Search Engine Marketing Tips From The Internet Retailer Conference

This week I'm attending the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition in San Diego, and Tuesday featured a day of search engine marketing workshops. Here are some highlights from the various speakers and their advice on best practices.

How to Find the Best Keywords

Kate Goodman, Vice President, E-Commerce at Talbots Inc., and Courtney Wegner, Client Services Manager at iProspect, co-presented on best practices for finding the best keywords. Many of these tips apply whether you have an ecommerce-based site or not. They outlined three main steps for keyword development: planning the keyword list, building the keyword list, and keyword discovery via free tools.

Planning the Keyword List

Goodman focused on identifying brand keywords vs. non-brand keywords. For brand terms, think about keywords that help define the following:

  • Who are we as a brand?
  • What products do we want to sell and be known for?
  • What are our goals?



For non-brand keywords, think like the consumer.  What does the customer call your product?  In the case of Talbots, for instance, while the product category might be "footwear," customers don't search as much for "footwear" as they might for "shoes."

Building the Keyword List

Wegner also split keyword focus into brand vs. non-brand. When examining brand keywords, she suggested also bidding on misspelled brand terms. For non-brand keywords, a good place to start is your own website. Use your navigation bar as a guide for the starting point for keywords, then build from there. Use keywords specific to each product, plural and singular versions, and misspellings and typos. Also review marketing collateral, such as catalogs, and analytics data for more keyword ideas.

Keyword Discovery via Free Tools

Wegner shared a list of free tools that can be helpful in further defining your keyword list, including:

·     Google AdWords Keyword Tool

·     Google Traffic Estimator

·     Google Insights for Search

·     Microsoft AdCenter Labs

·     Google Search Query Report

Breathing New Life Into Old PPC Campaigns

Cam Fortin, Director of Business Development at, and Michael Mothner, CEO of Wpromote Inc., presented ways to reinvigorate PPC campaigns. Their tips:

1.  Expand display networks. Try using different ad types, such as image ads, and placement targeting in the display network. Test sites and weed out those that don't perform.

2.  New ad formats and beta tests. New ad formats, like sitelink ad extensions, can improve click-through rate and conversion. There are also offer ads, which contain special offers and are often helpful for local-based businesses.

3.  Mobile ads and compatibility. Don't forget mobile users! Try testing times and days of the week that mobile might work best. You can also target campaigns by mobile carrier.

4.  Don't forget About Bing and Yahoo. Bing and Yahoo might bring you better results for CTR and cost per conversion, so don't forget to test to see how they perform for you.

5.  Track and segment new and repeat customers. Understand the lifetime value of customers by tracking information as far as you can - ideally, to the backend CRM system.

6.  Brand vs. non-brand keywords. Be sure to segment your brand vs. non-brand keywords and understand the cost per acquisition for each. Focus on spending more on non-brand keywords in an effort to convert them to branded searches over time.

7.  Promo codes and localization. Consider adding promo codes directly to ads and geotargeting campaigns, even if you have national offers.  It can help you further personalize ads and may help CTR and conversion rate.

8.  Keywords in the display URL. Mothner sees this as an opportunity to add more keywords to an ad, even when you run out of space in the ad copy itself. As an example, "" helps get the keyword "chardonnay" into the ad without taking up space in the actual ad copy.

9.  Deadlines and seasonality. Adding a sense of urgency, such as "Offer good until June 1," can be helpful -- even if you really don't have a true deadline.

10. Negative keywords. Analyze search queries regularly, and for those that are non-targeted, add negatives.

11. Don't judge your data too quickly. If it takes, on average, 15 days to recognize all of the conversions from an ad that runs today, if you end a test after 30 days, you're missing half of your month's potential conversion data.

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