Sramana: In general, what metrics do you track and optimize against?
Mike Mothner: We always want to have a metric to use to track effectiveness. That metric will vary from client to client. We can track when somebody purchases a product, when somebody fills out a lead form, phone calls by using different numbers for different keywords, and user website interaction. We look for the metric that is the closest proxy to a successful visit to a site.
Sramana: What tools do you use to track those metrics?
Mike Mothner: We have our own proprietary tracking technology. If a client has a separate analytics package that they would like to use, we certainly will work with them.
Sramana: What do you automate with your technology?
Mike Mothner: We love technology and automation, but we realized early on that you cannot replace the human element when it comes to marketing. An algorithm is good at telling me that Ad A performed better than Ad B, but it is not that great at telling me that Ad C would outperform both A and B.
Sramana: What are the tasks that are capable of being automated?
Mike Mothner: We automate the processes of putting the right information in front of the PPC account manager at the right time. We know in real time how much people are spending, what keywords are performing well, and it aggregates conclusions to place in front of the expert. It also does it across Yahoo!, Google, and Bing at the same time. If you did not have the data automation capability, then you would have to spend a lot of time in Excel to figure out what was going on.
Sramana: You also offer search engine optimization (SEO) services, which require a different strategy. What is the philosophy that you follow for SEO?
Mike Mothner: With SEO the focus is on getting a site high organic visibility on valuable keywords. That avoids PPC and can be a cash cow, or at least incremental revenue. The trick is that time and effort is spent to achieve those results, so it is not a free result.
The first thing to remember is that Google wants to reward sites that are authoritative in their subject areas, are well respected, and have a good user experience. They have a huge number of variables to make that determination. Good SEO means that you need to have a site with good information, a good user experience, and that has enough merit to be an authority in the space.
That means we have to make sure that we remove the red flags that prevent Google from realizing the content authority that your site has, which means we make sure Google knows about every page on your website. We then work on increasing the authority of a site, which often means the site needs more content which is fresh and relevant. Finally, we consider the weight of the inbound links to your site. That involves getting recognized and cultivating relationships with other sites. That is where getting more content on your site which external sites link to becomes key.
Sramana: How do long-tail keywords play out in SEO?
Mike Mothner: They work well in SEO. You still have the broad match technology to deal with, which explains why Wikipedia ranks for everything. The site that is the authority for wine is probably going to rank high in a lot of the long-tail keywords for wine organically, and it won’t necessarily matter that Wikipedia is there with a search result.