Search Engine Optimization and Management


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David Hughes' presentation on SEO and SEM at the 2008 Apartment Internet Marketing Conference.

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Search Engine Optimization and Management

  1. 1. Search Engine Management and Optimization
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Search Marketing Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Recent Search Trends </li></ul><ul><li>Search Best Practices </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Paid Search (SEM) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organic Search (SEO) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Landing Page Optimization (a.k.a. Conversion Path Optimization, CPO) </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Many choices, how to choose…
  4. 4. Key Search Marketing segments… <ul><li>Major Areas of Search Marketing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Search Engine Marketing (SEM, PPC, Paid Search) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Feeds or Site Submit </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search Engine Optimization (SEO, Organic, Natural) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Landing Page Optimization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design A/B Testing </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Multivariate Testing </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. What is “Search” - Google Example Page Organic Search Paid Search
  6. 6. Content Networks <ul><li>Google has hundreds of thousands of distribution sites including and </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ads can take many forms, including text, video ads, map ads, and audio ads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Advertisers can opt into the search engine’s content programs which allow their ads to be placed on relevant search engine partner sites. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For instance, a home improvement store or moving company may have their ad appear alongside an article for painting on </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example programs include Google AdSense, and Yahoo Content Match </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Content Network – AdSense
  8. 8. Content Network – Display Ads
  9. 9. Feeds and Paid Inclusion <ul><ul><ul><li>Getting a site listed onto a search engine’s index can oftentimes take a long time </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An alternative to waiting for one’s site to be crawled and indexed is pay the engines a fee to crawl all of the pages you request </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This sometimes requires the creation of a feed to submit to the search engines </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>These feeds guarantee inclusion into the organic search index but does not guarantee ranking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pricing is either free or a flat rate CPC by category. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Example programs include Yahoo Search Submit and Google Base </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Google Base - Apartments
  11. 11. Recent Search Trends…
  12. 12. Search is not just search… <ul><li>Local Search </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile Search </li></ul><ul><li>Map-based Searches </li></ul><ul><li>Content Networks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RSS feeds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Email Search </li></ul><ul><li>Hard-drive Search </li></ul><ul><li>Toolbars </li></ul><ul><li>Domain parking, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Downloads </li></ul><ul><li>More to come… </li></ul>Page <ul><li>New ways to search: </li></ul>
  13. 13. Online Video <ul><li>Video is a compelling new channel for SEO content </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Video in 2008 is primarily about entertainment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social media and viral marketing are the initial drivers behind SEO video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social/Viral buzz can transfer value to your SEO efforts through Video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Digg, etc. >> blogs >> links </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Links result in traffic, brand recognition & conversions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Links contribute to site’s ranking </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Properly optimized video may help your site outrank conventional websites among standard search results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thanks to Universal Search, Google begun to place videos when they deem it relevant above organic listings </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Social Media <ul><li>Social Networking - Focus is on connecting with others - friends, people with similar interests, potential employers/employees and building a solid reputation. Sites like MySpace, Facebook and Linkedin are well-known examples </li></ul><ul><li>Social Bookmarking - Sites like & Magnolia allow you to organize your frequented sites, tag them for keywords and keep them in one place that can be accessed from anywhere. These bookmarks can then be shared with others. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Recommendation - Sites like Digg and StumbleUpon that combine social networking and social bookmarking to create user generated recommendation sites. These sites encourage users to submit content that is then voted on. </li></ul><ul><li>Social Content - Sites like Flikr and YouTube where users create and manage content from information to photos to video and more. </li></ul>
  15. 15. User-Generated Content <ul><li>A methodical strategy designed to effectively harness user interactivity is key to the establishment of an online community </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Without keeping SEO in mind the end product could end up profoundly diluting the value of the site </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Providing a platform for user generated content allows you to exponentially increase the actual page count of your site </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs, forums, wikis and other Web 2.0 functionality not only allows consumers to actually create content for you but gives them a way to establish a relationship with you which builds confidence and trust </li></ul><ul><li>1 out of 3 internet users seeks out user-generated content to help them make their decisions </li></ul><ul><li>The majority of online shoppers read online reviews and blogs around products and services before they buy them </li></ul>
  16. 16. Blogs <ul><li>Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject or function as a personal online diary </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs combine text, images, links and other media related to its topic </li></ul><ul><li>The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs are well regarded by search engines because of the ‘freshness’ of their content </li></ul><ul><li>There are literally thousands of blogs created on a daily basis and some of them hold considerable weight in the online sphere </li></ul><ul><li>The inherent interactivity of blogs makes them popular destinations for millions of consumers online </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs related to a particular niche are a great place to not only acquire links but to engage your customers </li></ul><ul><li>By actively participating in blogs related to your particular niche, you not only build consumer confidence but learn the needs and desires of your customers </li></ul><ul><li>Leveraging the blogosphere can go a long way to taking your business beyond the grasp of your competitors </li></ul>
