SES Toronto : Monetizing your Audience Site Clinic

1. Information on the foldover not properly used

2. Really slow load time

McDerment asks: what is your target audience? What is it about your brand that beats the competition

Customers are small to medium retail stores. Price and and Design is what makes them different.

Who you are, what you do, and what you matter should be the first thing people see about your brand.

Slegg: Green Ad the left is too noisy and deters attention.  The banner should show more details about particular products.  Images have watermark from another domain name.  Also they affect conversion negatively.  People aren’t necessarily going to steal images of display stands.

Segal: why is the Watermark a different domain? he explains its a

McDermet:  do you have studies that people are purchasing this online?  He suggests a lead generation model which may be more efficient.  Apparently 70% of total sales on site are from call-ins.

Segal:  So maybe the phone number should be more prominent.  Show the products in context.

McDermet: remove ecommerce may increase sales… force people to call.

Retirementhomes.com

Business:  Online directory for Retirement communities homes.  While he describes his business we hear a video which has started playing on the home page. 😛  They drive leads to their members (retirement homes).  Revenue model is for placement listing for retirement homes and very little advertising.

McDerment: very clar on the home page what the website does.

retirementhomes.com says most visits are internal landing pages coming from SERPS.

Slegg: Some articles and content do not fit with the site’s subject.

it ends up that the article is a paid advertisement.

Slegg: sticks out like a sore thumb. It can even trigger a penalty in Google.

McDerment: Who is the target customer?  Is it the families looking to place an elder? is it the elder person themself?

Its Both

MdDerment: Ok so maybe you can segment the info and copy for both markets.

Slegg: You can do beter placement than those types of articles.  The wordst performing spot for adsense… Less wider border.

MdDerment:  Target aMcDerment: dvertisers for that specific group.  Some advertisers can actually add value to the site.

Segal: who provides content?

Inhouse content writers they do it for SEO.  Its exclusive content.

Slegg: explains concept of dupe content.

McDerment: There is no signup for real “clients” which are the retirement homes.  They should be able to convert on site.  They have a couple of links but its not “Call to action” enough”

Torontodancesalsa.ca

Canada’s largest provider of Salsa Instructions.  1000 people are taught Salsa a month.  They do a lot of Social.

Slegg: Home page is Suuuuper long.  Content gets diluted with such a long scrolldown.

They A/B Tested and they rank #1 for what they wanted.

Slegg: you have dupe content because all articles are in home page… (I dont agree, its like a blog format actually and many people don’t do “more” function on WordPress)

McDerment:  There shouldn’t be more than 7 nav chunks on top bar… use secondary navigation instead.  Font is hard to read, all links are 2 words.  Almost all navigation I would reducce to one Kw: “schedule” instead of  “class schedule”

Segal: I would do excerpts on the home page of articles but not the whole article.  Shorten the home page.

MdDerment: I would feel comfortable booking a lesson here, which is a huge WIM! images are authentic lookeing etc.

Slegg: Have you checked Google Cache?  I can’t check it coz people have been bad from this IP address tee hee 😛  I wouldn’t be surprised if internal pages arent indexed…

McDerment: primary purpose of site is lead generation… I havent seen a phone number or a quick contact form.

Any suggestions for making it more “male oriented”?

McDerment: get a discount if you bring a man, etc.   Testimonials are Awesome you should have more and show guys more prominently in images.

Phones.com:

Business: Affiliate Model and adsense is the source of revenue.  Descriptions of products are uniquely created by company.

McDerment: Title Tags could be fixed.  He’s impressed with the domain name.

Slegg: “Phone comparison and reviews” suggested as Title tag.. but suggests he do keyword research before coming up with a final version.

McDerment: dynamically add title tags for phone products.

Slegg: misunderstood and thought McDerment meant each page load adds different title tags… not the case. Almost had a fight!!

SES Toronto 2009 Live Blogging – Extreme Makeover – Live site clinic

Lyndsay Blahut, Director of Online Marketing, Canada’s Web Shop
Mitch Joel, President, Twist Image

The moderator is not Mike Grehan actually, I’m not sure what her name is, I think it’s Samantha. Samantha, if that’s not your name, please don’t take offense, in fact, pretend I was talking about someone else entirely, someone named Samantha.

First site to review:

Torlys.com

Care to tell us something about the site?

Site Owner

I’m not sure what the biggest issues are – the site is marketing flooring products to both consumers and builders/designers. Splash page to split the audience on the home page. We’re a marketing company (of this flooring) – the call to action we want is a consumer subscribing, locating a dealer – not trying to sell from the site, trying to push people to dealers.

Lyndsay

My first comment is the links you have at the bottom – you’re targetting consumers or contractors – I’d maybe make that split a little clearer. For your home is fine for them, torlys contract (interjection that’s standard nomenclature) – try and make it more clear that these links are for two different ppl.

Mitch

You said you wanted email and stuff, you’re lacking a major call to action – not one level in, at the home. It’s a little awkward for users – bottom right is not where you want to put your action link.

Love the flash keeps the vision – but keep in mind this home page is not likely (it’s all flash) indexing a lot of stuff. there’s not enough stuff to make it findable by search engines.

Samantha

Do you ask contractors for a log-in?

Answer: yes

Samantha

I work with a site that has this challenge, contractor and consumer side. We’ve toned the contract area differently and make it an obvious that it’s a log-in for contractors.

