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Different Strategies

Optimizing SEM 2014 (Part 1)

I have been at Yahoo for about four months now and I wanted to share some of the observations that I have made in that time period.  I review accounts for clients and offer search engine marketing optimization advice based on my experience.  I am fascinated by account structure and organization and I would like to see more clients use the most up-to-date best practices to improve their search engine marketing performance.

That being said, these SEM optimizations are for enterprise search campaigns and will require and automated bidding platform to manage.  Large accounts are too complex to be handled manually and need efficient, automated bidding strategies which I am not going to discuss in this article.

Additionally, I will be using the two definitions of accounts interchangeably but recognize that there is a difference.

  • Search engine accounts are individual account in a search engine.  Each search account usually has a unique sign-in and a unique account id.
  • Advertising accounts or client accounts include all the search engine accounts that one advertiser manages including campaigns and keywords.

SEM Optimizations

1) Large advertiser accounts are MASSIVE and contain millions and millions of keywords

This was sort of a shock for me. I have worked with clients that had 1.5 million keywords and I thought that many keywords was a lot (not unique keywords but the same keyword segmented by match type, device, and geo-target). Most large retailers have multiple search accounts with hundreds of thousands of keywords in each account.  I was amazed when I discovered that one retailer had segmented product category in to separate search accounts.  

Don’t be afraid of massive keyword lists and multiple accounts.  Search Engine Account Managers can help you manage performance across accounts. Develop a solid SEM account and campaign structure and grow keyword lists organically.  If you have a large advertising account with thousands of clicks a day and adding additional keywords can reduce average cost-per-click by $.10, the benefits will be huge.

2) Many large advertisers do not take advantage of multiple accounts for segmentation

If you have a decent SEM management platform or the means to monitor multiple search accounts, use different search accounts to segment keywords and traffic.  Multiple search accounts is an easy way to monitor segmentation and make sure targeting is set correctly.  Set scheduled reports, dimensions, or labels to monitor performance and targeting.  Use account management tools like Bing Ad Editor & Google Adwords Editor to make bulk changes.

A suggested account segmentation strategy in Bing would be to create nine accounts segmenting devices and match type. All the campaigns would initially have the same campaigns and keywords but keyword match type, device targeting and negative keywords would be very different.

  • Computer – Broad
  • Computer – Phrase
  • Computer – Exact
  • Tablet – Broad
  • Tablet – Phrase
  • Tablet – Exact
  • Mobile – Broad
  • Mobile – Phrase
  • Mobile – Exact

The segmentation strategy above offers four advantages:

  1. When budgets need to be reduced, it is easy to target low performing areas to pause
  2. Devices have very different metrics (CTR and Conversion Rate) and segmentation makes it easy to optimize accordingly
  3. Segmented keywords offers a way to dial in keyword bids to the appropriate level (keyword level tracking is required)
  4. It is easy to setup negative blocking

3) Mobile Conversion Rates are Changing Dramatically

It is essential that advertisers develop a mobile strategy such as m-commerce or supporting brick and mortar locations. Google is forcing advertisers to advertise on tablets.  Amazon saw 50% of their Holiday 2013 traffic come from mobile. On average, most advertisers are seeing 15% to 20% of their total conversions come from mobile (if you only advertise on computers, this revenue is incremental).  I have seen some advertisers with 50% of their conversions coming from mobile.

Mobile traffic has been on the rise for years, but it seems that finally mobile conversion rates are making it ROAS positive for Advertisers to embrace mobile wholeheartedly.

For mobile analytics, remember Google Adwords campaigns group computer and tablets together.  Google Analytics filters group tablets and mobile together.  Monitor computer, tablet, and mobile metrics separately by segmenting by device in the search engines. Most advertisers will be amazed to find how differently each device performs.


  • Additional SEM optimizations: Negative Blocking, Geo-targeting, Product Feeds, & Local Keywords
  • Bing specific optimizations

Different Strategies

lonely store

3 Ways to Optimize Search to Increase Brick & Mortar Traffic

Driving customers who search online to a physical location isn’t rocket science. Often in organizations, e-commerce departments are responsible for increasing e-commerce revenue and are afraid of driving traffic away from the site.  Additional, linking online behavior to retail behavior is nearly impossible and at best, highly inaccurate.  From the perspective of traditional retailers, store managers are too busy running their business to push the digital department to make changes and optimize for physical retail sales. As an organization, the most important tactic to drive online visitors to physical locations is make retail engagement goals part of the e-commerce MBO. That being said, below are three ways search engine marketing can help brick and mortar sales:


1) Location Extensions

Some advertiser are hesitant to include ad extensions to their ad copy because they fear the user will click away from the site and not return. However, much like investors or job seekers, even though these consumers my be searching for an advertiser by Brand, their intent is often very different from most users you would like to attract to a website.  Location Extension offer a direct path to very relevant information for a consumer that is very interested in visiting a brick and mortar location.


