When conducting keyword research for a client it is common for an SEO (or even a general business owner) to turn to a keyword research tool and start looking up search volumes on keyphrases that come to mind. Some may take it a step further and actually evaluate the keyword effectiveness index (KEI) of each keyphrase to determine the competitiveness and feasibility of a term. All too often those two metrics, search volume and KEI, are all the consideration an SEO might take into accountability before making final judgments.
It’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture when conducting keyword research for a search engine optimization campaign. Optimizing a Website for a keyphrase nobody is looking for is obviously something you want to avoid but optimizing a Website for a keyphrase that is irrelevant to your content and/or business model is something often overlooked.
TYPES OF SEARCH QUERIES
The intent of the searcher is imperative to understand when conducting keyword research. Knowing the intent of the search queries that people are finding your content through will allow you to adjust your content, semantic structure, and call-to-action to fit your users needs.
There are three main types of search queries:
Informational – People researching information for a purchase or for general research.
Transactional – People searching with intent to take some form of action likely in the form of commerce.
Navigational – People searching for a particular site or brand.
If you’ve optimized your page for a certain keyphrase but find that most long-tail keyphrases that contain your main keyphrase have completely different intent when visiting your site you may see a high-bounce rate and low conversion. Traffic and rankings are therefore rendered useless at this point if you can’t serve the needs of your visitors.
Capturing searchers in the right part of the buying cycle is a crucial element in deciding which keyphrases to optimize your content, site, information architecture, etc. for.
Typically, searchers go through three phases before deciding to make a purchase online.
At the interest phase, people are using very broad terms to start collecting data on a product or service they may be using or purchasing in the future.
For example, a search on “gaming consoles” will bring up results that will likely be weeded out to find the informational related pages about gaming consoles.
At the research phase, people have refined their searches from the interest phase to search for more specific terms such as “Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 reviews” to find out more information they have learned since their initial interest.
At the purchase phase, people are looking to buy a product or service and will be refining their queries to do so. An example may be “cheap xbox 360″ or “buy xbox 360 in [city]“.
As you can see, ranking #1 for “gaming consoles” is great but if it’s strictly an e-commerce page that’s ranking with intent only to sell gaming consoles then you may have high-traffic but a low conversion rate on your site. Ranking for broad terms doesn’t always provide the best value. It’s the long-tail phrases in the purchase cycle that really drive high conversion and ROI as you can see below:
Additionally, website optimization is going to be a key element that take the traffic that you are receiving and turned them into qualified conversions.
When conducting keyword research think again before immediately being drawn to phrases with the highest search volume. Consider KEI, the commercial intent, and which part of the buying cycle that keyphrase belongs to.
Cakester recently raised an important question Should Affiliate Managers Run Their Networks’ Campaigns? He goes on to suggest that it’s an “[...] extremely unlikely event that they will lose you as an affiliate if by some miracle you were to find out about it [them stealing your keywords/sharing with other affiliates].
Lucky for you guys, you don’t need to put up with getting your keywords ripped off by a punk affiliate manager – I’m going to show you how to figure out if your AM has a loud mouth that leaks secrets like my uncle Jimbob’s rusty old tugboat.
So maybe I have no uncle named Jimbob, and no uncles with rusty old tugboats. This technique is still pretty fun and the bigshots at Google definitely use it to mess with spammers, so you know it’s effective. Hat tip to 5ubliminal of Tellin Ya Blackhat SEO blog for teaching me that one (can’t find the post, unfortunately). So once you know they’re copying you, it’s up to you what you do with that info.
In short, you provide a dirty keyword dataset to your AM. By dirty, I mean including junk keywords that don’t convert (tested beforehand of course; you don’t want to accidentally give them something good). Ideally, give them something with only 1-2 other competitors.
When you see other people’s ads on these ridiculous keywords, you know that the affiliate manager’s got a big mouth. Then you can go to the network and complain, change networks or whatever. Some additional, related tips to keeping your campaign keywords private from prying competitors:
For those of you whose attention can only be grabbed by ridiculous headlines, split up your PPC campaigns amongst multiple domains. For the rest of you, you’ll already know this tip from one of my Scratchpad columns.
Use fake whois information and/or private registrations (from the second the domain is registered), so that people can’t figure out your domains easily.
Split up the hosting amongst different servers, and perhaps different hosting companies (not reseller hosts, but original). That way, reverse IP lookups a la ‘my IP neighbors” won’t find all your sites in one fell swoop. Find out competitors’ keywords for free.