Mitch

You’re lacking some basic text content which is going to make you more discoverable.

I might personally make the pictures smaller, leave some room for content, make it more a ‘what do you want me to do now that I’m here’ kind of vibe. Some people want to be driven by action.

Once you surf in your nav is at the top – but it’s not consistent from the index, and a different colour.

Mitch

what is your bounce rate?

Answer: 26%

Lyndsay

Does your traffic come in to the home page primarily?

Answer
both home and product specific pages

Lyndsay

one thing I noticed is i wanted to surf back to the main index, so clicked on your logo, but that sent me to splash page – but if they’re already in the consumer side that should send them back to the consumer home

Mitch

good news or bad news?
the bad news is there is a lot to do – the good news is it’s mostly little things, and they aren’t expensive.

Site owner

On the right hand side, I find the navigation particularly dark.

Mitch

The main thing I see is your navigation is all over the place – different colours different fonts different places. It’s a lot of stuff that need little changes

ppl would b ehighly confused ont his page – make your calls to action more clear, replace some of the current elements and make them very clear calls to action

Site owner

where should those calls to action be located?

Mitch

test it

Lyndsay

I think the problem is that the calls to action aren’t easy to notice.

Mitch

Is that bit navigation too? It is? Yeah you need to make your navigation more clear and consistent – you need more white space to show off the product shots which are nice

Samantha

so much is about the fold, there isn’t much of any call to action below the fold

Mitch

I would test this a tonne – I would put five different versions of that out there.

Samantha

I want to go to dealers

404? it’s a strange page, not what she expected

Oops.

Site owner

dealers and contractors are different – you clicked on dealers, that’s a dealer log in page.

Mitch

block the dealers only link off visually, make it less clickable from the place we clicked it from

Samantha

Who uses the log-in in the top right? and there’s a shopping cart here too.

Mitch

I would throw a usability expert at it, you’ll see a difference

They find a ‘coming may, 2009′ page – out of date. Apparently the webmaster quit and the out of date stuff is just waiting to be removed. It’s still not clear what you want me to do on this page. I don’t see any real meat of content in terms of words.

Samantha

Ohhhh viewstate. what’s it going to do to your content/code ratio?

The cooperators.ca

Site owner: we’re one of canada’s largests home/auto insurers – we inherited this site

Mitch

good news its you’re ahead of a lot of other canadian insurance websites

Calls to action?

Site owner

We have a quote tool, we want quotes and find an agent for you.

Samantha

It’s not symmetrical – I have to get from the text link for get a quote, diagonally. The order in which they appear

Mitch

My first comment, from a general branding perspective – I like get a quote, but I’m not sure why I should get a quote from you. You go from nice and fun get a quote imagery, then you go directly to stock photography, boring.

If you tested it I bet you’ll have a lot of usability issues – alignment, colours, etc.

At the top of the page, I’m not a huge fan of roll over navs. On firefox it’s wonky, you’re not optimized across browsers.

Your title tags are not particularly targetted. I think in general, it sounds to me that you want them to do what you want them to do, as oppposed to what they might want to do. It’s talking down to me, not making me feel empowered.

I’m not even sure I like the names you have in your navigation. It seems all over the place. Farm, life events, etc. Too much choice, you’re going to give me anxiety. Is this bring it home contest a big deal ? It’s really redundant

Site owner:

yes it’s important

Samantha

I don’t like the alt tags – they are long, and they are actually repeated. If you were blind and this were being read to you, a screen reader would read the alt text.

Site owner:

for stock photos, should I put an alt tag? Should I describe the image?

Mitch/Samantha

just keep it clean, don’t use the same one on multiple images

Mitch

I would bring in some web strategy people before a designer.

Site owner

Is it salvageable? Or should we redo it?

Mitch

You should re-do it. You’re a big brand in Canada.

Samantha

You’ve got a lot of stuff that should be folded up – it would make it more intuitive for the user.

Mitch

What’s your bounce rate?
Site owner
35%

Lyndsay

Kudos for having content on the home page – make it more keyword driven.

Mitch

You’ve got a great brand – ditch the stock photography, use real pictures.

Samantha

I’m going in – I want to get a quote for a home.

Lyndsay

the logo in the top left is not a link

Mitch

show me where I am in the process? (hey mitch, notice the steps 1,2,3 at the top?)

Lyndsay

1800 number on every page

Samantha

Live chat too – talk to an agent now.

Mitch

Give me a time to complete, 15 minutes, or say step one is 5 minutes,

Site owner

Not one of our competitors do that

Lyndsay

Do better than them

Mitch

Don’t look at your industry, if you have a form on your site, look at survey monkey, they’re good at forms. If you want to sell things, look at how Amazon does it.

SES Toronto 2009 Live Blogging – How to Speak Geek: Working With IT Departments

Moderator:
Ian McAnerin, CEO, McAnerin Networks Inc.
Speakers:
Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive
Keith Boswell, Senior Digital Marketing Strategist, Kaiser Permanente
Laura Coltrin, Search Engine Optimization Manager, MySpace

This should be interesting. A relative of mine (in-law) would probably say that you should just learn how to deal with people with Asperger’s. We’ll see how these panelists go deeper.

How to Speak Geek

Keith is up first!

Talking about the danger in the difference between that was sold, and what was built.