  • Better user experience
  • Less non-converting traffic to the site
  • Larger ads at the top of the SERP
  • Competitors are pushed further down the SERP


2) Site links to the store locator page

Last summer, we launched an experiment with a large retail client in the Southwest. During a lull in promotions, the SEM team added a site link to the store locator page on all keywords and waited to see the results.  The results were astronomical.

The client tracked completed searches on the store locator page as a success factor.  The agency added the site link “Store Locator” to all campaigns.  The data showed about a 100% increase in the number of completed store locator searches with the site link.  Additionally, we saw no decline in online conversions and no decline in conversion rate. We just made it easier for consumers who were not going to purchase online to find the information they wanted.


3) Mobile campaigns

For the last couple of years, experts have been saying “this is the year of mobile”. As an advertiser, I was sick of hearing the same thing.  Advertisers have been saying, “mobile traffic is going to overtake computer traffic” and “smart phones are going to lead to more engaged users”. However, this year, my own data has show that while mobile traffic is increasing at a linear rate, more importantly, people are buying things on their phones. But I digress, mobile visitors are often searching for brink and mortar locations when they are on their phone.  There is nothing more frustrating then being on a phone, searching for a business and not being able to find it.  Take it to the next level, enable Click-to-Call and track calls over 60 seconds as a conversion.  Create regional mobile campaigns that drive visitors to a map of the nearest store location.


lonely store


How to Shop using Amazon Reviews

First off, using online reviews isn’t an exact science.  The purchaser is making a lot of assumptions.  Additionally, it is nearly impossible to determine if the product is good if there are under 30 reviews.  When you have very few reviews, there isn’t enough data to make any statistically significant decisions.

Look for “J” shaped distributions


Even if a lot of the top reviews are fake (lets say 50%), the distribution of reviews indicates that this is still a good product.  On average, even if a lot of 5 star reviews are fake, the average number of positive reviews is above average.  My conclusions align with the research in this article: “Statistics Unmask Phony Online Reviews”


Avoid a “U” shaped distribution



At first glance, a product can have an average review of 3 or 4 stars. This rating may make the product seem to have average reviews.  However, if you assume that a large number of the positive reviews are fake, the average rating for this product falls significantly so that the opinion of the product could generally be considered “unfavorable”.

Assumption #1: 50% to 78% of positive online reviews are fake.

There are numerous articles about how businesses game online review systems.

WSJ Article about fake reviews

Time article, “9 Reasons You Shouldn’t Trust Online Reviews”

Some people may assume that the number negative and positive reviews are equally fake essentially cancelling each other out.  However, adding a positive review directly impacts the success of a product.  Fake positive reviews seem to be systemic and primarily originate from business (or an affiliate of the business) that is selling the product.

A business could add a negative review to a competitor’s product.  But, this action would only indirectly benefit the business leaving the negative review.  More likely, fake negative reviews are left by individuals who do not like the business for other reasons and not by competitors.


Assumption #2: All bad reviews are horrible.

Consumers leave bad reviews for all sorts of stupid reasons.  I would recommend clicking on the one star reviews in Amazon to better understand the problems other consumers are having.  If some of the reviews seem trivial, then disregard them when making your decision.   Additionally, a lot of 1 star reviews are helpful for finding alternatives, retailers with better pricing, and insight about product support.

Merry Christmas




33 Cyber Monday Deals (2013)

Because everybody likes deals…. (some of these deals may be UK only).



  • 20% off sitewide with code CYBER20. Plus, check out their Cyber Savings game for a chance to win up to $100 off.

Betsey Johnson

  • take an extra 40% off your purchase, plus get free shipping with codeSHOP40.


  • 15% off a selection of regular and sale-price merchandise with code GIVETHANKS.

Butter London

  • 20% off all regular-priced products and 50% all “last-call” items. Enter codeCYBER13 at checkout.

The Body Shop

  • Products 3 for $30 sitewide, plus every additional item thereafter is only $10. In addition, with any $30 order, you can purchase a $25 Black Friday tote filled with products (worth $108). All offers valid through 11/30.


  • save up to 40% on select items through 12/2. Use promo code DISELONLINE at checkout.


