Scorecarding Your Share of Search Engines

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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 2

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 3

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 online 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.

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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 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. 5

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 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.

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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 keywords than any other company in its industry.
Overall Search Engine Share
13%
Company X

7

11%

37%

Company Y Company Z Company A

12%

Company B 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 A

Company Y Company B

Company Z Company C

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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

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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

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1.00

0.00 January Feburary Google Lycos DMOZ March April IWon MSN Yahoo Web Sites May June LookSmart Netscape Yahoo Web Pages July

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 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. 12

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 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. 13

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. 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.

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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
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.

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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. 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.

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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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