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Google recently announced a new feature, Content Experiments, to replace Google Website Optimizers. As I watched the beginning of the video, around 0:08, I noticed something something in the navigation I had not seen before — a navigation section labeled Market Insights:

google analytics market insights

It only appears at this period of the video, which suggest to me that segments of the video were edited together. My guess is that the person recording this section of video had access to a beta feature, Market Insights.

Users of the old interface will remember the Benchmarking reports:

google analytics benchmarking report

I suspect Market Insights will be an evolution of Benchmarking. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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What is the value of getting someone to Like your Facebook page? Hitwise released research that claims that a Facebook Like will produce 20 additional visits to your site over the course of a year.

If that’s true, it’s easy to back into an allowable cost-per-like. You can follow along with this Google spreadsheet.

Let’s use the example of an ecommerce website. If your target is 1 order and your conversion rate is 1%, then you need 100 visits to generate 1 order.

If 1 like produces 20 visits, then you need 5 likes. Next, plug in your average order value (AOV) and target ROI. That tells you how much you can spend in total on Likes (Max Like Spend). Divide that by the Likes Required (5) and you get a Max Cost/Like, $3.33

The same logic applies to a lead gen business. In this example, I’ve calculated a target Cost-Per-Lead, which is then the same as my Max Like Spend. If you want, you can add in a line or two for Target ROI or other conversion metrics, but I kept it simple:

Check out the Google doc to see my formulas.


Most writing about search marketing tends to be tactical tips from practitioners. Understanding Sponsored Search: Core Elements of Keyword Advertising, a new book by Prof. Jim Jansen, takes a more academic look at the field. I took some time to interview Jim to understand how his book can help search marketers and learn some of his more surprising findings.

Cambridge University Press has generously agreed to give away a free copy of Understanding Sponsored Search to one Digital Alex reader. Simply tweet a a link to the post by today (by 11:59 p.m. on 9/6/11). I’ll choose one winner at random (you’ll need to share your mailing address to receive the book).


1. What’s the difference between your book and more practitioner oriented books?

This book focuses on the theory, models, and constructs underlying the practices that we do in keyword advertising. Naturally, every account has its own uniqueness, exceptions, and caveats. However, there are nearly always some commonalities in general principles. This book addresses these trends. It is different that the typical practitioner books (many of which are excellent!) in that it does not focus on the “how” but instead focuses on the “why”.

2. What were some of the most surprising things you learned in your research?

Having taught, researched, and implemented keyword advertising efforts for nearly more than a decade (I was co-author on one of the first published accounts of web searching using really search engine data, from Excite to
give you and idea of how long ago), it is was most surprising that the people aspects had such an effect on all aspects of keyword advertising. We hear all the time that it is always “about the customer” or “it’s all about eyeballs”, but when you systemically analyze the data, research, commentary and trends, it is just so apparent. The person (as searcher, consumer, customer) is reflected in nearly every aspect.

3. What are some common misconceptions in paid search you’d like to see dispelled?

I don’t especially like the over focus on things like quality score. Make it a good customer experience. Quality score will take care of itself.

4. What can seasoned search marketers learn from your book? What are 1-2 ideas you’d like to see them use?

Principle of Least Effort — One of the most enduring and most thoroughly research aspects of human information behavior. People will expend the least amount of effort to get the information they need. This simple principle influences keyword selection, ad creatives, ranking, and bidding. Make it as easy (and fast, and straightforward, and simple) for the customer. Again, it’s all about the person.

Don’t forget to tweet a link to this post to enter for a free copy of Jim’s book.

About Jim
Jim Jansen is an associate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of several books, most recently Understanding Sponsored Search(Cambridge
University Press, September 1, 2011). He is currently a senior fellow at the Pew Internet and American Life Project, where he studies the uses and affordances of the Web for information searching and ecommerce, with a focus on the interaction between the person and the technology

You can buy his book, Understanding Sponsored Search: Core Elements of Keyword Advertising, at Amazon.

