Search Engine Optimization

Be Worth the Trip
October 1, 2006

Direct marketers, like their advertising counterparts, are plenty guilty of creating nonsensical buzzwords to sensationalize industry trends. But I’m gonna defend Jeff and Bryan Eisenberg to the hilt for their characterization of marketers addicted to online traffic: “crackvertisers.” Besides the fact that it’s just plain fun to say, the term aptly describes those companies that are so focused on traffic volume they’ve forgotten that buying more visitors is not the only way to make money from a Web site. When keyword prices spiral—and they will, Jeff promises in his article about the future of SEM (turn to page 101)—these traffic junkies will be facing

Optimizing Paid SEM? Think Strategically
September 1, 2006

How do you get the most out of your paid search engine marketing (SEM) budget? Rather than purely focus on getting a top position at any cost, Kevin Lee, executive chairman and co-founder of Rockville Centre, N.Y.-based search engine marketing consultancy Did-it Search Marketing, recommends relying on the right mix of analytics and a well thought-out strategy. Presenting at DM Days New York Conference & Expo earlier this summer, Lee set out the following tactics that can make your paid search engine efforts more effective: 1. Base SEM success metrics on the business realities of your operation. Factor in your cost per order; cost per

Four Overlooked Natural Search Tactics
August 30, 2006

If most consumers don’t discern between paid search and natural search listings, as many studies of online behavior by Forrester, Jupiter and Pew Research Center suggest, then marketers might want to be careful not to fixate on paid search tactics. According to Stuart Larkins, vice president of search for Performics, an online marketing services and technology firm based in Chicago, “we’re really catching wind with synergies between natural search programs and paid search programs.” He explains that marketers can get enhancement from both sides of search marketing by working on these programs in lockstep, with the same methodologies or practices from a product and

Fast Fact: Tracking SEM ROI
August 1, 2006

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a booming industry. Paid placement, contextual ads, paid inclusion, search engine optimization and the rest of the SEM suite combined for an estimated $5.75 billion spend in 2005—with paid placement accounting for the largest slice of the pie at about $4.77 billion—according to a recent study of SEM marketers and agencies by the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO). That number is only expected to climb as the rise of local and niche search, increased broadband use and escalating cost-per-click rates drive the channel’s growth. SEMPO estimates the industry will ascend to more than $7 billion this year and

Beat the Price Creep
July 1, 2006

The industry has witnessed much discussion and hand-wringing lately over the fact that the average cost per click (CPC) in the major pay-per-click (PPC) programs steadily has been increasing. This increase squeezes the return on investment (ROI) of the program for all participants, especially those at the top of the auction. Because PPC operates on an auction model in all the major engines, the end result is that prices inflate to whatever level the market will bear. What’s driving the pricing climb? The biggest factor is the ever-increasing number of advertisers entering the auctions, including brick-and-mortar companies with deep pockets looking to get into

Never too Small to Test
June 1, 2006

Just because your database isn’t in the millions and your budget isn’t the size of Dell’s, that doesn’t mean you can’t test. But if your housefile is only 25,000 names and your usual mailings are no more than 35,000 pieces, how do you get statistically reliable data from your tests? The answer lies in repetition. Whatever testing rules you are following, the statistical hurdle of 50 or 100 orders can be daunting for a small business. Overcome that problem by testing the same concept repeatedly. For example, if you are curious about whether installment payments will benefit your product but are unsure how much of

Multichannel Testing
June 1, 2006

From our days as neophyte direct response marketers, we have heard the mantra: “Test, test, test. And when you’ve done that, test some more.” The reality is there’s no substitute for well-planned and carefully executed testing to move your brand’s direct results to the next level. The complications of multichannel marketing add to the complexity of marketing programs and, as a result, testing plans. But the Web offers opportunities as well. Everything on the Internet happens quickly. And it offers significantly lower testing expense—without incurring major production costs. So why not take advantage of the benefits available online to improve your entire direct response program?

A Formula for Success
May 1, 2006

Five years ago, extra doughnuts and rich coffee were bestowed on anyone who could provide the top 10 keywords that brought visitors to the company Web site. Two years ago, it was hip to show which keywords generated the most revenue—and the worthy marketer might earn some bran muffins and a chai. Today, bragging rights go to marketers who can assess keyword value based on visitor volume, revenue, conversion and perhaps the most important Web marketing metric: time on site. Here’s a look at the criteria and limitations of some of these most common metrics to measure keyword success, and a look at

Always Room for Improvement
May 1, 2006

Problem: Office Depot’s Web site search tool, while strong, was one of the weaker links in its user experience. Solution: Wholesale change of the search tool. Result: Improved conversion, average order value and customer return rates. Most online retailers would have been thrilled with a Web site search tool as effective as Office Depot’s, converting sometimes at rates higher than 80 percent for certain keywords. According to Noah Maffitt, Office Depot’s director of e-commerce, the multichannel company even wondered how much it could actually “move the needle” with a redo of its site search functionality. But there’s always room for improvement, and after identifying a few

The Analytics Hiring Imperative
April 12, 2006

Stylman adds that even better is for marketers to set up their online analytics in a way that they can compare results in this channel to those achieved by their offline channels, enabling a 360-degree view of marketing ROI.While some marketers already might have this on-staff expertise, to a degree, they likely have not trained these analysts how to interpret the online channel, says Lisa Wehr, found and CEO of SEM firm Oneupweb.