Friday, January 26, 2007

The Future of Search 2007

With the onset of a new year and internet search at an all time high, everyone is eager to get in their predictions of what the industry will hold in 2007. The Director of Northern European Sales for Yahoo Search Marketing, Richard Firminger, has some interesting predictions from an insiders view.

Here are a few of them:

  • The search engines themselves will evolve. From a single search we will soon be able to receive answers incorporating text (sponsored and algorithmic), video, images and even human knowledge – the latter coming from social search products like Yahoo! Answers, which was launched this year.
  • The growth of social search. 2006 saw a cautious approach by the industry to advertising on social media, with the fear of incurring a negative audience response to intrusive or irrelevant advertising, top of mind.However, with some success already advertisers and media owners alike will be looking to further monetise these highly-qualified and engaged audiences throughout 2007.
    Read more....
  • Evolving campaign management applications. In early 2007, Yahoo! will do this with its new search advertising platform. Future-proofed to evolve with new and existing trends in online advertising, the new platform will provide advertisers with enhanced capabilities and tools such as Geo-targeting and advanced analytics.
  • Introduction of mobile marketing. The sheer number of mobile devices – an estimated 2 billion compared to 900 million PCs – means the next big area of internet growth will be among users who have never connected to the Internet via a computer and maybe never will.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Microsoft Research Beneficial to Search Engine Marketing

Microsoft last week invited its top advertisers to Redmond to dazzle them with the latest and greatest bits of its adCenter advertising platform. The research done to create the platform may prove to be very beneficial for those in the SEM business. The project has focused a lot on keyword optimization and soon web applications will be deveoloped to help better analyze keywords.

Keyword optimization efforts are built upon the Keyword Service Platform (KSP), a set of services that third-party developers can use through APIs to build Web applications to analyze keywords. Microsoft released the APIs to developers last week, and Colborn said partners are currently working on various applications to more effectively suggest, categorize, monetize and forecast traffic and extract keyword terms.
"We're making it an open network by publishing and sharing the algorithm," said James Colborn, product manager for adCenter Labs. "We're excited to see how our partners will build on the KSP."

Microsoft has developed its own set of tools in adLabs based on the KSP, including a keyword forecasting tool, a search funnel analysis tool, and a search result clustering tool. A vertical competitive analysis feature allows advertises to dig deeper into the "long tail" keyword suggestions, and more accurately test budget predictions. Marketers will also be able to extract trends in search campaigns to create modeling and forecasting tools to apply to their broader business, since the search queries will capture user intent around the marketer's products and services, he said.

One of the more developed keyword optimization projects underway in adLabs include tools to improve the detection of commercial intent. This tool returns a probability score reflecting the likelihood that a word or phrase is part of a search with commercial intent. The tool can also help marketers target ads to users that can help move them to the next stage of the purchase funnel, or target them with information or services appropriate to their non-commercial query. Learn more...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Citysearch Expansion and What It Means

With the recent news of Citysearch's huge sales force expansion, customer service in the online advertising venue will become even more important. As giants like Citysearch open new sales locations and plan to double their revenues in local search, smaller search marketing companies will need to work harder to compete. As search engine usuage continues to grow, and small business owners are beginning to put money online, online marketing companies will need to be able to face the challenges that come with the complicated industry. Customer education and consistant campaign feedback might prove to be the deciding factor in keeping advertisiers, can large companies handle the task?...

When it comes to search, he expects Citysearch salespeople to better serve smaller businesses that don't react well to Internet ad jargon like SEM and SEO. Taking a cue from, where both Fore and fellow sales exec Neil Salvage hail from, Citysearch places much emphasis on training sales staff to understand the needs of the business owners they deal with. "It goes back to training our reps to understand that business much more than understanding online advertising," said Fore.

Sites like Citysearch also have a ways to go to catch up with search and IYP traffic. Search engine usage rose from 55 percent in 2005 to 59 percent in 2006, IYP dropped from 27 percent in '05 to 25 percent in '06, and city guide Web sites remained static at 18 percent between 2005 and 2006, falling from 21 percent in '03."It's such a competitive marketplace," Fore said. But he's banking on what he calls Citysearch's "sweet spot" between IYP and search. He points to the firm's variety of ad offerings as an advantage over more typical long-term IYP contracts, including pay-per-click, pay-per-call, flat fee-based pricing and long- or short-term contracts for sponsored listings.

