It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s been even longer since I took off the “kid gloves” when speaking about the benevolent Google. But today, the gloves come off. Thanks to Marty Weintraub of aimClear for being the catalyst for this one. (I owe you beers.)
If you haven’t read Marty’s post, consider it prerequisite prior to this post. And, since I know your time is valuable, let me give you the gist:
…Baris Gultekin, Group Product Manager, Google AdWords, Google, Inc. clarified that the ubiquitous AdWords Keyword Tool now only provides keywords Google deems “commercial”.
Say that out loud to yourself once again. “Provides keywords Google deems commercial”. So, not only did Google kneecap the tool’s ability, which many noticed when Google zapped the Legacy Tool, but now they’ve excluded results they don’t feel make the “commercial” cut. Clearly this begs the question, what’s a commercial keyword?
Bottom-line answer: short-tail, head terms that have incredibly high volume and an incredibly high CPC. In essence, terms that make Google a lot more money, forcing the unsuspecting into thinking those are the only terms people search, and creating a false plateau of artificially high CPC prices.
Or Not So Smart
We’ve all known that you’ve lied to us in that rotten keyword tool of yours anyway. We’ve all known that you artificially inflated volumes and prices. But actually admitting it could not have been dumber move. Here’s why:
Now that we know, officially, the tool is lumpy pile of crap, why is anyone going to use it? I’m not. When I thought it was as close to the source as possible (exact match on all terms and still taken with a grain of salt), it was a golden goose. Now?
Now it’s just another sad, misguided attempt to sucker-punch the suckers. A “keep us fat and happy off your SEMs inability to understand SEM” mentality. No SEO or SEM in their right mind would be using this tool now.
The Evil Empire
Don’t be evil? It’s seems that’s all you’ve been up to as of late. Google Street View privacy issues, snatching Wi-Fi data out of thin air (unknowingly of course), Google Instant and the three second impression rule, and now this.
As a corporation, I know it’s your legal duty to any/all shareholders to make as much money as possible. I get that. But what’s inherently good about closing off a data pipeline that’s 5 years old? What’s inherently good about showing advertisers untargeted, over-priced short-tail terms that will only serve to drive the bidding war?
With every further step Google takes as of late, they continue to demonstrate they are less concerned about providing the great results drove the success of the engine initially. Rather, they continue at breakneck speed to don the Google Corporate shield and squeeze the searching public for all they’re worth.
Where SEM Goes from Here
Google Instant: A Short-Tailers Paradise
On brighter note, this latest development, as Marty pointed out, certainly does make it plainly obvious how Google intends searchers to search: HEAD terms. Initially I assumed the birth of Google Instant would dramatically extend the long-tail query to new dimensions. Looks like I got that wrong. By reducing the quality of mid-tail and long-tail research available, and funneling SEMs toward more Google-profitable keywords, the inexperienced will begin to (re)target those terms in abundance. As that is all Google’s Keyword Tool is going to show them.
Other Google Tools For Keyword Research
Whether I like it or not, what’s done is done. Google’s not going to renege on this decision, and I’m not going to bend my position of abandoning the tool. So that leaves us at an impasse. But I think Google has got some other nifty tools that could certainly aid keyword research (assuming these haven’t been “commercialized” as well)
Google Insights: Google Insights for Search analyzes a portion of worldwide Google web searches from all Google domains to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you’ve entered, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. You can choose to see data for select Google properties, including Web search, Images, Product search, and News search (certain properties aren’t currently available in all countries/territories).
Google Wonder Wheel: An oddball to be sure, does allow searches to a variety of related topics that skew off from an original search. Again, assuming that this hasn’t been tampered with, one can see what related, relevant keyword queries Google associates to the original query. You’ll find Wonder Wheel on the left-hand navigation under “More Search Tools”.
The Unintended Consequences
Talking with a colleague of mine, Jo Stumpner, about the Google KWT manipulation, she raised a very interesting point. This move very well may actually decrease PPC activity in the long-run.
SEO, I think as Marty and I have both explained is just fine. There are other tools, and the research will still go on. The only struggle I really see is the tendency for Google to want to display short-tail terms to a searcher in “broad/general” mode, or the discovery phase of their online research. In that respect, Google will win out in the short-run, the race still goes to the skilled and wily SEOs.
Building on the theory, I think it works out something like this:
As advertisers are shown more and more competitive keyword phrases, those keyword verticals that were already competitive will become even more competitive. As more and more advertisers are led away from the mid and long-tail terms, the head terms will “overstocked” with advertisers and competitors.
Clearly bid prices and quality scores are a premium; however, as noticed by Jo and myself, head terms often yield very low quality scores, that is, it is very difficult to attain scores over 8. Meaning that bid price will rule the day as far as visibility is concerned. In the short-term Google wins in their cash grab, bilking more cash from advertisers. In the long-term this is going to be detrimental to Google.