The Costs of Poor Communication with IT

  • Wasted time, including problematic delays beyond seasonal targets
  • Bad blood. They might be willing to forgive!
  • Money. Will spend more time catching up instead of optimizing

He’s pointing out that as digital grows, there are more and more situations where this communication has to be strong. This is especially the case because of increased outsourcing, too.

Some Tips:

  • Don’t avoid them. Speak to them. They will be glad you did.
  • The difference in language is temporary, until you get on the same page.
  • Learn, understand, and be comfortable with differences.
  • Praise the machine – thank them!
  • Get to know what makes them tick.
  • Admit what you don’t know to build credibility, avoid problems, and focus on what you do best.
  • Find the IT people who get business more. They exist, and you need to build their respect.
  • Build a long-term bridge.
  • Manage expectations, give advance. Part of building trust.
  • Learn your IT documentation.
  • Get to know, as best you can, what a use case is, object modeling, the platform your digital presence is running on, and ask what they recommend you read up on.
  • Your learning curve should be never-ending.
  • Ask the right, specific questions.
  • Work together to understand project-sizing.
  • Engineers like challenges.
  • Know when it’s time to back down.
  • Show them that affect the borrom line.
  • Keep them involved, and maintain the communication channels. You’ll find out new things, and maintain the trust you built.
  • Seek their advice often. They’re always learning, and might have great ideas they’d be willing to share if you get the dialogue going.

A 12-Step Program for the Technically Challenged

Laura’s up now, and intends to focus on an SEO flavour.

  • Engineers are people, not code monkeys.
  • They should know you by name, where to find you, and be willing to ask questions.
  • Explain why SEO is important. How does SEO fit into the corporate strategy?
  • Learn their language, a little bit. Take note of the things you don’t know, and look it up!
  • Understand the balance between site performance and SEO, a good overlapping point.
  • Know their boss, and develop an advocate/asset.
  • Learn the system, respect the system, and make it work for you. If you don’t, you’ll kill your respect and trust.
  • Try to integrate SEO into their mindsets, and projects
  • See how SEO is prioritized, and get it in the right place.
  • Share knowledge about SEO best practices, to make things easier to implement later. They should know how search engines work, and the technical side of SEO. Wouldn’t hurt to show them you’ve got some technical skill too. Things like how Google sees a page, interlinking, the concept of trusted domains, etc.
  • If you know some cool work arounds for technical problems, they’ll appreciate it. Things like what makes for a good, followable, solid link. Flash workarounds are a good example
  • Explain the value behind the SEO tactics you want to implement. They want to do what they do for a reason. Managing many priorities, they need to know what you’re suggesting is worthwhile
  • Brainstorm with them about how to address problems and new ideas. It shows respect and saves time in cases where there are technical constraints you didn’t know about that affect your ideas.
  • Network with other developers. Might find new solutions to the same problems.
  • Report success.
  • Show appreciation.

A lot of this overlaps with the first presentation. Recurring themes are cultivating respect, and making sure you encourage an exploration of each others’ worlds in a friendly way.

Shari on How to Speak Geek

A bit of musing on being specific, specifically with… titles!

  • Web page titles – super important!
  • Page headings – NOT TITLES
  • Meta-tag titles – You say “title” to a developer, they think “html title tag”.

Live Blogging SES Toronto 2009: Quality Score: “201, 301”

Moderator:
Anne Kennedy, SES Advisory Board & Managing Partner and Founder, Beyond Ink

Speakers:
Andrew Goodman, SES Advisory Board & Principal, Page Zero Media
David Sprinkle, Director of Paid Search, Acronym Media

Overview from the SES Day 2 Agenda:

How are ads ranked in the paid search auctions run by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft? Each keyword in your campaign is assigned a “quality score” based on past performance. Sounds simple, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. In any case, you must achieve high quality scores to keep your paid search costs in line. Expert panelists explain the workings of the latest algorithms, discuss case studies and testing techniques, and explain how to troubleshoot problems.

First speaker: A. Goodman

Evolution of Google AdWords and its pricing model:

  • v1.0. Original AdWords used fixed pricing. It was an unpopular program. Fixed CPM rates, few tools. It was the worst of old display ad technology, but at least you could target keywords.
  • v2.0: CTR rules now. Leapfrogs Overture’s pure PPC auction. Bid multiplied by CTR equals AdRrank. Now a more efficient auction. Ads priced on market demand. New tools mean more marketers are measuring ROI by keyword. Other incentives and tools introduced to test ads. (Notes that CTR is not the perfect proxy for relevancy, but it’s pretty close. Still, Google makes more money this way.)
  • v2.5: quality based bidding introduced in 2005. Google pursues multiple goals. Disincentive for lowball bidding on irrelevant terms. Chase away “annoying” advertisers (to enhance user experience). Addresses relevancy and quality with more factors than just CTR. Low quality score meant inactive keywords, or need to raise your bid above minimum. Side effect: increased revenue (higher CPCs) & profit margin for Google.
  • v2.6: landing page quality. Use response and consumer protection goals. Editorial approaches being automated. Google’s published guidelines. What is the weighting of these factors (e.g., Quality Score: ‘Poor’, ‘OK’). Landing pages: can check speed of landing page, etc.

States that in reality landing page score is probably not big part of Quality Score.

Increase quality score by having good account/campaign categorization, tight relationships of meaning: keywords, ads, landing page.

