend. Enter your keywords or competitors and using their advice start to paint your picture of the market place etc. Its easy then to create a SWOT analysis of each competitor to highlight potential opportunities for your company & also to spot gaps / opportunities within the marketplace. You should do this quarterly or worse case every half year.
Commentary: Such a broad marketing channel with so much to think about, Natural search marketing can be a quite a handful. Dr. Dave Chaffey recently interviewed SEO specialist James Gurd to see how he advices small to medium to take on natural search marketing.
Implication:Run through each section of the article and identify which of the questions are most relevant to you at the moment, once you have read the response create a brief your team / agency to implement the recommended changes. Pay special attention to point 5 to see if your changes are working, remember to give it time for your changes to impact your rankings etc.
Commentary: With so many campaigns, ad-groups, keywords, match types, day parting and the likes to think about it doesn"€™t surprise me the amount of times ad-text gets over looked. Tweaks & tests with your ad-text can dramatically influence both click-through rates & even conversion rates on your website.
Implication: Login to your ad-words account (or request from your agency) and take a look at the various ad-texts you use. Having read this article are things you should be testing with you ad-word copy? Remember Paid Search is probably the best channel to be able to quickly change and monitor results so there is never an excuse for it not to be highly optimised!
Commentary: We have been told for many years that more searches will happen from within social networks than from search engines. With the rise of Youtube, Facebook & now twitter, social search is now a reality.. Twitter has said in an average month it now recieves 24billions search queries, thats bigger than Yahoo & Bing put together
Implication: Twitter is another tool in a marketeers box, it is a place where engagement with customers, leads & others in your industry can take place. As with most tools now, twitter requires process, structure & most of all participation. Make sure you have a twitter account for your business and that you use it effectively. Check out this post from Richard Sedley for some twitter tips
Commentary: Google has recently launched a new function in its sitemap submission area of the webmaster tool kit. You can now submit one sitemap for all your various content types though the file size and other restrictions are still in place.
Implication: You now only need one sitemap (unless you have a huge website) to cater for your webpages, video, news, mobile & image submissions. A good time to check your sitemap, is it valid, are all the pages present, all content types submitted? Learn more about Sitemap types here.
Commentary: Only a handful of people in the world have access to the full Google Algorithm but this diagram goes a long way to helping us remember all the many things we have to consider in search engine marketing.
Implication: Reference each part of the diagram back to your own knowledge, tool kits & strategy. Are there elements you are missing or do not understand? Aim to investigate any new areas & make sure your strategy incorporates each section.
Commentary: Google recently announced an update to its paid search features, now enabling you to include some of your local listings (for those brick & mortar businesses) within your paid search listing.
Implication: Any business that relies as much on its stores as it does online will find this useful. It will display local listings relevant to the searcher. So as Google use in their example if someone from San Francisco were to search for "€œToys r us"€ as well as seeing the primary paid listing they will see a list of stores near to them. This will encourage more click-throughs due to increased exposure & engagement.
Commentary: We all know its easy to get bogged down in the complexities of SEO. The experts talk about all the optimisation techniques you could do, should, might want to, don't need to do. We all need reminding of the basics from time to time. Search strategies can be kept simple and form an integral part of marketing.
Implication: After looking through a few of the resources mentioned in the article, look at your website(s) and ask yourself "have I covered the basics?", are the right building blocks in place? Review the resources, then create a simple actions list to run through yourself or discuss with colleagues who manage your SEO.
Commentary: "What is the difference between broad & exact match?" This is a question I hear repeated again and again. Discussion also shows that there's a lack of understanding of the best way to use this tool from Google. While it can be confusing match types are worth grappling with since they can certainly help focus your search, reduce costs & improve conversion rates.
Implication: Login to your Ad-Words account or Google Analytics and look at your keywords, are they all setup as broad match, do they include 1-3 keywords and driving high volumes of traffic but not converting as high as you would expect? Have a read of this article and test changing some of the configurations! Remember to monitor and act on your tests! In Google Analytics the best feature of the new Adwords beta for us is the review of match types and that can help too.
Commentary: This fairly heavy-duty stats analysis supports the value of using PageRank for benchmarking SEO potential of a page within and between sites. The correlation between PageRank and performance seems compelling, so it's good to see an antidote to the many "Ignore PageRank - it's pointless" comments you hear from SEOs.
Implication: Use PageRank to benchmark against competitors for the home page or established internal site pages you're targeting, but don't forget it is just one of over 200 signals used by Google to review performance in the search engines.
Commentary: Nice practical tips if you're involved with writing or reviewing AdWords copy.
Implication: You probably know about dynamic keyword insertion, but the post outlines a structured approach to test the effect of different offers or "directions" as Josh Dreller puts it.
Commentary: The Google Adwords Ad Sitelinks format for brand searches has been really effective for marketers I have spoken to. Today Google announced a similar format but this time for generic searches, in fact all your campaigns.
Implication: Ask your paid search provider to test this approach since it can help boost conversion by offering different conversion paths based on the scent trails to different products or services you offer in the 4 additional links below your ad.
Commentary: Google has refined the way it checks the quality of landing pages which are so important of paid search in Google Adwords.
Implication: Checkout Andrew Girdwoods post, and the quality scores of keywords sin your account to make sure you don't have a potential problem here.
Commentary: Gap analysis has the advantage that it shows you opportunities for improving your SEO or PPC. It also allows you to compare their performance side-by-side.
Implication: Use the analysis technique shown to perform your own gap analysis. The example shown is produced using Excel importing data from Google Analytics and the Google Keyword Tool. Let me know via the Contact Us if you'd like a copy.
Commentary: Google's new click to call has had relatively little coverage since it's launch earlier this year. This is a reminder of what's possible.
Implication: If your products are complex or high value and so may benefit from a higher conversion rate achievable via a phone channel, this option may be worth reviewing.
Commentary: Much advice on tracking search is at the keyphrase level, but for the bigger picture, these are what we thin Big 3 questions for auditing or reviewing your search marketing.
Implication: The post explains how to setup this view of your search marketing through customisation of Google Analytics. Dave Chaffey has also written a recent related guest post on SEOptimise on Using Google Analytics custom segments to audit and improve search marketing
Commentary: You may well have heard about this through "the usual channels, i.e. from Google, SearchengineLand, Searchenginewatch or Econsultancy. This post is from a more specialist blog providing more detail with links to the original post.
Implication: Keep a watch on the trends in your Google Performance using our previous update.
Commentary: This post by Dave Chaffey gives an example of how to check whether this update, which has affected many sites has impact your traffic.
Implication: Review the methods given for checking traffic to long tail and shorter keyphrases in Google Analytics and methods for increasing traffic through SEO.
Commentary: I'm asked this question often by marketers. My answer is that when companies test effectiveness, the answer is almost always yes if you want to increase site goals and budget is available.
Implication: Review the arguments for advertising in Google Adwords for brand keywords. If you're unaware of the Ad Sitelinks feature which launched earlier in the year, check out this example.
By Chris Soames
Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.
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