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Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines:


Taking Search Engine Marketing to the Executive Suite
Prepared by Venture Communications
200 – 30 Murray Street, Ottawa ON K1N 5M4 (613) 241-4000
April, 2003
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines:


Taking Search Engine Marketing to the Executive Suite

April, 2003

Jon Lomow
Strategic Planner
Venture Communications
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Index
Abstract ...................................................................................................................... 4
Introducing the Search Engine Scorecard ............................................................. 6
Seven Keys to a Valuable Search Engine Scorecard...........................................12
How to use your Scorecard .....................................................................................14
Conclusion..................................................................................................................15
Related Reports ........................................................................................................15
About the Author ......................................................................................................16
About Venture Communications ............................................................................ 17

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Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Abstract
Search Engine Marketing is somewhat of a new art, and an even newer science.
But while techniques have changed drastically since its inception about 10
years ago, there really hasn’t been much change over the last year.
Now that the practice of “optimizing” a site for search engines is no longer in
constant flux, the focus has turned to measurement — in simple business terms,
not technical or marketing jargon. And it’s not only measurement of search
engine effectiveness, but comparison of search engine results with other on-
line and off-line marketing initiatives. Marketers must now achieve their
competitive advantage on search engines through sophisticated measurement
and analytics. Scorecarding — it’s the next frontier in Search Engine Marketing.
This paper discusses seven keys to building a successful Search Engine
Scorecard that can be used to better communicate the value of Search Engine
Marketing across all levels of the organization. 4
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Recently, Brandchannel.ca elected Google as the single most life-influencing


Brand of the Year. It wasn’t Coke, Nokia, Microsoft or Ford. It was Google. An
Internet Search Engine.
We have reached a pinnacle in the evolution of the information hungry human.
A service that sorts and ranks all the information on the proverbial
“information super highway” is now not only a household name; it impacts our
lives more than any consumer products brand.
Recent research conducted by DoubleClick affirms Brandchannel’s choice:
1. Websites outperform TV and Print Advertising to influence the purchase in
almost every major industry. (DoubleClick, March 2003)
2. 41% of consumers report search engines as having the greatest impact on
how they find the websites that help them research product purchases —
more than any other consumer touchpoint (DoubleClick, March 2003)
So what does this mean for marketers? Online marketing practitioners have 5
been saying for years that you need to allocate resources towards search
engine marketing. But it is now moving into the mainstream, as a critical
element in the overall marketing mix. There is a new urgency and credibility for
online marketing to be an integral part of the overall communications strategy.
Historically, Search Engine Marketing has been the domain of the IT group. But
over the last few years, marketers have begun to accept it as an effective
communications tactic. Yet, since marketers generally have trouble fully
understanding it, Search Engine Marketing has made an unconvincing transition
to the marketing team. As a result, SEM still falls through the cracks when it
comes to the allocation of Marketing’s resources. The problem is that Search
Engine Marketing, like most Internet technology, is technical and nebulous —
two concepts that IT is most comfortable with. Sure IT has delivered metrics
around it, but in their language and to suit their needs, and not the needs of
Marketing, or other senior business executives.
This paper presents the missing piece to the search engine equation. It shows
Search Engine Marketing in a new light; a light that satisfies the appetite of
senior executives and the Marketing team.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Introducing the Search Engine Scorecard


