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SEM SEO Expert by Nima Asrar Haghighi

SEM SEO Expert” is a blog written by Nima Asrar Haghighi. Nima is an Internet Marketing Specialist with expertise in SEM (PPC Advertising), Organic SEO, RSS, Social Media and Web Analytics (Google Analytics IQ Certified). Nima holds an MBA in marketing, B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering, Project Management Certification, and CIW (Certified Internet Webmaster) in E-commerce. Contact: nima @ sem seo expert.com.

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Welcome to Nima Asrar Haghighi's blog covering Internet marketing topics such as search engine optimization, search engine marketing, Web Analytics, RSS and online marketing industry as a whole.


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Sunday, May 31, 2009

SES 2009 - Search Engine Strategies Conference

Time flies...June is around the corner and so is Toronto SES 2009. It is as if it was just yesterday, I attended SMX Search Analytics Toronto and exhibited at Toronto Search Engine Strategies Conference back in 2008.

We will be again exhibiting at 2009 SES event which will be held at Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. This year’s SES conferences will be held on June 8th and June 9th. In addition, on June 10th, there will be some SEM and SEO training programs (more on SEM SEO Training).

I am so excited about this year’s SES conference. At a time of recession, more and more marketers are concerned about their marketing dollars. Search Engine Strategies is a great opportunity for marketers to learn more about the power of Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization.

If search marketing campaigns are executed properly they can prove to be one of the most effective channels for marketers.

I will post more updates on the 2009 SES Toronto.

Related Post: SES San Jose



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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

SMX Search Analytics – Toronto

After Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman departed from Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference and expo series, initiated SMX Search Marketing Expo. SMX brings together some of the sharpest minds in the search engine marketing industry.

Earlier in April, I attended Toronto SMX Search Analytics Conference and Expo. The purpose of Search Analytics is to provide marketers with insight into their visitors, customers and those who bounced away. The promise of the event is to equip advanced search marketers with tools, tactics and strategies that can maximize the effectiveness of their search engine marketing campaigns.

Toronto SMX Search Analytics conference kicked off by keynote speaker, Venessa Fox and covered topics such as:

  • Analyzing & Converting Organic Search Traffic – Covering SEO KPIs
  • Analyzing & Converting Paid Search Traffic – Utilizing Web Analytics to measure PPC campaigns
  • Up Close with Google Analytics – Measuring traffic utilizing GA
  • Top Ten Customized Search Analytics Reports – Creating Custom Executive Dashboards
  • Successful Testing for Improved Search Marketing ROI – A/B and Multivariate Testing
  • Traffic Segmentation & Why It Matters – segmenting organic and paid search traffic by location, demographic and psychographics to improve ROI
  • Search Analytics & Competitive Intelligence – Analyzing competitors’ strategies and bit them at their own game
  • Creating a Data-Driven Culture – Building an Analytics and data driven culture in the organization
The two-day Toronto SMX Search Analytics program was jam-pack of information. While SES Toronto is a great source of information for marketers interested in Search Engine Marketing, SMX series are more suitable for more seasoned search marketers.





Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM & SEO Expert

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Google Advertising – AdWords in a Nutshell

Advertising on Google has become an important part of Internet marketing mix. Google AdWords can be marketers’ best friend. Whether you are looking to raise brand awareness, lunch a new product, generate more leads, increase traffic to your site or sell products and services online, Google pay per click advertising can prove useful.

As I mentioned in my Google AdWords Consulting Might Just Save Your Campaign post, it is not a secret that if you do not know Google AdWords system well enough, you might easily ramp up your cost and spend your advertising dollars without gaining a positive ROI. On the flip side, if you can get Google advertising work for you, either through outsourcing SEM to a Google AdWords Professional / Company or by developing the necessary SEM expertise yourself, your business will prosper.

The first step is to set your objectives. Decide what you would like to achieve with your AdWords campaign. It is not uncommon that you have many competing goals. It is important to set your priorities and decide on the best strategies to maximize your Return on Investment. Based on these objectives you need to come up with some Key Performance Indicators.

Once the objectives are set, you can start conducting keyword research using various free or paid keyword tools and keyword research techniques. The result of your keyword research might influence how your final strategy shapes.

