Archive for July, 2010

PPC & SEO: Two Strategies That Work Together

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On July - 29 - 2010

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) search marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) are two different strategies for achieving the same result: driving targeted traffic to your website. There is a common misconception that these strategies are independent of each other, often resulting in a search engine marketer relying completely on one method at the expense of the other. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. PPC drives faster results in terms of pure traffic because you have a tremendous amount of control over everything from the placement to exactly how the search result will appear to the searcher.

The disadvantage of PPC lies in its reliance in one specific factor… your advertising budget. The less money you spend… the less traffic you get. SEO on the other hand is the most cost-effective, long-term solution because after the initial optimization (and some on going maintenance) your site could benefit from free traffic for an extended period of time. The challenge wit h SEO is that it requires a huge amount of initial research, diagnostics and optimizations to be successful. Even then SEO results are unpredictable because search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, and your competitors may be launching similar efforts to pursue those coveted top spots on the search results pages.

The contrasting differences between SEO and PPC can be leveraged into a comprehensive online marketing campaign. In fact, we often use PPC to monitor the results to help us with our keyword research to prepare our SEO program. With the help of a professional who knows how to leverage both strategies you should be able to drive long-term, cost effective SEO traffic and immediate, targeted paid traffic.

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Search, Surf & Social…a Love Story

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On July - 28 - 2010

I recently had the pleasure of listening to a good friend of mine and Co-Founder of ReachLocal; Nathan Hanks talk about the relationship between searching the web, surfing the web, and socializing on the web, and how they are all related to how consumers make decisions about buying. To illustrate the relationship he made up a little story (or did he make it up?)

Search:

Vicky has a friend that in Dallas Texas who is getting married. Vicky is the bridesmaid wanting to take her friend and three of the other bridesmaids to a special day at a local spa. She is taking all five ladies and is looking for a place that has great pre-wedding spa packages.

Vicky is at work and its 2:00 in the afternoon and she is taking a break and starts searching on Google for “wedding party spa packages dallas”. She hits “enter” and boom!…there on the page are 5 or 6 different search results. One of those search results is “Suzie-Q’s Day Spa”, and another one is the Crescent spa; which is a very well known spa in Dallas at the Crescent hotel.

Vicky clicks on a couple of sites and says “what about the Crescent? I’ve heard of them”. “What about this Suzie-Q spa?” She clicks on a few pages and minutes later she realizes that she has to run over to a meeting and takes off.

Surf:

At the end of the day Vicky comes back to her desk and as is her afternoon ritual she goes to check her email and the news online. She opens up her CNN news and wow! There is a display ad… (banner ad) for Suzie-Q’s spa!

Vicky doesn’t know or care or even think too much about why Suzie-Q’s banner ad showed up just when she was thinking about a local spa. But we know it wasn’t an accident. That is something called “remarketing”. When Vicky originally visited Suzie-Q’s website, a tag or a “cookie” was dropped on Vicky’s computer. Later when Vicky went to look at the news, there was the banner ad for Suzie-Q’s business just waiting for her.

Vicky remembers that she has to book that spa package for the girls.  “This must be a pretty cool spa; they must have a pretty large advertising budget”. So Vicky clicks on the banner and finds herself back on Suzie-Q’s site. Vicky browses through the site and thinks it looks pretty good. She sees some pages and some programs and thinks it looks pretty reasonable.

Maybe she doesn’t know what to make of the pricing, or maybe she just hasn’t seen enough pictures, maybe she is leaning on going to the Crescent because she suspects the Crescent is a sure bet based on its reputation.

Social:

Vicky turns around and goes to Yelp or CitySearch. Now instead of searching on “wedding party spa packages dallas” she types in “Suzie-Q day spa”. Vicky is no longer searching, she is researching Suzie-Q, and she is doing it on a review site. Maybe there weren’t any listings, so Vicky goes back to Google and searches on “Suzie-Q spa” to see what comes up. Well Suzie-Q’s map listing shows up on Google maps section with 3 and a half star rating.  In fact there are 3 reviews on Suzie-Q’s spa.

Vicky thinks “only three reviews, that’s not a whole lot of reviews for a spa in downtown Dallas”, but she clicks on the first one. It just so happens that review is by another woman who brought her friends there for a pre-wedding spa getaway who wrote that “it was the best value for her money and really a great experience athletically and in terms of and relaxation”.

Conversion:

Vicky likes what she sees and is now ready to pick up the phone and book a package for her group.

This is just an example of how Search, Surf & Social work together to drive a conversion. Now this of course is just a made up scenario, but I can tell you that is a typical scenario that happens more than you might think.

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Why is Fresh Content So Important?

Posted by Chuck Bankoff On July - 20 - 2010

I received call from a noted cosmetic surgeon in Denver a few months back. His issue was that he was stopped and cited for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated).  This made the local newspaper (the online version) and despite the fact that he was acquitted, his business dropped off substantially.

I don’t know about you, but before someone takes a knife to my face I prefer they not be intoxicated. Apparently this is unavoidable in some pubs and taverns I’ve been to…but that is another story. In this case his potential patients easily found this out simply by Googling him by name.

He wanted to know how to make that article disappear. The problem is that content on the Internet is forever. You can’t make it disappear; you can only bury it onto deeper pages on the search results.

What makes this such a tough assignment is that the content came from a Newspaper website. That makes it extra challenging because by its very nature news sites are constantly updating their content and search engines give extra weight to pages that contain “fresh” page content. “Fresh” content refers to page content that updates regularly as opposed to being static.

A good example of this would be the home page of news sites like CNN.com. Essentially, the home page automatically updates whenever a new content page (a new article) is added. So do the links to other related articles.

It is important to consider fresh content when planning out your site architecture. The home page and all category-level pages should include a content element that will automatically update when new content pages are added. That is why Blogs and News modules have become so important.

And the Cosmetic Surgeon? In a fleeting sober moment he did the math and realized that the cost of a Reputation Management Program paled in comparison to the devastating effects of bad PR. It took a few weeks, but we were able to push the nasty article off the first page. Cosmetically enhanced faces in Denver are once again on the rise.

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