In Search Engine Marketing circles, everyone’s talking about tying search
engine referrals to the bottom line — essentially, how much money each
keyword is making you. That’s a sound start at analysis, but not quite enough.
In the end, search engine referrals coming from a specific keyword may net 100
sales, and you’ll have no idea if it could have netted more. You’ll have no idea if
it’s currently benefiting your competitors. And, you’ll have no sense of how it
has contributed to your brand equity and awareness.
So how do you demystify SEM enough so that it becomes an official part of
marketing’s mandate, and gets the attention it deserves? By creating a
scorecard that distills Search Engine results into charts and indicators that
allow you to measure against business goals. By relating search engine
measurements to other marketing metrics, and integrating search engine
techniques with other areas of the marketing mix, both on-line and off-line. In 6
short, it’s not necessarily the practice of Search Engine Marketing that needs
to change; it’s how its results are measured that needs attention.
Those of you who are already performing some form of Search Engine
Optimization to improve your search engine rankings, are also probably
measuring your results. You’re likely watching your search engine referrals and
looking at what keywords are referring from each search engine. Maybe you’re
even looking at user paths through your site and tracking what keywords are
actually driving sales. But, even if you’re doing all of these things, you’re falling
short of seeing the entire picture.
The Internet shapes consumer perceptions and attitudes, and search engines
like Google shape the Internet. So how can you use the Internet to strengthen
your brand and drive bottom-line results? Make sure you can be found in
Google — and all the other popular search engines — for your industry’s most
popular keywords. Understand how your brand relates to your competitors on
the search engines, and what you can do to improve your competitive
positioning.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Search Engine Share


At the foundation of a Search Engine Scorecard is the concept of “Search
Engine Share”. The combination of the following ingredients defines your
playing field, and determines your overall share:
- Your keyword phrases
- Your competitors
- Relevant search engines and their market share
- Rank Importance
- Keyword importance
Using this approach, marketers can understand their overall effectiveness and
visibility on search engines, relative to their direct competitors. For example, in
the following chart, Company X leads its industry with a 37% Search Engine
Share. This means that overall, Company X ranks higher and for more relevant 7
keywords than any other company in its industry.

Overall Search Engine Share

13%
Company X
Company Y
11% 37%
Company Z
Company A
Company B
12%
Company C

14% 13%

While this one chart sheds new light on the discipline of Search Engine
Marketing across your organization, there are many more interesting and
useful indicators that a Search Engine Scorecard can provide. Here are a few
other common representations of the data that can help you get a strong
handle on your Search Engine Marketing efforts.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Company X By Keyword

Brand Name
Keyw ord 15
Keyw ord 14
Keyw ord 13
Keyw ord 12
Keyw ord 11
Keyw ord 10
Keyw ord 9
Keyw ord 8
Keyw ord 7
Keyw ord 6
Keyw ord 5
Keyw ord 4
Keyw ord 3
Keyw ord 2
Keyw ord 1

0.00 20.00 40.00 60.00 80.00 100.00 120.00 140.00 160.00 180.00
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By looking at individual keywords, you can easily see where you’re strong, and
where you need to focus more effort.
Consider the example of a computer manufacturer that is interested in the
keywords “personal computer”, “laptop computers” and “buy computer
online”. Each of these words would be displayed on the scorecard to show
which ones are associated with that particular company.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Competitive Scores By Keyword

Keyword 1

Keyword 2

Keyword 3

Keyword 4

Keyword 5

Company X Company Y Company Z 9


Company A Company B Company C

Here you can see how well you perform against each competitor for each
individual keyword. This will help you identify whether or not a keyword is
worth spending resources on. In this example, for keyword 1, Company X is
behind the competition. However, none of its competitors rank very well for
this keyword, and Company X could overtake them with only a moderate effort.
The computer manufacturer discussed above can now see how well they rank
for their keywords against their competitors. They may score very well for the
keyword “laptop computers”, but not for “personal computer”. They also might
be able to identify a keyword with less competition like “Home Media PC” that
they should put more resources against.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Company X Performance Over Time

600.00

500.00

400.00

300.00

200.00

100.00
10
0.00
January Feburary March April May

Once you have acquired data for more than a single point in time, you will start
to trend your success. This graph shows Company X’s overall Search Engine
Share over a five-month period. It clearly shows that its Search Engine
Marketing efforts in March and April have made a significant impact in May.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Company X By Search Engine Over time