Disclosure: Links in this post contain affiliate codes, which help pay for my hosting. If you’d rather not use them, simply search on Amazon.

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SearchLove Conference: Q&A with Will Critchlow

by DigitalAlex on August 28, 2011

There is no shortage of search conferences to polish up your skills. So, when the folks at Distilled said they were launching a new conference in New York, SearchLove, I was skeptical. But, I’ve been on a panel with Will Critchlow before and he’s tremendously sharp and well connected in the SEO world, so I decided to ask him what makes SearchLove unique in this Q&A.

DigitalAlex readers can use the code SEARCH2011BIRD to save $200 on registration.


1.) Okay, I have to ask: Does the search community really need another conference? What makes SearchLove unique than, say, SMX Advanced?

We felt that there was some things we could provide in a conference that are different to the experience with the big events. Our conferences are all in one track, with a much smaller number of the very best speakers we can find. Each of the speakers gets enough time to dig deep into their subject (45 minutes plus). With no expo, no sponsor tracks etc. all our speakers know that they have to bring their A game as they will be speaking in front of the full audience.

We live and die by the quality of our content – we put huge effort into the speaker prep – I personally am getting on the phone now with our speakers to plan out their sessions and we are all very heavily involved in making sure that our speakers bring tips and tricks that we would want to hear. My biggest tip for our speakers is to imagine they are speaking only to me and Rand. They have to tell us things we don’t know.

Also – while this is our first time in NYC, we have been running these events for the past few years (London, Boston, NOLA) as well as contributing to MozCon which has a very similar flavor. The attendees are telling us that what we are doing is different and is needed.

2.) Who is this conference for: hardcore SEO’s, newbies, brand marketers? You can’t answer “everyone” or I’ll stop liking you.

Definitely not everyone. I would say that experienced SEOs will get the most out of it. Newbies can learn a lot if they have thoroughly grounded themselves in the basics and are prepared to take away a load of notes for further study, but we specifically ask our speakers to go fast and deep into the advanced stuff. We get a lot of in-house guys coming as well as consultants / agency types and both get a lot out of it.

3.) I know you’re still working on the agenda, but what are people going to learn? Also, tell us about the format: lots of panels, labs, keynotes? I’m really hoping you’re going to say no panels over 3 people…

Pretty much all of our sessions are a single speaker going deep into the topic for at least 45 minutes. The only exceptions are head-to-head sessions where two speakers battle it out working towards a public vote and one live site review / live link building panel where typically Tom and Rand get on stage live to work with attendees’ sites. For the first time this year, we are also having a small number of places at a 1-1 site clinic in the breaks.

You can get the latest on the line up here: http://www.distilled.net/events/searchlove-new-york/ – we have some amazing speakers confirmed including Rand Fishkin and Wil Reynolds (who is not only from the East Coast but also rated higher than Rand or me at our last event). We have big US names like Michael Gray (graywolf), Laura Lippay and Bob Rains as well as some brits like Stephen Pavlovich and Mat Clayton who will knock your socks off. I’m very excited to hear them all speak.

We always have a big focus on link building and off-site techniques as these are so in demand. As well as that, we will cover on-site, keyword research, social media, analytics, new technologies and changes to the algorithms.

4.) Search nerds love parties. What’s the networking part of the show like?

Being a smaller show, we have great opportunities for attendees to hang out with the speakers and each other. As well as the exclusive party for attendees on the evening of Monday 31st (at the Aspen Social Club 157 West 47th Street), we have a small number of tickets left to an exclusive VIP dinner with the speakers on the Sunday night at Malloney & Porcelli.

5.) Give us an SEO nugget to tease the show: What’s a great eCommerce SEO tip?

I am currently enjoying applying some conversion rate optimization principles to SEO. In particular, using services like feedback army, usertesting.com or even mechanical turk to gauge how different segments respond to your site. Asking questions about how likely they are to share a particular page, whether they trust the site / its design etc. You can find that if you increase these things by just small amounts you see huge returns across thousands of product pages. As Google focusses more and more on trust metrics, I think this kind of approach will reap ever greater rewards.

