Q&A with CEO of Apogee Search, Bill Leake

February 27, 2009
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Lots of questions came in from the viewers of our recent webinar with the CEO of Apogee Search, Bill Leake. Many more questions than we could answer in the limited time. 

No wonder. Who doesn’t want to increase their leads sourced from the web site?

Yet, the open secret is that this does require spending enough time on measurement and optimization. No perfect search campaign has ever fallen from the sky. But by spending enough time (or getting help from a search marketing firm such as Apogee) you can expect significant improvements, often around 30%.

As promised, Bill has been kind enough to write up his response to the remaining questions. I get to post the Q&A here. This is a great resource for those who are ready to make time for improving results now, but wonder where to start.

 

Question: What simple, inexpensive steps can I take to get the attention of a narrow segment of B2B prospects using SEO, online advertising, and web analytics?

Answer:  1. Start a PPC campaign.  Test both “Gartner/Analyst” market category keywords and search phrases as well as more narrow “tactical pain” keywords. 

2. Get web analytics installed for your website and talking to your CRM system  

3.  See

Lots of questions came in from the viewers of our recent webinar with the CEO of Apogee Search, Bill Leake. Many more questions than we could answer in the limited time. 

No wonder. Who doesn’t want to increase their leads sourced from the web site?

Yet, the open secret is that this does require spending enough time on measurement and optimization. No perfect search campaign has ever fallen from the sky. But by spending enough time (or getting help from a search marketing firm such as Apogee) you can expect significant improvements, often around 30%.

As promised, Bill has been kind enough to write up his response to the remaining questions. I get to post the Q&A here. This is a great resource for those who are ready to make time for improving results now, but wonder where to start.

 

Question: What simple, inexpensive steps can I take to get the attention of a narrow segment of B2B prospects using SEO, online advertising, and web analytics?

Answer:  1. Start a PPC campaign.  Test both “Gartner/Analyst” market category keywords and search phrases as well as more narrow “tactical pain” keywords. 

2. Get web analytics installed for your website and talking to your CRM system  

3.  See what keywords work best. 

4.  For the keywords that work best, do SEO aggressively on those top keywords .

5. For the keywords working less well on PPC, consider a “cure” or “kill” strategy –can they be saved with new content/offers?  If not, turn them off.

 

Question: 1. What percentage of medium and large businesses outsource or plan to outsource SEM efforts?
2. What is the typical technology background of marketing teams assigned to SEM?

Answer:  1. From what we’ve seen in medium and large businesses, in over 2/3 of cases SEM is primarily, but not entirely outsourced.  Most successful large businesses have a blend of outsourced and in-house labor. 

2.  In terms of typical technology background, what seems to work best are folks who are both marketing people (not techies) and very quantitatively comfortable.  In other words, marketing people who are comfortable with numbers.  Technical skills often just mess up SEM, while marketing and quant skills seem far more critical from what we’ve seen

 

Question: What are the best ways to prequalify click-throughs?  We already put the price in, and that helps, but how can we maximize our clicks in regard to commercial intent?  Of course, keywords are critical and Microsoft has their limited Commercial Intent Tool.

Answer:  Ad copy and keywords (and negative keywords).  Price helps, definitely.  Add negative keywords to filter out searches like “Free” “Cheap” “Discount.”

 

Question: Please provide suggestions to increase the number of visitors filling out a form in the landing page.

Answer:  Keep the form short.  Have some sort of compelling offer to make it worth their while.  Make it easy (pre-fill elements of the form if possible).  If a long form, break it up across several pages (like a survey).

 

Question: 1. How do you get, manage and find appropriate one way links?
2. Registering additional domain names – does it help bring in traffic to your main site using 301 redirects or must they have content, etc.?
Answer:  Link building could be a whole different one-day training.  Basically, have good content, and beg / borrow links.  Appropriate links are one-way, contextually themed, and from sites that Google already likes. 

2). I wouldn’t register additional domain names to bring in traffic.  That industry used to exist, but the trafficked domain names are already for the most part long gone, and Google is taking steps to strip out that value anyway.

Question: 1. Is there any data that supports PPC advertising success on Google Ads as opposed to Facebook or vice versa?
2. Is there a source that outlines the details of the current various PPC advertising options?

Answer:  Our Apogee Search Marketing Glossary would be a good place to start.  In a nutshell, your general answer will be that most of the traffic is at Google, and the bargains are at Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.  And nothing else is really worth wasting your time on.

 

Question: How many keyphrases should be utilized per landing page?

Answer:  For SEO, 3-5.  For PPC, it depends, but it could be a whole category of 100’s of keywords if you were doing a geographic landing page, for example. Generally, the fewer the better.  The more targeted the better.

 

Question: How fast can the online work be made profitable?

Answer:  It depends.  Can vary from 1 hour to 1 year, depending on how good your offer is, how good your online properties are already, how long your sales cycle is (ecommerce can be instantaneous, while selling an MRI machine to a hospital can take years), and how good your sales force is.

 

Question: How do you really convert leads into sales? What’s the magic?

Answer:  A good product at a good value proposition, combined with good tracking, good qualification, and a good sales force. 

 

Question: How are on-page organic search optimization for websites and on-page quality score optimization for landing page mini-sites different?

Answer: They are becoming more and more similar.  The primary difference is that mini-sites will probably never achieve as high of a quality score as a landing page attached to an existing trusted web property.  But things like trust rank, age of domain, clean HTML are common across the two.  One other difference is that on-page quality score optimization these days requires stripping the HTML of obvious affiliate links, while on-page SEO optimization can still do just fine leaving in affiliate links.

 

Question: How accurate is web analytics-PPC data in general, especially if you are dealing with a low sample size, number of conversions, etc.?

Answer:  Any 3 web analytics tools will disagree with each other somewhat (from 5-10%), even when properly hooked up.  They all measure things somewhat differently.  However, the tracking discrepancies are far less than just about any other form of marketing.  The important thing is getting ONE system in place, and then growing to the point where it is cost-effective to audit that data, and see whether that tool still makes sense.

 

Question: Will these techniques also assist in increasing organic search results?

Answer:  They will assist in converting organic search results.  They will assist in keyword selection for organic search efforts.  Choosing the right keywords is absolutely critical for increasing organic search results.

 

Question: With a limited online marketing budget, do you see any value in adding banner ads or geo-targeted banner ads on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.? We are doing targeted PPC and micro-sites to drive leads. Or is this just awareness advertising?

Answer:  This is primarily awareness advertising.  However, once you’ve topped out PPC, display and geo-targeted campaigns can help further improve your ROI.  But they are generally best done as a second step, not as a primary effort.  Again, your mileage may vary, testing is always recommended.  But as a general rule, display and banners are a waste until you’ve first taken PPC to diminishing marginal returns, and are looking for the next uplift.

 

 

 

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