Accounts in Quality Score (QS) purgatory. Basic build problems: wrong campaign settings; no ad testing; jumbled ad groups, wrong keywords. Quasi arbitrage or unclear business model; urgent need to spend $X dollars (tens or hundreds of thousands) in one month; no understanding that it takes time to rank up QS

Sometimes if you have broad keywords and weak ads in a hot sector you get poor CTRs and QS out the gate. Using high bids to rescue an account with low QS doesn’t go too far. If QS is so poor across account, may want to try building new account.

Higher ad positions and better click prices: the classic recipe. Build a powerful account; “shape” QS. Strong brand, clear goals for a good head start. Smarter campaign structure using better keyword research, persona research. Ongoing attention to QS hygiene: delete loosely-targeting words

Second speaker: D. Sprinkle

Known factors for QS: CTR, query relevance, landing page “quality”, account history, geographical performance, maximum bid, bounce rate.

Smart campaign architecture: small, focused ad groups is the best; kill non-performing keywords (pause/delete); pause ads—don’t just edit existing ones; separate top performers; match types (recommends putting different match types into different campaigns [though, I personally don’t usually think this is a good idea].

Disagrees with previous speaker regarding consideration of landing pages by Google in Quality Score formula. Thinks it plays bigger role. Checks pages with Google’s site-related keyword research tool

Monitoring. Your bid management tool doesn’t cut it. Utilize available reports; create your own metrics; only use current data; give change time

Goal is to have landing page load in under 5 seconds. Free tool for checking: YSLow (for FireBug/Firefox)

All the above relates to Google AdWords. Yahoo & MSN have greater focus on CTR, CPC… ad relevance, landing pages, more literal than Google. Keyword being bid on needs to be in ad.

With new pricing models, Google gets more say in what you have to pay.

SES Toronto 09: The Search Marketer’s Free-to-Cheap Goodie Bag

Moderator:
Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster

Speakers:
Ken Jurina, President and Co-founder, Epiar
Amanda Watlington, Owner, Searching for Profit
Bryan Eisenberg, SES Advisory Board & Co-Founder, Future Now, Inc.

Ken Jurina of Epiar starts things off with his favorite free tools all internet marketers should be using:

Roboform: Password manager which remembers all of your passwords so you don’t have to!

Web Developper toolbar: The Firefox Web Developer Toolbar is one of the most useful tools you can have for web design. It brings together functions related to web development, validation services and links to standards and other documentation.

SEO Quake: Allows webmasters and marketers to view tons of important SEO parameters inside the toolbar and/or search bar.

Ice Rocket: An invisible tracker which can count your the amount of visits your blog receives along with other important blog details.

Google GEO Search: Enables users to view their rankings in different geographic regions for paid and organic listings in Google.

G-Site Crawler: Sitemap generator for Yahoo and Google.

BackTweets: Searches for  links from Twitter (shortened and unshortened) pointing to your website.

SpyFu: Allows you to spy on your competitors organic and paid keywords. The paid keyword information includes the competitors daily budgets, clicks, average cost-per-click.

Google Insights for Search: With Google Insights for Search, you can compare search volume patterns across specific regions, categories, time frames and properties.

At the end of his presentation, Ken went on to plug his negative keywords list program at Epiar which will help marketers in weeding out useless clicks and impressions in their pay-per-click campaigns.

Here are some of the tools Amanda Watlington has in her Tool box:

Useful tools for big agencies:

Google Webmaster Tools: Collection of free tools to help webmasters make their website more search engine friendly and identify problems.

Web Developper toolbar: She enjoys using it to parse elements, check alt attributes, linearize pages and see how her client’s websites look with javascript and css disabled.

SEO for Firefox: Similar tool to SEO Quake but created by SEO Book.

Search Status: Provides information on any website including page rank, Google category, Alexa rank, Compete rank, SEO moz Linkscape rank and incoming links.

YSlow: YSlow analyzes web pages and suggests ways to improve their performance based on a set of rules for high performance web pages.

Xenu Link Sleuth: An old yet still relevant tool for identifying broken links along with many other website issues.

Useful tools for keyword strategy:

SpyFu: Amanda likes using it as an aid for competitive positioning.

WordStream: Keywod management tool for PPC and SEO.

Useful tool for Site Optimization:

Crazy Egg: Helps webmasters in improving the design of their website by showing them where people are clicking and where they are not!

Useful tools in Social Media:

Know Em: Aid in username identification of all your social media profiles.

Quantcast: Allows you to view statistics of all websites. Great tool to analyze how your website matches up against your competition.

Trendpedia: Similar to Google trends that lets you view the popularity of keywords and themes on the web.

Widgetbox: World’s largest marketplace to purhcase and/or create widgets.

Useful tools to Improve Agency Productivity:

Fresh Books: Great way to track time and invoice clients.

Glance: Simplest website when doing webinars and desktop sharing.

SES Toronto 2009 Live Blogging: Social Media – Do Big Companies Get It?

Moderator:
Greg Jarboe, President & Co-founder, SEO-PR
Speakers:
Mark Evans, Principal, ME Consulting
Guillaume Bouchard, Co-founder & CEO, NVI
Krista Neher, CEO, Marketess

5 Myths of Social Media

Mark’s up first!

