Search Engine Marketing Articles


This page lists articles from Search Engine Watch and around the web that focus on search engine marketing, which encompasses both promoting sites via free search engine optimization tactics and through paid search engine advertising routes.

NOTE: Article links often change, especially the older an article is. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline. Also, some very old articles flagged “no longer online” might indeed be online — but the former URL no longer resolves, and it’s not worth the time investment for me to try and personally track down these down versus spending time producing new content.

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Sept. 2004 Onward: SEM Industry & SEM Tips
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Articles From Jan-Aug 2004

They Don’t Get It (Yet): A Look Back at the Rude Awakening that Was SES
Traffick, Aug. 29, 2004

Canadian Andrew Goodman writes of his despair that despite a huge turnout at the first SES show in his country, the Canadian media failed to catch on. How about a little respect for search and search marketing north of the border, he asks.

Driving SEM Campaigns Using the Rearview Mirror
ClickZ, Aug. 27, 2004

Learning from past actions can help with conversion — but you’ve got to be careful how far you look back and watch out for unusual spikes that can throw you astray.

The Growing Pains of Search
MediaPost, Aug. 26, 2004

Gord Hotchkiss writes of seeing the SEM industry begin to split from those focused on tactics versus those envisioning long-term strategy. I actually think this type of split happened several years ago. It’s just that many more people now are picking up on the strategic part of SEM — and perhaps that groundswell make this a milestone year, as he suggests.

Search Engines and Competitive Research
SearchDay, August 17, 2004

Search engines can tell you a lot about your competition, if you know what to look for. A panel of experts offers tips on profiling your competition. The version of this story for Search Engine Watch members describes strategies to determine how sophisticated your competitors are, how to determine whether competitors are using paid inclusion or XML feeds, and how to assess a competitor’s link development process.

Search: Bigger Means Smaller
ClickZ, August 13, 2004

Back from SES, where she moderated several panels, ClickZ’s executive editor Rebecca Lieb comes away that the growth in search also means it is fragmenting into more bite-size chunks, whether they be focused around vertical search topics, vertical industry areas or tactics within the SEM industry itself.

Newspaper Execs See ‘Moderate Threat’ From Paid Search
Editor & Publisher, Aug. 12, 2004

A new survey reports that newspaper execs view paid search as a “moderate threat” to traditional advertising.

A Brobdingnagian Search Show?
iMedia Connection, Aug. 10, 2004

SES San Jose was big. How big? Brobdingnagian big, says Kevin Ryan. Then he takes you on a guide to highlights, including issues about clickfraud, looking for second-tier clicks and issues on search engine spam. His second part goes through more.

Marketers Say Search Is Not ‘Very Effective’
MediaPost, Aug. 9, 2004

MarketingSherpa’s 2004 Search Marketing Survey found that neither marketers or their agencies felt their search marketing efforts are “very effective.” But MarketingSherpa publisher and editor Anne Holland says this is in part to failures on their own tactics, rather than the medium. The report also gives the first estimate I’ve seen of SEO spending as opposed to paid ad spending — $200 million versus $3.3 billion. In other words, the entire search spending pie is estimated at $3.5 billion — and non-paid search marketing, SEO, gets about 6 percent of this.

SES Wrap Up: Portrait of an Industry Under Tremendous Strain
MarketingSherpa, Aug. 9, 2004

I actually don’t know whether search marketing has hit the mainstream or not, as this recap of the SES San Jose show says. We easily had 300 or 400 of the 1,000 session attendees who were clearly brand new to SEM, based on various hands-up surveys. That suggests even more people may still be coming into it. In this recap of the show, I’m not really sure it supports the “strain” of the headline — but no doubt, it underscores how much is continuing to change and evolve in the industry. Among the highlights, the clickfraud session — which we’ve offered as part of other sessions for over two years and as its own session for the first time in Chicago last year, seems to have finally resonated with many more people as a concern. Also touches on a point in my keynote where I worry that contextual ads are being lumped into search and producing a pollution of metrics, for some.

Googlers rest from road show at blowout bash
San Jose Mercury News, Aug. 9, 2004

Google held its third annual “Google Dance” in conjunction with the SES show — and it was bigger than ever. What underscored it for me was the engraved map of the “Google Village,” outlining all the event areas. There were gripes that the beer flow ended before the party did — and Yahoo planted an Easter Egg dig within its search results about this. It no longer works, but Search Engine Roundtable shows how “Never run out of beer” briefly came up at Yahoo for a search on “ses party rule #1”. There were plenty of other parties at after-hours events, as well. A reporter’s recap.

Benchmarking and Baselines in SEM
ClickZ, Aug. 6, 2004

I want to benchmark performance against my competitor. Of course you do — but you may be better off benchmarking just internally. That’s more applicable, explains Kevin Lee.

Keynote: Don’t Forget SEO, Aug. 5, 2004

I’ll be turning my SES San Jose into a keynote address into a proper article, in the near future. Key points? SEO — the focus on natural/free/organic listings — is not going away. And if search engines don’t help enable SEM providers on the SEO front, they’re going to face a worsening spam problem.

Where Do Agencies Fit in the Search Engine Marketing Process?
MediaPost, Aug. 5, 2004

Do agencies get search? After talking with a variety of analysts and media professionals, Ross Fadner comes away thinking not. Fadner also recounts concerns that were aired specifically on a panel at the Jupiter Media Advertising Forum,

MSN, AOL, and Yahoo Speculate on Search, Aug. 4, 2004

Recaps the “Executive Roundtable” session at SES San Jose, where execs from major search firms answered a variety of questions relating to the industry. Among the questions — are SEOs/SEMs viewed as the enemy? With qualifications, not at all.

