Saturday, December 13, 2008

Display advertising boosts results from search: study

For those who can afford it, a combination of display advertising together with search marketing will make a lot of sense. There is a direct correlation between the two, according to a new study which has been reported by eMarketer.

That such a correlation existed was always taken for granted by marketers, but it is good to see numbers demonstrating it. An excerpt from the eMarketer article:

David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer, agreed that display can boost search. “There is a connection between display and search ads,” he said. “Marketers know this intuitively. Often it’s not the search ad alone that gets consumers to act, but the context of all the marketing that preceded it.”

eMarketer predicts that search and display ads will retain the highest share of online ad spending formats through 2013, and will be the only formats to maintain double-digit share through that period.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Social media marketing: Should we or shouldn't we?

Is social media marketing another fad or is it the real thing? It is certainly something for real --absolutely no doubt about it-- but the fact that not everybody uses it correctly, does pose question marks.

For those who are wondering if they should play in the social media marketing game, this interview with Sandy Carter, author of The New Language of Marketing 2.0 [is marketing still in version 2.0, by the way?] is worth reading.

Sandy lists the many benefits of participating in social media marketing, three of which stand out:
a) Speed/ Nimbleness - companies will increasingly be forced to be nimble and be proactive;
b) Access to insight previously unavailable, because of all the types of 'conversations' that take place in these social networks
c) Cost

In the course of the interview, Sandy also highlights the three main challenges for corporate blogs. Lack of honesty, not really listening to the audience feedback and consistency are the biggest problems, she cites.

Based on our experience with companies wanting to "start a blog as it will boost SEO", we believe the three reasons cited above are really a consequence of a bigger gap: not defining / understanding clearly the objective of blogs and the rules of that medium. Once again, we think it is because the medium and method take precedence over the market. As Sandy says, "The best way to communicate isn't about using new media types to be hip and cool; it is about understanding your customers and how you can immerse yourself into their conversation."

Another thing about social media marketing that Sandy mentions as well in her interview: "I do not advocate for just using social media techniques however, but rather combining them into your marketing mix (which) allows you to optimize the places where you can maximize their impact.".

Everything ultimately does boil down to optimizing the marekting mix!

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Friday, December 05, 2008

SEO: Durable marketing

With marketing and advertising spend tightening by the day, the value of a good organic search marketing strategy is even greater.

Companies that invested in SEO activities in the past will continue to benefit from the visibility, traffic and leads/sales they get, without having to shell out instant cash for the instant gratification that other forms of marketing, including paid search, provide.

Granted, continuing to do well in organic search results is not without consistent SEO effort--- but then, given a choice between spending time or spending money in times of cash crunch, "time" is invariably the choice.

SEO is an investment; it is akin to medical insurance for marketing. A regular investment of "small premiums" in terms of both time and money will stay one in good stead during the hard times.

Of course, SEO results in the form of traffic and click-throughs will undoubtedly be affected by the economic environment; for example, a real estate company is likely to get fewer sales leads because fewer people have the 'intent' and urgency to buy houses. However, you can be sure to at least capture the attention of those who are still interested and looking for what you offer. The business will not suffer because you could not be found by the target audience.

Even when the money tap runs dry, the leads pipeline doesn't have necessarily have to.Which is why SEO is durable marketing.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Google SearchWiki & SEO

About 10 days ago, Google formally launched SearchWiki, which is designed to make search results even more personalized. (As of this writing, we have not seen the SearchWiki features here in Singapore, even when searching on; but we expect that to change soon).

The official Google notification says this about SearchWiki:
"A way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don't feel belong. These modifications will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. SearchWiki is available to signed-in Google users."

The question that immediately crops up is: how will this affect search engine rankings? Well, at least for now, Google says that the changes will not affect rankings for others. "The changes you make only affect your own searches."

We would be naive to believe that all the user actions that will be captured with such a tool will not become a factor in actual search rankings at some point. We reckon it will be sooner rather than later.

Not just rankings, but boost clickthroughs too
With (the likelihood of) personalized search behaviour impacting rankings on the SERPs by the day, SEO professionals will have to expand their role significantly. The role of a SEO expert, until recently, was seen to be to help a website gain in the search rankings, with the assumption that as rankings went up, traffic would also grow automatically; however, as long as the rankings went up the job was done. The evolution of search algorithms mean that getting clickthroughs from the search results will become even more important; a conscious effort will have to be made to generate clickthroughs. The quality of titles of one's landing pages and the description that shows up on search results gain even more importance.

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