In order for your Google advertising to be successful, like any other marketing campaign, you need to segment your campaign. Segmentation in Google AdWords is more than just segmenting by geography, language and demography. You need to segment your Google AdWords campaign into various campaigns and Ad Groups based on the keywords your audience search for. I cannot emphasize the importance of segmentation enough. This could make or break your campaign as it affects how nimble your campaign is and can have a major impact on your Quality Score, cost per click (CPC), click through rate (CTR), conversion rate and ROI.

As the next step, you need to develop high quality Ad Copies that resonate both to your audience and Google AdWords system. By testing various Ads, you need to find the best advertising copy that generates the right balance between high CTR, Quality Score and Conversion Rate. The ad copies need to send visitors to relevant landing pages that are optimized for search engines, usability and conversion.

Congratulations on building your professional Google AdWords PPC Advertising campaign. If you have done all the steps right you are off to a great start. A great campaign structure could dramatically increase the chances of a successful advertising on Google. However, you need to keep a close eye on your PPC advertising campaign`s performance. This should be done utilizing the SEM KPIs that you have developed for your Google advertising when you were defining your campaign objectives. Whether you are using Google Analytics or any other Web Analytics application it is important to constantly monitor your campaign’s performance against your KPIs and tweak your keywords, bids, ad copies and landing pages to maximize your company`s ROI.

Toronto SEM Expert - Nima Asrar Haghighi

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Most Popular SEM SEO Expert BLog Posts of 2008

After a great and relatively long vacation in Dubai, I am back in Toronto. It's the time to ponder how another year passed, what I have achieved and what I should plan for 2009. So, I reviewed 2008 traffic to the site. Here are the most popular blog posts:

  1. SEO KPIs
  2. How to Create XML Sitemaps
  3. Outsourcing SEO SEM Services
  4. Customer Retention Strategy
  5. Landing Page Load Time Impact on Google

Also by reviewing the keywords that have sent traffic to the site, I have identified some topics that people are seeking information about. I will gradually address the issues in the upcoming posts in 2009.

Nima Asrar Haghighi

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Google AdWords Consulting Might Just Save Your Campaign

If you have every used Google AdWords to run PPC advertising campaigns, you have noticed that Google AdWords has a very user friendly and intuitive PPC management interface. You can basically set up an AdWords account and send your marketing campaign live in a matter of hours if not minutes.

However, running Google AdWords campaigns are deceptively easy. Even though it is easy to setup and run a campaign, it’s not as easy to run a successful campaign.

Working as an AdWords Consultant and managing PPC campaigns for over 100 web properties, I should say no two accounts are exactly the same. Each pay per click campaign is different and needs specific strategies and tactics. However, if you use the right methodology, you can increase your chances of winning results with Google.

Running a successful Google AdWords campaign starts with understanding your objectives, setting KPIs for success (e.g., conversion rate, page view/visit, cost/sales), conducting keyword research (using paid or free keyword research tools), segmenting keywords into various Ad Groups, writing multiple targeted Ad Copies and sending traffic to the most relevant landing pages.

Even though it is crucial in the success of your campaign, setting up the AdWords account is just the first step. The secret to run a successful PPC campaign that meets your objectives and generates great ROI is the ongoing management of PPC bids, A/B testing of ad copies and landing pages, expanding or eliminating keywords, adding negative keywords and measuring visitors’ behaviour on your site using Web Analytics applications such as Google Analytics.

The principles are simple; however, if you are not a Google AdWords expert, I would highly recommend consulting with a Google AdWords Qualified Professional. A consultant can help you prevent wasting your advertising dollars and make best of your marketing campaigns.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, Search Engine Marketing Consultant

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

SEO Training in Toronto- Courses for Learning PPC

With the growth of search engine optimization and marketing and the ever growing demand for SEM and SEO experts who could help augment online marketing campaigns, more marketing and web design professionals are looking for SEM (ppc advertising) and SEO training courses to learn about the latest search engine optimization & marketing techniques.

As an early SEO and PPC adopter, I learned search engine optimization and marketing techniques by working on an online property, as I mentioned in my post: Back to the Future, and by trying new methods to improve search engines rankings and increasing traffic. As at the time, there were no formal SEM (pay-per-click) and SEO training courses, the only option was to go after trial and error methodology. The advantage of training yourself on SEO and SEM is the trill and self satisfaction of learning new SEO techniques and getting to put your thinking hat on. However, the disadvantage is that you learn at the cost of time and possible mistakes you make along the way which could potentially prove very costly in PPC advertising (AdWords, YSM, MSN adCenter).

How to Learn SEO & PPC?

