Archive for August, 2008

The Wireless Ubiquity of SEO

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

Investing in SEO is wise for the future of your business for a myriad of reasons. A primary reason is that the relevance and necessity of SEO will only increase as search engine use expands to a wireless and mobile market.

Verizon and Google are in early discussions regarding a partnership that would feature Google’s search service on Verizon phones. Verizon has 68.7 million customers and added 1.5 million wireless customers in the second quarter of 2008 alone. Clearly, the impending deal has significant SEO ramifications. Additionally, Google already has a deal with Sprint that gives Sprint PCS customers direct access to Google’s search engine.

Perhaps most astonishing is how Apple’s iPhone has transformed search engine use. Last February, Google reported that the iPhone produces 50 times more search requests than any other mobile handset. Apple has sold millions of iPhones (over one million just in the first weekend they were released) and is looking to further tap into the overseas market. The bottom line is that more users are performing more searches more frequently than ever before.

The trend does not appear to be slowing any time soon. The New York Times recently stated, “Google has a voracious appetite for expansion of its search business beyond personal computers and into the mobile world.” As an example, Google offers to upgrade numerous brands of wireless phones with its free products. As Google and other search engines expand into the mobile world, your business can gain significant exposure – but only if you take SEO seriously.

Google-Yahoo! Proposed Deal: The Plot Thickens

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

As the Department of Justice continues its investigation of the proposed advertising partnership between Google and Yahoo!, parties on all sides are testifying, including Microsoft’s senior VP and general counsel, Brad Smith. In addition to antitrust issues, Smith cited privacy concerns: “If Google controls up to 90 percent of online search advertising it will have a complete picture of your online activities. Congress won’t need to enact a federal privacy policy; we will already have a national privacy policy – Google’s privacy policy.”

Google and Yahoo! remain poised to implement their deal in early October, but the Department of Justice will likely decide whether to block the deal within the next few weeks. Canada’s Competition Bureau is also jumping into the fray and will be reviewing the proposed deal.

Meanwhile, both companies continue to release innovative products. Google’s first phone was recently approved by the FCC. In addition to releasing Fire Eagle, Yahoo! also announced a partnership with Intel to bring interactive applications to TV sets.

Regardless of these products, the bread and butter of both companies still boils down to search market share. Unfortunately for Yahoo!, there are reports that Google’s search engine dominance is only increasing. Consequently, investors aren’t so sure about Yahoo!’s future prospects. Considering that many analysts think that Google will get the better end of its proposed deal with Yahoo!, the outcome of the Department of Justice’s inquiry is even more intriguing.

Search Concepts, An Orange County, CA Based SEM Firm – Are We Hiring?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Due to recent inquiries, weВ must address that we areВ notВ looking to expand the Search Concepts search engine marketing team at this time.В 

However, if you feel you would be a fine addition to our team, then submit your contact information and a short paragraph about yourself throughВ the contact us page, and we will keep it on hand for review when we do pursue further expansion toВ our team.В 

Commission Based SEO

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Today, a company interested in our search engine marketing services made an interesting proposal: a commissioned-based structure (instead of a traditional flat monthly fee) in which we would receive a percentage of any sale achieved as a result of our SEO efforts. While we are confident in our ability to produce search engine marketing results that lead to sales, we had to respectfully decline this request for several reasons.

First, tracking sales that originate from a search engine user is problematic, especially when the user calls or emails first, delaying the buying cycle. Customer service would have to track the source of every sale to make sure it is noted as a search engine based sale.

Second, our SEO services drive unique visitors to your site from the major search engines. After a visitor arrives, then your web site’s message, pricing, appearance, and functionality determine whether you make a sale. Although our SEO services cannot fully control whether your site appeals to visitors in the aforementioned areas, we are happy to provide feedback on what your site may need to accomplish the site’s call to actions such as sales, calls, contact requests, etc.В  In sum, successful SEO cannot be measured simply by number of sales. Rather, it is measured by the number of unique visitors coming to your site from the search engines.