6.00

5.00

4.00

3.00

2.00 11

1.00

0.00
January Feburary March April May June July

Google IWon LookSmart


Lycos MSN Netscape
DMOZ Yahoo Web Sites Yahoo Web Pages

You can easily trend data for a variety of different indicators, but this will be
one of the most useful trend charts in your scorecard. Month-to-month
variations in your overall score will be accounted for by drilling into your
performance on each individual search engine. Above, you can see that
Looksmart and MSN dropped their rankings of Company X in June.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Seven Keys to a Valuable Search Engine Scorecard


Building a Search Engine Scorecard does not require any proprietary software
or the deployment of new search engine optimization techniques. In stead, it
involves organizing and displaying data in a different light.
Following is a seven-step approach for building a search engine scorecard:
1. Define your Keyword Zone.
There are many keywords out there. You can’t be number one for all of them.
You need to carve out a set of keywords that is achievable given your
resources and your Web site content. Don’t forget to define your keywords
based on what your audience is looking for, and not necessarily the ones you
think you should be found with. A lot of companies actually overlook that one.
This exercise takes some thought, but it’s worth doing right. Keywords are the
foundation on which to build the rest of your scorecard model, not to mention 12
your Search Engine Strategy.
2. Measure Yourself Against your Competitors.
Define your competitive landscape. Which organizations do you need to rank
above? For this, you’re better off to look at the companies you really compete
with — not necessarily those with sites that happen to rank better than you for
your keywords.
3. Define your Rank Importance Curve.
Will nothing but the top position for every keyword do? You need to decide how
much weight you will put on each position. Obviously the first position should
be given the strongest weight, but how much better for you is it than the third
spot? Or the tenth spot for that matter? These weightings will change with
different audiences. Some people will wade through pages of results, while
others tend to only click on the top three. You may even want to conduct some
research with your audiences to see exactly what rankings you need to invest
in obtaining.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

4. Keywords. To Weight or Not to Weight?


Ideally, your scorecard should play-up the results for your most valuable
keywords. Or conversely, downplay your rankings for keywords of lesser value.
To do this, you can either assign arbitrary weightings to each of your keywords,
or you can simply use each keyword’s search volume —or “demand”— in order
to define each keyword’s contribution to your scorecard results.
In many cases, you may actually find a scorecard that weights keyword
importance to be of little use. If you’re well behind your competitors, the
graphs that your scorecard produces may not show enough data for you to get
a better idea of how you can improve upon your current rankings. So, you may
want to graduate to weighted keywords once you’ve caught up to the
competition.
5. Choosing your Search Engines.
In most cases, this will be pretty easy. Measuring your success on the top
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search engines will likely do the trick. In some instances, there may be industry
specific search engines that have low overall traffic, but cater to a large
segment of your audience. If it’s critical for you to be found in these kinds of
search engines, you’ll probably want them to influence your scorecard.
Don’t forget that not all search engines are created equally. Overall, Google is
going to have a much larger impact than AskJeeves. You should consider
weighting them accordingly.
6. Synchronize With your Sales and Marketing Data
Now that we’ve laid the foundation of your Scorecard, it’s time to tie in other
marketing data. For e-commerce sites this will be easy. For others it will
probably require a certain level of subjectivity. The idea is to map keyword
scores against your site traffic and sales numbers. Once this is complete,
search engines can be properly measured up against other marketing tactics
like DM pieces, print ads, Web banners, in-store promotions and television.
7. Customize the Scorecard for your business
At this point, you could consider yourself done and have a powerful tool for
measuring your search engine success. But, the data-junkies out there have
probably already thought up a few opportunities to tailor your scorecard to
your business. The more data you can relate to, the more insight you will gain,
and the more respect Search Engine Marketing will enjoy in your organization.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