With social media it is imperative to be very meticulous about how you tread and interact in social communities. There are unwritten laws of the land in terms of participation, voting, noise, comments, shouting, sharing, and more. I want to talk about a few of the fundamental unwritten laws to educate any Internet marketers out there who are unfamiliar with social media but have a curious interest. If not cautious, you can really shoot yourself in the foot from the beginning of your social endeavors.
Social News Algorithms
There are many sites that are very keen to behavioral activity patterns as well as geo-location. Keep that in mind when having anyone vote or comment on your content. If having someone at your workplace Digg an article for you and they sign up, vote on your article, and don’t use their account for awhile then that’s HIGHLY suspicious activity. The reason why is because Digg will see that the IP address is the same IP address as you use or submitted your content with at work and the brand new account likely was only created to Digg that article.
You may have people ask “What’s wrong with that? I wanted to vote on that story so why should Digg (or anyone) care where I’m located or what my activity is?” Truth of the matter is that social media sites are always getting gamed or manipulated so they try to detect any similar patterns. A same IP address vote probably won’t hurt an article with 90+ various Diggs but if you had a handful of them when your submission is new and fresh then you can bet your threshold for your submission going popular was increased significantly to the point of it being almost impossible to go popular. This is especially true if you’re submitting a domain without a history of being popular in a social news site like Digg.
Aside from the algorithmic portion of social media, you want to observe the scene before you dive in anyway. Every site has it’s own audience with their own interests. Sure there are overlaps between Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. users but there are a lot of loyal users who primarily stick to their favorite social media or social news site. If I wanted to read content on Apple’s new iPhone release I’d head to Digg over Reddit. Why? Because Digg users are Apple fanatics and while plenty of Reddit users are as well that’s typically not the topic of conversation over there.
Reciprocation is the key to success in social media. Nobody’s going to help you out if you don’t help others out. See who is Digging your submissions here http://sandbox.sourcelabs.com/tinc/ and reciprocate those who are helping you out. Submit the content of others to build credibility in the community. The point isn’t to just market your own sites but to be a valuable asset to the community. Once you have established that you have a LITTLE bit of leeway to submit your own content but most of the time that’s looked down upon and you could get your content buried for that.
Pushing is the art of spamming the hell out of all your friends to get them to vote up the content of your site. This also may be known as “shouting”. You should use proper etiquette when doing so. Don’t just send someone on your IM list a link to your submission. Ask them kindly to review the content and they’ll know what to do if they like it. Address your email, shout, or IM to friends personally. They’ll take you much more seriously if they don’t feel it’s a mass contact template message for one of their submissions.
Going back to the algorithmic portion of this, be careful! Use common sense to determine whether you’re having people NATURALLY vote on your submissions or not. Social media sites have great algorithms that can detect mischievous behavior. It’s a bit suspicious if 100 friends vote on your submission within the first 10 minutes and then nobody else does thereafter. With that said, don’t just send people to the actual submission page to vote. Have them go to the category page, vote up some crappy content, and then vote on yours while they’re at it. There’s various ways you can do this so get creative.
Read the comments on posts that hit the front page and see which comments got buried or down voted and which succeeded. Get a solid grasp on what kind of language, tone, vernacular, slang, and subject matter is appropriate for each site and each category of content. Give your comments meaning and put some thought to them. They don’t have to be lengthy to have a lot of thought. A catchy and humorous one-liner can raise a ton of up votes.
Don’t just submit and forget. Monitor your Digg comments with a site like Comments7 which will show you the kind of feedback you’re getting on your comments. Also, monitor if your submissions are getting buried on Digg with a bury recorder. Also, monitor your Digg submissions in real-time with Digg Alerter. With Digg Alerter you can see who is voting for your submissions and if any comments are being made without having to go back and check on your posts. In addition there is also StumbleUpon Alerter.
With social media marketing there is just a whole lot of trial and error. Read a lot about communities then observe them carefully before trying to use them for any monetization efforts. For further info a good read is: The Social Media Manual: Read Before You Play by Muhammad Saleem.
Last year I wrote a post dedicated to the top 3 unsung heroes of SEO in 2007. They were: Marios Alexandrou, Bill Slawski, and Sebastian X. While Bill and Sebastian weren’t necessarily “unsung” I felt they still didn’t get the credit they deserved so I wanted to give them props.
This year there’s been some people really making it shake that I’d love to give my allegiance to and thank them for their efforts and contributions in the search engine marketing arena. While it was hard to choose just three top SEOs and Internet marketers, and there’s many many more, here’s the people who deserve a tip of the hat:
Ruud works at Search Engine People and has written some great blog posts over there. Starting back in January, he started a series of posts entitled How Search Really Works. These posts are unbelievable written well and ended up scratching the surface on the world of informational retrieval and phrase-based indexing. He really won my respect with this series because he demonstrated his in-depth knowledge in a manner that anyone could understand.
