Category Archives: Keyword Modeling

Accepting that Not Everyone Wants or Needs Change

Yesterday I posted in Facebook a quote that I received twice in the same morning from two different people and once previously last week.  All three people were interested in DataPrizm but wanted to adapt features of it for their existing offline workflow. They essentially told me “we want exactly what we have now but online.”  I was specifically referencing the earlier call but the other two thought I was mocking them. Maybe indirectly I was, but I did not mean to – so I am sorry!

The post and the response from friends and the prospects made me realize that not everyone needs or wants me to fix their process.  I further realized this this morning when I had a discussion with the client where I was getting frustrated that they did not want to focus on something they should.   It did not seem important to them and I was struggling to convince them otherwise despite extensive data, logic and near crayon drawings.  In the end, I accepted that I can only advise and it is up to them to implement or not.   I always do better on projects when I remember to just do what I am paid for and not provide any additional commentary.

The post yesterday came from similar frustration that has bubbled up the past few weeks from the inefficiencies of keyword management and the keyword research process and most importantly the people who perpetuate  it.  I have invested a lot of time, energy, presentations, training and money into creating a  process, as well as a tool set, that makes that data intensive process more efferent.   These efforts, couple with manually doing data mining thousands of times and now using automation and dynamic process I cringe whenever I see people doing things, in my opinion, in a less than optimal manner.

People that have worked with and for me know that I am a process fanatic. I try to force every position to have a “book of knowledge” that allows that role to be replicated by anyone who has the ability to read.   Anyone that has had any extensive conversations knows that my brain works in a multidimensional manner and I often get frustrated when I see a less than optimal decision or process. It is similar to playing 3 dimensional chess since it is working out various angles, pros and cons and risk and reward.  You may recognize this as classic “overthinking it.”  I know it is frustrating for people, especially my wife, and can be exhausting for me. Unfortunately that is how I am wired and I do my best to now make it a burden on others. It is more acute in areas where I am passionate and fluent in the topic.  For as long as I can remember, I always have been drawn to opportunities to make activities repeatable and take out human error that often comes from frustration with redundancy and attention to detail.

When I was 13 I worked for my father over the summer at a trucking company.   One of the days we went to a remote warehouse site where the company was the delivery, storage and bagging operation for a large chemical fertilizer company. For most of the day there was nothing for me to do but watch the chaos of this process.  Being bored and severe ADD kicking in, I sketched out a more “efficient process” and tried to show it to the site manager. He blew me off as the pesky kid I was. The next day I went to different stations and talked to the people at the stations suggesting slight changes and they also blew me off.

I was going crazy watching the routing of the trucks to empty their load and the backup that resulted from the inefficiency.  It was all gummed up due to the mouth of the conveyor belt that moved the fertilizer into the storage warehouse being too small.  As a result, they had to back the trucks up onto a small incline to tile them to force the material out of a smaller area of the back gate of the trailer. Pretty ingenious how they made it work but took a lot of time to get the trucks in place.

I asked the foreman they did not use a larger hopper. He told me they did not have one nor the budget for one and this was working just fine.  To him there was no problem.  The trucks were getting unloaded and the fertilizer was getting into the warehouse.  However at any given time, there as many as 10 trucks sitting idle not moving product.   Since I was bored I walked around the job site and found a broken hopper in the weeds in the back are of the property.   Borrowing my father’s welder I repaired and modified it so it would feed directly onto the belt. My father moved the hopper into place and wanting to make sure it was used correctly and to change the flow of trucks, I set up cones in the morning to redirect the flow of traffic.

Of course the foreman and workers all freaked out with the change but the site manager suggested they try it. It worked perfectly and cut the time to offload by 3/4.   This then created a new problem.   The two guys standing around monitoring the unloading were no longer necessary and they were the first to complain at the “new problem” of too much being offloaded into the warehouse and not able to shift it to the bagging area.  I had suggested changes to the bagging process as well that made it more efficient. Increasing the volume bagged and available for delivery enabled earlier billing.  By the end of the week my father was almost fired and told never to bring me with him in the future. That being said, senior management wanted to know why the site manager or foremen had not tried to solve this problem.  The site manger’s response was perfect – they never thought they had a problem, which is why it did not need solving. This resulted in the site manager being demoted and sent to a smaller site in Cleveland.

This was one of my first big life lessons. I learned that actions might be inefficient for a reason. In some cases they may know it is inefficient but continue with it to preserve jobs, protect egos, or to save money.   In other cases, like this one, the process is flawed but not to them because they don’t know any different or even have a need or responsibility to evaluate other approaches.   The other big catch all, “this is the way we have always done it” which I head daily in the Marine Corps.

Going forward, I will try to listen more and not to solve everyone’s problems for them. If they simply want and export and are willing to pay for it, I will gladly make it happen and take their money without much care of what they do with it once they have it.

Personalized Search and Keyword Research

Jeff Beale from The Marketology Group just posted the link to our recent PodCast interview on the topic of personalized search and keywords research. We talked for nearly an hour with Jeff asking some really interesting questions trying to understand hwo we need to rethink doing keyword research based on the personalized nature of search vs. traditional SEO.

As many of you know Search Engines return results based on a number of personalized factors rather than just returning the more relevant results. You now have to consider multiple variables such as intent, location, device and behavior. Jeff and I talk about the best way to approach to keyword research and content optimization and how you should set up a multi-tiered keyword research and content optimization plan.