How to use your Scorecard


Your Scorecard is a marketing driven initiative that has two mandates — the
communication of results and the analysis of results.
While senior executives may not have time to understand or appreciate the
value of search engines, they will appreciate the Search Engine Scorecard. It
puts search engines in the share-of-market and competitive positioning
language that is familiar to them. The Scorecard will help the chief marketing
executive champion the value of Search Engine Marketing across the
organization.
While the Scorecard helps push information up to senior executive levels, it
also helps communicate search engine marketing success across the marketing
team. All relevant stakeholders will always know if rankings have changed, and
how. You can target what success looks like, and benchmark against your
targets. 14
The scorecard is also an indispensable tool for designing and updating your
Search Engine Marketing strategy. It can be used to pinpoint vulnerabilities,
weaknesses and opportunities. Without the Scorecard, you are performing
Search Engine Marketing inside a vacuum — never really knowing what you’re
missing.
For organizations that perform sophisticated measurement across all of their
marketing and communications initiatives, the Scorecard serves as a tool to
distill information into a format that can be fed into the overall measurement
tool.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

Conclusion
Search Engine Marketing is somewhat of a new art, and an even newer science.
But while techniques have changed drastically since its inception about 10
years ago, there really hasn’t been much change over the last year.
Now that the practice of “optimizing” a site for search engines is no longer in
constant flux, the focus has turned to measurement — measurement in simple
business terms, not technical or marketing jargon. And it’s not only
measurement of search engine effectiveness, but comparison of search engine
results with other on-line and off-line marketing initiatives. Marketers must
now achieve their competitive advantage on search engines through
sophisticated measurement and analytics. Scorecarding — it’s the next frontier
in Search Engine Marketing.

Related Reports 15
The Marketing Dashboard — Measuring Marketing Effectiveness.
This white paper discusses the creation of a marketing measurement tool for
all of your marketing and communications activities. Learn more about how to
relate your Search Engine Scorecard data to your overall marketing and
communications results.
Wake up and Smell the Context — The Advent of Search Engine Traffic
Management
This white paper provides an introduction to the basic concepts of Search
Engine Marketing. It also adds the dimension of “contextualization” and
introduces Venture’s Search Engine Traffic Management approach that
addresses the problem of converting search engine referred traffic into paying
customers.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

About the Author


Jon Lomow,, Strategic Planner, Venture Communications
Jon Lomow specializes in the integration of marketing technologies into
communications and branding strategies. Jon focuses on marketing
communications that push the boundaries of technology to improve customer
relationships, brand awareness, measurability and the bottom-line.
Prior to joining Venture, Jon held various positions at BCE Emergis, TotalNet
and McMillan & Associates, and as one of the founders of the integrated
marketing firm Engine Creative.
Throughout his career, Jon has helped organizations like PeopleSoft, the New
York Mets, Intertops, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT) and
Cognos pioneer the technology behind various aspects of their businesses.
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As a Strategic Planner at Venture Communications, Jon continues to bolster
Venture’s thought leadership in the area of technology integration in
marketing. As the founder of the best-practice approach to search engine
marketing called Search Engine Traffic Management (SETM), Jon has bridged
the gap between search engine marketing and customer relationship
management. The approach delivers measurable, targeted marketing with a
demonstrated effectiveness never before seen on the web. Jon continues to
generate advances in the areas of Search Engine Marketing, Marketing
Measurement, online marketing and CRM.
Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

About Venture Communications


Founded in 1984, Venture Communications delivers measurable business
results through synchronized marketing communications services. It is a
national, independent communications firm specializing in strategic planning
and measurement, advertising, design, public relations, search engine
marketing and other digital solutions. It is headquartered in Calgary and
operates wholly owned branch offices in Edmonton, Ottawa and London Ont.
Venture’s client list includes the following regional, national and international
companies: Subway Sandwiches, Toyota Dealers Association (Prairie Zone),
Unilever (Sunlight and Lipton), Cognos Inc., Unisys Corporation, American
Management Systems, and Alvarez & Marsal.

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