In addition to being a great SEO and Internet marketer, Ruud also is very fluent in Web development including server-side scripting.
David’s been offering Internet marketing and Web design services since about 2002. He his a huge contributor on Sphinn.com and almost always has featured content on the homepage. He is very talented in all SEM areas but has the keenest interest in:
Personalized Search implications
Phrase based and semantic search approaches
Temporal ranking factors (content creation and link building programs)
Social Media Marketing and Qualitative research
I asked David about his primary job role. His response was “I have a few really as I do still handle the managerial/financial aspects of Verve, our web design company. As such I get involved in tasks from technology plans to marketing ones, pricing and budgeting forecasts and analysis to SEO site audits and more. While I do still work in the implementation of the programs, more and more these days I work more in a consulting/planning/analysis capacity. I enjoy working on the larger planning/analysis areas which does tend to cut down on the amount of hands-on time I have available. I do still enjoy that aspect though and will always be down in the trenches to some extent as that’s where things are really happening…
David author’s some great posts on his blog. Throughout the year he’s had some big hits but here’s his favorite three:
Social Search Engines – Another chat with Bill Slawski; Bill being one of David’s favorite people to talk to in the industry (besides myself) and social search being an area of acute interest.
David sees his strengths in four main areas and this is what he had to say about each area:
SEO – Realizing how to build a site with search in mind. Creating a
well structured architecture around solid, ongoing keyword research.
And creating a lasting link building strategy to move the site into a
Social Media – I think I see social in a multi-platform view, which
is what it takes to be successful. A good social media campaign can’t
be simply blogs or video or social networks, it needs to be an
integrated and layered concept that builds upon itself.
Search Egine Marketing – I have strong background with running pay per click
strategies with high ROI. I am a Google Adwords Qualified
Proffesional, and led my last agency to Google Qualified Company
Content and Press Strategies – I know this kind of works in with
“SEO”, but I find that a lot of SEOs have a hard time building content
distribution networks whether it be for press or other content. This
goes beyond link building as it also translates into a strong traffic
So my mom and sister are driving me to the airport because I was on my way to SMX Social Media in Long Beach, CA. On the way they were asking me what the conference was about that I was going to. I was explaining social media to them when my sister pulled out a piece of paper out of her backpack and handed it to me. It was a study guide for an exam in a communications class she was taking that was all about social networks.
I was dumbfounded they were teaching about social networking in college when most all schools aren’t even teaching search engine optimization and the ones that do teach it aren’t teaching the best practices. My undergraduate degree was in Digital Media where we learned a lot about web design, animation, and accessibility so SEO did come up during our discussions. One teacher took 45 minutes to go over search engine optimization on Websites. Some of his recommendations included hiding keywords with the same color text as background, stuffing meta tags, and the typical spam stuff you’ve heard before. According to him, meta tags were one of the biggest things search engines looked at. I kept my mouth shut with a big shit eating grin on my face the whole time.
Social Media on TV
It’s amazing to see social networking going so mainstream. The other night on The Office they were talking about how they were making their Website “2.0″ and having a community on there to interact with each other. Unfortunately they faced the conundrum of pedophiles on the site…haha.
Social Networking Exam
Back to the exam…I am very impressed in the content of the exam. In addition to the exam, the teacher had assigned them to join, explore, and recap on 3 social networks over the weekend. My sister let me have a copy of the study guide so here it is:
A ______ is a social structure made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organizations that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, idea, financial exchange, friends, kinship, dislike, conflict, trade, web links, sexual relations, disease transmission, (epidemiology), or airline routes. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_network
They use video and paper to make complex ideas easy to understand. They present subjects “in plain English” using short, unique and understandable videos in a format called Paperworks. http://www.commoncraft.com/
This resource for social media is a compilation of other great resources, tools, and Websites from around the Web to assist you in your social media efforts, efficiency, and comprehension. Whether your interest is in social media marketing or general social media participation this resource list is invaluable in assisting you in your journey.
I realize there may be quite a bit of overlap in these lists so please consider that. Do you have a resource that I missed? Email me and I’ll add it to the list.
So I was buying a few cool SEO and Social Media t-shirts the other day from Digg, Mixx, and eVisibility and thought how cool it’d be to have a Sphinn.com shirt. So I made my own on CafePress.com and this is how it turned out.
**UPDATE** Sphinn didn’t like the idea of offering these on CafePress through me so hope to help them get their own store started soon.
The Poetic Prophet (SEO Rapper) has a new SEO rap out about Design Coding. Check it out!