  17. 17. Search is becoming smarter… Page <ul><li>Term: apartment </li></ul>Source: Microsoft adCenter Labs
  18. 18. The Future of “Search” <ul><li>Google, Yahoo and MSN will use Search technology as platform to enter most marketing channels </li></ul><ul><li>The ability to measure the direct and indirect influencers on a customers purchase decision will continue to improve and will expand beyond search </li></ul><ul><li>Search will become more personalized </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. More predictive - beetle vs. beetle (car or insect? Or misspelling for a band…) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community oriented potentially e.g. by niche or by people you trust </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Marketing channels will begin to collapse or disappear </li></ul><ul><li>Demographic and Psychographic targeting will emerge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Begin to market to the user rather than the masses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumers will see ads that relate to their needs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search will cross channels and media types giving advertisers ability to reach the right consumers </li></ul><ul><li>Search will continue to evolve… much of the world’s information is not easily accessible or digestible </li></ul>Page
  19. 19. Paid Search Marketing Best Practices
  20. 20. Paid Search Best Practices
  21. 21. Keywords & The Marketing Funnel Intention Type of Landing Page Site Content and Keywords <ul><li>Content Rich </li></ul><ul><li>Simple language </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate credentials - use testimonials </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>House paint </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Emphasize the buyer’s search criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Communicate your value proposition </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Custom color house paint </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Simplify the buying process - reduce clicks </li></ul><ul><li>Get to the facts - use bullets </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ralph Lauren denim house paint </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keywords can be structured to address all stages of the purchase cycle: consumer’s need for information, shopping, and purchase </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Marketing with Search <ul><li>Search is historically seen as a direct marketing tool: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Increase e-commerce </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Generate Leads </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Role has expanded to interact more with brand & services not sold online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Direct traffic to brick and mortar locations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promote Brand Interaction </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The advantage over traditional marketing forms is: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consumer is actively searching for your products or services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to target customer by geography and content websites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketers only pay when consumer clicks on advertisement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability to accurately track return on investment from ads </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Budget flexibility </li></ul></ul>Overview
  23. 23. How Does Paid Search Work? Bidding/Keywords Page Google & Yahoo “Auction” Model <ul><li>Set a Max Cost-per-Click (CPC) that you are willing to pay </li></ul><ul><li>Actual Position is determined by “Quality Score” and Max CPC </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Position = Max CPC * Quality Score (CTR is a major factor) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Minimum bid is assigned for each keyword / account </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If max bid is below minimum bid, keyword is turned inactive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum bid may change multiple times daily </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Human editor review is less relevant </li></ul>
  24. 24. SEM Keyword Best Practices <ul><li>Structure Search Campaigns so they make sense to the goals of the campaign and/or mirror the site. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Makes it easy to expand keywords within the campaigns. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Structure account into highly relevant, specific Ad Groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Use online keyword tools to identify keyword volume and initial keyword list. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google keyword tool, Wordtracker, & Keyword Discovery </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Build out Root Terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Root Terms include Brand Terms, Domain Names/URLs, General/Category Terms, Product Terms, Model Numbers, and SKUs. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Expansion of keywords based on best converting keywords. </li></ul><ul><li>Add additional match types as necessary based on performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Add keyword modifiers (“buy”, “cheap”, etc.) to capture tail traffic. </li></ul><ul><li>Add large number of negatives to filter out unwanted traffic. </li></ul><ul><li>Run Google search query reports to identify how broad match keywords are being served. </li></ul><ul><li>After 90 days, cull/remove keywords that have impressions with no clicks and no conversions that may be bringing down the overall account quality score. </li></ul>
  25. 25. SEM Bidding & Analytics Best Practices <ul><li>Establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to judge campaign’s success </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on +-10% fluctuations for your KPIs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use automated bidding technology to review total keyword set on daily basis </li></ul><ul><li>Manually review and optimize top keywords a few times a week as they drive the bulk of the volume </li></ul><ul><li>Set lower conversion targets (CPA/ROI) for the top converting and revenue driving keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Identify and bid down bleeders </li></ul><ul><li>Create a high level daily report to be review each morning </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly detailed reporting showing trends such as week over week, day of week, and monthly trends should also be developed </li></ul><ul><li>Quarterly creative analysis should be conducted to help Identify account wide message trends </li></ul><ul><li>Quarterly competitive analysis (Use of ComScore, etc). </li></ul>