Social Media is Free
While the services are free, there is a definite cost in the time spent, especially if you hire professionals. As you should!
Social Media is Easy
A lot of grunt work. Twitter seems quick and easy, but it requires someone very involved. Making it a team approach can help, because there is such a thing as a shelf life to a social media employee.
Social Media is About the Tools
The tools definitely help, but they must be incorporated into a bigger strategy to make sense.
Social Media is a Standalone Activity
Social media has to fit within the greater high level company strategy, integrated with other marketing efforts.
Measuring ROI is difficult if not impossible
There are plenty of tools available! For example, tracking sales brought through a Twitter referral URL

7 Mistakes Companies Make in Social Media

Krista Neher’s up now. Will be interesting to see how this differs from the previous speaker.
Focusing on Numbers
We obsess too much over this audience, but we have to understand that all traffic is not created equal. Basically, focus on quality more than quantity. I would add that quantity does bring people in because it seems impressive, but she is
Join the Conversation
When you jump in, participate, but don’t divert the topic from what the user(s) intended it to be.
Spamming
Sabotages the usefulness of the platform as people try to generate leads, get their message out. The rules being fairly open has led to a fairly spammy environment, especially on Twitter.
Irrelevance
Trying to get the wrong people to talk about the right thing. Build on existing interest in users, but don’t try to force users to be into something they’re not into, using gifts or whatnot. The user-generated content will be crap.
Boring
Be interesting, or you’re wasting your time. You should see comment, it should be relevant, and there should be a sense of community. Content has to add value, and be consistent.
Not Being Committed
“It’s a relationship – not a one-night stand.” Whatever you decide to do, be consistent and stick to it. If you’re not going to stick to it, don’t bother.
Not Playing Nice
Interact with users properly, non-insultingly. Ryanair apparently called a blogging who said he found a loophole in their booking system a lunatic. Not smart. Playing nice also involves transparency, where people are who they say they are.

Social Media News Sites

Guillaume time. (woo!)
Social media news sites, in many ways, have replaced the press release. Moderator doesn’t look happy.

A Look at Digg and StumbleUpon
– New toolbar, fine with Google, pissing off SEO companies. NVI might develop a custom toolbar replacement.
– Digg success is all or none, StumbleUpon more proportional.
– Digg used to be easily manipulated, now tough
– How in upcoming is the kiss of death
– Keyword recommendations
– No more shouts

Main Criteria for social media success: Content (very important), Platform (very important), Submitter, Category, Solicitation

Content: be funny (if you can pull it off), work hard, be strong and don’t waste their time, don’t seem marketing, not too too much text, no slow server, easy buttons for voting. SEO-wise, keywords in title (for good anchor text), interlink after, try not to 301.

Platform: /blog, client-owned blog, SEO-company-owned external blog, each have their own pros and cons as far as branding, riskiness, content ownership. Need some trust, because very few text-based non-trusted domains hit the home.

Submitter: Power user helps on Digg, less on Stumble.

Category: Not super important.

Solicitation: Instant messaging, toolbar, etc. Stumble the more votes the better, not necessarily on Digg.

Social Media Metrics
Be mindful of the social site links that can make up the bulk of the backlinks generated.

SES Toronto : Canada specific SEO & PPC Issues

Heather Dougherty from ilovedata.com

Microsoft Bing beame the 9th most visited website in Canada Last week!  Last week they ranked 17 in the US.

52% of search queries contain 1-2 keywords.  Success rates of Search engines:

Yahoo! Canada: 76.59% Google US only 68%.  Search results have lots of potential improvement.

International competition is facing Canada right now.   It is difficult to find relevant canadian results.  When adding “canada” to can improve relevance drastically.  for example “credit cards” vs. “credit cards canada.”

Audit Search results from competition outside of Canada.  Sometimes companies don’t realize they compete here even though they can’t cated to Canadian Audience.

Ari Schomair From Henderson Bas : Canadian Search Engine Optimization

Why do we care about canadian SEO? Language and location are two key factors in SE relevancy rankings.

Some Facts: Canada has 2 official languages, Canadians regularly visits US websites, Not all Canadian sites are hosted in Canada, Many Canadian Companies have american offices.

Sample problems:  you don’t appear in Canadian SERPs, they appear in English but not french, a US parent company outranks Canadian  counterpart.

1. IP Location and Whois Location – whois is set at domain level but subdomains can be hosted separately.

2. Webmaster tools – You can set Geographic target, but obviously only works for Google, and is also at domain level.

3. Domain extention: .ca vs.  generic .com etc.

4. Canadian Centered link building

5. On page address listings – google has a patent for this particular function

Case Studies which improved results in Canada dramatically:

Mercedes Benz C-Class: in Canada was being outranked in US.  They moved content to mercedes-benz.ca 301 redirects, canadian focused Link building.

Nestle: They couldn’t move to nestle.ca, so they utilized a .ca domain to signal geography focus.

Clubhouse-canada.com didnt rank well in canada.  It was hosted in the US.  Solution: moved from .com to .ca utilizing deep 301 redirects, specified geographic focus in Webmaster tools.

Dual Language site: ogilvyrenault.com: They split french and English into subdirectories, moved listed canadian mailiing address oon site, hosted site in Canada.

conclusion: think about geographic focus when creating website

2. use the 5 main tactics to rank in Canada (lusted above)

Marc Poirier From Acquisio: Canadian-Specific issues with PPC

What’s unique in PPC in Canada Vs US:

1. Size of the Market.  Way less volume in Canada  In US 21$ billion spent, in Canada it was 1.2$ Billion. Population 10x smaller and adspend is 20x smaller.