Even though there are not many universities and colleges that offer SEO and PPC training courses, you can shorten the learning curve either by reading various SEM and SEO blogs online (check my blogroll for some good sites), read books on the topic (e.g., Search Engine Marketing Inc., Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day, SEO Bible) or talk to SEM SEO Experts to learn the basic and advanced search engine marketing techniques. Please note that there are many myths around search engine optimization. So, don’t put your trust in what you read unless you have tested the ideas and have seen their positive or negative impacts.

If you would like to learn search engine optimization and are looking for PPC & SEO training courses in Toronto, you can try search engine strategies Toronto workshops or SEMPO courses. You can always try to pick my brain as well.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, Toronto-based SEM, SEO, PPC Expert

Related Article: SEM Expertise Needed to Be an SEM Expert

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Google Search Based Keyword Tool - SKTool

Google just announced the introduction of its new keyword search tool. Google's new free keyword suggestion tool is called Search-based Keyword Tool (SKTool or SbKT).

Whether you use keyword research tools for SEO or PPC advertising using AdWords, YSM (previously Overture), MSN and adCenter, you can benefit from Google's new and free keyword tool.

The Search-based Keyword Tool helps you leverage search query data relevant to your website's content by giving you keywords that Google believes are relevant to your site but are not currently part of your AdWords campaigns. By using this new tool, not only you can prevent any missed opportunities but also can work on improving the Quality Score of your AdWords campaigns by selecting keywords that Google finds most relevant.

So, What is Search-based Keyword Suggestion Tool?

This tool provides you with keyword ideas that are relevant and specific to your site. Google analyzes the landing page on your website and suggests keyword queries that have occured on Google properties over the past year. The suggested keywords are organized into subcategories.

Free Keyword Suggestion Tool from Google
In the first look, the tool looks like Google AdWords External Keyword Research Tool, however, SKTool (SbKT) combines the knowledge of your website together with Google's query database to suggest relevant keywords for your AdWords campaigns.

The keyword tool looks at the content on each page within your website and pairs keyword suggestions with specific pages that Google believes are most relevant. Of course it is important to use your own judgment before selecting any of the suggested keywords and not to put your faith in the hands of machines ;0).

The tool also offers average bid required to place your ad in the top three position of Google search engine results pages. Another cool feature of this new keyword tool is that it checks for deleted, paused and negative keywords in your AdWords account to ensure they do not suggest any duplicate keywords.

What could make Google search-based keyword tool so special is its ability to provide you with the top keywords across all categories and not just the keywords related to your website. Once the tool is out of beta, it could be the new best friend for PPC and SEO professionals.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM Expert

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

SEO vs. PPC Promotion Strategies

Marketing SEO vs. PPC Promotion StrategiesSEO or SEM? This is a question you might have asked yourself. You have the budget to allocate either to SEO market your products and services or take advantage of PPC advertising to promote your website.

When deciding on your marketing strategies, there are many factors that you need to take into consideration.On the first look, SEO seems to be the perfect answer as it could attract as much as 70% of the searchers whereas your PPC promotion could draw only 30% of the search volume. Search Engine Optimization has other benefits as well.

SEO Benefits
• Once you have a high rankings on search engines, you can start getting traffic without directly paying for that traffic.
• Generate Possibly higher CTR.
• Gain more credibility among searchers.• Once you rank high organically, more people find your site and link back to you.

However, there are some challenges with SEO. First off, there is no guarantee that your site get first ranking even if you implement all your SEO strategies. Secondly it usually takes a while to be able to gain high rankings on search engines results pages (specially on Google, Yahoo and MSN). Thirdly search engines algorithms could change and impact all your SEO efforts. Fourthly, you have less control over messaging and the selection of landing pages. Fifthly, A/B or multi variant testing would be way more complicated.

PPC Benefits
By incorporating Pay per click advertising into your website promotion strategy, you will be able to put your message in front of your audience at the exact time they are looking for. Some of the benefits of pay per click advertising are:

• Quick time to market.• Flexibility in changing messages.
• Quick measurement of response.
• Easy A/B or multi variant testing of ad copies and landing pages.
• Ability to target audience in specific locations by geo-targeting.
• Set and control daily budget.

The challenges with SEM (PPC) advertising is that you need to keep paying for the traffic. As mentioned before it also only attract about 30% of the traffic.

So, let’s ask the question again. Should you allocate your marketing budget to organic SEO or sponsored PPC ads? The answer is both. Depending on what your objectives are or how urgent your marketing needs are you might decide on how to allocate your budget.