Instead of a commission on sale based structure, a commission on the number of unique visitors that originate from the search engines would make more sense because that is our primary responsibility. Take the website’s existing average number of unique visitors per month from the search engines, and agree on a commission based structure when that average number increases.В 

Search Concepts has one of the most consumer friendly pricing structures in the industry. We strive to earn your business each month by providing noticeable and measurable results. Unlike most SEO companies, we do not require that you make a long-term commitment. After each month, we assess the results achieved, and you can renew based on the satisfaction with that progress.

Web Privacy, Advertisting, and… Congress?

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

Search engine ads that are tailored to a specific user based on his or her search data are becoming increasingly common.В  Many advertisers prefer this efficient method of marketing, but to privacy advocates and some consumers, diminishing online privacy is a growing concern.

Google’s detailed privacy policy is explanatory, but a relatively small percentage of users are knowledgeable of its actual terms and conditions.В  Late last week, Yahoo! announced that it would allow users to opt out of targeted advertising on its websites.В  Yesterday, however, Yahoo! released Fire Eagle, a location-based services (LBS) platform that helps users publish their current location to the web — a service that some have predicted will be a “potential privacy nightmare.”

As a result of advertisers’ behavioral targeting, Congress has taken steps to investigate search engine data collection and privacy policies.В  On August 1, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce ordered 34 cable and Internet companies — including Google, Yahoo!, and Cox — to provide details about their privacy standards.В  “Some type of omnibus electronic privacy legislation is needed…,” said Representative Edward J. Markey.В  What that legislation might look like is unclear at this point.

Our perspective is that the sole purpose of a search engine is to provide the most relevant results to its users.В  In turn, those users want to find precisely what they are looking for via the search engine.В  If conservative data collection is needed to achieve those results, then so be it.В  Everybody wins.В  The consumer finds what they want; the advertiser finds a targeted customer; and the search engine earns continued loyalty from both the consumer and the advertiser by providing targeted results to the right people.

Pay-Per-Click Ad Testing: Data Doesn’t Lie

Monday, August 11th, 2008

When taking over the management of pay-per-click campaigns with a substantial accumulated history, it is important to examine the three primary factors of most any PPC campaign: keywords, ads, and landing pages. While all these elements are important, let’s just focus on ads.

To test the effectiveness of the current ad being used, ad testing must be implemented in each ad group. We like to implement the “show ads evenly over time” setting in order to get a true read of how each ad responds in an equal amount of time. One ad will eventually separate itself from the other by having a higher clickthrough rate. In other words, one ad simply encourages a response more often than the other.

Recently, we implemented ad testing in a client’s campaign in order to test the effectiveness of their current ad. After two weeks of testing, the new ad we implemented was the clear choice to become the permanent ad. The clickthrough rate was significantly higher and the conversion rate was higher as well. We presented this new-found data to the client, who surprisingly refused to let the older, less effective ad be removed.

In their words, they liked the older ad because it was catchy and similar to their competitor’s ads. They thought that if their competitor was doing something, then maybe they should be doing it too. We attempted to explain the data again, but to no avail.

In summary, the objective data doesn’t lie. Historical data should make campaign decisions such as this one rather easy. The takeaway is that you should be partial to the data for each ad, not the actual ad itself.

SEO in a Specific Niche: Flipping Websites

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

The practical application of SEO extends beyond standard businesses that are in need of improved search engine rankings for their websites. In the past few years, many entrepreneurs have purchased undervalued or poorly managed websites, fixed them, and flipped them for a profit. The industry is only growing. A quick glance at EBay reveals nearly 2,000 websites that are currently for sale.

Although many purchasers improve websites through a simple redesign or software upgrade, an SEO campaign often ends up being the most profitable way to flip a site. There are many successful websites for sale that have never been optimized and are thus nowhere near their full business potential. A prudent purchaser can turn such a site into a gold mine with some patience and a small investment in an SEO campaign. Full-time website flipper Dave Hermansen said it best: “Making sure people find your site makes all the difference. Once you beef up traffic, everything else just happens.”