2. Two official languages 60% english 23% french and 17% other.  Bilingual campaign is good for bilingual companies.  Remember it is marketing, so you cannot do crappy translations.  Language targeting – use french ad copy for french keywords. Content network is great to experiment language targeting.

3. Currency issues.  In Canada 80% of Search traffic is driven by Google and they use Canadian Dollar, but Yahoo and Microsoft you have to fund with US dollars, so it becomes difficult to do accounting, understanding ROI, etc.

4. Victims of the giant next door: Canada is a source of arbitrage traffic to be resold in the US. Example “car insurance” geico.com comes up in google.ca, but if you dont enter a US zip code you cannot use site or service.

Conclusion: Harder in canada to do PPC: 2 currencies, 2 languages, we have a market that is 5% of US.

Guillaume Bouchard NVI (woot woot!): Quebec-Specific Issues

Quebec Demographics:  73.5% of quebec uses internet every day, however 80% uses debit cards so ecommerce is delayed because people want to use debit cards for transactions. 4 Million active Users, 70% French 30% users. Rural zones are more french.

The Quebec French Audiene is ahead of france in terms of search complexity (how many kw used in a query.  Since it is harder to find things in french, Quebequers have to use more complex search queries.

225-250 million seaqrches a month in Quebec from Google.  Content network quality in French is lower than US counterpart.

Bing needs to stop changing its name.  Peope in Quebec went through sympatico/MSN, Live, now bing.  Too many branding changes.

Yahoo.qc.ca did a lot of advertising on buses but forgot to put the URL in ads. Content network for yahoo.qc.ca is low quality.

Canoeklix

BV! Media: Important display ad network. Low ROI on B2B, not a search engine, below average traffic.

pagesjaunes.ca – doing a lot of new things, however if they are arbitraging Google ads, then it will be more expensive tha Google.   Some categories recieve a lot more traffic than others but cost the same.  Some verticals can be more advantageous than others.

Quebec Market Distribution:

PowerCorp, Transcontinental, Quebecor.  They are all based on vertical acquisitions.

Social: 2 of the top 30 users in Digg are Quebequers!!

Marketing properly in Quebec:  Have a real Francophone from Quebec for Marketing.  French in France is different.

Google.com US results, and Google.com international have different results.  see previous post by Naoise Osborne of NVI.

SES Toronto 2009 Live Blogging: Information Architecture, Site Performance Tuning, & SEO

Moderator:
Anne Kennedy, Managing Partner & Founder, Beyond Ink
Speakers:
Jill Sampey, Director of Search, Blast Radius
Naoise Osborne, SEO Team Lead, NVI
Shari Thurow, Founder & SEO Director, Omni Marketing Interactive
Jodi Showers, CTO, HomeStars

Taxonomy Concerns

Shari’s up first.

A definition of Site Architecture:
Citing Peter Morville, basically the structural design of shared information, the combination of organizing, labeling, search, and navigation systems. Not crawlability, indexation, and other SEO terms.

Information Architecture is the organization site content into groups, placed in categories, making it easier for people and engines to understand.

Information architecture, navigation, and content all support each other.

Taxonomy, arranging in a proper hierarchical structure, is important to make the experience make sense. The backbone!

Taxonomists are neutral (as far as internal company goals), and perform usability tests, usually reigning in SEOs flagrant interlinking.

Page Interlinking Tips

  • Getting people around in a user-friendly way.
  • URL structure is part of the interface. It doesn’t have a huge effect on SEO anymore (although it can be definitely messed up and cause problems).
  • One sub-directory, or two? Same. Sub-domain or sub-directory? Same. Hmm.

Main Considerations
1. Taxonomy
2. Formal navigation
3. Page interlinking
4. URL structure
5. Code/program the pages
6. Verify crawlability

Consider taxonomy BEFORE the site is built, include keywords as part of your plan, and test.

Jill Sampey, Director of Search, Blast Radius

The online world is evolving, and your site needs to respond in kind. How to know?

  • On-site Analytics
  • Search Trends

She’s using EA Sports as her example, where their offline market targets have brought people online. The audience used to be primarily gamers, so they had to find a navigation/usability compromise. Having clear categorical architecture was her answer.

How to know if a site needs to be changed?

  • Steady or low traffic levels
  • New competitors
  • Search query changes

When building a new site, they try to consider three aspects:

  • User needs
  • How your users are searching
  • What spiders need (URLs to index, links to follow, text to identify content/intent)

For a site all in flash, she uses these tools:

  • SWF Object
  • SWF address with re-write potential
  • sIFR
  • Hijax

One point to consider, to stay out of trouble, is making sure that the text behind the flash matches the rich media.

Search Engine Optimization: Indexation and Link Juice

Now for Naoise. (Woo!)

How to deal with a case when the taxonomy wasn’t worked out before? How does the information remain consistent as you do the SEO?

The Holistic SEO Recipe:
One part marketing (new keywords)
One part editorial (write about the keywords)
One part webmaster (implementation, link tech, sitemaps, publishing)
One part SEO education

Don’t expect to find it all in one person!
Everybody needs to know the SEO basics and be able to see the big picture.

The Important SEO Things Everyone Needs to Get:
Search engines crawl sites through links. Link popularity is important, because link juice largely defines rank ability. There is an important difference between indexation and link juice spread.

Robots.txt – Does NOT control the flow of link juice. Pages disallowed in the robots file can accumulate and pass on juice.

