Yield And BlueGlass Enter World Of Value-Added Services

Make it easy for businesses to invest in search engine marketing campaigns. That's the thinking behind two free self-service platforms released Tuesday. Yield Software introduced Yield Web Marketing Suite Lite, a free version of its standard Web marketing suite. BlueGlass released SecondStep, an automated software platform to support SEO campaigns for agencies and companies that generate between $10 million and $500 million in annual revenue.

The Yield Web Marketing Suite Lite provide a fee tool for companies that spend up to $500 monthly on paid search campaigns. The platform automates and optimizes SEM campaigns, from paid to organic to optimizing landing pages, and allows any business to compete in online advertising. The algorithm-driven bid management platform support campaigns across Google, Bing and Yahoo Search.

Small-and-medium size businesses that may only spend a few hundred dollars monthly on paid search campaigns could pay about $129 to optimize them across three search engines. Google built an empire on self-serving tools. Free makes the cost for paid search campaigns a little easier to swallow and technology a little less intimidating. A locksmith trying to compete on bids for common keywords such as "key" might not have the expertise or the time to get the best results from a campaign.

Yield CEO Matt Malden says the company will move to support campaigns in mobile and social media such as facebook LinkedIn and Twitter. Global spending for advertising on social network sites should jump from $3.3 billion this year to $4.26 billion in 2011, according to an eMarketer report.

Malden, who founded Yield after leaving Siebel Systems when Oracle acquired it in 2005, says folks at small companies just want to know how to become better search marketers. Yield wants to become the trusted advisor.

That trust locks in small advertisers. More often than not as ad budgets grow, SEM companies offering the free services get to keep the dollars when companies upgrade into subscription plans.

That might take a couple of years for some. Half of companies participating in the State of the Search engine Marketing Report 2010 published by Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization earlier this year expect to spend more on paid search in 2010, compared with 2009; but 16% admit they will spend less; and 34%, expect budgets to remain the same.

Google AdWords led the way to self-serve paid search platforms. Now there's Yield Web Marketing Suite Lite. The industry also will begin to see a similar trend in organic search from companies like BlueGlass.

But don't call the BlueGlass SecondStep platform a SEO tool, says Dave Snyder, SVP organic search and managing partner for the Tampa, Fla., search firm. Think AdWords for organic search, with a focus on business processes.

BlueGlass will build out models and services based on workflow solutions for SEO campaigns. And the biggest challenge the company faces resides in changing the perception of traditional SEO marketing firms from ones offering paid support to those willing to provide value-added services.

HomeAway recently began testing the platform, according to Snyder. He calls the vacation rental company a good candidate to use the module because it builds online content based on geo-location. Although YellowPages isn't testing the platform, Snyder says the directory would prove successful because it supports many small businesses that could take advantage of assistance in SEO campaigns.

The SecondStep platform, now in private beta, offers three features: site audits, link-building and content generation. It focuses on processes, rather than SEO tools similar to those designed and built by SEOmoz. "We never want to be a direct-to-market tool provider," Snyder says.

Based on a "freemium" pay model, companies can access services in the first level for free that include preliminary site audit, create a task management system, and assign keyword research in different tasks.

Those free services, however, could turn into paid premiums as marketers begin to feel more comfortable with search marketing. BlueGlass will build in a module to contract outsourced labor. If an audit tells them to reproduce all the title tags on the site, the client can schedule a SEO expert to help with the task. A ticketing system and open-style Ask- and Yahoo Answer-like platform to support the free version will become available within the next month.

Today, the paid modules include LinkQuest used to monitor inbound links, and CopyPress to automate the process of generating fresh content. The platform also offers spam detection.

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