More and more advertisers will see that impressions will drop dramatically. And, naturally, conversions will decrease also. Thus leading advertisers to decrease overall spends on advertising platform in search of one that offers better visibility and ROI for key terms. Perhaps that’s what Google is after, quick profit gains upfront for less long-term growth? After all, no advertiser can abandon the platform with risking brand and product exile. Definitely something to think about.
Competition Through Screwing Yourself
Microsoft just caught lightning in a bottle thanks to Google continually screwing itself. You’d think Google would be past these screw-ups by now? Clearly MS is no gem, but they’ve been flying low enough on the radar, that if they made some quick updates to attract advertisers, I think many would flock to them.
Google had their foot on search world’s throat, even if through trickery and distraction Bing/Microsoft has managed to make it appear as if growth has occurred. All Google has/had to do was lower the boom; push their foot down a little harder and end the game. But they can’t seem to find that killer instinct. Instead they keep finding ways to open the door for competition, look like the “New Microsoft” on the block, and fuck it up.
Google always alludes to competition being welcomed. Well, keep screwing yourself, keep driving the nails into your own coffin, we’ll all find out just how much you “really like” competition.
Indispensable Tips For B2B Search Engine Marketing
The elephant in the room that everyone is talking about: the economy’s taken a dive; it’s down for the count. Your B2C clients, while realizing that search marketing is a cornerstone in any successful campaign, have cut back their spending (drastically). It’s the ultimate domino effect, and it finally hit you. There’s a corporate brainstorming session. The one big idea (a no-brainer, really); let’s get business we have never bothered with: B2B.
Why you haven’t bothered with B2B until now:
Not surprisingly, there are very few Search Marketing Firms and SEOs out there willing to take them on. It’s not exactly a gold mine, not by any stretch, but it is a relatively virgin segment. For those with patience and moxy, it can be a very successful venture.
1) Build The Right IA
Most B2B companies want/believe that their website IA should accurately reflect what already exists in print or a catalog. Wrong. To construct the “right” IA, it takes a two-fold effort:
a) You, as the SEO/SEM, really have to TALK with them. Not simply let them tell you what they want to see represented, but consider their products and industries they serve. It may not change the main buckets of product engagement with the user, but you may find/add another way to engage users.
b) It’s got to be a team effort. As I mentioned before, the majority of B2B is very niche. They, whether you believe it or not, know their customers well. What they don’t know, is how to engage them outside of their traditional media, and you do. These two knowledges clash: in some cases violently.
Each side has to be willing to make a concession or two in order to get an IA that’s going to be able to target trafficked keywords, convert users, and that all parties are happy.
2) Keyword Targeting
You know, as a seasoned SEO, that the keyword and keyword phrase targeting has to lean more to the longtail. The client, however, thinks the most general terms are going to bring traffic (which they will). For example: the client makes “Micro-Perforated Tubing”, but believe that “Tubing” should bring in all the traffic. Beyond the fact that there are dozens of terms associated with “tubing”, even if we did target the term, what are the chances we’d be driving the most qualified and viable traffic ready to convert? Low to none.
When keyword researching and targeting for B2B, it’s essential as an SEO/SEM to understand that traffic volumes, in the majority of cases, are going to be low, so setting the expectation for the client is paramount. They need to understand that targeting uber-general terms (i.e. “automotive oil”, or “tools”) is not where they’re user base is.
Sure, their consumers may start with these general terms, but the SERPs they get (sites they have no use for) will teach them to refine the searches with more longtail keywords.
So that’s where you as an SEO/SEM need to be: in the mid-longtail and longtail keywords to get the most qualified traffic and those ready to convert.
3) PPC Campaigns
Of course it’s an extra expense. And, yes, they can get costly. The fact is they are a must for B2B; it’s a necessary evil. Why? Because organically, it’s going to take time to get position and traffic for keywords. Consider all the link building that’s got to be done and the onsite optimization, and relying on that alone will take 6-8 months before good movement and results appear.
Consider this effort an “adrenaline shot” for your search marketing. You get instant exposure in the SERPs, you get traffic to deeper pages on the site: ergo telling Google your pages should be considered important, and, most importantly, your SEO/SEM gets instant keyword search query results. They won’t have to guess as to which term(s) are most popular among your consumer base. That, in itself, is worth its weight in gold.
B2B PPC Tips:
Target a small selection of general terms in your campaign. The CPC is high for these terms, not to mention, competitive, so you’ll blow through your daily budgets quick.
Work a big variety of mid-longtail and longail words
Get a good list of negatives to make sure your budget is maximized
4) Get Local
It’s seems so common sense, but I can’t tell you how many B2B’s I’ve seen with no shred of locality at all. Now that the Google Algorithm has changed to show local results for general queries based on IP Address of the searcher, it is more important than ever to make sure your company show up for local.