On-Page Meta No-Index, useful to remove pages from the index that you can’t take care of with the robots file. Sometimes in conjunction with on-page meta no-follow, so that it doesn’t pass on link juice.

Pagerank sculpting is becoming less important, and the information architecture should take care of what’s important.

301 redirection. The only way to send someone to another URL and pass on link juice too, directory by directory or page by page.

Canonicalization tag. An elegant fix for sites with duplicate content issues, some junk. Supported by most major engines. Works like 301s, but you can’t go across domains.

Javascript links. Crawlable, so be careful if you think you can sculpt your architecture that way.

Encouraging use of Google Webmaster Central, or Xenu Link Sleuth (especially if you don’t own the site)

Website Performance and Search Index Presence

Jodi’s up now.

What is the pagerank of an un-indexed page?
What % of your pages are indexed?
How fast is your site? (can check with Alexa)

  • Search engine companies have limited computing power.
  • Slower websites get indexed less.
  • If it isn’t indexed, it ain’t ranked.

Use GWT to see indexation and download time, track progress. Solving page load times can go a long way for indexation. They are very, very connected.

How to Fix:

Technical solutions (hardware)
Identify bottlenecks
If can’t be solved by technical means, have to meet with the team and find another way, maybe even removing features.

Other strategies, specifically applying to Homestars (basically search-based):
Take data on most popular searches in a time-shifted way, from 12-24 hours before, at night, and just relay those results to users when they search instead of performing the calculation each time.

Final tips:

  • Establish performance metrics (pages indexed, time to create a page, etc.)
  • Monitor your metrics regularly, and share your information with relevant parties (accountability)
  • Set goals to add to the accountability
  • If you don’t measure, you can’t improve

Q & A

What can you tell me about content management systems?
Naoise: If a CMS is making you change your URLs, just make sure you 301 your URLs properly. Your SEO is pretty independent of your CMS (even ubiquitous ones like WordPress can be used for enterprise level sites). Jill: make sure your meta tags are easily changeable/addable.

How to measure pagerank?
Naoise: Don’t worry about measuring it. Wrong way to think. You’ll never be able to see real PR, and toolbar PR is lies – Build more links to the pages that need to rank better. You don’t need to know how much PR you have, you always need more.

What do I do if I can’t change URLs? (specific example where URLs could not be changed, and duplicate content was on all of them)
Everyone: If your system renders new, different URLs for the same content, and you can’t change them in the CMS, maybe mess with the canonicalization tool, but in all likelihood, you’re screwed (Naoise and Shari may disagree on that point – Naoise leaning towards the canonical tag being appropriate, Shari not)

A debate was starting between Jodi and Shari, about how much of a difference in ranking that performance can make, since Shari was basically undermining Jodi’s whole point. But they ran out of time!

Final comments:

One of the more directly informative panels with some good technical back-and-forth.

Live Blogging SES Toronto 2009: Campaign Performance Tracking: Basic Tips

Moderator: Richard Zwicky, Founder & CEO, Enquisite

Speakers:
Alan Knecht, Founder & President, K’nechtology Inc.
Julie Batten, eMarketing Manager, Klick Communications
Janice Hatch, Account Manager, Google Canada

Overview from the SES Day 2 Agenda:

Yes, you can do that! Many digital marketers are unaware of just how easy it is to install tracking solutions to help track return on investment right down to the keyword or ad level. Panelists will show you precisely what to do to get set up, and explore different techniques for measuring and adjusting campaigns based on key insights. Topics include Google AdWords Conversion Tracker, Google Analytics, and third party tools that can provide advanced analytics and even insight into “invalid” clicks. This panel is aimed at a beginner to intermediate level marketer (*not* advanced) and will cover both technical and strategy issues.

First speaker: J. Batten

[Very brief, superficial look at using Google Analytics, AdWords conversion tracking and using them to meet key performance indicators (KPIs). Next…]

Second speaker: J. Hatch

Campaign performance tracking using Google Analytics.

Use Analytics to:

  • Focus budget on campaigns delivering ROI
  • Optimizing campaigns that don’t deliver results
  • Optimize landing pages

Use Analytics to measure a number of KPIs (it’s not always just revenue you want to look at).

Gave case study of using Analytics for GoogleStore.com, which sells all of Google’s branded merchandise. Using Analytics to find out what countries are bringing best per visit value, most revenue. Can then drill down to see, for example, which particular US states delivered most revenue. (Forty percent of US revenue came from California.)

Analytics provides direction on what campaigns/segments to focus on first.

Use Analytics to find out the most profitable keywords. Expand, build out those terms that are working well.

Landing page optimization. Bounce rate is a great way to measure impact and performance of landing pages. Obviously, you don’t want a high bounce rate (e.g., people leaving your site after just one or two clicks). Look at pages with low bounce rates and try to distill what’s working there and apply that to other pages; improve pages with high bounce rates. Comparing paid vs. all traffic: if, say, paid traffic for a particular page has a higher bounce rate than all traffic, perhaps the ad creative is not as relevant and should be revised. Beyond a certain bounce rate, you can also just say that a page is not effective… compare it to overall numbers (like of a certain category of your site).

More info at youtube.com/googleanalyitcs and Analytics blog.

