Kate Morris

Otherwise know as @katemorris.com by friends.

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Ask from the Grave

There is a large amount of hoopla over the Google UI change. This post was inspired by one over at WordStream asking if Google was the new Bing. I’ll say what a few people have said already, but I have a little more ranting behind it as well. Google’s new look is not Bing, it’s Ask.

Matt Cutts Ask Zombie

2006 Matt Cutts as the Zombie Jeeves

A while ago (and we are talking years) at SMX Advanced 2007, the Google Dance Northwest to be exact, I watched as the Ask PR Director worked through the launch of Ask 3D. A few friends and I got a private tour of the new features, and I knew immediately that they were years ahead of their time. But they went and threw it all away.

(Funny enough, that night was when I first met Matt Cutts, who is in this picture. :P)

Now, even though it was proven to work better with users within the first few months, Google finally accepted it and is using the three column approach. It took Microsoft and Yahoo 2 years to adopt it, and Google 3 years. What does Ask get out of it? Nothing.

So I will say again. The Microsoft/Yahoo deal should not have happened. Instead, had Yahoo been smart, they would have bought Ask and AOL. *sigh* They might have tried, I don’t know, but what I do know is AOL, Ask and Yahoo are now all but dead. To Microsoft and Google … do you see the opportunity here? If you haven’t already, pick off the Ask talent. It’s being so wasted.

</rant>

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Quality of a Search Engine

Folks in this room understand that the quality of a search engine depends heavily on the relevance of advertising, and the relevance of advertising relies on the volume of bids.

Steve Ballmer, MSFT

Sorry, Steve but I beg to differ. This was a quote from the SMX West show in March 2010. While I get his point, and he was speaking to a room of search marketers, there is something flawed about his logic.

When Google started its upward climb, it was not the leader in advertising. Overture (GoTo, Yahoo, whatever) was. People started using Google because the results were relevant, natural and paid. Trust was given to the brand, and that is when “google” became a verb. You don’t become a part of societal vocabulary by getting advertising right. Steve is missing a few vital parts of the puzzle, and that seems to always be the issue over at Microsoft.

quality of a search engine

The piece that is missing is the relevant results that bring in users. These results build trust in the brand. Returning users build the user base (traffic) which brings in advertisers, and advertisers bring in money and ads. Those ads do make the results more relevant, but it is not the ads that drive initial user trust and participation.

Disclaimer: I have not done research on this, and someone could easily prove me wrong. This post is from a marketing psychology point of view.

The quality of Google right now may be its ad network. Everyone knows that it is what makes Google so powerful. But any competitor to Google is going to have to understand that replacing that trust will have to occur to get users to switch.

I always hear advertisers say “I only use Google AdWords because, while it’s more expensive and the other networks convert better, the volume is just not there.” Remember that at higher volumes, generally, it is more difficult to convert. This is why you never just increase bids to be #1 in the ad line up. It’s not always profitable to be #1. There is a double meaning there MSFT.

Just something to think about.

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PPC Tip: Dayparting using Google Analytics

clock_screen02A good friend of mine that is getting into PPC asked me a question today. A question that I think is common to many people that are really digging into their campaigns. I am not talking to people just getting started (though you should read this too if you are) but those that are wanting to find the next step in campaign optimization.

The question centered around dayparting in Google but based on the specific industry their client was in, so after I guessed (educated guess, really …), I told them to look at the company’s analytics and see where their clients were visiting and buying. The retort was “Google Analytics doesn’t tell me that.”

Poppycock.

But I understood the confusion. Information by hour isn’t readily available but it is there. And I am going to show you how to pull the data. But to start, let’s review why dayparting might be important to you.

Dayparting

We get this term from traditional marketing. I first learned it in Introduction to Media Buying at The University of Texas. It had to do with radio and TV time purchasing. Imagine my delight when PPC started using it too. And it’s about the same. Dayparting is molding your spend to specific days and hours of the day to match when your best customers are looking.

