Category Archives: Search

Facebook and the Future

Facebook were in our basement the other night talking about what the future looks like for social. It was a really interesting talk with one subject in particular catching my attention.

More and more we hear about the influence fans of brands have on their friends but, increasingly so it’s more about friends of fans. These guys have for more influence as it’s perceived as unbiased, if, the message gets that far.

As it stands 90% of fan pages on Facebook have fewer than 100 fans. Mainly because the page isn’t backed by media so there’s nothing driving traffic (I’ve certainly had my share of clients who assume that just by sticking a brand page up, the world will ‘like’ them and share the love).

Shock, horror and revelation! This is not so.

Whilst the media buying and planning lot of you out there will know that’s old news, the exciting revelation is that bridging the gap between media spend v social currency seems to be closing, and it’s doing so in the guise of Polling Ads.

You still buy the initial space either on a CPC or CPM basis but the reach they can achieve improves the potential ROI several times over.

Facebook claim that current case studies have shown: 160% uplift in brand recall, 200% uplift in message awareness of the ad and a whopping 400% uplift in purchase intent.

That, coupled with the current predicted reach for potential customers falling in at around more than 500 million and as we all know, still being able to profile your audience by; location, age and interests really leads to a  no brainer.

I have a few clients trying this already and the rewards have been notable for them: extended reach, higher awareness, growing loyalty and a marked improvement of their brands resonating online.

My advice – get all over it!

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Passion verses Fame: The Vimeo v YouTube debate

It’s often perceived that Vimeo is for people with a passion and YouTube is for people who want fame and popularity (cough, cough Mr Bieber), but lately the conversation has come up time and again both from a business point a view, a personal preference and just use as a technical platform.

Vimeo for me personally has always been slicker, cleaner and more professional, but then I work in digital marketing so I also see the benefits to clients of the traffic YouTube receives.

Going back a little to the earlier days, I remember YouTube storming the ranks but never really succeeding in impressing. 2008 saw YouTube really start to make improvements to its offering but it seemed they were always that one step behind on quality. For example; when they launched the 1GB upload they had a few thumbs up but hard-core users were still after more in the way of HD support and optional download links, again resolutions that Vimeo already offered. When they randomised the thumbnail options (eventually not leaving us stuck with the 25/50/75 rule) Vimeo were already offering at least 15 thumbnail options and if you weren’t happy with those you could choose and upload your own.

But then in YouTube’s defence they did improve and they offered more for free than other platforms. You could have a Vimeo plus membership and not really get more than you would with a free YouTube account.

Now, when you research YouTube you learn that 35 hours of video are uploaded every minute, YouTube is localised in 25 countries across 43 languages with a broad demographic of 18-54 year olds and in 2010 YouTube reached over 700 billion playbacks. YouTube partners with Disney, Turner, Univision, Channel 4 and Channel 5, it monetises over 2 billion video views per week globally and the number of advertisers using display ads on YouTube increased 10 fold in the last year.

If we consider a more social angle with YouTube we’d mention things like: over 4 million people are connected and auto-sharing to at least one social network, YouTube mobile gets over 100 million views a day and across the channel more than 50% of videos on YouTube have been rated or include comments from the community. Sounds a bit like a corporate giant doesn’t it? Well I guess that’s because it is.

Vimeo on the other hand haven’t ever really lost their personal touch, which I like; by fans, for the fans. They introduce their team and their background and have nice rules to adhere to so you don’t upset people whilst you’re on there like; be nice, keep on topic, don’t Spam and respect the Staff… by doing this they become approachable yet still remain professional. It works for me.

So in summary I guess I’d personally continue to use Vimeo, it’s still cooler (sorry YouTube), but if a client wanted heaps of traffic, something that could be on brand and be managed by an office intern, I’d go with YouTube.

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Goggley Eyes

I was trying to explain to someone new to search engines (yes these people do, apparently, still exist) how the various tools across Google work; predictive search, social, geo-targeted and so on.

This led into chats about Google Goggles at which point, his eyes glazed over and he seemed to stare through me. This reaction led me to believe it would be a great topic for my fellow geek readers.

Google Goggles is a downloadable image recognition application meaning through us, Google has eyes in every orifice and intimate corner we search for and from.

Snap happy researchers using the app send a collectively huge bank of images to a series of backend engines coordinated by Google’s Superroot Server which, identifies the source as either; text, geographic location, QR codes, corporate identities, products… you get the idea. All similar images are tagged and confidence scored* for future use.

As the database of images builds so will the use and accuracy of the app, making it easier to search for things that are difficult to summarise in text through traditional keyword search (wow, keyword search has been around so long now it feels normal to call it traditional- in web life anyway).

So the next time you’re out and about and you take a picture of a restaurant you want to dine in, you’ll know what happens behind the scenes to serve you the results that appear.