No matter which strategy you are using it is important that you track their performance by designing KPIs to measure the success of your SEO and PPC initiatives utilizing your Web Analytics application.

In most cases, when SEO and PPC are used together as part of an integrated marketing strategy they could create a great synergy that could create your company with competitive advantage.

SEO Benefits from PPC
As I mentioned in my post on SEO and Personalization, SEO can indirectly benefit from PPC advertising. By getting more visibility through PPC advertising, you increase the chances of getting backlinks from your audience which in turns helps improve your PageRank and SEO ranking in the long run.

In addition, by analyzing your PPC campaign you will get a better understanding of what keywords contribute to your ROI best. Then you can use those keywords to optimize your website for.

PPC advertising also create more awareness and branding for your site which in turn could help you lift your response rate.

Having multiple listings on the first page of search engines you can further reinforce your message and build credibility for your business.

PPC Benefits from SEO
When your website ranks high on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN, your ads could start getting higher CTR as people find your site more credible.

Additionally a well optimized page could help improve your Quality Score for your PPC ads. This is getting more and more important as SEO and PPC are getting more and more interconnected.

Before spending time and budget to invest in your SEO strategies, you can run test PPC campaign to identify the pest performing phrases.

Both PPC advertising and SEO are excellent strategies for marketing your website. However, to be successful in a competitive industry you need to utilize the synergy between PPC and SEO. The key is to know when to emphasize on one and when to rely on the other or when to employ both. SEO is most effective when you are trying to reach long term objectives whereas PPC is most effective when you need immediate traffic.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM SEO Expert

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Google AdWords & AdSense Pay Per Click Fraud Detection

Just heard the latest news on Google PPC Click Fraud Detection and Prevention. Click Forensics announced that Google will be accepting click-quality e-reports generated by the Click Forensics’ Fully Automated Click Tracking Recognition (FACTr). This means that Google AdWords advertisers can now submit click fraud reports to Google in an automated fashion through FACTr click fraud auditing service.

Click Fraud Definition
Click fraud is a type of Internet fraud that occurs in pay per click search advertising (e.g., Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing – previously Overture) when an individual, a group of people or an automated script (click bot) imitates a legitimate user by clicking on an ad, for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having any interest in the offer advertised in the clicked ad.

Types of Click Fraud

Publisher:
a publisher may try to profit from AdSense ads being clicked.

Competitors of advertisers: A competitor may wish to harm another competitor who advertises in the same market by clicking on their ads on Google, Yahoo or their content networks. The objective here is to increase the cost to competitor as advertiser has to pay for irrelevant clicks. This could potentially cause the competitors ads go dark if their budget is limited.

Competitors of publishers: A publisher’s competitor may want to terminate the relationship between the publisher and the pay per click programs by making it look like the publisher is clicking on its own ads to generate revenue. The objective is to dry the AdSense source of revenue for competing publishers.

Click Fraud Detection & Tracking
Pay per Click advertising networks such as Google AdWords or Yahoo try to put fraud prevention technologies into place to prevent click fraud by all parties; however, it is difficult to detect which clicks are legitimate and which ones are fraudulent.

Click fraud – or invalid clicks as Google likes to call it – is not and should not be liked by any parties. Advertisers do not want to spend their valuable marketing dollars for invalid or fraudulent clicks. Publishers resent having to pay refunds for clicks that are not initiated by them. Google and other search engines, even though could have short term monetary gains, are also trying to stop click fraud as it could diminish their revenue in the long term if advertisers lose faith in the pay per click system.

That is why search engines are trying to build click fraud detection and prevention software and reporting systems that help track possible invalid clicks and reimburse advertisers for the invalid clicks.

The pay-per-click industry has been lobbying for tighter laws on the click fraud issue. Some companies have developed software for click fraud tracking and detection and are developing relationships with advertising networks. Such solutions fall into two categories:

Analysis of advertisers' web logs – The first approach is the process of analysis of the advertiser's web logs to get an in-depth insight of the source and behaviour of the traffic in order to detect the potential click fraud. The limitation of this approach is that it relies solely on the honesty of the middlemen in detecting click fraud.