SEMPO Meeting at SES San Jose 2004
Search Engine Watch Forums, Aug. 3, 2004

Last newsletter, I recapped issues that came up about the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization needing to improve communication with its members. Discussion of actual and desired changes following the group’s meeting at SES San Jose has continued. This thread provides coverage of what was discussed, then lots of commentary from those who were there or who read about it from afar. Some other selected related reading:

Web outshines catalogs, direct marketing and telemarketing, study says
Internet Retailer, Aug. 2, 2004

Nearly 100 million adults made purchases after searching for product information last year, nearly matching the number who purchased through catalogs, direct-mail ads and telemarketing calls combined, according to a Dieringer Research Group study.

Search Can Provide Brand Lift, Study Finds
The Search Engine Update, Aug. 1, 2004

For search engines and search engine marketers, a holy grail has been figuring out how to attract the big money spent on branding into search. Now a new study gives both parties ammunition to say search can build branding.

Lost Per Click: Search Advertising & Click Fraud
SearchDay, Jul. 29, 2004

Click fraud — the practice of clicking on a text advertisement served by a search engine for the sole purpose of forcing the advertiser to pay for the click — is emerging as an important concern for search engine marketers.

Search Engine Marketing and Branding Challenges
SearchDay, Jul. 28, 2004

Search engines are recognized as one of the best ways to generate qualified leads online. What about branding aspects? Should search engine marketing be considered as part of a brand-building campaign? This version of this story for Search Engine Watch members provides a case study detailing how a diversified manufacturer of consumer and business products successfully used a search marketing campaign to increase brand awareness for both the company itself and its products.

Affiliate Marketing and SEM
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 27, 2004

Members discuss the pros and cons of having affiliate programs, and creating rules for affiliates, including the issue of bidding on trademarked terms.

Mike Grehan Stirs Up SEMPO Controversy
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 27, 2004

Revelations that SEMPO’s president has been paid a stipend since May, along with the appointment of a new European board member, have raised issues that the search marketing organization needs to improve its member communication and focus. Much discussion here, sparked by Mike Grehan’s criticism of the group in this article: Who Needs SEMPO. Also good discussions in other forum threads, such as What Does SEMPO Mean To You?, Sempo Under Fire, and SEMPO Article by Mike Grehan.

Improving The Reputation Of The SEM Industry
Search Engine Watch Forums, July 17, 2004

I haven’t felt like it’s been a good couple of weeks for the SEM industry — and I explain why in the kickoff to this thread. Is it time for there to be an SEM whitelist? Does the industry need a code of conduct? Is the status quo OK? Debate and discussion on the topic, along with some spin-off threads: An SEM Code Of Conduct? and Should There Be A Spam Checking Tool?. Here are also some related articles that I will also try to wrap-up into one big article on this topic in the future: Integration Concentration (be sure to read both parts); Seth Pokes the SEO Hive, Gets Stung; Seth Godin: Most SEO Not Worth the Money; Search Turf War: Industry Growth Foments Tension Among Mutually Reliant.

Affiliate Marketing and SEM Revisited
ClickZ, July 12, 2004

Fredrick Marckini changes his mind and decides that affiliates can be a good thing in search engine marketing, after talking with a number of merchants. But there are still issues to consider.

Ad Agencies & Search Engine Marketing Firms Beginning to Play Together
SearchDay, July 8, 2004

Advertising agencies are spending more on search engine marketing, with one in five marketers buying in excess of 1,000 keywords, according to Jupiter Research.

Various Search Industry Interviews
Search Engine Lowdown, July 2004

Andy Beal’s celebrating one year of putting out an excellent search blog with short interviews from various people involved with search. It’s easiest to find them by scrolling down this page. Interviews include Search Engine College founder Kalena Jordan, Traffick’s Andrew Goodman, Search Engine Roundtable’s Barry Schwartz, Alan Meckler, CEO of Jupitermedia, which publishes Search Engine Watch and SearchDay editor Chris Sherman.

Five Reasons Why Ad Agencies Hate Search Engine Marketing
MediaPost, June 29, 2004

iProspect’s John Tawadros weighs in on why he thinks traditional agencies hate SEM. Summary? It’s hard to make a profit. It’s hard to find the right people. They lack the tools and knowledge. SEM is constantly changing. SEM requires constant research.

SEM and Reputation Management
ClickZ, June 28, 2004

Tips on why and how you should monitor your reputation through search engines.

SEMPO Outlines First Year Progress
Search Engine Lowdown, June 25, 2004

What’s the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization been doing over the past year? President Barbara Coll outlines progress, in response to Andy Beal’s call for an update.

The 10 Universal Mistakes Marketers Make in Search Engine Marketing
MediaPost, June 22, 2004

Summary of good mistakes to avoid if you are undertaking a search engine marketing campaign.

Search Marketing & the Spanish Speaking Internet
SearchDay, June 22, 2004

Looking for the hottest market potential in search? Look to the culture of salsa dancing, volcanic chili peppers and red hot Latin music. That’s right, Spanish speaking Internet users. Search en Espanol. This version for Search Engine Watch members offers specific tips for marketing to Spanish speaking Internet users, including overcoming language challenges with keyword matching and spelling correction systems, and the best web sites to target for maximum exposure.

C2 Product Launch: How Coke Failed to Integrate Search
MediaPost, June 16, 2004

Good examples of Coke should have taken search into consideration before the launch of its new low carb Coke, C2.

Search Engine Strategies Conference London Report
SEO Chat, June 6, 2004

Missed SES London? Here’s a comprehensive rundown of sessions attended by Alan Webb.

Parts Bigger than the Whole
iMediaConnection, June 1, 2004

Wrap-up of search news and tips from the recent Ad:Tech conference.

You Had Me at the Search Engine
Search Engine Guide, June 1, 2004

You got them hooked with your search listing. Don’t fail to deliver when they walk through the door of your web site. Kim Krause provides tips to consider on keeping the interest and conversion going.

