What’s new and interesting in the world of search marketing? What role should search play in your overall marketing plan? Our expert contributors weigh in.

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To Pay Or Not To Pay, That Is The Power Shopping Question

Much hype, and many public relations wars, has been waged over the last couple of months centering on the physical dynamics of paying your way into shopping results. Most of the attention has been focused on Google, and as often happens in the search community, Big G’s motives have been dissected, reviewed and morally judged, before short-attention-spans took the angry masses off to gripe about something else. The much larger debate, the industry’s familiar old cold sore, is the “pay or no pay” argument. Every time there’s a case where a free product suddenly becomes a pay-for-pla [...]

Why People Hate SEO

seo-code-schema-featured Every few months, someone seems to attack search engine optimization. SEOs are often quick to rise in defense of their profession. I've done that plenty myself, in the past. But a barrage of recent cold-call SEO pitches in my inbox even has me hating SEO. Of course, I don't really hate SEO. That's because I know the difference between: SEO and search engine spam SEO and snake-oil promises SEO remains the act of gaining free traffic from search engines, and also to me, gaining that traffic in ways that don't put you at risk of being banned or penalized by those search engines. I [...]

Accomplishments, Complaints & Predictions: The Ultimate 2012 Year-End List

shutterstock_108204866-NewYearClock Well, it’s that time of year again: time to squeeze in every little bit of revenue before the 2012 books close; time to take every last day of vacation before they magically disappear at the stroke of midnight on December 31st; and, perhaps most importantly, it’s that time of year when a whole host of year-end roundup articles ranging from the "Top 10 Things We Learned" to articles detailing every well-intentioned, but rarely kept, resolution ever made. I never thought I would write a “Things We Learned” type article because of a dreadful fear that I only recently learned somethin [...]

Looking Back Over 2012 Through Tweets

2012. Wow, what a year. The world didn’t end, yet. For me, this year was quite different from those in the recent past. I experienced several personal milestones, enjoyed a lovely editorial year (my first with Marketing Land) and my agency continued to grow in spite of my absence for part of the year. Here’s a look back at 2012 via the wide angle lens that is my Twitter feed.  Some of my tweets were related to our industry, while others chronicled brand failures or just the total nonsense our social media culture encompasses at times. I’ve grouped my chronologically-ordered sel [...]

The Great Exaggeration: Optimization

shutterstock_83838865-optimization One of the so-called standard operating procedures we digital marketers espouse most vehemently is "optimization." We believe we've got this practice nailed. Search practitioners coined the term and drove the movement from the earliest days -- wielding a love for data, crude original campaign management systems, Excel-based testing matrices and a belief that optimization was the birthright of search marketers, and by extension, all digital marketers. Therefore, it's long been a constant for anyone in the business. But, unfortunately, the industry started to take this capability for grant [...]

5 Ways To Know How To Say No (To Potential Clients Or Agencies)

shutterstock_86388316-Stop We need a new agency. We are thinking of hiring an agency. We’d like to hear more about your agency. Do you do search? We’d like some SEM help. Can you conduct a review of our current program? How many times have you been asked any of the above questions? How far would you go to prove yourself worthy of providing the answers? There is no greater cost to an agency than the cost of acquiring new business. The race to build business in an industry experiencing unparalleled growth has led to agencies rarely stopping to ask if they should be answering those questions and in what context. [...]

Are Search Agencies Becoming Dinosaurs?

shutterstock_114519181-dinosaur I can’t remember every detail of my first client meeting nearly 15 years ago (I was a newbie working for a search agency), but I can remember a few things:  I remember nearly our entire company going to the meeting (there were only four of us, and three attended the meeting). I remember the client VP sitting at the table alongside their traditional agency. I remember how proud I was of the new grey sport coat I was wearing and had bought just for this meeting. But perhaps the thing I remember most is walking away from that meeting thinking “How could they not get it?”  How c [...]

The Silos That Dog Us — Putting Them Out To Pasture

shutterstock_114118168-silos Silos, while they might be pleasing to the eye in a pastoral setting, are a known negative in the world of business and marketing. We should not organize, manage workflow or report in silos. Nor should we plan and execute in silos. And, never should analysis and optimization of our efforts be done in silos. Yet, the default position is the silo. In many ways, transcending the silo is an unnatural act. It takes curiosity, thought, delving and collaborative instincts to set the course for cross-pollination and collaboration to make those things happen. You've got to have a silo busting [...]

The Rise Of The Search Butler

butler-globe-platter-featured Let me start this month with the following disclaimer: I despise humble bragging in all its forms. I find the whole process nauseating -- so much so that I have taken to parodying my own tweets that even remotely smell like a humble brag. That stated with the utmost sincerity, I can tell you I recently went through a life change when my car lease came up. I was hell bent on getting something practical, efficient and just downright not another Orange County me-too car. Yet, with all my resistance to trendy and all my good intentions, busy schedules and other priorities got in the way. So [...]

Dark Google: One Year Since Search Terms Went “Not Provided”

google-clouds-dark-featured A year ago, Google began going dark. Dark in terms of no longer sharing with publishers, in some cases, how people searched for and found those publishers through Google's search engine. The "single digit" percentage of withholding that Google predicted at the time has turned into more than 50%, in some cases. If Google's withholding were an eclipse, more than half the sun is being covered. "Dark Google" is upon us, and it will only grow darker. I'm drawing the term "Dark Google" as a play off the "Dark Social" concept that Alexis Madrigal wrote about recently in The Atlantic. Dark Socia [...]

