By Jason Dowdell and Benjamin Pfeiffer

Session: Contextual Ads

Contextual advertising is taking off. The speakers of this session dealt with the issues of contextual advertising to a targeted audience, the success in doing so, the challenges faced, and overall the goals that advertisers should consider in the new contextual ad marketplace.

Overture - Paul Volen of Overture was the first speaker, and while he gave a good presentation, I felt it left off the specifics of why contextual advertising would be useful in the first place. It felt more like a sales presentation. Other speakers addressed this topic, but Paul went over the benefits of content matching in using Overture. Basically the Overture technology through quality mappings and editorial results places listings in highly relevant content pages.

Google - The next speaker was Google, and Tim Armstrong emphasized that Google is a highly scalable and large network of contextual advertising, that reaches more than 80% of internet users. Very impressive, the reach of this technology seems almost ready to reach its full potential. Google has also taken precautions to prevent such keyword problems such as knowing the difference between location Java and the Java the coffee drink.

Kanoodle - Lance Podell, presented the Kanoodle technology, and they call themselves the "sponsored links innovator", while I am not to knowledgeable about the Kanoodle company as a whole there presentation did look very promising, and I would recommend serious context ads advertisers to check them out. The boost several specialized tools the other engines didn't have. But I couldn't help but wonder who their "premier" partners where and where the ads appeared in the beta of the "premier" distribution.

Case Studies - By far Brad Byrd of NewGate, gave the best presentation. I learned more in this session than all them combined. Brad did know his stuff, and was very knowledgeable about the market and nature of contextual ads. He presented case studies from several clients of his company, and the stats from large campaigns of both natural search listings, and listing on related content pages. His finding where interesting, which I will summarize here.
  • Adsense - Higher CPC rate, in comparison to Overture
  • You will ultimately pay more in Google, but will get more qualified leads
  • Cost per conversion MORE when contextual advertising is using context matching to the ads
  • On average, context matching of ads, results lower average clickthrough rates, and lower conversion rates when compared to standard search listings.

Session: Writing for the Search Engines

This was a quite informational session, that for the beginner was very good for learning the necessary things that you should do in order to effectively write for the engines. I particularly liked Heather Lloyd Martin's presentation, and Jill blew me away with some awesome tips and details that only she would pick up on. I also added a new blurb into my SEO language. "Stubby Copy", as Heather put it, was copywriting of the homepage that was about 2-4 sentences in length that did very little for the search engines or the users. It typically looks like a text blurb amid a sea of images and links. I also had to laugh because not only do I see this on a regular basis, but its a common occurrence on client sites.

3 Things for Successful SEM Copywriting
1. Savvy Keyphrase Choices
2. Longer Text
3. Smart Writing

Basically one of the main things needed for good copywriting is finding the best terms that convert prospects. Heather puts it simply, saying that "terms on the site need to be ones your prospects use." This is so very true, I frequently have to spend a lot of time trying to replace keyphrases that make no sense to the user. USE terms that people search for naturally! It was also recommended that you keep your copy at least 250 words in length, because it is found from studies that people want detailed information, and if presented in a meaningful manner will ultimately spend more time reading it, and making decision based on it. Oh finally Heather gave, the Secret Google Tip for effective copywriting: "Place benefit statements near keyphrases on target pages". What this does is force Google to use the statements in the descriptions of the Google listings. It can be quite powerful.

Editing Strategies
Jill Whalen gave the next presentation, and presented some excellent advice on effectively copywriting for the engines. Her information complimented Heather's quite nicely, in that each had a little different perspective on the topic. Jill recommends to also use keyphrases that people search for on your pages, and to include your main keywords on the homepage, and spread the rest of your keywords throughout the subpages of the site. Don't just stick all your keywords on the same page, it will not have not much benefit later on.

I did agree with her on the fact that copywriting should be about 1/3 to 1/2 of your search engine optimization campaign. I might recommend 1/4 of an SEO campaign, but each site requires different time spent on it. Also be quite descriptive in your words. Instead of using "My Product" does such and such, use "My Glow in the Dark Toilet Bowl Lid" does such and such. Also using single words placed randomly on the site does not help, make sure to use the target words together. And finally, location, location, location is prime in copywriting. Remember to include your locale if you only target that area or are not a national or global company.

Session: What is Content?

This was from the 3rd session of the second day. Everyday we read each others content. It is in a way the sticky glue that binds us to the websites we investigate, surf, and learn from. Content is the language we speak. I found this session quite informative and very helpful in the outlining the methods for developing good content. This was a session for everyone to attend and gain from.