Third-party click fraud management services - Third parties such as Click Forensics offer web-based solutions (utilizing single-pixel images, JavaScript or cookies). The objective is to highlight suspicious clicks. However, the problem with third-party solutions is that such solutions see only part of the traffic of the entire network. Hence, they can be less likely to identify click fraud patterns that span several advertisers by click bots. In addition, search engines claim that the third party click fraud management services can be overly aggressive when judging traffic to be fraud.

Click Fraud Rates
Depending on who reports on it, click fraud rate can vary. Google claims that on average less than 2% of all clicks through Google’s systems are click frauds whereas some of click fraud management companies report click fraud rates as high as 20%.

Definition of Click Fraud Rate by Google

Google believes that the majority of invalid clicks are already detected through their automatic and manual click fraud detection technology and team.

Click Fraud Detection and Prevention by Google

The Future of Click Fraud
The good news is search engines are becoming more transparent and now seems to be ready to cooperate with third party click fraud auditing service providers such as Click Forensics. They are also working with other companies to establish industry standards for click fraud protection: Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Click Measurement Working Group.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM Expert

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Not for Profit Conference - 2008 NFP Seminar by CMA

I will be speaking at 2008 CMA Not-for-Profit Conference on October 7, 2008 here in Toronto. The objective of this seminar is to share with the non profit organizations ways to develop an inegrated marketing strategy and to showcase innovative concepts in the not-for-profit industry.

Non-Profit Seminar - 2008 Toronto
The audience for this event will be marketing and management teams from non for profit organizations and agencies.

In this speach I will cover how search engine marketing and search engine optimization can be a powerful tool for marketing managers while web analytics can provide executives and management teams with insight on their marketing campaigns.

I will also touch base on Google Grants for non-profit organizations can be utilized for fundraising.

Learn more about this non-for profit conference.

Nima Asrar Haghighi - SEM SEO Expert

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Landing Page Load Time Added to AdWords Interface

As I mentioned in my earlier article, Landing Page Load Time Impact on Google AdWords Quality Score, Google announced that "landing page load time" would be added to the factors influencing Quality Score.

Even though it will not be enforced until mid-June, Google announced the landing page load time is now added to AdWords interface on the Keyword Analysis page.


landing page load time is now available on AdWords interfaceTo keep things fair, the load time is compared to the average landing page speed in your server's geographic region.

By Nima Asrar Haghighi, SEM Expert

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Landing Page Load Time Impact on Google AdWords Quality Score

Google announced recently that they Will soon incorporate "landing page load time" as a factor to their Quality Score formula. Load time evaluation will be added to the keyword analysis tips on AdWords interface.

Quality Score has always been treated as black box and there has not been much transparency around it (for the obvious reasons such as protecting trade secrets and preventing advertisers from biting the system). This time it's not any different.

Google defines load time as the amount of time it takes for a visitor to see the landing page after clicking a Google AdWords ad. However, they have not yet crystallized what they consider as a high/low load time.

By incorporating landing page load time into Quality Score Index calculation, Google is trying to improve user experience and as a by product increase the ppc advertisers conversion rate. They are hopping that because visitors do not abandon the pages because of poor web page load speed advertisers will get a higher return on their investments.

This means that website owners should consider optimizing their servers response time and improving landing page rendition to prevent poor quality score which will translate to higher minimum bid. This might negatively impact the accounts of smaller businesses that do not have the resources to update their sites.

The good news is that there are tools such as Web Page Analyzer and YSlow available that can help companies diagnose slow loading pages and increase their landing page load time.

Here are some tips Google offers for improving the load time:

* Using fewer redirects
* Reducing landing page size by using fewer, smaller and more compressed images.
* Avoiding the use of interstitial pages
* Minimizing the use of iframes on landing pages

Related Article: Landing Page Load Time Added to AdWords Interface

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

SEM Expertise Needed to Be an SEM Specialist

One of my responsibilities is to develop SEM Experts in house. To do so, it is important to understand what expertise a SEM specialist needs to have in order to be successful.

SEM expertise required can be determined by looking closely at the search engine marketing process.

The first step in designing a search marketing campaign is to understand the business objectives. So, an SEM expert needs to understand the big picture, have a good understanding of direct marketing, branding and financial principles.

Once the objectives are understood and some basic SEM strategies are put in place, the keyword research starts. This stage not only requires keen attention to details but also involves creativity.

The next expertise an SEM needs to develop is to write creative and compelling ad copies. Here the search engine marketer needs to develop ad copies that generate high click through rates while qualifying the visitors with clear ad copies.