Read more about Citysearch's announcement

Friday, January 19, 2007

How to Get the Most From Your Search Marketing Budget

It may be tempting to put 99% of the search budget into Google, especially with such a proven, simple and automatic system… and with Google Analytics integration, search to click to conversion measurement is easier than ever. But instead of going down the easy road, sometimes the road less traveled can result in more targeted traffic, enhanced ROI, and introduce you to new online marketing methods which you may not have thought of before. Who cares if Google is the most popular search engine? That may be irrelevant depending upon your target market.

Yahoo Search Marketing and MSN (Live Search) in some cases attract a much different demographic than Google. If you’re targeting women, married women, middle & heartland America, and Walmart customers; Yahoo and MSN may surprise you.Why? The popularity of their registered members network, games, clubs, forums, communities and messaging programs can attract a very loyal and network-centric user group.

In addition, Yahoo’s new Search Marketing system is quite innovative compared to what they used to offer, so if it didn’t work for you before, try testing it again.

Here are some recommendations to try..

* Due to differences in title and copy allowance, presentation of ads, and the demographics you’ll be targeting; try different copy or enhancing what’s already working for you on Google.
* Try geotargeting or demographic targeting as both companies are working on enhancing these forms of campaigns.
* Import your keywords from your Google campaign into these tests, and ask representatives from Yahoo or Live (or use their keyword suggestion tools) to find new terms or matching schemes which may work for you.
* Don’t forget misspellings and the names of competitors - especially on the local level - as these targeted placements can bring in new customers.

Read more on how to enhance your internet marketing budget

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

LinkedIn- Social Networking for Business

As we all battle to find ways to optimize local search results, there is finally some help in the accessability of others with stake in the same mission.
LinkedIn is a three-year-old service that takes your personal business network online. LinkedIn is all about business: recruiting, sales, investment. It's not exactly a marketplace or a job site but rather a community of more than 8 million people who rely on one another to get things done.
After a slow start, the service has nearly doubled its membership during the past year. Seeded with Hoffman's own high-powered network, a magnet for tech's movers and shakers, LinkedIn has capitalized on the Web 2.0 boom to attract more dealmaking members and race past its rivals. "If every professional had a profile on LinkedIn, you could find jobs, references, experts, old classmates, whatever you needed to do your work. Think about how rational that is."
The mechanism at LinkedIn that overcame that obstacle is very simple: Anyone can join, but to make someone else a part of your network, you have to invite them and they have to accept. And whom would you rather invite to your network, someone who ranks below you in the work world or above? "You are more likely to invite up than down for your own network," says Guericke, LinkedIn's marketing VP. "That's only natural, but what that does is keep the quality high on LinkedIn.
Unlike other networking sites' advertising-driven model that puts them on the treadmill of attracting ever more users, LinkedIn also makes money from services. People - mainly the site's 60,000 recruiters - pay an average of $3,600 a year for premium features such as sending messages to LinkedIn members outside their own networks.

The new free services include LinkedIn Answers, in which you can post a question for other experts in your area to reply. My extremely local search savvy boss and mentor took full adavantage of this service and you can read his local search inquiry and answers

Monday, January 15, 2007

What is an RSS feed?

RSS is a way for web site owners to let you know what new content they have available within their web sites.

Say you publish a new web page about a particular topic. You want others interested in that topic to know about it. By listing the page as an "item" in your RSS file, you can have the page appear in front of those who read information using RSS readers or "news aggregators"RSS also allows people to easily add links to your content within their own web pages. Bloggers are a huge core audience that especially does this.

Bloggers using popular blogging tools such as Radio UserLand, Moveable Type or Blogger Pro have these feeds automatically created for their web sites. That's why RSS search engines are almost like blogging search engines.Almost, but not quite. Any web site can distribute its content via RSS, so RSS search engines are more than just blog search engines. In addition, not all blog distribute their posts via RSS, so an RSS search engine may miss part of the blogosphere or universe of weblogs that exists.

