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The Effects of Semantic Search, Insights Lab Episode 6

Google recently announced its plans to give search a refresh via semantic search technology. What does this drastic announcement mean for search marketers? Find out in this week's Insights Lab episode, featuring Matt Jacobs, AMP's Director of Integrated Marketing and Joel Breen, Director of Digital Media.

The Importance of Human Touch in Search, Insights Lab Episode 5

AMP's Director of Integrated Marketing, Matt Jacobs, and Josh Pike, SVP of Digital, discuss the benefits of technology platforms like Marin for effective search campaign management and the necessity of the human-element in search management. To learn more, read a recent client case study "Adding Business Expertise to SEM Bid Rules" at http://bit.ly/yu97Gl

Case Study: Adding Business Expertise to SEM Bid Rules

Driving Maximum SEM Campaign Performance through Advanced Automation Use of technology platforms like Marin, Kenshoo, and SearchCenter have become a ubiquitous aspect of search campaign management in the past 12-16 months. The benefits of these platforms are clear with tools streamlining bulk campaign changes, reporting, and bid management; all of which translates to more efficient workflow and back-end results for performance marketers. That said these platforms are not stand-alone solutions; the human-element of search management continues to play a critical role in effective management of campaigns. Search specialist expertise ensures that the deeper, business context of decision-making is overlaid on the data-centric view of the technology platform. A case study for AMP client, Blue Shield of California underscores this value ' the integrated approach of expertise and technology to amplify SEM success. In this example, Blue Shield sought to scale the campaign to drive maximum lead volume at target Cost Per Lead (CPL) efficiency goals. The challenges facing this goal were two fold; 1) Identifying this volume/efficiency equilibrium; 2) Doing so in an extremely competitive bid landscape marked by rising Cost Per Click (CPC) rates. Being that the campaign was already manually optimized around CPL vs volume, automated bid rules were implemented within AMP's SEM platform based on CPL goals. Immediately the campaign hit efficiency goals, but this came at the expense of conversion and click volume. Click volume alone dropped almost 10% in one week. Campaign Performance: Implementation of Initial Bid Rule   Though the new CPL bid rules acquired volume at a CPL under goal, the volume was too small to hit overall volume goals. To solve for the restricted volume, AMP opened the CPL parameters to levels higher than goal in attempts to offset the first weeks dip in volume. Even when the allowable CPL was doubled, the SEM platform still defaulted to acquiring the most efficient leads regardless of volume. Campaign Performance: Raising CPL Automated Goals   In light of this volume challenge, a solution needed to be applied in order to drive toward not only efficiency but maximum volume at efficiency. The SEM platform's bid management solution needed to be supplemented by additional business rules. The platform alone was backing itself into a volume corner by optimizing strictly toward only the most efficient performing placements. Mondays and Tuesdays were high opportunity days in terms of both search volume and lead activity. SEM platforms however tend to view all historical data as flat meaning, while they are exceptional at optimizing based on direct click to conversion data, they are not built to recognize non-standard variables such as seasonality, day of week and other industry specific market fluctuations. Low volume and performance data from Sunday was therefore inhibiting the campaign's ability to capitalize on opportunity early in the week. The technology alone was not adapting for future opportunity, a new approach was needed. To hit volume goals, the initial bid rules were re-set with two additional components, time of day (TOD) and bid to position. As a result, AMP was able to increase lead volume by 78% and cut lead costs by 16%. Campaign Performance: Multiple Bid Rule Approach   While the automated options that are available within the search engines and third party SEM platforms are crucial to keeping up with a rapidly changing environment, they are only as powerful as the expertise behind them. There are no 'set it and forget it' tools available, though with the appropriate specialists driving tactics there are a host of options to Solve just about any SEM challenge.    

Google +1 Button for Websites Set to Go Live

In a matter of weeks, website owners will be able to insert the all new Google +1 Button to their websites, according to an announcement at the most recent Google I/O conference in San Francisco, California. During the event, Google gave a sneak peak at what the +1 button misoprostol abortion will look like, and provided examples of functionality and data analytics webmasters will have access to. The +1 button will look very similar to the current Facebook 'Like' Button, and will provide a greater amount of behind the scenes information to webmasters that Facebook/Twitter currently do not. In terms of functionality, +1 will allow website visitors to endorse either a web page or an article, ultimately giving Google the signal of quality content that is being voted on by others. The installation of the actual +1 button will be quite easy and as simple as adding a piece of HTML code provided by Google to the page of your choice. The button will be available in different types and sizes, depending on your preference. During the I/O Conference, Google mentioned the following statistics will be available to webmasters using Google Webmaster Tools after incorporating the +1 button on their website: Demographic Information (by age and sex) Number of +1 votes, broken down page by page User location Language Article impressions and click-thru metrics The data will be available in a graphical interface and offer visual charts to help website owners interpret the information and activity around the content that is being voted on. With the +1 Button set to go live, and likely become available in late May/early June, this could potentially be a major step by Google to make an effort to continue to incorporate social media metrics into their standard search ranking algorithm.  Google's goal is to better understand what content is being shared to help determine quality, and possibly include social factors into their standard organic search algorithm. Additionally, the Bing/Yahoo alliance and Facebook partnership makes Bing a bigger threat to Google as it continues to gradually gain market share, therefore Google is definitely feeling the pressure. It is up for debate whether the new +1 feature will open the door for aggressive SEO tactics and manipulation to try to game the system. Ultimately though, quality content remains KING. Ongoing development of buzz-worthy content for your website is about to become more important than ever with the introduction of +1. Get notified when the Google +1 Button becomes available. Sign-up here