Dragging Search Above the Line (by the Scruff of Its Neck)
ClickZ, May 17, 2004

Nearly half of those in a Jupiter Research survey said they had branding as a search campaign goal. Yet, only 20 percent said they measured any brand gains — compared to 70 percent who measure clicks. Gary Stein argues that more attention needs to be paid toward measuring the brand value of search.

Top 10 Questions
iMediaConnection, May 4, 2004

Kevin Ryan provides answers to the top ten questions he’s been asked on search engine marketing while talking at conferences about search.

The One-Two Punch: SEO and PPC
ClickZ, May 3, 2004

Fredrick Marckini shares information out of a survey of search use that his company had conducted. Among the findings, 60 percent of clicks with to the free listings, the “natural,” “organic” or “editorial” results that aren’t sold. But on a per search engine basic, MSN was the lowest, getting only 29 percent of clicks to the editorial results. Google was the highest, at 72 percent. The message is that both free and paid should be considered together. I agree entirely. For more tips on getting the balance right, see this recent SearchDay article: Balancing Paid and Organic Search Listings. More about the survey of 1,649 people can also be found here.

SEM, Sales Assistance, and Proactive Communications, Part 1: Search Meets the Phone
ClickZ, April 16, 2004

Are you tracking your phone leads and relating them to search? Are you providing the ability to let those who find you via search call to place orders? Failure to do so could mean your conversions will suffer.

Making a Living as a Search Marketing Professional
SearchDay, Apr. 7, 2004

Search marketing is a fast moving industry, with rapidly evolving business models. What’s the best way to make money in this business?

SEM Power Politics: PACs, Nonprofits, and 527s
ClickZ, April 2, 2004

Search engine marketing hasn’t yet been embraced by political campaigns and action groups, but that might be changing in the near future, Kevin Lee says.

Paid Search Programs Finally Growing Up
SearchDay, March 31, 2004

The search industry has come a long way since the days of running poorly targeted banner advertisements on search results pages. Enhanced keyword targeting capabilities and powerful new bidding and analysis tools have raised the value of search as a promotional channel.

B2B SEM: Sorting Ambiguous Traffic
ClickZ, March 26, 2004

Want B2B traffic? You can’t just rely on selecting the right keywords in an ambiguous world. Tips on how to better qualify and convert.

Affiliate Programs: Moneymakers or Brandbusters?
SearchDay, March 23, 2004

Search engine affiliate programs offer the promise of greatly increasing your online exposure and sales, but be careful: They can also displace your firm in search engine results and dilute your brand image.

Search conferences – the new rock & roll?
netimperative, March 23, 2004

Mike Grehan does two search conferences in one week shares tales of crowds, search engines drinking with spammers and more.

Ass-Backwards SEM
ClickZ, March 22, 2004

Are you spending on paid listings without addressing problems that may hurt your ROI? Then consider that you’re doing things backwards.

Why Is Search So Hot?
ClickZ, March 11, 2004

Why is search hot? People pay only when they get leads; ads are easy to create; self-service means you can get started in minutes; pricing is transparent. All of which is true, but the number one reason is missing. Ads convert better than in other media because you are targeting people who are expressing an actual need.

You’re not trying to create desire in search, such as a visual TV spot for a new car that someone may not need. You aren’t hoping to indirectly hit desire, such with a direct marketing mailing about products to an audience that you hope may be interested. You are appearing before an audience expressly saying, “I want your product.” The closest comparison to this is yellow pages advertising.

Questions for Dana Todd, Executive VP of SiteLab International
ClickZ, March 10, 2004

Dana Todd’s well known and popular with attendees at Search Engine Strategies for sharing her decade’s worth of online marketing experience and forthright comments about where the search engine marketing industry is headed. In this Q&A, she discuss the difficulty in getting behind Yahoo’s new paid inclusion program (“they’re shoving it down people’s throats”), the desire to buy contextual ads priced differently than search-targeted ones, thoughts on local ads, personalized search results and the small bubble she sees developing around search engine marketing.

Bright Lights, Search City
iMedia Connection, March 9, 2004

Is search hot? I generally don’t need bar charts and projections to tell me about growth. Rather, I can just look at the number of people turning out to the Search Engine Strategies shows that I organize. And the New York show was the largest ever. Kevin Ryan has the same reaction — and also provides a rundown on hot topics he felt emerged from the show.

Measuring Search Engine Success
SearchDay, Mar. 9, 2004

Whether you’re optimizing web pages for top rankings or purchasing paid placement links, it’s crucial to measure the performance of your efforts. A new generation of powerful search engine analytics software makes the job a snap.

Search: The Trends
ClickZ, March 5, 2004

Marketers of all types are continuing to discover search — while the marketplace itself continues to evolve. Rebecca Lieb reviews trends that came out of the recent Search Engine Strategies show in New York. Local search is attracting new search players and programs. The search engine marketing industry is getting more formal and mature — yet legal issues still need to be resolved, and chaff of low quality programs and those chasing the search buck are growing.

Search Engine Strategies Notes
Search Engine Roundtable Weblog, March 4, 2004

Couldn’t make Search Engine Strategies? Here are comments on session that Barry Schwartz attended.

24/7 Real Media Search Analytics Tool Hits the Market
MediaPost, March 1, 2004

24/7 Real Media rolls out an new InsightSE tool to analyze search engine conversions and traffic.

Urchin 5.5 – Web Analytics Product Review, Feb. 27, 2004

In-depth review of the Urchin web analytics tool.

Majority of Online Stores Fail Search Engine Test, Feb. 27, 2003

Getting people to your web site is only half the battle. Once they arrive, you want to convert them into buyers. Sadly, a survey find two-thirds of the 25 top online retailers have poor site search capabilities, meaning that potential customers might miss out on what they are looking for.

Searching for dollars
Boston Globe, Feb. 23, 2003

The story is familiar to most regular Search Engine Watch readers. Paid listings have become a major revenue source for portals, given the demise of banners. Good refresher on how things have changed, over the years.