The first speaker was Heather Lloyd Martin, and she gave a very detailed overview of the aspects of successful content. Next up was Gary Salzman from, and he gave a great "live" example of a good content site, and one that has succeeded in making it part of their business model. Kent Lewis of Anvil Media was third, and gave a good case study of a site that had its site optimized for good content. And finally, was Elizabeth Osmeloski who provide a look at the various content models and reasons to diversify your business. She also showed examples of what the bigger content sites are doing to handle new content. I couldn't imagine a better set-up for a session like this, where you get broad overview of successful content, an example of a site that is doing it now successfully, example of how optimized content is beneficial, and for perspective, an overview of content models in many different areas for small to large businesses. So instead of going into detail about these various speakers topics, I do something a little different and combine them in a master list from a very well rounded presentation with elaboration of my own.

So what is the definition of good content?
  • Speak your customers language. Write excellent customer centered copy focusing on the needs of your customer and audience.

  • Express the benefits of working with your company. Do not just insert random marketing fluff, make sure the message is clear and communicates the benefits.

  • Provide detailed information to your customers and prospective clients. It is found that people actually read pages with more detailed information.

  • Provide user feedback and third party validation. This can go a long way in gaining trust for your products or services. People like to see what others are saying. Its natural to consult other sources before making a decision. Give this to them automatically.

  • Develop a site content strategy. Learn to organize your content into categories, find the most often asked questions, and try to find out what your customers or clients may be looking for.

  • Talk with your customers. This goes without saying the benefits and information that can be gained from a quick phone call or email about what they may be looking for. Use this new information in your content strategy.

  • Your content must support its objectives. Contradicting information is never a good thing to have on a website, it confuses visitors and does not instill a coherent strategy for offering content that helps inform visitors accurately.

  • Build or buy your content? If you can develop your own content then excellent, but if you lack the time or knowledge, consider buying your content from a reliable source. Make it yours and make it represent your business

  • Respond to users needs ahead of the search engines. This should be the foremost mind set in developing content. Think of your users first, the search engines will reward you with good rankings.

Session: Advanced Link Building

As a fanatic about link strategies and what it can do when applied correctly, I was excited to attend this session to pick up anything new I might have missed before. Linking is so important these days, both internally and externally.

The first speaker of this session was Craig Silverstein from Google. He gave an overview of Google PageRank and how it works. Basically the information was pretty basic, and to summarize some points. PageRank leverages the democratic structure of the web to determine page value. He offered some helpful suggestions on linking to others. Be sure to link to relevant sites, use descriptive anchor text, and avoid linking with mundane terms such as "click here".

Paul Gardi of Ask Jeeves, presented the working of the Teoma search engine. Great stuff and information. I really do love the concepts this engine uses to rank pages, it is quite unique. Gardi talked about the power of communities and their relation to subject specific information queries. Gardi also said that they power about 25% of the web. This may have been said with a creative license, I am not sure on his sources.

Next up was Debra O'Neil from Alliance Link who gave some good advice on actual linking strategies, not just engine information. O'Neil placed good emphasis on link text with keywords, and making sure you put keywords in the your domain. Keywords in the domain could be heavily debated. But I am in the opinion they are beneficial for the engines and for the users too. However it wasn't mentioned the best way to use keywords in a domain, such as hyphens or no hyphens.

Link Reclamation
Eric Ward gave a great part on Link Reclamation and Deep Links, that detailed ways to reclaim links that were lost in a domain name change or url structure change. This can relate down to installing a new content delivery system or a big site reorganization. He gave some good tips that could all be solved with some good databases setup.

Capture any of the 30 day referring data logs by downloading them from the server or host. Organize the logs in order of traffic sent, and list every referring url, not just the top 100. Create a file database of all before and after urls for comparison. Contact all sites that are linking to you, so that they can change the urls.

Greg Boser was last rounding out the session with a good presentation on good strategies to follow when building and working on your linking. Never do reciprocal linking whenever possible. Focus on a good internal inbound linking structure for your site. If you picked up anything in this session those two previous sentences would be the most important. He also provided some good ways to let your links build on their own. Content syndication is great at this, for allowing you to write and distribute press releases and ask for links.
March 16, 2004

Jason is a nationally-recognized SEO expert and is the go to seo consultant of Fortune 100 companies like AT&T, Motorola & Microsoft as well as major brands like YellowBook and LA Times. He is the Director of Search at Triangle Direct Media and responsible for the development and capabilities of SEO Tool - TDM's automated seo platform. Prior to joining TDM Jason was Founder / CEO of search engine optimization firm Global Promoter, which was acquired by Kowabunga in 2004. In a previous life Jason was an Information Systems Engineer for NASA and a systems analyst at Oracle Corp.

Search Engine Guide > Jason Dowdell > A Marketer's View of Search Engine Strategies New York