Interview: trends in Search Engine Marketing and PPC advertising

Joseph Kerschbaum, Client Services Director at Clix Marketing Whether you’re talking about Twitter, social bookmarking or any other service: search engine marketing is never far away. 

In case you haven’t read the interview with Michael Kahn regarding Twitter and social media (and you really should read it, see link below this post): Michael stated that the search engines rank Twitter pages highly for brand name searches.

He also said: “Social sites within the search engine results pages (SERPs) are here to stay. If brands do not control their Twitter page, they risk losing control of their brand’s message on Twitter and in search.” So, search matters in social media marketing, especially from a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) viewpoint.

Want more proof? Look at the agenda of the upcoming Search Engine Strategies London conference: there is a lot of social media going on there. So, I decided to create a new ‘category’ on this blog, I called it ‘social SEM’ (so that there is no confusion with Google’s social search).

However, before talking social search, let’s take a look at some of the evolutions in the search engine market. I interviewed Joseph Kerschbaum, Client Services Director at PPC company Clix Marketing on 2010 global PPC and SEM trends.

My first question was how the Search Engine Advertising market is evolving in the US in this economic downturn?

Joseph: “Advertisers are putting more focus toward analytics and measuring return on investment. Sure, companies have been measuring their results from Search Engine Advertising for years, but smart companies are analyzing and optimizing their performance more granularly now, trying to generate as much revenue per-click as possible”.

The shift to performance marketing

So, here too, there’s lots of analytics and ROI going on, just like in all other types of marketing.

But there’s more. Back to Joseph: “Smart advertisers are enhancing their landing page experience and streamlining their shopping cart process in order to increase their conversion rate. This leads us to a shift from simple Search Engine Marketing to performance marketing, as coined by a recent blog article. PPC campaigns are being held to higher standards. In this economic climate, performance and ROI are more important than ever”.

Since I’m blogging from Europe, I asked Joseph if he noticed important differences between the two markets.

Joseph: “Actually, the two geographic markets are similar.  In both markets, users need to find the information, product or service they want quickly. And advertisers want to send qualified traffic to their website and generate a great ROI”.

PPC advertising and Search Engine Marketing in 2010

Next, I asked Joseph what the main ‘trends’ in PPC advertising are in the US and what his outlook for this year is.

Joseph: “The trend of conversion optimization and performance-focused marketing are going to continue to gain importance in 2010. With smart phones becoming more prominent and more users searching via their phones for information, product and services, mobile search marketing volume is going to continue increasing. This means if advertisers want to compete in this space, they are going to have to optimize their PPC campaigns for this distribution channel, as well as create mobile-friendly versions of their landing pages and websites. Also, the Google Content Network will continue to expand in 2010. Advertisers who want to boost their volume significantly will have to learn how to take full advantage of this aggressively expanding network. And speaking of expanding volume, advertisers who have the ability to appeal to an international audience need to start paying more attention to users outside the US. This summer, comScore released its Global Search Marketing report. This report stated that of the 100 billion global searches conducted monthly, only 22% were conducted in North America. Companies with global fulfillment capability need to reach out to a global audience, such as Europe and Asia Pacific (who were at the top of the comScore report for percent of global searches)”.

Think optimizing landing pages is only for email marketing? Think again!

Next I asked Joseph what are his top three main recommendations regarding a successful PPC strategy?

Joseph summed them up as follows:

  1. Optimize your landing pages.
    Of all the activities that a PPC manager can do to improve their performance, landing page optimization should be at the top.
  2. Continue to optimize your account’s structure and performance.
    Never stop split testing your ad texts, and always look for ways to make your ad groups more specific and targeted.
  3. Learn how to harness the Google Content Network.
    Or, learn how to make the Content Network better. The volume for this distribution channel is already there, advertisers just need to make it work and generate a positive ROI. With the reports provided in the AdWords interface and Google Analytics, advertisers should be well equipped to make this happen.

Now, you probably have noticed that in this interview I focused a lot on SEA (Search Engine Advertising) or PPC advertising in general. My guess what that, given the power of social media for SEM purposes and given the fact that some social networks (such as Facebook) offer PPC advertising, the SEA budgets on networks like Google would have shrunk.

But, as you can see in the interview, this is not the case. Furthermore, since I conducted the interview, Google announced its results, and it seems the PPC business is still doing very well.

In later posts regarding ‘social SEM’, I will look more at the PPC advertising opportunities on social networks and at the link between search, social media, performance marketing, web analytics and much more.

Staying on top of new PPC developments is a full-time job

However, let me finish with this last question I asked Joseph: what are the main reasons to outsource your SEM to a specialized company such as Clix Marketing and when can or should marketers manage SEM in-house?

This is what Joseph said: “The reasons to outsource a company’s paid search management are numerous. All too often paid search management is not a high priority to an in-house staff member who also has other tasks. Successful paid search management requires constant monitoring and optimizing. Most of the companies want to hire a firm with expertise and dedication who focus solely on paid search. Engaging an outside PPC firm allows the in-house team members and key stakeholders to focus on growing their business (and not worry about the day-to-day account management). Staying on top of new PPC developments and knowing how to take full advantage of new PPC opportunities is a full time job! However, there are companies that prefer to keep their PPC in-house, and that’s fine. However, if a company should decide to do this, they need to make sure that they have a staff member who is solely dedicated to PPC and SEM, and empowered to participate in ongoing training as the search engines and networks rapidly roll out new capabilities”.

That’s it for now! Thanks to Joseph Kerschbaum, who has been working in the paid search industry since 2006. Joseph has written hundreds of articles on pay-per-click management, Google AdWords Quality Score, conversion optimization and every other aspect of paid search marketing. His writing has appeared on online in various industry blogs and offline in Website Magazine.

As I said, Joe now is Client Services Director at Clix Marketing. He is in charge of the day-to-day management and optimization of Clix’s PPC campaigns. He also writes and coordinates the Clix Blog.

Yes, SEM companies use social media such as blogs too 🙂 As a matter of fact, David Szetela, who runs Clix Marketing, is extremely active on Twitter, you can follow him here.

If you haven’t read the interview with Michael Kahn, I mentioned in the introduction, here’s the link!

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