Sell the Information-Gatherers
ClickZ, Feb. 23, 2004

It’s been said many times before, but it’s worth hearing again. Successful search marketing is about getting and converting traffic. So make sure you have some ripe berries, for when visitors arrive.

Has Paid Search Peaked?
eMarketer, Feb. 12, 2004

Despite the headline, this article’s charts show search spending continuing to rise — as I would well expect it to. Some more bar charts for those who want numbers on the growth of search engine marketing. This write-up has some more details from the report.

The Evolution of a Search Engine Marketer
High Rankings Advisor, Feb. 11, 2004

Jill Whalen describes the seven steps of learning SEO that she often finds people progress through, from the “submittal stage” through to the “hard work phase.”

Agencies and SEM: Howdy, Partner
ClickZ, Jan. 27, 2004

Ad agencies want and need good SEM firms to work with. Finding the right partner may be hard work, but it’s well worth doing.

Build Brand Equity for Search
ClickZ, Jan. 26, 2004

Brand recognition can make you a more trustworthy choice when people consider what to click on in search results. So if you are a known brand, be sure to flaunt this!

SEM Best Practices for Ad Agencies
ClickZ, Jan. 23, 2004

Tips for ad agencies that seek to do better with search engine marketing.

Maximizing SEM Revenue in the New Year
ClickZ, Jan. 16, 2004

Tips on getting more out of your search engine marketing budget in two parts.

Search Engine Marketing Resources From SEMPO
SearchDay, Jan. 12, 2004

The Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization’s web site offers a wealth of resources for both search marketers and information professionals alike.

Why Ad Agencies Fail at Search Marketing
ClickZ, Jan. 5, 2004

Strategies of ad dominance, making use of traditional copyrighting or relying on image over substance may work in the real world but not necessarily in the search engine marketing one.

By the way, affiliates aren’t just problematic for search engines. These days, Google AdSense affiliates are a problem, as well. More and more I come across spam pages that not only have managed to rank well in Google, but they also make money by carrying Google’s own AdSense ads. The success of Google AdSense ironically has become a new major threat to the relevancy of Google’s results. (permalink to this item)

Articles From 2003

Search Engine Marketing Recap of 2003
High Rankings Advisor, Dec. 31, 2003

Jill Whalen’s High Rankings Advisor newsletter is always an excellent read. In this issue, she recaps topics raised over the past year, ranging from the debate on cloaking to spam on Google.

2004 Search Engine Predictions From SEO Professionals
WebProWorld, Dec. 29, 2003

What the coming year may bring, from various search commentators.

Understand Search Results Pages
ClickZ, Dec. 22, 2003

Want to be successful with search engines? Then you’d better understand where the results they show are coming from. The article provides an introduction to some common concepts about search engine results pages, or SERPs.

Watching SEM Dials and Gauges
ClickZ, Dec. 19, 2003

If search engine marketing were an airplane that you flew, then here’s a guide to important dials that should be monitored for a safe flight.

Search Engine Strategies Conference Chicago 2003 Reviewed, Dec. 19, 2003

Collection of articles covering various topics at the show.

Google Here, There, and Everywhere
BusinessWeek, Dec. 16, 2003

As Google and other search engines make it easier to access all types of information, will publishers be finding themselves paying more for essential inclusion?

ClickTracks: Powerful Data Without the Mess
Traffick, Dec. 15, 2003

Review of the ClickTracks web site analytical tool.

Online Sales Lead Methods Rival Offline in 2004, Dec. 15, 2003

Survey says: paid listings buys will rise from 49 percent of respondents saying they do this in 2003 to 58 percent next year, while organic search engine optimization will increase from 53 percent to 63 percent.

Connecting Offline Sales to SEM: A Case Study
ClickZ, Dec. 15, 2003

At the SES conference in Chicago this month, there were a ton of questions suddenly coming up about how to track offline conversions. So this column from Fredrick Marckini is very timely and worth reading. Search engine marketing can and should be measured offline, as well as online. Otherwise, you’re not getting the complete story about conversions.

Tracking for Decisions in SEM
ClickZ, Dec. 12, 2003

Be aware that not all buying happens online, nor can every action be precisely tracked. In short, while search engine marketing provides much more precise tracking than other types of media buys, you can’t measure everything. Do the best with what information you have, and don’t worry if you only have 90 percent accuracy — that’s far better than with some other forms of advertising you may do.

Thoughts from SES Web Search Guide, Dec. 12, 2003

Thoughts from Web Search Guide writer Jennifer Laycock on the recent conference.

Search Engines Strategies Chicago Coverage
Search Engine Roundtable, December 2003

If you missed the Search Engine Strategies conference earlier this month in Chicago, this page provides coverage from the event. Scroll down, and you’ll find “from the floor” posts about all three days.

Search Engine Insider Reports
WebProWorld, December 2003

Formerly the Search Engine Strategies area, this section of the WebProWorld forum has live postings from out of the Search Engine Strategies show, followed by discussion of topics by forum members. Be sure to scroll through the thread list and go back in time, to see when some of the earliest coverage was posted.

What if there were no search engines?
Brett Tabke, December 2003

Presentation on tips to go beyond search engines, from founder Brett Tabke.

Search Engine Strategies Chicago
Search Engine Lowdown, December 2003

Read from this blog post downward for various reports out of the conference.

The Pay or Not-to-Pay Conundrum
iMedia, Nov. 17, 2003

All search is paid, regardless of whether it’s “free/organic” or paid listings, says Kevin Ryan. And he’s largely correct. As I and others have said many times, anyone who believes that “unpaid” results have no commercial presence or represent some type of level playing field is mistaken. SEO, which he calls “pray for positioning,” should be understood as the search engine equivalent of PR. That’s one reason why it got a bad name with some advertisers — they assumed it was advertising or it was sold in that way. PR is a different creature from advertising, just as SEO and paid placement are different.