  • 40% off everything, plus free shipping. Use code HOLIDAY through 12/3.

Dorothy Perkins

  • 30% off everything through 12/3. Discount applied at checkout.

Eddie Bauer

  • 30% off, plus free shipping through 12/2. Use code ICY.

e.l.f. Cosmetics

  • get 50% off sitewide with minimum $30 purchase. Valid through 12/3 with code CYBER50. Express is offering 50% off every single item online through midnight on Black Friday, 11/29.

Famous Footwear

  • take 20% off your entire order and get free shipping with code MONDAY20. Also, all shoes are buy one, get one half off!

Free People

  • free shipping on all orders with no minimum through 12/2.

French Connection

  • 30% off your total purchase with code W13COUPON through 12/2.


  • Get 40% off regular-priced items and up to 70% off sale items. Plus, they’re offering free shipping on all orders. Offer ends 12/2 at 6AM EST


  • 40% off sitewide through 11/29. Plus get free shipping on all orders with code OURGIFTthrough 12/2. Havaianas has several Cyber Monday specials: take an extra 40% off sale items and complementary shipping on any order. Plus, get a free gift on orders over $65.


  • 70% off selected items and 25% off and free shipping

J. Crew

  • 30% off sitewide with code HOLIDAY through 12/1.

J.Crew Factory

  • take 50% off everything, plus get free shipping on orders of $50+ with code HOLIDAY50. Prices as marked.


  • when you purchase any mascara or holiday mascara set, you’ll receive a free eyelash curler, a free sample, plus free shipping with any order. Use code LASHLOVE at checkout.

Land’s End

  • 30% off sitewide with code WONDERLAND and pin 3050. This is in addition to doorbusters like $25 down jackets and $15 flannel shirts. These deals are available through 12/2.


  • 40% off sitewide plus free shipping on all orders with code CYBER40.

Lord & Taylor

  • take 20% off regular & sale Items; 25% off sale & clearance fine jewelry. Use code THANKS through 12/1.


  • 15% off your entire purchase, plus free shipping on orders over $75. Use promo codeCYBER from 12/1 through 12/2.


  • hundreds of items (including new arrivals!) 50% off. Sale ends at 9PM PST on 12/1.


  • 25% off clearance items from now through 12/3 with code MOVEMORE.

Nine West

  • boots and booties 50% off through 11/30. Plus, take 30% off all handbags and accessories through 12/4.


  • 20% off orders of $75, 30% off orders of $100, or 40% off orders of $150, plus free shipping. Offer good through 12/3.


  • take an extra 30% off women’s shoe orders of $20 with codeSHOE30 through 7AM CST on 12/4; spend $50, get $10 off clothing and accessories, plus an extra 10% off outerwear, sleepwear, and holiday dresses. Use code DEC10OFF through 12/7.

Saks Fifth Avenue

  • Designer Sale, with up to 40% off select styles. Offer available while supplies last. Also, get free standard ground shipping and free returns on all orders with code HOLIDAY through 12/22. Offer only valid on shipments to the US.


  • 25% off sale items with code 25EXTRA through 12/2..

Steve Madden

  • 30% off your entire order, plus free shipping through 12/2. Use codeTHANKFUL30. Some exclusions apply.


  • 20% discount on all Swarovski products. Enter coupon code THANKSGIVING13through 11/29.


  • will be having a sale through 12/2, with select items 30% off.

TOMS Shoes

  • $10 off purchases over $50, plus free shipping through 12/2.

UGG Australia

  • 30% off select women’s, men’s, and kid’s styles through 12/2. Also, get free overnight shipping with no minimum when you use code U1DAYTHRUCYBERMONDAY through 12/3. Urban Outfitters is having a sale this week, with select dresses, sweaters, tops, accessories, and more on sale for under $10.

Wet Seal

  • 50% off everything, plus receive free shipping on any order.


From Reddit


Yahoo – Senior Creative Strategist

I am happy to announce that this Monday, 9/23/2013, I will be starting my new job as a Senior Creative Strategist at Yahoo. I am very excited for this opportunity and I think it will lead to many new challenges and responsibilities.

I really look forward to working on really large, complex, enterprise accounts and developing strategies that will lead to success for the client.  I will be working at the Hillsboro office, outside of Portland, which is only a short train ride from my house.

With a heavy heart, I am leaving ethology where I learned a lot about client relationships, account management, and integrated marketing.  I wish only the best for my supervisors, the strategists I worked with, and the whole digital paid media team. Feel free to reach out to me here or connect with my on LinkedIn.