Dayparting is not for every company. If you are a consumer based company, people are probably searching for your products at any hour of the day. Business-to-business firms are going to be more open to specifying a time of day. Consider business software – you might have some hard core people searching at night, or small business owners, but if your product is not focused to them, you probably don’t want to be running at 2am. Right? Good. Moving on.

When are your Customers Online?

Your analytics package should be able to tell you when customers are on your site. Above that, you should be tracking what time of the day people are purchasing if you are ecommerce. Google Analytics does provide this information to you, you just have to know where to look. Custom Reports FTW.

1. Get into your Google Analytics Account and find the “Custom Reporting” button on the left side navigation.

GA Sidebar

2. Click and get the bigger menu. At the bottom click on “Manage Custom Reports.”

3. In the upper right side, click on “Create new custom report.”

Custom Text

4. Title it (you’ll forget later) – hit edit next to the “Custom Report blah blah blah” up at the top.

5. First pick the metrics you want to see (in blue, see below). I am a fan of the metrics below, it’s a good place to start when you aren’t sure what to look at.

  • Unique Visitors
  • Unique Pageviews
  • Total Goal Completions (you have to have goals set up to get data here)
  • Avg. Time on Site
  • Unique Purchases (must be e-commerce to use this)
  • Bounce Rate

Sample Google Analytics Dayparting Report Setup

sample dayparting report

6. Once you get those, move to the green aka dimensions. This is where you pick what you are looking at. You can do one of three things here, or I recommend one of three.

  1. Use one dimension - Time of Day – this is the minimal report and will help you see overall trends for time of day.
  2. Use two dimensions – (1) Day (2) Time of Day – this gets down to each day and how things worked out each hour. More detailed but maybe too detailed for some.
  3. Make both. :P Two separate reports. You can play with more dimensions of course, but I am just talking dayparting remember?

Once you’ve done that, preview the report and test away until you get it like you want it. If it’s that good and you have more than one client that can use it, you can save it to all of them. Nice huh? Yay for time saving! The rest … you should know what to do with. Pick the best hours, see if there are some major drop offs in traffic and purchasing, and review the data with the client (or executives).

For more information on dayparting check out these resources:

So that was the quick and dirty – please comment with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer or point you to a resource with the answer.

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Did Bing Work?

It’s too early to tell, but the more I hear about people talking about the more I come down to one conclusion. Search marketers can talk about it all day, and it makes no difference. We live this stuff. We get mad at Ask for taking away Jeeves. We analyze every change.

How will I know if Microsoft made Bing work?

When my mom asks about it and starts using it.

I have always known that no matter what I think has hit the main stream, it hasn’t really until I see real people using it without prompting. Time will tell. And no, she hasn’t asked yet. I can’t wait for the day she does. It’ll be testing time then.

What you don’t use your family as guinea pigs? ;)

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The Ask Attempt

I’ve heard from a number of people in the industry that the new CEO of Ask has been contacting them trying to get them back as brand ambassadors. Smart move? Yes. Executed well? No.

The CEO, if he isn’t already, needs to be reading Seth Godin’s blog. If he is already, I would suggest not skimming the entries. Why? It looks like he got the concept – the company made a boo-boo, and he knew that many influential bloggers we mad. So he reached out to them.

What did he miss?

  1. He insulted most of them in an article on Forbes.
  2. He missed meetings.  (can’t say who with, they like their twitts anonymous)
  3. He missed the entire point they had all been making.

Why do I talk about Ask so much? Well they keep giving me reasons to AND I still think they have some great people with some great ideas. Remember my idea of an Ask/Yahoo deal? Well I have one thing to say to the Ask.com employees:

Yahoo is hiring.

Go take your ideas to a company with a greater following and the infrastructure to top the industry. Yahoo is hurting, but I think with the right ideas (the kind we see at Ask) they can take off again. I know the executives at Ask wanted Yahoo bought out, but that was just for PR purposes. We all know that was and still is a BAD idea.

UPDATE: Few more articles as of late. One is from The Lisa about Ask’s attempts with her. And the other is about how they are outsourcing various areas, to Microsoft no doubt. *sigh*