Thoughts from the Search Desk: Google +1

Social media scored big points yet again last week as Google announced the new +1 feature to its search listings. Essentially, this is their response to Facebook's 'Like'? as it integrates social signals into their search results.  Searchers will be able to select a +1 button listed next to paid and organic search results (and in the future can be placed by webmasters next to content a la Facebook connect) for listings deserving of positive feedback. Why is this important? It indicates Google's continued transition toward weighting personalization and actual user feedback into their results beyond algorithm based indicators such as inbound links.  It is also a direct counter move to Microsoft's Facebook integration into their Bing search results.  Yet it moves one step further in enabling +1 on both paid and organic search listings. At this point distribution of +1 is extremely limited (less than 1% of searches) but will expand over the coming weeks. Initially, my thoughts surround a few topics. How should advertisers respond? The bottom line remains the same. It's rather simple actually - create value for the customer. Provide relevant, fresh content and a quality user experience and you will be liked, +1nd, retweeted, friended, shared and rewarded. Paid search: For advertisers we've relied on CTR as a measure of relevance, adding the +1 feature will help provide insight into consumer perceptions of messaging. Advertisers will be able to leverage this data in their search copywriting. As for other measures, according to Google, Quality Score will not be impacted. Campaigns should therefore be monitored for performance variations as the +1 buttons are distributed more widely. Organic Search: Google's evolution toward personalization is a good thing in my opinion and should be encouraged. Yet, whenever they make changes to their algorithm there are always those that are going to try to beat the system. We can expect a whole new suite of black hat SEO tactics to surface. While I certainly do not condone these antics, they should be acknowledged and monitored. Some general items to note: Google +1 is currently available only by the opt-in method by using the Google Experimental link: http://www.google.com/experimental/index.html A Google profile must be activated. Full +1 functionality will be available when a user is logged into a Google account; When logged out ' users will be able to see the total of +1 votes without the user names Search Results: Paid Search:  All Adwords listings will get +1 buttons. Advertisers will not be able to shut them off; quality score will not be affected.  Advertisers should monitor impact on CTR. Organic: +1 feature will influence search engine rankings based on activity within an individual's social network Reporting: Google Webmaster Tools will be able to provide stats behind both organic & non-paid listings For Webmasters: +1 buttons (similar to Facebook 'Like'? Buttons) next to content are expected to roll out within months and should be added to content Privacy: By enabling the +1 feature, Google will take note of the following: Gmail/Google chat contact lists, Google Contacts, and people you follow on Google Buzz/Google Reader

Thoughts from the Search Desk: Google Instant

Yesterday Google announced the release of Google Instant an enhancement that serves results as you type. In classic Google fashion this is a subtle tweak that may have substantial implications for brands across both paid and organic search. Before getting two excited though the reality is it's all theory until the data can support it. So, as we enter into the new world of Google Instant here are a few initial thoughts for advertisers to consider: We should expect this will be good for overall search volume ' Being a public company with rigorous testing we can assume what's good for users is also good for Google shareholders. To quote Google VP Search Marissa Mayer in her interview with Ad Age ' '"Overall, this will be a much better experience for our users, so they will actually be searching more. Google Instant will grow the size and scope of search in general." Since relevant search referrals is a scarce resource for most brands, this increased volume should be good for advertisers as well. This does not change SEO principles - In fact, Google Instant only reinforces that search is a constantly evolving and dynamic environment. Sound SEO principles remain fundamental in managing to the rules rather than the exceptions. Behavior questions ' Will header terms or brands with more generic names benefit? Here's an example ' in starting to search for 'health insurance California'? I made it as far as 'heal'? when the insurer HealthNet is served as the 2nd result in my drop down box. Does this mean that this brand may see increased search volume (piggy backing off of high volume 'health insurance'? searches) vs. a brand such as Anthem Blue Cross that does not include 'health'? in its brand name? TBD How will this impact the long tail? Will searchers get lazy and choose header terms more frequently OR will long tail suggestions later in the query process actually improve long tail volume? TBD Most importantly, understand what this means for you -  implications may be industry or brand specific, focus on the data to understand the meaning for your business. It is far too early to understand how the balance between paid and organic usage or keyword search behavior patterns will change. Brands should therefore work with their agencies to monitor and interpret any potential changes specific to their objectives.

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