Have a listen to the podcast and post any questions you might have here.

89% Uplift from Paid Search Clicks

Popular article republished from my Back Azimuth company blog. The above is the headline of a nice shinny object that Google is dangling in front of marketers. One that is being used out of context and I am sure has resulted in significant money being pissed away in paid search. Now, I am not against paid search in any way – I think it is a great tool and works even better when it is in collaboration with organic listings. That is what I advocate – co-optimization. How do we make them work better together.

Over the past few weeks I have heard that 89% quote in four countries, at every conference and at least 20 times alone at SMX in New York. So where did it is come from?

This is essentially the findings of a research study released recently by Google employees titled “Incremental Clicks Impact of Search Advertising” that said the following:

A meta-analysis of several hundred of these studies reveals that over 89% of the ads clicks are incremental, in the sense that the visits to the advertiser’s site would not have occurred without the ad campaigns.

Immediately this was translated by the market place as the following headlines in articles and blogs with the first being my favorite “doom and gloom” heading:

  • “Danger – STOP Paid Search Advertising & Lose Up To 89% Of Your Web Traffic!”
  • “89% lift when Paid Search is added to Organic Search”
  • “Studies show search ads drive 89% incremental traffic”
  • “Paid Search delivers 89% more traffic than organic SEO alone”
  • “Google Study: 89% Uplift from Paid Search Clicks”
  • “Google: Search Ads Drive 89% Incremental Traffic”
  • “Google Research Shows Paid Search Ads Get 89% More Traffic Than Organic Search Results”

Google went on to create an “idiot proof” Paid Search is Great video that showed that in some cases 98% of the traffic

For those of you that actually read Google’s study other than the half-assed paraphaseing blogs you might have noticed the “your mileage may vary clause” in the last paragraph of Section 3:

A low value for IAC may occur when the paid and organic results are both similar and in close proximity to each other on the search results page. This increases the likelihood of a user clicking on an organic result as opposed to a paid result.

Close proximity occurs when the ranking of the organic result is high, placing it near the paid results. Organic results triggered by branded search terms tend to have a higher ranking on average and this may lead to a low IAC value.

Matt Van Wagner scared me for a moment with the headline in a recent Search Engine Land article Google Study: PPC Ads Do NOT Cannibalize Your Organic Traffic fortunately Matt was not another Google fanboy and strongly suggested that people actually test the data. As I mention on my personal blog, New Venture Announcement – Voice of Consumer Data Management System I have done a few surveys and found only a few people actually combining the data and doing anything with it.

Brad Geddes has been talking about this the longest and a recent post on his blog goes into the mechanics of doing the testing of paid vs. free clicks. I had already added this specific testing into my tool and it starts to show some very interesting results.

One of the biggest reasons I found as to why people don’t do it is it is too hard to do for most.  In Brad’s post he simplifies it but what if you have a lot of keywords?  This is one of the key elements that I have built into my tool. I have only found a few companies that even know if they are ranking for key paid listing.

Below is a screen capture from my tool that shows that for the 20 most expensive words by Cost Per Click they did NOT rank on even on the first page. In this case, yes, Google’s study holds true – if you have no exposure in organic search then the only exposure you will get is from paid ads.

In this case they are paying $10.00 or more per click, their highest CPC and they are not ranking well.  We can’t even get to a collaboration scenario until we have the organic rankings.   This company was not aware of this problem since they were not looking at the data collectively.  Immediately after learning about this they went to work optimizing the pages to try to get these to rank better.  In a few cases, there were not important and they reduced their average CPC.    This is the opposite reason people use PPC – to make up for the shortcoming of their organic performance. Maybe they can redo the study and show what happens when they have organic rankings.

To help companies understand once they have an organic ranking and a paid search rankings what is happening.  I have built into the application a simple ROI calculator. For your PPC Loyalist and Co-Optimization Haters – yes there is no message context or any other variables other than the fact this word had a negative ROI.

In the example below, we have a keyword that everyone thought was performing acceptably well.  When we actually do some analysis we see that it has a negative ROI and is loosing the company $11,825 dollars in the current month the the organic term was generating $6 million.

To be fair, we can look at a positive ROI example where the paid and the organic have generated a positive ROI.

In this case organic still does out perform PPC but PPC has a positive ROI. In further tests when this PPC ad was day parted to appear less frequently, Organic did not pick up the additional clicks. This showed us that in this specific case, paid and organic were collaborative and having paid search resulted in incremental visits and clicks.

There are a few things you need to do and consider when looking at the analysis.

You don’t have to do all of your keywords.  You should decide if they are the brand name, branded product names or if they are general category or specific non-branded words you are looking at.

The tests you want to do are the following:

What happens when we have paid only?  This is a good test to do before you optimize content and do not have an organic position.

What happens when we have organic only? You can day part of pause the paid search for a period.  Most of the times a few days or a week is sufficient.

What happens when we have paid and organic? Once you rank well you can start the comparison.  This will tell you what is happening when they are both together.

We are NOT trying to eliminate paid search for all words.  Only those words there there is not an incremental lift if clicks.  If we turn off paid search and all or most of the clicks and conversions that went to paid increase the organic clicks and conversions then paid is NOT complimentary but cannibalistic.  If the clicks and conversions do not increase we can assume that they are collaborative and simply un-pause the paid ads until you can do a message test.

The point of this is just test it and see what is happening.  If you want to better understand our analysis tools send us an email and we would be glad to give you a demo.