Follow Will Critchlow on Twitter for SEO tips, @willcritchlow


Source: http://bit.ly/aPzFlC

I’ve had a lot of positions at my current company (ClickEquations, formerly Commerce360), but one of the ones I most enjoyed was a multivariate testing project I did with a large entertainment provider.

In preparing for the project, I read a ton about testing, what to test, past tests that worked, etc. There is no shortage of information about what to test or how to test it (see. www.WhichTestWon.com, for example).

What surprised me about the experience was that very little time was spent talking about the most important elements of a successful test: people.

Specifically, the people you need to help you with a test.


CRO & Big Companies

If you manage your own website, launching a test happens in an afternoon and you’re making the calls. If you’re heading up a conversion rate project for a website with hundreds of thousands of visitors a day, it quickly becomes a project convincing people to help you test with some conversion rate optimization attached.

That was the case for the company I worked with, as it was one of their first forays into testing. Getting momentum required buy-in from several key stakeholders:

  1. Champion – We had an awesome internal advocate who prioritized the project and rallied the troops. He served as the central point of contact to coral everything on the client side while my coworker (the account manager) and I got to focus on the testing.
  2. Executive Sponsorship – The client had to lay out money for both software (we used SiteSpect) and our consulting fees. Working on our project also meant diverting hours for contributing departments (see below) from other projects to testing.
  3. Development Buy-In – Every testing project involves some changes to your site in one way or another: DNS changes, tags in footers, Mboxes, etc. The bigger the site, the more cautious the IT and development team. You need to get in their sprint cycle. I recommend you choose a technology that allows you to ask for help from development once and then permits changes on the fly afterward.
  4. Creative – Someone has to create all of those test variations and in bigger companies, they generally have to be sensitive to brand guidelines or other restrictions. More importantly, you need an ally on the creative team who is will to let you butcher their work and possibly test something that, from a design perspective, they may not necessarily agree with.
  5. Analytics – Chances are, there is already someone in the company doing analytics or, as was the case for my client, statistics. You’re going to need access to analytics data to design an effective test and they might even review it with you.


Converstion Team Optimization

Testing can fundamentally change how a business operates and where decision making power lies. It also involves new and different business processes. That is to say, testing means change. People, especially bigger companies, are often slow to change.

In my experience, a great Champion and Executive Sponsor set the tone for the rest of the team. They approve budgets, timelines and the allocation of resources. A great process and communication help win over the rest of the team, but that’s for another blog post.


Presentations from SMX East: Industrial Strength PPC & eCommerce PPC Tips

October 6, 2010

I’m presenting on 2 different panels today: Industrial Strength PPC and eCommerce & Retail Search Marketing Tactics. Here are my presentations! I’d love to hear your tips for either topic, so leave a comment. Ecommerce & Retail PPC Tactics – SMX East 2010 – Alex Cohen of ClickEquations View more presentations from Alex Cohen. Industrial [...]

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Ask The Expert: My Interview about PPC on Marketwire

August 24, 2010

Part of my job is keeping up on all of the paid search news. It’s easy to get swept up in vast and generous search community only to realize that the general marketing public doesn’t obsess about paid search like we do. Fortunately, I had a chance to take a step back and think about [...]

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The Paid Search Technology Maturity Curve

August 19, 2010

We’re all trying to improve our paid search performance from our current profit to our potential profit by doing better research, optimizing our campaigns and improving our site. When does it make sense to invest in technology to help you with that process? That’s the theme of my speech today on the Search Marketing Toolbox [...]

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The Measurement Tool I Wish I Never Had to Use

August 11, 2010

We’ve all had that moment. You know, the one where a friend leans across the table and discreetly whispers “You’ve got something in your teeth.” Instinctively, you cover your mouth and scurry off to the bathroom to fix the problem. A flipbook of social interactions races past and you wonder how many people you talked [...]

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