Read more about RSS

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Growth of Social Features in Local Marketing

People have always used word of mouth or "social networks" to find the hot spots in dining, entertainment, and retail. The internet can make finding those social networks and opinions as easy as doing a local search. YahooLocal has taken a proactive approach and added numerous features to expand the social impacts of advertising.

"As it has done in other areas of its network, Yahoo has recently been putting more of an emphasis on social media and user-generated content in its local search product.
"We're spending a lot of time thinking about social media at Yahoo. We want to add value to users and merchants by having user contributions," Frazier Miller, director of product management at Yahoo Local, told Search Engine Watch.
Yahoo began pushing user-generated content in its local search in 2005, when it expanded its city and neighborhood pages and expanded its ratings and reviews. Social features came to the fore again in September 2006, when it added "collections" of user-generated lists, such as "The Bay Area for Kids," a collection Miller created while researching outings with his family. "Like it or not, UGC is here to stay, and it will soon become a standard feature of local search, online shopping and even IYPs," Mike Boland, senior analyst at the Kelsey Group, recently wrote in his blog. "One argument in favor of local UGC forums is that they not only represent a relatively inexpensive (when compared with professional reviews) sources of content, but also possess a certain appeal in the inherent trust perceived among users of peer-written reviews and community interaction."

Read more about the continuing push for more features.....

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Social Networks and Blogging Grow in Real Estate

...Call it AGM: Agent Generated Media. A crop of sites have come on board to allow real estate agents to discuss local regions, form professional communities, post insights and help sell properties. While traditional real estate ad venues like newspaper classifieds continue to lose market share in the face of free listings sites such as Craigslist and Google Base, these social networking tools and communities, as well as a newly-launched free listings syndication system, could serve to shake up real estate advertising even more.
Until now, real estate portals have featured home listings and little else. Local real estate resource and marketing platform Localism aims to change that. The beta site geographically categorizes data posted by the 13,000 members of the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, a seven-month-old, free online community for real estate professionals. Another beta real estate portal, RealTown will let agents create free blogs, and will publish opinions and information originally posted to listservs by "agents in the trenches," according to Frances Flynn Thorsen, marketing director of Realty World Broker Network and editor for the site. Better known sites are also incorporating social networking features. Yahoo Real Estate has incorporated Yahoo Answers, letting users post questions or read responses to inquiries related to a search location, such as, "Where can I find a cheap quality house around Orlando, Fl?"...

Learn about other new tools...

Monday, January 8, 2007

What is Vertical Search?

Vertical search is a solution for the frustated niche searcher who is trying to use Google or Yahoo to find specialized information. Through more highly refined databases and indexing done on a more specific topic, internet searchers are better able to narrow their search results to very relevant sites. In business marketing a list of keywords with very specific meanings in one industry will give very irrelevant results in the major search engines. But in vertical search engines such as the user will find fewer and much more relevant results. The buyer in vertical search engines is most often the marketer who is looking to gain the attention of the searcher who is ready to buy. Vertical search users have been found to be much closer to making a purchase decision than the average search user, allowing marketers great opportunity to be noticed.

Vertical Strategies in Local Search

....Increased verticalization has in fact gained steam over the past year with the introduction and development of many successful vertical destinations such as Zillow and Trulia in Real estate and Oodle and LiveDeal in classifieds. This “verticalization” of Local Search was a pervasive theme at the Kelsey Group’s ILM:06 show last month.

Some of the advantages of a vertical search strategy include a refined corpus of data which increases the likelihood of relevant results within a category that a user is presumably interested in (going by their presence on the site in the first place). This increased relevance can lead to higher click through rates and higher intent to buy.

So vertical search can be valuable, but it also doesn’t come without its own set of challenges. Use cases are different across vertical categories so different rules and interfaces should be applied for optimal experiences. This challenge is particularly relevant to the local products of search giants mentioned above. These local search offerings are all grounded in a map interface, however a map isn’t as relevant in some categories as others......

Read more at Search Engine