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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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. [...]

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 [...]

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