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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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. [...]

Links: The Broken “Ballot Box” Used By Google & Bing

vote-button In 1998, Google launched a search engine based on a good idea: counting links as votes for good content. Google, as well as its rival Bing, still largely operates the same way today. Unfortunately, using 1998 voting technology makes little sense in the world of 2012 -- and the cracks are showing. The cracks aren't showing when it comes to search quality. Both Google and Bing still leverage links as a way to provide relevant answers to millions of people each day. Sure, there's always examples of odd outliers where relevancy fails, examples that especially get seized upon by those upset over [...]

What Has Become Of The Search Guru?

shutterstock_79006174-Guru While the term "guru" has been adopted by many an opportunist in a variety of industries, perhaps nowhere did it take such an inflated hold as in the early to middle years of the search segment of our industry. There was a time when the guru strode rampant across stages, board rooms, book tours and billable rate cards everywhere, reliant on  the greater industry's (and most marketers') reverence and fear of touching search and getting their hands dirty. We all looked to the gurus -- even though we could never quite discern the blend of academic or theoretical expertise and practitioner [...]

The Search Time Warp

shutterstock_32988730-ATM Search advertising is easy. You just pop up a couple of bids and drop in some text and you are off to the races. Search ads are a cash machine and you really only need about 20 minutes to really start spitting out ATM goodness. Of course, none of the above is in any way true. The simple reality for those managing search advertising is that the process and development of a truly intricate initiative is a bit more complex than what you can learn in (loosely) 30% of an hour. While most advertisers spending $250, 000 dollars and above -- in the top tier-- seem to have embraced the complexity [...]

ROI: The Most Dysfunctional Metric In Digital Marketing

Ok, so maybe the title of this article is a little dramatic for ratings' sake, but, seriously, ROI conversations are the bane of my existence. Not because I have an offline background where the idea of having to prove value from my campaigns seems ludicrous. Not because I am some brand-happy marketer that believes impressions are the best way to judge success. Heck, it’s not even because I am just being extra cranky today (although that might be the case -- I have been known to be a bit ornery in my old age).  It’s because we all get it wrong, and there is no one to blame but ourselve [...]

Battling Baffling Search Marketing Afflictions

shutterstock_48900127-biohazard The evolution of the digital marketing universe is sometimes quirky and funny, and sometimes it’s just downright sad. Ten years of writing op-ed for various publications, well in excess of 15 years working in, around, or at the helm of agencies in the digital marketing sector, and it still surprises me when I see odd behavior in the client, vendor, trade press or demand funnel. Search marketing has always been its own animal. Abject bad behavior aside, I’ve assembled a short list of afflictions and disorders I’ve witnessed over the years (not necessarily ordered chronologically or [...]

Identifying Talent For The New Performance Marketing Culture

shutterstock_73076395-hiringchecklist On the list of things we discuss in this industry, talent is one of the most persistent. Our expectations for our businesses transcend financial objectives and translate to high and sometimes restless standards for the talent we seek. In today's performance marketing culture, the ideal talent profile is complicated and ever-changing. It's not as straightforward as recruiting, hiring and training a straight line of talent across client services, marketing or media services, creative, production and analytics. Our performance planning culture can no longer afford to be linear. And, the silos [...]

Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces “Paid Inclusion”

google-good-evil-featured Back when Google was an upstart search engine, one way it distinguished itself was to fight against a pay-to-play business model called "paid inclusion." Indeed, paid inclusion was one of the original sins Google listed as part of its "Don't Be Evil" creed. But these days, Google seems comfortable with paid inclusion, raising potential concerns for publishers and searchers alike. What Is Paid Inclusion? There are two main ways that companies show up in Google's search results. Companies either buy ads or hope that Google decides that their content is relevant enough to appear in what ar [...]

Getting Ready For A Post-Search World

Search is no longer just one thing. At minimum, it's two things: organic and paid. But, as the marketplace that holds it has evolved, search is so much more. It's a composite of methods; it's an ingredient; it's a mechanic; it's a mindset. While it's not yet unrecognizable, even marketers who once deemed it a silver bullet or their performance-marketing drug of choice must acknowledge that we have somewhat moved beyond search in its pure form. It's ironic that the very folks who perhaps took a bit too long to adopt search marketing in the first place than they should have, and who now c [...]

Yahoo’s Nose Dive. Pull Up.

shutterstock_65064280-nosedive The foundation of search lies in the definitions of what people want and what makes them click to find what they seek. In other words, search is the foundation of digital commerce. Yahoo’s latest drama is only the tip of the iceberg for the stressed Internet company. Since former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz officially threw in the towel on search nearly three years ago, it seems odd to be mentioning the words “search” and “Yahoo” in the same sentence, but smart search knowledge is exactly what will fix Yahoo. That, and a little less drama. Yahoo’s core business was in ruins as its [...]

The Worthless Battle Between Direct Response And Branding

shutterstock_41664208-boxing “I don’t get why you keep saying ‘direct response.’  I don’t get that term -- it just doesn’t make sense to me.  Everything we do is direct response.  There isn’t a single piece of marketing we run that is not designed to get a response.” And with those few words, I felt dumb.  For more than a decade I had focused on “direct response” digital campaigns, and with that one exchange, a client of mine was tearing it all down.  My immediate response was to chalk it up to semantics -- we were saying the same thing just in different terms. But when that didn’t stick, [...]

