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Marketing Sherpa recently surveyed around 2000 search marketers for their 2008 Search Marketing Benchmark Guide. Some interesting tidbits from their summary:

Focus on long tail keywords:

Search is orienteering, not teleportation:

Well, if you actually look at the distribution of how many searches are out there based on how many words long they are, and you also look at the distribution of where marketers are putting their money, what you’re seeing is that almost 50% of searches are one or two words, and that same trend tends to follow in dollars spent.

But, the interesting thing is that, if you actually pay attention to the way people convert and use the search engines, what they’re likely to do is: start out with a simple search, such as “MP3 player”. So, they get the search engine results page, see that there are multiple brands of MP3 players, and then from that, refine their search. And, maybe when they first made the search, they didn’t realize just how many MP3 brands were out there. But then, once they do the search, they realize that they’re really just interested in, let’s say, Apple iPods, at which point they refine their search, do three- or four-word search, such as, “Apple iPod in Chicago for sale”.

So, once they do that, they’ve massively narrowed the field and get much more relevant search results. And those relevant search results result in much higher likelihood to click and much higher likelihood to convert after the click.

Mention your brand in your search marketing.

STEFAN TORNQUIST: … And this addresses one of the big questions that’s really been going back and forth between the search engines themselves and agencies, and, of course, the big brands, which is, does search have a brand effect? This is a chart that really requires some explanation. Tim?

TIM McATEE: Yeah. Well, if you’re familiar with a dynamic logic or insight express brand effectiveness study– I think a lot of people who have worked in online advertising have seen these over the years. But what they do is, they go through and they compare a simultaneously collected control and exposed group, so that exposure to the advertising is really the only variable in between these two groups. And, then they attribute any difference between the control and exposed to the advertising, since there’s actually no other difference between the two.

So, this chart in particular, this was a brand effectiveness study done looking just at search engine results pages. And, it was conducted by Enquiro for a major cell phone manufacturer. This particular question is actually looking at the likeability of the brand. So, they’ve actually asked, which of the following brands do you like best? Which do you like least? What we’re seeing is that the brand came in at 49% liked for control, but then increased, from 53% to 68% to 77% with multiple and all these different levels of exposure.

So someone who just saw a side-sponsored link with just kind of a short…(inaudible) stashed off on the side, right there, that bumped it up a little bit there from 49% to 53%. When the generic keyword or the branded keyword was in the top organic spot, we saw a massive jump there from 49% all the way up to 68% or 74% when it was in the top-sponsored as opposed to the side-sponsored. But the top-sponsored and the top organic, it jumped all the way up to 77% and 72%.

So, the point being that, just being there on the page is definitely going to have some effects on the way people perceive your brand. Being in the top natural spot is huge. I think it’s kind of omission if you’re not there. If someone is to search for, say, cars, and your car brand doesn’t come up, I guess that just says something about your brand, that you haven’t optimized your search. So it really has to be there.

These are just three of the nineteen slides in the presentation. The full presentation is here and the transcript for the presentation is here; worth checking out.

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