I had the privilege of attending PodCampSLC today which is a podcasting, blogging, and vidcasting conference style of event where one go to sit in session to learn about various aspects of multimedia and applying it to a business model. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the whole thing but I’ll share what I did learn while I was there mixed in with some of my own personal recommendations.
According to statistics from the Omniture Summit, which I was unable to attend, there will be 8 billion dollars of ad spend on social networking this year. This is a 75% increase from last year 2007. By 2011, 12% of ad spend will be completely devoted to social networks and social media channels. So what does this mean for you? Well it’s kind of an eye-opener to see where the industry is headed. Blogging alone won’t give you the pervasive coverage you need to make your voice heard. A rich mix of multimedia is pertinent to provide enhanced content to your audience.
Understanding Your Audience
Before even beginning to outline a strategy for your social media marketing deployment you must really understand your audience. This is easier said than done. We hear a lot of marketers preach about understanding you audience and understanding your community but how exactly do you do that? Well, if you don’t have thousands to throw at in-depth demographic research there’s a few things you can do.
Do some surface level demographic research with tools like Microsoft’s adCenter Labs and Quantcast to profile audiences that visit certain sites or are searching for certain keyphrases.
Conduct some brief surveys. The strategic deployment of this will be highly contingent upon your industry.
Use gut intuition. Personas are also a great way to classify stereotypical viewers of your media to taylor your message to them.
Different Multimedia Platforms
You might be wondering which form of multimedia you should be utilizing the most. I believe it was the CEO of Podango who was speaking when he layed out a pretty good rule of thumb. “Blog everyday, podcast every week, vidcast once a month.” The point is you need a good blend of media to really establish an audience from all different channels and platforms that have all different needs and desires.
The Impact of Multimedia on Search Engine Optimization
With Google’s Universal Search being such a large part of the search engine result pages (SERPs) it’s important that you have enhance media on your site to try to dominate some of the verticles that appear in blended search such as YouTube. This will allow you to own the SERPs while bringing in more traffic to your site.
The Impact of Multimedia on Social Media Marketing
Social Media thrives off audio, video, and imagery in additional to traditional copy. If all you’re doing is blogging you’re putting all your eggs in one basket. I’m not going to get into the four dominant personality types you need to be targeting but I will say that some of them respond differently to the same message in different format. If you really want to get all cylinders pumping then you need to outline a marketing strategy that’s transparent, pervasive, scalable, and robust.
Taking Shortcuts with Vidcasting and Podcasting
Between your families, work, hobbies, social network participation, school, reading, and learning I know the last thing you have time for is full blown multimedia production, right? Well rest asure there are a few shortcuts. For example, Buzzbooster.com was telling me about a service that submits your online video to 45 different social media channels and strips your audio and submits it in podcast format to a whole bunch of others. So you’re actually getting killing two birds with one stone but unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it. However, TubeMogul.com is similar one that is free and sends out to 23 different social media channels. In additional, there are services like CastingWords that transcribe your audio or video into text so you can post it in blog format and search engine optimize it.
So you’ve done all this hardwork, have a big audience, now what? There are additional ways to monetize your media. Some ways are through:
One point made was that Web users have been trained to expect content for free so paid subscriptions are often times harder to push. You can find paid sponsors but unless you have a massive subscriber base and audience then most companies won’t be interested in forking out the big bucks. There are residual benefits through branding and lead generation which requires an additional marketing strategy to meet your goals in these areas.
One Size Does Not Fit All
When a lot of people thing of social video they think of YouTube. It was reinforced at PodCampSLC that YouTube is NOT an end all solution nore a outlet for the highest amount or best quality of traffic. Other channels like Revver and BlipTV can not only be easier to get your message across in but provide more qualified traffic all depending on your goals, niche, content, and industry. YouTube tends to be more focused on a younger audience while Gather.com tends to be more focused to adults 40+ years of age.
So in order to be a good Internet Marketer you really need to get out there. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a surefire one-way ticket to failure in the long-run. It’s also improtant to note that widespread multimedia is not the solution for EVERY client or industry either. The Web is changing everyday and it’s highly advisable to break out of your traditional habits and embrace the future to come.
I recently guest authored a post on David Harry’s blog entitled “Social Media Pitfalls: 5 Lessons Learned“. In this post I discuss the lessons I’ve learned by diving into social media. My hope was that others could learn from my mistakes so they don’t make the same mistakes when getting started in social media marketing.
The reason this is so important is because social media done wrong can have some costly mistakes as far as reputation, time, and money wasted. So shoot on over to Huomah.com and give it a read. Hopefully it’ll help you out in your future endeavours.
About Jordan Kasteler
Jordan Kasteler is a seasoned professional and an Internet Marketing consultant specializing in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media Marketing. He also is an author, speaker, and blogger.
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