Self-Funding Search Engine Marketing
ClickZ, Nov. 14, 2003

In short, if your ads generate more profit than they cost, you can afford to do much more. A look at strategies to determine if you’re in self-funding mode and how to do even better.

Keyword Search Emerges As Dominant Online Ad Format
MediaDailyNews, Nov. 12, 2003

I remember not that long ago when online advertising spend reports would come out, I’d ask those issuing them what portion was related to search engine marketing. The silence, as they say, was deafening. It wasn’t that spend didn’t happen. Instead, it was that no one bothered to count.

Want to revisit those bad old days of search being ignored? Then re-read my article from August 2001, Search Engine Marketing Finally Getting Respect.

The good news is, they’re counting now. The just released IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report found that “keyword search,” which apparently means spending on paid placement and probably paid inclusion listings, made up 31 percent of all internet advertising spending in the second quarter of this year, up from 9 percent for the same period last year. It’s not clear if money spent to gain organic or “free” search engine listings is counted in this. I suspect not — and arguably, that type of spend might be counted as a PR effort.

Not only the search spend a record, but it also positions search engine marketing as the dominant online advertising format. Banners, the second most popular form, made up 22 percent of spending. Rich media, which were once seen as the hot future for online ads, came in many positions later at 6 percent. You can read the report yourself here.

Die Zukunft der Suchmaschinen, Directories und Ads
Optimierung.Net, Nov. 11, 2003

If you speak German, this is a short interview with me about search engines.

What Search Engine Marketing Does Your Site Need?
ClickZ, Nov. 10, 2003

Search engine advertising is different than search engine optimization — with in turn is different from other types of listings you might obtain. A rundown on major types of listings out there.

The SEM Shakeout: Are You Ready?
ClickZ, Nov. 7, 2003

As more are attracted to search marketing, competition and prices are growing. Kevin Lee offers tips to ensure you stay ahead in the game.

Defending Organic Search: The Other Side of the Comscore IAB Study, Nov. 6, 2003

Looks at a recent study on paid search listings and defends what seem to be grim figures for clickthrough and conversion of free “organic” listings.

Down the Pub with : Brett Tabke WebmasterWorld, November 2003

Q&A with founder Brett Tabke, on developments with the increasingly popular site for search engine and webmaster-related news and the industry in general.

Feeding Frenzy, Part 1
ClickZ, Oct. 24, 2003

Shopping search engines are a great way for online retailers to reach out to new customers. Don’t neglect them. This article covers how to feed these creatures with your content.

Balancing Paid and Organic Search Listings
SearchDay, Oct. 23, 2003

Do you really need both ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ listings, generated by search engine optimization (SEO), and paid placement, aka pay-per-click advertising (PPC), to be successful on search engines?

Web Campaign ’04: Politicos Embrace Search, Adapt TV Spots To Broadband Video
MediaDailyNews, Oct. 20, 2003

US presidential candidates are looking at search engine marketing as a way to reach out.

Internet Search Engine Advertising Shows Major Gains
AdAge, Oct. 13, 2003

Readers of this newsletter know the power of search engine marketing, so there’s not a lot new in this article written for the more traditional media buyers who read AdAge. But do check out some of the stats, which are good. Ford’s online arm is spending 25 percent of its budget on search engine marketing. Edmunds reports a 30 to 40 percent return on its buys. United Airlines wants search to make up 25 to 50 percent of its online marketing budget. And the costs of buying are going up.

Using ClickTracks to Control PPC Ad Spending, Increase Sales Web Search Guide, Oct. 9, 2003

I loved ClickTracks 3.0 and am playing with the latest 4.0 version right now. In this review, Elisabeth Osmeloski takes a closer look at the program.

iProspect Selected to Inc. 500 List of the Fastest Growing Companies in America
iProspect Press Release, Oct. 7, 2003

I don’t often run links to press releases, but this is notable. Search engine marketing firm iProspect has been named by Inc. Magazine as the 47th fastest growing company its Inc. 500 list. The list ranks privately held companies according to sales growth. Watch the list, because I’m sure in the coming years, you’ll see many more SEM firms move up for similar recognition as the market grows.

Why Sharis Berries is happy to let affiliates pay the search freight
Internet Retailer, Oct. 7, 2003

Some companies have learned to hate their affiliates, finding they make it expensive when they wants to directly purchase advertising. But Shari’s Berries loves them. They don’t advertise directly and instead let the affiliates do the heavy work. But from a searching perspective, it’s more than a little annoying that this strategy means that Google and MSN results, as cited in this article, are essentially full of junk pages that all lead back to the same company. It’s the search equivalent of walking into a store and only seeing one brand on the shelves.

Searching For Holiday Profits, Part 3: Landing Page Optimization
ClickZ, Oct. 3, 2003

What you say on your landing pages is crucial if you want to drive conversion. Some tips to consider.

Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization Opens To Members
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 2, 2003

I’ve mentioned SEMPO before briefly in some past newsletters, but now the organization has an actual site up and is open to members, so it warrants a revisit. SEMPO stands for the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization. The registered, non-profit group aims to raise the profile of search engine marketing, so that potential clients will understand what SEM is and budget money for it. More about the group and why you might or might not want to join can be found in the short story below.

CounterGoogling, Sept. 2003

What’s CounterGoogling? A bad name for the idea that businesses might research what individual customers want by using Google. It’s just businesses “Googling” customers, rather than customers I suppose “Googling” businesses. Apparently, one hotel has actually done this to anticipate what their first-time customers may want.

Search in the Spotlight
ClickZ, Aug. 22, 2003

Larger than ever, the latest Search Engine Strategies conference underscored that search is an established industry — and increasingly, an advertising dominated one. A summary of top trends, such as the need to balance paid and free organic listings, the complexity involved in managing paid listings and concern over tracking search listings placed into contextual ads.