Once the campaign is live, there is a constant need to monitor keywords performances and adjust the bids accordingly. The expertise required at this stage, in addition to attention to details, are statistical analysis and understanding of trends.

For a search campaign to be successful, not only it is necessary to send qualify traffic to a site, but also it is crucial for the website to be able to convert the traffic to prospects or clients. So, to be successful in running SEM campaigns, it is important for an SEM specialist to develop expertise around web design and SEO as well.

Not only it is important to track the performance of the SEM campaign, it is crucial for a Search Engine Marketer to be able to analyze the results and take action accordingly.

As you may notice there are so many expertise that need to be developed through education and practice for an individual to be considered as an SEM expert.

By Nima - Toronto SEM SEO Expert

Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-marketing

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Personalization & Google Universal Search Optimization

On the second part of my article on One Degree, Personalization and Universal Search Optimization, I covered different tactics and strategies on optimization of a website for personalized Universal search.

I argued that the first step in optimization is to make sure your site has a wide reach and has high visibility. Some of tactics I recommend are chasing the search long tail, utilizing Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) concept, optimizing images and videos, writing high quality blog posts, building a presence on Google local search and news while keeping viral marketing in mind.

On the third part of the universal search optimization article, I cover two other strategies:
  • Being persuasive to take advantage of your rankings and luring traffic to your site.
  • Building a sticky and interesting website that keeps visitors coming back.

Some of the tactics covered here are optimizing your site using internal search, making it easy to bookmark your site, set up link baits while monitoring the performance of your initiatives utilizing Web Analytics applications.

The concluding section of the article I cover the effects of personalized search on Pay Per Click advertising. Here I argue that the rise of personalization can also boost PPC advertising on search engines.

I also suggest that the branding campaigns will have a crucial impact on the performance of your website in a personalized search era.



By Nima - Toronto SEO Expert

Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-optimization

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Should You Outsource SEO / SEM Services?

If you are asking yourself whether outsourcing SEO / SEM services is the right decision, you are already ahead of the curve. Why? Because the chances are many of your competitors do not even know about search engine optimization and marketing.

You have recognized the benefits of optimizing your site for search engines and positioning your site on top of the SERPs. You are dealing with a dilemma that any website owner deals with: Should I outsource SEO / SEM services or should I have it implemented in house?

There are pros and cons for both approaches and the answer is totally depends on your objectives, type of business, budget and resources.

Unless, you have the resources, full time staff and expertise to conduct SEO and SEM in house and spend a huge budget on these initiatives, you would be better off with outsourcing the search marketing and optimization of your site to an SEO vendor.

By outsourcing the service, you will be able to save money while taking advantage of a team of professional SEO and SEM experts who are always up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

Hiring a search engine marketing firm to perform SEO and/or pay per click (PPC) advertising is not an easy task. Both SEO and SEM have proved to be successful; however, a bad experience with an outsourcing vendor can result in resentment toward these channels. So, it is important to take the following steps:

Decide on Your Objectives – First decide on what you would like to achieve from your site. Clearly understanding your objectives not only helps you decide on metrics to measure your success but also help you in evaluating the potential outsourcing SEO vendors and set the expectations with the selected vendor. It also helps you decide on evaluation factors for awarding the business to the right vendor.

Educate Yourself – Try to learn about SEO and SEM as much as possible. This will help you in vendor selection process. Feel free to use potential vendors as a resource. It is always a positive sign if a vendor takes the time to educate you. It shows how open they are in collaborating with you to improve the results.

Research the Capabilities of Vendors – Now that you understand your needs and objectives, you are in a better position to handpick the vendors. Depending on your business needs, in addition to SEO/SEM, you might also need to outsource creative design, web analytics, database development, e-mail and Web advertising.

So, make sure that the vendor you are considering to outsource your SEO work to has the technical expertise and the man power to cover all your needs as it will save you future grieves.

Outsourcing is a life saver because you can reduce your workload and focus your energy on your main business. However, please note that the key to successfully outsourcing your SEO / SEM services is to do your due diligence when selecting a SEO / PPC vendor and keep communicating with your search vendor to keep the quality of work high.

Please remember: No matter how good your vendor is, nobody knows you your business better than you do. So, it is important to keep a close relationship with your vendor to convey your knowledge to your vendor and make sure you and your outsourcing vendor reach your mutual objective: a successful campaign!