Penguin’s Reminder: Google Doesn’t Owe You A Living, So Don’t Depend On It

ga1 It's one of the most important rules of search engine optimization. Don't depend solely on SEO. Especially don't depend solely on Google, the largest of the SEO sources. I'm always surprised when people fail to learn this lesson. Those hit hard by last week's Penguin Update are just the latest to learn it again. Consider some of the reactions, which are often filled with blame toward Google, or belief that there's some type of secret agenda (or two or three) behind the move or views that Google is now so "broken" with bad results that people will flock to Bing: 1) Some months ago someone [...]

Fear, Reverence And Drama: The Enemies Of Integrated Search

In one eye-opening moment recently, I was thinking about Search Marketing in the context of our industry -- and the collective programming of all the conferences, roundtables, panels and workshops that take place. Thinking about how search is reflected in these environments, I found myself looking back over the past two years and realized just how many times I'd been led to a table to facilitate, walked into a room to participate, hopped on the phone to contemplate or stood in front of a class to illuminate -- the merits and practices of integrated search. Yes, search, in its various for [...]

Train Wreck Scenario: Search Marketing

shutterstock_65032549-trainwreck A cold harsh inevitability of your career in digital marketing is that you will come across a disproportionate number of people who know a lot less than they should about subject matter that falls into their responsibility. Search is one of those subjects about which many people are less-than-informed and you’ll need to learn how to deal with those folks. You’ll need to deal with less-than-ideal client scenarios and really bad ones. To be aptly equipped you’ll need to know the difference between good, bad and train wreck. To be clear, this is not a discourse on whose tactical objec [...]

Sprucing Up For Spring

shutterstock_44229037-paintrainbow Ah springtime.  The greatest time of the year. Warmer weather, cherry blossoms, baseball, and, this year, neon colors.  Everywhere. Color took a bit of a break from our lives the past few years as the entire world seemed to teeter on inevitable collapse, but it’s back now, and I, for one, am happy about it. From the skinny jeans (for women and, unfortunately, men too) that come in colors matching every shade of Avery Hi-Liter, to the incredibly popular Cole Haan Oxford shoes that sport neon yellow soles, to the numerous handbags bright enough to make any dark alley light up like it’s [...]

Holy Consumer: Keeping Demand in Check

shutterstock_86374552-searchbox Like most fellow zealots, my original love affair with search was all about the glories of being served up "consumer demand" -- and being able to market and optimize to that demand. Expressed demand right at your fingertips was a beautiful thing. Following the ghostly spending period of 2001-2002, it made it much more palatable to jump back into digital -- and, of course, to guide other marketers to do the same. As the past decade has roared on and our media marketplace has been practically propelled by consumer demand, influence, path and usage -- we have built our house around this con [...]

Is Google’s “Over Optimization Penalty” Its “Jump The Shark” Moment In Web Search?

fonzie two The wolves are attacking Google again over its search quality. Last year, they were fed the Panda Update to fend them off. This year, Google may throw an Over Optimization Penalty to the pack. No, that doesn't mean SEO is dead once again. But it may sadly confuse SEO with spam. It also doesn't mean the penalty will improve Google's results. Google already has problems enforcing all the other penalties it has rolled out over the years. Jumping The Shark "Jump the shark" is a reference to a Happy Days episode where The Fonz did a water ski jump over a shark. It was later seen as a mil [...]

Avoiding Three Common SEO Gremlins

shutterstock_12869830-jumpinghurdle You’d think at this stage of the search marketing game, best practices for Search Engine Optimization would be foregone conclusions and everyone would be on board regarding the importance of executing on search initiatives. Well, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Mom always told me if you can’t be good at something; don’t bother doing it at all. Ok, so maybe Mom didn’t pass that little gem on to me, but in our struggles do the right thing, make the client happy and accomplish objectives sometimes we fall short. And sometimes, just sometimes, there are well-intentioned, [...]

Don’t Let Shiny New Objects Distract You

Vendor/Self-Appointed Industry Expert:  So, what’s your Pinterest strategy? Me: I don’t have one yet. Vendor/Self-Appointed Industry Expert:  Really?!? Are you crazy?  You are missing out!  All your customers are there!  Our agency/technology/approach will make you tons and you can really capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Me: Sigh.  Please go away. Be honest. Most of you are reading this story only because you saw the Pinterest logo and got excited aren’t you?  I spent the last week at eTail West and the above conversation happened no less than a zi [...]

Content Marketing Today: An All-Hands Enterprise

hands-shutterstock It used to be that adept optimization of your one or two platforms or environments – your .com and perhaps your blog -- and the content and assets inhabiting those places -- was enough of a day's work to call yourself a Content Marketer. Properly tending to your SEO made you feel on top of things – as though you quite literally were the master of your domain, with all content under control and servicing your marketing objectives. Content Marketers took a short-term view and the efforts didn't amount to much. But, today, a long view is required. In today's cross-channel, cross-platfor [...]

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