Simple really, thanks Google!

*Confidence scoring considers various weighted validation parameters such as quality and source, to determine the accuracy of the data held in the image.

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Video Marketing (VSEO)

Online Video Marketing has vastly become the coolest and most engaging way to effectively expose relevant content to your audience online.

Everyone’s heard of YouTube and we’ve known for a while it’s the second biggest search engine in the world so with video sites continually growing in popularity there can’t be much more  to convince you about, is there?

The main stumbling block for big brands and businesses is ownership. The bottom line is though, you no longer own your brand, your consumers do (I talk about it more in my post on ‘The value of digital to brands today’). So whether you have your own slickly executed high-end film cuts or a D.I.Y example, it’s your first step to engaging and informing your audience further.

So what makes a good video?

The success to any video lies within whether it is unique, funny, engaging and thought-provoking enough for everyone to pass on and therefore make it viral, more commonly known online now as ‘creating buzz’. Sounds simple when I put it like that but in short; make sure your concept is a good one, that it sits with your target audience and is executed in the relevant way; ‘Guerilla marketing’ if you want to coin a phrase from none other than Jay Conrad Levinson.

And once you’ve created an amazing video, where should you put it?

Video advertising can come in an array of formats; In-Video, In-Stream, Click to Play, Around Video and Video Search and there are more and more channels within which you can seed video content, the most popular of which I mentioned above; YouTube. If you’re a brand it’s worth setting up (or asking your agency to set up for you) a customised YouTube channel, this way you’re closer to your audience and have ample opportunities to engage.

So what are you waiting for, get shooting and get seeding!

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Google’s going places

Following the recent rebrand of Google’s Local Business Center to ‘Google Places’ (initially developed to help local businesses gain more visibility in search engine marketing through free listings) the search engine is now adding in over 50 million locations in order to expand their database further.

This means that when you search for something fairly generic such as ‘Indian Restaurant’ it will return local place page listings for you (which will be plentiful for that term as I’m writing this from Brick lane).

This added feature is built into the existing Google search functionality and listings will now pull in groups of relevant links and information such as; reviews, hints and tips, travel and so on. This development dynamically links millions of websites and ‘real-world’ locations, so numbered are the days of ‘+ Shoreditch’, another great step forwards for predictive search.

I wonder how long it will be before Yelp, Google and Foursquare get together…

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How will Google Instant affect Paid Search?

So the web is buzzing about Google’s new ‘Instant Search’ offering which, in a nutshell means you can get to search results much faster than you could before because you don’t even have to finish typing your full search term, or even press ‘search’ – laziness refined.

However, my immediate next thought was; will this mean that because you will see results as you type it will help you define your search term, therefore self-optimising your results or, will it just be bloody confusing?

Then, with my business head on and my client’s best interests at heart (of course), how will this affect how we bid on paid search results? When you bid on search terms, impressions impact directly on your Google quality score, which is equally important to how much you pay per click.

So, I’m typing in my search box and as I hit each key on my keyboard its changing results (obviously) but that of course means the ads change too.  Sooo; whereas before one word could result in one impression, that same word could now mean several impressions…

This dramatically changes the way our consumers will look at the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and I would imagine how they click on the results and ads.  So off to Google’s BlogSpot I went and this is what I found out:

When someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:

The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).The user chooses a particular query by clicking the search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries. The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

Google recommend monitoring your ads’ performance the same way you usually do. Google Instant might increase or decrease your overall impression levels. However, Google Instant can improve the quality of your clicks since it helps people search using terms that more directly connect them with the answers they need. Therefore, your overall campaign performance could improve.

This goes some way to help but I think we’re going to need to keep a close eye on our quality scores and also pay particular attention to negative and long tail keywords…

If you want more information or help on Google Instant Search here are some useful links:

http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=187309

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/search-now-faster-than-speed-of-type.html

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-impact-on-search-queries.html

http://adwords.blogspot.com/2010/09/google-instant-more-innovative-approach.html

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Google Social Search

One of the latest developments I’ve been exploring is Google’s Social Search feature designed to aid quick searches from within your online social circle.

The theory behind Social Search is that your online connections will likely be talking about topics more relevant to you because you’re connected with them due to shared work life or interests.

So how does it work?

Well if you’re logged in to Google, as you search for something you should see an additional search result pop up at the bottom of your results page “Results from people in your social circle.” The results will consist of things like blogs from your friends and colleagues, their website feeds, tweets and status updates.

Who’s in your circle?

At the moment Google Social Search is just that, a social search within all linked Google assets e.g. Gmail, Google chat, people in your contacts list or following you on buzz and so on. It’s not known at this stage whether it will branch out to the likes of Facebook but in theory this is great if you want to see what your friends are saying about a film you want to see or a new restaurant you want to check out.