Forget Holiday, It’s Budget Season!

shutterstock_101420989-trendline In all of my schooling, I only ever failed one class: Intro to Mathematics. As I write that sentence, a wave of embarrassment washes over me. Failing Math 101 is pretty hard to do (I mean it was an 8 a.m. class my freshman year in college, so perhaps that had something to do with it, but I digress).  Yes, it was disappointing to my parents, but was it surprising? No. I have never been good with numbers. My brain simply does not work that way and never has. I am a right-brained, creative type that prefers coming up with the ideas rather than figuring out the economics behind them. Tha [...]

Can Facebook Build A Better Search? Should It?

The road to Facebook's mid-term success is paved with search goodness, many believe. When the stock starts tanking, the top execs apparently believe a good thing to do at a shareholder's meeting is make an opaque reference to building a better search engine. "Build a better search" is an anthem many of us in the search business have been hearing for well in excess of a decade. Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned (among other things) plans to create a better way to connect intent with social subject matter in a way that can be sold to the highest bidder. At least, that's what [...]

Grids Are Great, But What Of The Subtle Undertones Of Creative Testing?

shutterstock_77883016-test Within all marketing and media,  and certainly digital, where there are intricate moving but measurable parts, testing has become a mainstay. Because we all aspire to better testing, it's a study in progress. Depending on your partners, vendors, systems or tools, much of your testing may be left to your team's raw imagination, discipline and ability to organize all testing in the most clear-minded way. Sound testing takes a sense of order and the willingness to pace oneself. It also requires keeping the right creative and account resources on hand, to continually iterate to service the [...]

The Return Of The Google Dance

Google Dance! Old timers in the SEO world will remember the "Google Dance," if not fondly, at least with some nostalgia. It was when Google's rankings went through a change each month, sometimes dramatically, when a new algorithm was launched. The Google Dance eventually disappeared. Who'd have thought it would ever return? But it sure has, and we're likely to be dancing even more. The Days Of The Google Dance The Google Dance took its name from how the results at Google seemed to "dance" around when it unleashed a new search algorithm -- Google's recipe for ranking web pages -- on the world. A sear [...]

The Tippy Toes Of Performance Marketing; Boosting Your Efforts To The Next Level

shutterstock_86370691-internetmarketing When we gather to talk about search marketing, we don't just talk about search marketing anymore. In fact, the agenda is broader 100% of the time. Search keeps its cornerstone within the now much broader and more intricate scope of performance media and marketing. It's a foundational discipline and plays a critical role within the arsenal, but it's not the only important element. What else must that conversation and our scope of understanding include these days? The Fundamentals It doesn't make a lot of sense to uphold the pretense of "doing search" unless you are willing to keep your com [...]

You Can’t Make More People Search (Or Can You?)

shutterstock_51885910-forcedsearch You can’t make more people search.  You simply can’t.  End of story. OK, fine, technically you can go to someone’s house, sit them down at knifepoint, and force them to search for your brand term, but that seems like something reserved for a super nerdy, boring version of a Liam Neeson movie. So, for the rest of us that have maxed out our brand terms and have budget to spare, what are we supposed to do?  Should we just be happy with what we get and move on from there?  Is there is no reasonable way to increase our brand search volume? I mean, sure we can all just pump more i [...]

How Google Went From Search Engine To Content Destination

Google Play Gift Card Of things I imagined when I first started writing about Google as a hot new search engine in 1998, the idea that about 15 years later, Google would buy the venerable Frommer's travel guides or sell "Google Play" gift cards weren't remotely on the list. From Search Engine To Content Engine How did we get from Google being a search engine that pointed to things, like travel guides or gift cards sold by other companies, to being a content company? It's a position that more than ever before makes it hard for Google to assure other companies that it won't play favorites with its search listings [...]

Are You Boring Yourself With Your Search Marketing?

shutterstock_85936765-bored If you count yourself as a performance marketer, chances are search has been in your wheelhouse for a while. It's a go-to for you, and you are wise enough to know that, along with the rest of your mix -- and hopefully you have one -- you can employ search for branding as well as direct response objectives. As with all things that are tried and true, you may regard your approach as maintenance, steady as she goes -- with the occasional keyword audit, trafficking of new assets or tweaking of spend. But, are you missing out by not being more enthralled by your own efforts? By not keeping a [...]

How Not To Write A Sales Letter

shutterstock_72425554-keyboard The industry's quest for search advertising and next-gen digital technologies is endless. Though technology is undoubtedly important, too often, there's not enough emphasis on the soft science aspects of closing the sale. This applies to everything from search technology to agency services. Take the sales letter, for example. Like many agencies; we get sales solicitations all the time. All too often, those solicitations are poor excuses for communication. I got a doozy recently and I took the time to provide some helpful feedback. The <company name> has been removed to protect the [...]

The Dog Days Of Summer

Dog Days of Summer [caption id="attachment_13726" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Summer has a way of making us all a bit lazy"][/caption] This article is late.  Very late.  Like late enough to where my editor should probably fire me (now might be a good time to point out how amazing, smart, talented, and, did I mention amazing, she is). But it’s not my fault.  It really isn’t. You see, every year as summer starts to roll in, a relaxed complacency starts to set in both personally and marketing-wise. Holiday 2011 is a distant memory, but Holiday 2012 is still too far off to talk about. [...]

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