Inside Search Engine Strategies, San Jose Day Four
Search Engine Guide, Aug. 22, 2003

Summary of tips from the Converting Visitors session and a rundown on various web analytics and measuring tool vendors.

Keywords: To Buy or Not to Buy
Wired, Aug. 22, 2003,1367,60121,00.html

Bid prices are skyrocketing, say advertisers — which may cause a swing back to looking at organic listings for traffic. But organic listings aren’t necessarily free themselves, when you add in the cost of optimization either in house or through third parties. And not mentioned is the fact that you’ll almost certainly see paid inclusion listings begin to get official preference over unpaid listings for certain terms in the future.

Inside Search Engine Strategies, San Jose – Day Two
Search Engine Guide, Aug. 20, 2003

Recaps my keynote where I predict what the search engine landscape will be like in 2004, covers issues raised in the Search Engines & Trademarks session as well as the Cleaning Up The Mess session and summarizes how various firms explained in the Search Engines & Ratings session how they rank search engines by popularity and other metrics.

Search Engine Marketing Forces Unite, Aug. 20, 2003

Covers the launch of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, a new industry group for search engine marketing firms.

Actions Speak Louder in SEM
ClickZ, Aug. 15, 2003

Trying to evaluate the success of your search engine marketing campaign? Here’s a list of tools that provide tracking support.

Search Engines Find Traffic for Shoe Retailer, Aug. 15, 2003

Philadelphia footwear retailer Sherman Brothers has gained new visitors and sales through search engine marketing — though it’s also spending more now to gain that traffic.

Best Search Practices for E-Tail
ClickZ, Aug. 1, 2003

General tips to consider if you are an etailer going into search engine marketing.

Google ‘key word’ ads undercut eBay
Bloomberg, Aug. 1, 2003

Is Google the eBay killer? If you run your own web site, certainly getting traffic from search engines (including Google) may be cheaper than going the eBay route. However, if you are a home seller with no transaction ability, eBay probably will continue to be a great route for you.

High Rankings Advisor, July 29, 2003

Jill Whalen documents using ConversionRuler to track visits and conversion at her web site. Article is in two parts — this leads to the second, which links to the first.

Averages Can Kill Your SEM Campaign
ClickZ, July 25, 2003

Averages can be deceiving, when measuring performance. Look further into your data, to avoid costly mistakes.

Effectiveness Study Confirms SEM Power
ClickZ, July 18, 2003

Research commissioned for the Internet Advertising Bureau’s search engine committee finds that conversion often happens weeks after the initial clickthrough from a search engine. Sponsored search results apparently generated what I assume is an average 18.3 percent clickthrough rate, compared to a 4.3 percent rate for free organic listings. The figures are surprising to me, and not having yet seen the actual report, I can’t comment further on the methodology used. Sponsored listings also were found to have a greater conversion rate, which isn’t surprising to me. With paid listings, you have the ability to deliver people to a very targeted landing page that can constantly be refined to improve conversion. You can’t do that well with organic listings.

Measuring Search Engine Marketing ROI
SearchDay, July 14, 2003

Spending on search engine marketing is rising dramatically, yet surprisingly few companies are measuring the effectiveness of their campaigns.

SEO: Search Engine Optimists?
ClickZ, June 27, 2003

Search engine marketing is hot, but success shouldn’t be measured by traffic. Instead, look at conversions — and understand that a conversion doesn’t necessarily have to equal a sale.

How Marketers Are Measuring SEM Efforts
eMarketer, June 25, 2003

How are people tracking the success of search engine marketing campaigns? Most, 41 percent, say they track clickthrough or “general activity,” which I presume would be log analysis of site traffic and perhaps even rank checking. Then 31 percent say they do no measuring at all, followed by 16 percent that measure conversions and 11 percent who measure ROI.

Another stat shows that 35 percent are currently evaluating search engine marketing as part of their overall marketing mix (it’s unclear whether this is paid listings, organic listings or both). Then 23 percent say SEM is a significant part of their mix, while the same amount say they don’t do it at all. Finally, 18 percent say SEM is a small part of the mix. Stats are from a survey done by WebTrends and iProspect, across 800 marketers that participated in a web conference.

Search Players Agree on Industry Challenges, June 17, 2003

Disclosure of paid inclusion comes up as an issue during a panel with search engine executives at last month’s Ad:Tech conference. Google criticizes the practice while those on the panel offering paid inclusion provided a defense. Other issues such as locally targeting paid listings and building brand identity were also discussed.

SEM Reach and Frequency
ClickZ, June 13, 2003

Trying to calculate the reach and frequency of your SEM campaign? It’s not as easy as you might think.

The Seven-or-So Habits of Highly Profitable PPC Campaigns, June 11, 2003

Spending $25 on ads brought back $9,000 in first day sales. How’s that for ROI? Few campaigns will be this successful, but Andrew Goodman covers tips on what he’s seen in the most successful ones.

How Tweaking a Business Web Site’s Design Can Increase the Sales Leads it Generates by 60%, June 10, 2003

Among other changes, this company increased sales by making custom landing pages for the top 20 keywords sending it traffic via paid listings.

The Future of Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, June 10, 2003

What does 2003 and beyond hold in the constantly changing world of search engine marketing? A panel of industry experts looked into their crystal balls to provide some guidance. Second URL leads to edition for Search Engine Watch members.

NetIQ Rolls Out WebTrends Search Tool, June 2, 2003

WebTrends adds a tool to help you determine if people have come to your site via paid rather than free search listings, among other search engine marketing-related enhancements to the traffic analysis package.

ClickTracks Review
About Web Search Guide, June 2003

Short review of the ClickTracks log analysis tool, which got a high rating from About Web Search Guide Jennifer Laycock. I think it’s a great tool, as well.