Nima - SEM SEO Expert


Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-optimization and Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-marketing

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Back to the Future

Recently, I went to visit my family back home. It was a great trip and I enjoyed the time I spent with my family and the friends some of whom I had not seen for over 8 years. This trip had another advantage. It reminded me of where I started and how I got to the field of Internet Marketing.

The very first site I seriously worked on was an e-commerce site (with the tag line of the first online shopping mall in the region). The site belonged to a large trading company with a forward thinking leader. He had seen the importance of the Internet and launched the site. However, the site was not generating much traffic or sales.

I did an interview with people in charge. They had done some banner exchange and some off line advertising. However, they were not sure where they were getting the traffic from or what people were doing on the site. I requested to see the web logs to get a better picture. That was my fist step to the world of Web Analytics.

Surely, the technology has come a long way from the early days of log files and the Web Analytics applications now provide much more robust and user friendly reports. However, something has stayed intact and that is the need for informed decision making.

This is nothing but putting Total Quality Management (TQM) into action by turning the Deming Wheel, having the continuous improvement as the ultimate goal. This principle is true in customer service, production as well as marketing.

Search engine marketing and optimization are not exceptions to the rules. That is why for any SEM and SEO project, it is important to set the objective,
  • Plan in advance by defining the right KPIs,
  • Act to reach the objective,
  • Check the performance by measuring the KPIs, and
  • Do as needed to continuously improve.

Thanks to the efforts of WAA and UBC more and more search engine marketers and SEO/SEM tool developers are embracing the importance of Web Analytics. As a member of WAA, I would like to welcome the new passengers to the train I call Prosperity.

Nima

Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-optimization and Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-marketing

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Keyword Research for Web Marketing, SEO and PPC

With more and more people using search engines to search for the products and services they need, making sure your website appears on top of search engine results is becoming crucial. However, as you are usually limited in the number of keyword phrases that you can optimize a site for, the question is which keyword phrases to optimize a Web site for.

Effective keyword research is the process of researching and selecting keywords that are relevant to your site and used by prospects on search engines to find the products and services you offer.

Selecting the right keywords can make or break a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) project. So, it is very important for web marketers to select keywords that are not only related to their product offerings, but also are generating enough traffic to worth the SEO optimization efforts. Here is where having access to a robust keyword research tool/software that provides different variations of searches done in the real life by prospects, the number of times they are searched for and how competitive those keywords are can prove handy.

Having access to paid or free keyword research tools even though a necessity, it is not enough. Understanding how to utilize a keyword research tool in the context of a SEO project is the key to success. It is also important to integrate the keyword research results with the copy writing and designing a website for maximum impact.

Keyword research is also integral to the success of PPC (SEM) campaign as finding the right mix of keywords can contribute to the ROI and marketers' bottom line.

As you can use a larger universe of keywords in an SEM campaign than that of SEO and you can measure the ROI for all those keywords, you can use the PPC campaign to find the best converting keywords. Then you may utilize those keywords to optimize your site organically. Even though visitors coming from different sources (organic vs. paid) might behave differently, this approach is much better than shooting in the dark.

So, in short, proper keyword research helps you discover new opportunities, tackle the misconceptions and increase conversions. However, it is important to keep in mind that keyword research should be a dynamic and ongoing process as the Web, people and trends evolve.

By Nima - Toronto SEM SEO Expert

Related Article: Google Search-based Keyword Tool
Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-optimization and Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-marketing

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Monday, September 04, 2006

The Long Tail! Is it for everybody?

The long tail slipped from the world of statistics to the online marketing world when Chris Anderson wrote an article in Wired magazine in 2004. The Long Tail is now a bestseller book flying off the shelves in bookstores.

The promise of the book is that the ability to offer vast choice is causing businesses to rethink where their markets lie and how to tackle them.

The Long Tail article, together with the fact that more specific keyword phrases generally convert at higher rates, search engine marketers started utilizing the concept in order to improve their ROI.

Search engine marketing experts started expanding their keywords and using more specific and multi-keyword phrases in their campaigns. This strategy has proved successful for many companies as they have seen double digit conversion rates at the keyword level.

The question I would like to raise is whether or not the long tail suits all businesses and search engine marketing companies. I agree that most expanded keyword phrases perform better and have a higher conversion rate. However, as these phrases usually generate a smaller traffic, it would take a while for marketers to see the conversions.

Now you can imagine if a campaign has thousands of these expanded keywords with minimal traffic, it would take them a while to see and judge the performance of these keywords. This might not be a problem for a company with a huge budget and non time sensitive campaigns. However, a company with a small (test) budget or seasonal products might run out of patience and give up the campaign before its maturity.