I’d much rather take their word for it, wouldn’t you?

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Google is ACE

Google are Beta testing their latest tool in the US at the moment which allows you to test and measure amends to keyword campaigns and the relative effect of that change in real-time.

AdWords Campaign Experiments (ACE) will mean we will no longer have to rely on pre and post campaign analysis to measure the effectiveness of optimisation tactics or second guess effects of any external factors e.g. demand for the bid subject.

ACE means you can compare your optimised test campaign directly to your original campaign at the same time otherwise known as A/B testing. This means we will have a clear correlation telling us whether the changes made have had a direct impact.

You can watch the demo video here if you’d like more information.

I can’t wait for this to come to the UK, what a brilliant way of ensuring that we are doing everything we can to optimise a campaign and having sound evidence to back it up.

Thank you Google.

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Search Marketing explained

Last year the search marketing industry was worth £2.15 billion.

That sounds like quite a bit of money doesn’t it, especially if you don’t really understand what it is and why it’s an integral part of your marketing mix.

Most brands/ businesses have now understood that the internet is here to stay and that if they are going to survive they need to have a presence in front of their consumers online. So, let’s take a quick look at what it’s all about and how to get the most out of search for your objectives.

So what is search media?

Search is not just about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click), in fact there are many aspects to a search campaign which, could further include; Google content placement targeting (otherwise known as GDN – Google Display Networks), Search Affiliates (networks of websites that you can place media on through a partner), Universal Search (which includes news feeds, video and images), Search re-targeting (specifically targeting those that have already engaged with one of your ads), Social Search, Mobile search, Live search… the list goes on.

That sounds interesting I hear you say but what does that actually mean? The bottom line is by adding search to your marketing mix YOU WILL strengthen your online presence, increase your visibility and in turn increase your business revenue.

And what makes a good plan?

At the offset you need to have a clear objective, do you want to increase awareness or generate sales leads for example. Quite often the conversion is the most important aspect of a plan but also the part that is given least attention. If you have a search plan that doesn’t complete the whole journey then you will likely end up spending money on traffic but losing money on conversions.

Ensure that your plan includes detailed cost breakdown and an attribution of value to each stage of clicks along the user journey. It should have detailed audience demographics and targeting information. If you have an agency doing the plan, interrogate the drop off rates and conversion rates for each stage of the journey, challenge how they will maintain visibility against competitors and ask about their management and optimisation. It’s all very well getting a campaign up and running but the internet bidding world is fierce and you need to stay on top of it.

It’s also a good idea to test your creative whether Ad copy, display or further along the user journey on your landing pages. Try a couple of versions; this is known as A/B or multivariate testing. Which creative performs better? You may find one gets higher CTR but the other drives more actions, work to get the message right for your user.

How do you maximise on your return.

Businesses are shifting their spend to be more weighted towards digital with a focus on PPC and SEO but most are still keen to see more spent on search media in general. Feedback shows that they feel they have an at least adequate return for spend due to its track-ability and therefore accountability.

But is adequate enough? Hardly, continually challenge the cost to conversion, what are you paying per click and how many clicks are you getting (CPC to CTR), are you scaling the spend in line with the reach, unlike some traditional media planning models, online search is very manageable and controllable so take advantage. Always remember to review against your original objectives; what did you decide was going to deem this campaign successful? Is it?

Is that it?

Hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of what search marketing is about but remember it’s a constant cycle:

Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge, Review, Optimise, Plan, Challenge… you get the idea.

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content is king

The internet serves billions of users across the globe and is composed of millions of networks linked to deliver a vast array of content.

But there is a lot of bad content. I’m sure you’ve all come across something that looks dull, irrelevant or confusing.

So what makes good content?

You make good content. Or at least if you want your site to be interesting you should be creating good content. So where do you start to ensure that your target audience will stay on your site once they find it?

  • First things first, ask yourself, what’s the purpose of your website? Define your purpose at the beginning, before you even write the first piece of content. Otherwise you’ll waste time and money going round in circles trying to find a reason for writing content.
  • Who are you talking to? What is the best way to communicate with these people? Do you actually need a website or is it a blog that you need?
  • Content is king to both your visitors and to search engines. Don’t just fill the white space, research and plan what you have to say then clearly structure your delivery.
  • Don’t overcomplicate your language, use straight forward words that your users will understand. It’s also worth noting that the passive voice gets a better response…
  • Hone your humour, informal language doesn’t always result in popularity. Again consider who will be reading what you write and run a sarcasm check before you publish it.
  • Most importantly proof your copy and check for spelling mistakes. There’s nothing worse than having your audience send a smug note informing you of an error!

And finally but very importantly, if you can pretty up your site with some visual imagery that’s great, users react to well laid out and considered sites, but don’t get distracted, content is still king.

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