Third speaker: A. Knecht

Start out by asking: what is a click worth? Are all clicks to your site worth the same? Depends on who’s clicking, where they are clicking from, immediate / long term outcome (segmentation)

Segmentation. Must break down campaigns into component parts for analysis: geographic, demographic, etc. Without segmentation: you can only know how the total campaign is doing; can’t isolate successes or poor performers; missing details and all valuable data in your web analytics; only looking at the big picture instead of the important details.

Analyze segmentation by knowing KPIs; identify specific segments; configure your analytics tool accordingly (filters to include only specific traffic); compare same KPI vs. different segments; don’t pay the same for lower performing segments.

Also, can tend to have high conversion rate for certain landing pages, compared to rest of site. This may rest with the fact that the landing page has limited navigation, and there’s only one action to take on the page (like a purchase). So a high bounce rate here compared to the rest of the site might not necessarily be bad. Would need to look and see how that page is converting compared to the rest; how much sales it’s producing.

SES Toronto : Web Analytics Track

First up is Bryan Eisenberg, co-founder of FutureNow.  ROI, Engagement, Attribution & More.

Attribution:  Apparently Google Analytics inflates search results. What’s working what’s not?  Uses example of a basketball team.  do the players that pass the ball get “credit ” for their points?  Non converting keywords actually may convert as the attribution maybe it influenced later searches.  Analytics will never be purely a science because it is not 100% exact.  It is used for trends.

How are things being reported?  Google only counts the “player” that made the basket, not the ones that contributed.  We are still operating in the dark if we do not understand visitor profiles and do not use personal identifiable data.

Everyone is concentrating on the conversion, without paying attention on the process before conversions.  If it takes 7 weeks to change a button color it is death for companies today.   There has to be flexibility in an organization to make changes and do tests.  An organization has to constantly test over and over.  A contiuous improvement project.

Creating a Marketing campaign, measuring its success is what pretty much everyone does.  However improving campaigns is what is needed.  Amazon.com is constantly adapting, changing and making the experience better.

The process to become more flexible is to have these resources:

Marketing & Analysis
Graphic Design, copywriting, creative resources
Technical

Conclusion:  Measuring Success = Money in the bank.

June Li from ClickInsight.ca: Turning Data into Dollars
Data and Reports don’t make you money.  They only are the beginning of the journey.

Its a conversion funnel:

Data and Reports -> Ask Questions -> Segmentation analysis -> Action -> $$$

The tools don’t provide meaning, the analyst does.  Without an analyst the tool is useless.   An analyst should be involved in the design of how the data is gathered.  Get invited to the design party:

Define Goals -> Design -> Execute -> Cleanse Data -> Analyze -> Decide -> Test -> Assess

What are the behaviors that will be used to measure success? What needs to have extra tagging if the tool isn’t set up to do it by default?

Segmenting Data:  The question to ask is:  “What’s different?”  between people that convert and tose that don’t.  See what is working and what is not.

We see 4 differently shaped funnels,  Web Metrics, Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success by Jim Stern.

Work backwards from the conversion event.   sources, keywords, geographies, days of week, what content is being consumed and is there a difference in these segments and how they convert.  Reports are to show if objectives were achieved, Analysis will show where more gains are possible.

We see a case study of a site redesign and go through the metrics of how the website has improve in terms of visits, new visits, bounce rate etc.  Organic conversions increased by 90% but other sources ncreased by 37% so this difference shows that something further can be done..  drille down to keywords and measuring the bounce rate to show what users may be expecting to see on the site.

The important thing is to take action, segmenting gives ou the clues to what you can be doing.  No Action = No Dollars.

Anne Marie Lorriman from Outrider: Search Query Audits — When targeting goes Awry

Exact Query Reporting

Issue #1 = The offside search Result

For example the word “Sonic” can be a toothbrush, a hedgehog, or a DVD publishing company

“Primus” Rock Band, Camping Supplies, or Telecommunications

We cannot anticipate what people are expecting with queries, so you have to go back and check the performance of these Keywords.  Broad match is ok but has to be looked at very closely.  The Quality Score will also go down if the clickthrough rate is not there.   Irrelevant clicks will also cost advertisers:  Monkey Love” is seen on an adwords ad for Ebay, so they are wasting their money for that term.

Issue #2 The hidden defect search result.  If you are bidding on the word “automobile” but only the word “car” appears on your page, your click rate will go up.   So they will create a “car” campaign and an “Automobile” campaign.

Conclusion = An Exact match Query Report with Negative keywords will create a more performant PPC strategy.

Richard Zwicky Enquisite: Analyzing valuable traffic

Data is worthless if not used properly.  Search Analytics is to measure what users have done before coming to your website, whereas Web Analytics encompasses internal traffic behavior.

Organic and Paid traffic behaves differently.  Where do people look on the SERPs page?

Currently Agencies spend 96% of their advertising money on 12% of total return.  Only 50 out of Fortune 500 companies actively do SEO.  When we analyze specific keywords referrals from organic search and segment by geolocation, etc. we can find low hanging fruit.  Example of a california website that wanted to rank for “hotel” in the UK.  They were ranking pretty much everywhere except Londong.  When they noticed this they actively tried to acquire links from local London businesses and the rankings increased for the London area.

Potential =  Keyword Volume/Search Engine Referrals x (Page views) x (Time on site) x (1- Bounce rate)

Then the Q&A discussed attribution of the originating source of a referrer.  I suggested the nooverride function in Google Analytics, but it was pointed out that this will also cause data for repeat visitor sources to be lost.