  26. 26. SEM Creatives Best Practices <ul><li>Be concise </li></ul><ul><li>Test multiple creatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Launch new campaigns with mix of 3-4 ads per ad group </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Turn off search engine ad optimizers, so ads receive equal traffic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pausing low performing ads and develop variations of high performing ads for further testing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Add search engine pixels in order to track conversions by creative </li></ul><ul><li>Utilize call to action words (Buy, Get, etc) </li></ul><ul><li>Include brand terms and taglines in copy </li></ul><ul><li>Insert keywords into headlines and descriptions where appropriate in order to bold the keyword in the search results </li></ul><ul><li>Make use of special offers, sponsorships and promotions in the ad copy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Test frequently to ensure maximum opportunity is being realized </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Utilize geographical terms for geographic specific services or products </li></ul><ul><li>Test capitalizing words in ad copy to highlight them </li></ul><ul><li>Test words in the display URL which match landing page content </li></ul>
  27. 27. Organic Search Best Practices
  28. 28. SEO Best Practices
  29. 29. Keyword Selection Best Practices <ul><li>Conduct keyword research to determine which terms resonate best with the public </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools are available to determine keyword phrasing and popularity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SEO efforts should be focused on a range of keywords </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A good mix of head and tail terms should be chosen especially in a competitive space like Apartments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Head terms can often take many months (if not years) to build necessary organic traction needed to compete well </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Immense opportunity lies in optimizing for overlooked tail terms </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Given the dynamic nature of search habits, frequent reviews of a site’s keyword set should be conducted in order to remain relevant </li></ul>
  30. 30. SEO Content Development Best Practices <ul><li>SEO content is designed to appeal to two audiences : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Humans (hi-fi) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spiders (lo-fi) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Once the keyword set has been determined through prior research, a content development program should be developed whereby content is created around these terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SEO Best Practices state that each page should be structured around one particular keyword </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In addition to keyword identification, it is important to know what sort of keyword frequency is reasonably needed to rank for a particular term </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools are available to help determine this frequency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Care should be taken to distribute the content according to specific subject areas </li></ul><ul><li>This SEO content “siloing” should mirror an inverted pyramid which moves from general to specific </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, “Apartments in California” >> “Apartments in Southern California” >> “Apartments in Hollywood”, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sites that perform well organically are not stagnant i.e. they are always in the habit of content creation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In fact, the search engines will adjust their frequency of crawling a site according to content freshness </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. SEO Site Architecture <ul><li>SEO friendly architecture ensures that nothing is in place that impedes the progress of the search engine spiders </li></ul><ul><li>Having optimized URLs with the optimal number of directories and keywords is an important SEO component </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing how and where to use JavaScript and Ajax functionality without limiting SEO is necessary to performing well organically </li></ul><ul><li>Helping to clearly demarcate where the search engines can index is an important step in managing the search engine spiders </li></ul><ul><li>SEO architecture is also valuable as it helps site owners be clear about which URL should be credited with value </li></ul>
  32. 32. SEO Promotions/Linking <ul><li>Linking is the preferred means by which the search engines determine subject matter authority </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google’s PageRank is, in a sense, a popularity ranking used to communicate who has the most and best links </li></ul></ul><ul><li>SEO efforts have evolved to encompass more than simply link buying </li></ul><ul><ul><li>While this is a relatively valuable tactic it should never constitute the entirety of a promotions/linking campaign </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An expansive array of tactics should be leveraged to help promote websites, for example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Widgets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Games </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social Bookmarking </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Viral Marketing Campaigns </li></ul></ul><ul><li>An essential and oftentimes overlooked component of linking is the anchor text used for links </li></ul><ul><ul><li>When executed directly this can have a profound effect on how a site performs online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A well optimized anchor text is an affirmation of a site’s subject matter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>For example a link pointing to a page on “Apartments in San Francisco” should say exactly that and not “Read More” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. SEO Who is the #1 Organic Result?
  34. 34. Landing Page Optimization Best Practices
  35. 35. Top Landing Pages Best Practices <ul><li>The landing page must be relevant to the Search Results ad – the messaging should map over </li></ul><ul><li>Headline message should match the conversion button or call to action message </li></ul><ul><li>Simple, clear messaging is best </li></ul><ul><li>Call to action or conversion button must be above the fold </li></ul><ul><li>Security logos (BBB, Hacker Safe and Verisign) build trust </li></ul><ul><li>For unknown brands, use credibility logos (partner association, awards, affiliations) to build a sense of security. </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy policy must be present whenever asking visitors for personal information </li></ul><ul><li>Copy should be short with bullet points </li></ul><ul><li>Stick to primarily web friendly fonts </li></ul><ul><li>Colors and layout should be similar to website linking pages </li></ul><ul><li>BONUS – Include 800# in upper right corner </li></ul>
  36. 36. Summary / Questions <ul><li>Search has power offline and online </li></ul><ul><li>Industry is growing evolving </li></ul><ul><li>Employing best practices can lead to ROI positive results </li></ul><ul><li>Questions? </li></ul><ul><li>Contact: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>David Hughes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CEO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>310.582.5704 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Thank You! </li></ul>Page
  37. 37. Additional Resources <ul><li>SEMPO </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-profit professional association </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Search Engine Watch </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Guide to search engine industry news </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>Resources