So, it is very important to keep in to consideration the pros and cons of the long tail before jumping to embrace it.

Nima

Similar articles at: http://www.semseoexpert.com/search-engine-marketing

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Google AdWords Qualified Professional

I had been thinking about taking the Google AdWords exam for a while. However, I was always saying to myself, I knew the program inside out there was no need for me to take the exam. Nonetheless, being somebody who loves new challenges, to test myself, I finally freed some time off my busy schedule to take the exam for Google Advertising Professionals program. Well, it was not the challenge I was hoping it to be. Nevertheless, it was an interesting experience and being certified has its own advantages. Now I am considered a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. Wondering what is the significance of being qualified? This is what Google has to say.

Nima Asrar Haghighi, Toronto SEM Consultant

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

To Brand or To Measure: That is the Question, or Is It?

As I mentioned in my earlier post (Interactive Marketing Speaking Engagement), I had a presentation on the topic of search engine marketing in Canada. The event topics were more targeted toward direct marketing and direct response. However, among attendees there were some very sharp people with branding background.

Not surprisingly, a debate was going on about weather the Internet is a reliable medium to build and reinforce brand names. Some believed that online brand marketing should be an integral part of corporate branding strategy while others were skeptical about the role of Internet in their brand marketing strategy as there was less control over the message online.

Interestingly enough, both groups were united in their opinion that direct marketing and branding do not necessarily mix and match. Of course they had compelling arguments. The whole debate intrigued me to write this article.

In my opinion, Marketing is not black and white. It is possible to practice branding and yet measure the results. The results might not be as tangible as selling a product online and calculating ROI. However, there is always a way to set a goal and measure the success against it. It is just a matter of finding the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).

When a company runs a website, it has to have a clear objective not only for the site but also for each and every single page on the web site. To make it easier to manage, site owners can segment their sites into categories based on where the visitors are in the sales cycle. Visitors’ mindsets can generally be categorized as follows:

* Information Gathering
* Evaluation and Comparison
* Buying and/or Decision Making

Then based on these categories they can develop customized contents to satisfy their visitors and meet their objectives. However, the key to success here is to choose the right KPIs. Some of metrics to consider are:

* Direct Visitor Traffic – If your traffic from direct visitors (people who enter your URL directly or have your site bookmarked) increases over time, it can be an indication of improved brand awareness.

* Depth of Visit – In addition to good navigation and rich content, depth of visit can also represent the level of visitors’ engagement with your brand.

* Repeat Customers – An increase in number of repeat customers can be an indication of customer satisfaction which could lead to brand reinforcement.

* Branded Search Terms – even the search terms visitors use to find your site can be an indication of how your brand is performing. An increase in the number of branded search terms can be a good news.

By not letting "branding" be a convenient excuse for them not to define other site performance metrics, companies can incorporate Internet marketing and search engine marketing into their corporate branding strategy.

Nima - SEM SEO Expert

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bid Jamming – Not So Sweet a Jam!

Bid Jamming refers to a practice that came to existence short after Overture offered its bid management tool. Now called YSM, Overture’s bid management tool shows online advertisers how much their competitors bid for a particular phrase. This tool soon proved to be a double-edged sword for search engine marketers.

Utilizing bid management tools, SEMs advertising on Overture, in contrast with Google AdWords, are able to set their ads' positions in the SERPs. A feature that can potentially be very desirable and straight forward. However, as the competitors also see your bid amount, they could simply change their bid to move their ads to their favorite position or even worse use the bid jamming tactic.

Bid jamming occurs when a competitor raises his/her bid amount to just a penny or so below your bid for a given phrase. This is possible if you have set your maximum bid as such that it has a huge gap with the next closest bidder underneath you. Your competitors, using this tactic, will force you to pay that max bid amount per click, whereas they only pay one penny more than the bidder underneath them.

Here, the competitors’ objectives are to increase your cost and make you burn your budget soon pushing you out of the auction. However, if they are not careful enough, you can reduce your bid one penny bellow theirs and jam them instead.

So, it is very important to pay close attention to your bids to make sure you are not jammed by your competitors and burn your valuable marketing budget. That is why I personally prefer a human touch on bidding as most of the current bid management tools available in the market might easily fall in the trap of bid jamming practitioners.

By Nima - Toronto SEM Expert

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