Landing Paths – Reinventing Landing Pages, June 2003

With organic search engine optimization, you can’t control which page a search engine will choose to list tops for a particular term. Should you get luck, and your “preferred” page get a top ranking, then you may be hesitant to make changes out of fear of losing your ranking. But with paid listings, you get everything — a guaranteed top ranking plus the ability to show a custom “landing page” targeted for that particular audience. Ammon Johns talks through landing page strategies.

Search or Destroy?
ClickZ, May 30, 2003

Is search engine marketing getting too hot? As more jump in and spend, costs (on the paid side) will rise. To protect your brand, you’ll still need to consider other forms of online advertising rather than be too search-centric, writes Rebecca Lieb.

If Your CEO Gave You $50,000, What Marketing Tactics Would You Spend it On?, May 28, 2003

You get $50,000 and are told spend on “something new” in marketing. You also get the same amount and are told spend for “maximum impact” on sales. Search engine marketing comes up number one on the list of “new” things — and frankly, for a lot, lot less, anyone could run a short term test campaign to try it out. For those looking for maximum impact, search engine marketing was 3rd of 6 — behind top rated postal direct mail and telemarketing and email, which tied for second. Interestingly, of the 68 marketers who mentioned wanting to do paid listings, only one named the Overture brand. Everyone else said Google or simply used a generic for paid listings.

Ad Agencies Slowly Embrace Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, May 28, 2003

As the cottage industry of search engine marketing continues to mature into a legitimate form of brand and conversion marketing, traditional ad agencies are actively stepping in to take advantage of the growth in search industry dollars.

Jupiter Research Launches Search Service, May 27, 2003

Jupiter Research (which is owned by the same company that owns Search Engine Watch) has unveiled a new paid based research service focusing on the search space.

B2B Search Best Practices
ClickZ, May 23, 2003

Looking to target a B2B audience via search? Then consider some of these tips.

Search Engine Marketing and Branding
SearchDay, May 8, 2003

Search engines are recognized as one of the best ways to generate qualified leads online. Should search engine marketing be considered as part of a brand-building campaign? Search Engine Watch members should follow the link at the top of the story to the member-only version of this article.

Search Engine Marketing Goes Mainstream
SearchDay, April 23, 2003

There was plenty of evidence at Search Engine Strategies 2003 that search engine marketing has gone mainstream. Even the issues addressed by both keynote speakers reflected the classic ‘separation of church and state’ concerns that mainstream media have been discussing for almost 100 years.

Smart Search Engine Tactics
eMarketer, Feb. 25, 2003

Some statistics on how search engine marketing is growing each quarter, a noticeable bright spot when it comes to advertising spend.

Hot Trends in Search Engine Marketing
SearchDay, Feb. 20, 2003

Perhaps it’s a terrible cliche, but the only thing that experts agree is constant in the search engine marketing business is constant change.

Search values
Netimperative, Feb. 6, 2003

Lots of stats and perspectives on search engine marketing, especially from several search engines, with a UK-focus.

Interview with Ammon Johns, January 2003

Long time search engine optimizer Ammon Johns reflects on the industry and changes.

The State Of Search Engine Marketing, 2003. Google rules the roost., January 2003’s Peter Da Vanzo ran a series of great interviews with various people involved with search engines in the latter part of 2002, and in this article, he looks back and comments from them all to put together his thoughts on where search engine marketing is going in 2003.

Articles From 2002

Branding Metrics for Search Engine Marketing?
ClickZ, Dec. 11, 2002

How can you measure the branding value of paid listings? Kevin Lee offers up his Branding Effectiveness Index, or BEI, as a possible solution.

Interview with Mike Grehan
SearchEngineBlog, December 2002

Author and search engine marketer Mike Grehan talks about trying to pin down the mechanics of how search engines work by talking to those who built them, killing SEO myths, makes me blush, ponders the often shrill debate over search engine ethics and much more.

Ten Questions with: Kenneth Norton
SearchEngineBlog, December 2002

Inktomi’s director of marketing and product strategy Kenneth Norton talks about recent changes to the company’s search engine, the role of paid inclusion and the future of search.

Australia’s Top 100 Company Sites Incompatible With Search Engines
Web Rank, Dec. 9, 2002

Top Australian companies have top problems that could make them inaccessible to search engines, finds optimization firm Web Rank. A summary of findings with copies of the full report also available.

Make Sense of the Metrics Morass
ClickZ, Nov. 27, 2002

A rundown on the key stats that search engine marketers should consider when evaluating the success of their campaigns. You’ve probably heard of ROI, but do you know your CPO, CPA and ROAS?

More Search Engine Strategies
SearchDay, Nov. 26, 2002

SearchDay’s series of special reports from the Search Engine Strategies conference is complete, but here is more conference coverage if you haven’t yet had your fill of tips, techniques and tactics from the pros.

Search Marketing Finds Its Way
DMNews, Nov. 25, 2002

Lots of stats here telling what many of you have known to be true for years: search engine marketing works. Nevertheless, convincing advertisers to put money into it has remained a challenge. Lots of quotes from search engines about efforts to raise their profile with ad buyers.

Why SEO Should Be the Foundation of Your Marketing, Nov. 7, 2002

Good essay on why even though paid placement is so prevalent, there’s still every reason to still perform traditional SEO.

Big Sites + Big Brands = Big SEO Challenges
SearchDay, October 9, 2002

Big Web Sites and brands come with bigger challenges — that was the main theme at the Big Sites and Big Brands Forum held at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose, CA.

Search Engine Standards, Please!
SearchDay, October 8, 2002

Search engines should set standards and adhere to them, say webmasters, advertisers and a senior attorney for the Federal Trade Commission. Uniform standards would serve both web site owners and searchers.

What it Means To Be a Search Engine Marketing Professional
High Ranking Advisor, Sept. 26, 2002

What makes a real professional in the SEO world is being someone who puts the client’s needs above their own, says Jill Whalen.

PPC Versus “Free” Listings: Which is Best?, Aug. 27, 2002

Which is better to go for, free listings or cost-per-click ads? Why not find a balance between them both?

Search-Engine Marketing Will Boost Your Business
Wall St. Journal, Aug. 19, 2002

Overview of how different small businesses are using search engine marketing to gain customers.

The Search Engines Ask You
SearchDay, June 20, 2002

At the Search Engine Strategies conference, representatives of the major search engines turned the tables on participants, asking the audience to respond to their key issues and concerns.

Letter From Sydney
The Search Engine Update, June 17, 2002

Covers news from the Sydney Search Engine Strategies conference, not all of which is Australian-specific. Covers two interesting case study presentations, as well.

Articles From 2001

Marketers Use Invisible Words on the Web
New York Times, Dec. 24, 2001

Just when you think search engine marketing has become more mainstream, it only takes an article like this to help you realize misperceptions remain. [Begin Dr. Evil’s voice” Turns out there are these unique things called “meta tags” that can help you get better rankings with search engines. This article looks at how companies are using these “meta tags” to gain better rankings. But it warns: “The use of meta tags may become less important as some search engines shift away from keyword placement.” [End Dr. Evil voice”. The reality is the only two of the major search engines, AltaVista and Inktomi, give any significant weight to meta tags. Sure, you should use them, but don’t expect too much from them. And that predicted “shift” happened several years ago — something to do with analyzing links, I hear.

Striving to Top the Search Lists
New York Times, Dec. 10. 2001

Overview of how search engine marketing is going mainstream, especially in the wake of paid placement.

Desperately Seeking Search Engine Marketing Standards
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 5, 2001

A new effort is underway to establish standards for the search engine marketing industry. However, different philosophies among marketers and a lack of guidance from the search engines themselves make this a difficult challenge.

Congratulations! You’re A Search Engine Marketer!
The Search Engine Update, Nov. 5, 2001

The label “search engine optimization” no longer seems to cover the work that search engine promotion experts perform. Perhaps it is time to let “search engine marketing” become the more inclusive term.

Understanding the Power of Search Engine Marketing
ClickZ, Oct. 24, 2001

Perspective that ad managers and marketers who aren’t considering search engines are missing out on a valuable and cost effective advertising venue.

E-Commerce Metrics: Drowning in Your Own Data?
ClickZ, Oct. 29, 2001

Statistics are great, but it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. Here’s a guide to what you should care about.

Surplus Of Search Engine Marketing Reports
The Search Engine Update, Oct. 2, 2001

Three newly released reports cover the issues of selecting a search engine marketing firm, which search engine marketing strategies seem to work and a review of how the web sites of Fortune 100 companies rate in terms of search engine friendliness.

An Interesting Overture & A Different Kind of Positioning
Iconocast, Sept. 20, 2001

This issue of Iconocast focuses on search engine optimization, from the GoTo name change and the company’s financial prospects, to trends and a case study on boosting Iconocast in search engines.

Search Engine Strategies Conference Coverage
The Search Engine Report, Sept. 4, 2001

A round up of articles out of August 2001’s Search Engine Strategies conference.

Articles From 2000

I-Search Search Satisfaction Survey
The Search Engine Report, Dec. 4, 2000

In November 2000, moderator Detlev Johnson, of the I-Search mailing list, asked his readers what were their biggest problems with search engines and directories. The 75 responses received shed light on top issues that webmasters encounter with search services, such as having editors alter submitted descriptions, which can cause a site not to be found for particular terms.

Search Engine Positioning
Iconocast, Aug. 24, 2000

The always helpful Iconocast newsletter, required reading for marketers, takes a look at broad trends out of the recent Search Engine Strategies conference and the topic of search engine positioning in general.

Helping Webmasters Land in Search Engines’ Nets
New York Times, March 23, 2000

Basic overview of the Search Engine Strategies conference that I hosted in New York. In particular, the article covers the challenge of bringing search engines and webmasters together.

Articles From 1999

Building Traffic With The Engines

ClickZ, Oct. 27, 1999

Nice stats that say search engine marketing is the top ranked promotional method used by business-to-business sites.

Take My Site, Please

Los Angeles Times, Aug. 2, 1999

Nice article about spamming search engines. You’ll need to search for it in the archives.

Seek And You Shall Find/. Eventually
ClickZ, March 17, 1999

Sean Carton expresses the frustrations that many feel over the complexity of search engine submissions and calls for standardization.

Articles From 1998

Search Engine Optimization: The ScienceAnd The Art

ClickZ, Nov. 19, 1998

A follow up to Joel Gehman’s ClickZ article (see below), where I agree that aggressive optimization can potentially be a time waster, but urge that passive changes built into a site from the start can make a dramatic difference for web site traffic. Lots of tips. If you feel lost in all the details of search engine optimization, this is a good place to get a bigger picture of the very basic things you should be doing systematically throughout your site.

Search Engine Optimization: Half-Art, Half-Science, Or Half-Baked?

ClickZ, Nov. 10, 1998

Joel Gehman, a marketing analyst with Creative Labs, argues that spending too much time on search engine optimization can be a losing proposition, in terms of the traffic gained (and he’s right). The article sparked an interesting follow up conversation in the Online Ads marketing list (see below).

Search Engine Optimization Discussion

Online Ads, Nov. 1998

Moderator Richard Hoy posted his agreement to Joel Gehman’s ClickZ article that search engines can consume time better spent on other efforts. That prompted a stream of interesting and intelligent responses. You can browse them from the link above.

Articles From 1997 & Earlier

When a typo leads to porn, July 14, 1997

Fascinating look at how porn sites have registered misspellings of major search engines in hopes of catching accidental traffic.

How Web Sites Are Stacking the Deck
New York Times, Nov. 96

Can you trust your search engine?
C|NET, Nov. 96
— no longer online but here’s a reprint

Cheaters Never Win
Web Week, May 96
— no longer online, but one one of the first general press articles about SEO —

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