Category: SEM

How many marketers in India have seriously read the book “The Long Tail“? I’ll say 0.5 out of 10 marketers I’ve met. And, how many marketers heard about “the long tail” = 10/10!!!

This post again evolves out of a discussion with my friend Mohak, who now works with an emerging travel portal. And, I’ve been constantly been battered by many clients on, “we need to be on the long tail”!!!

Here’s a description of The Long Tail from Wikipedia:

Anderson argued that products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters, if the store or distribution channel is large enough. Anderson cites earlier research by Erik Brynjolfsson, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu, and Michael D. Smith, who first used a log-linear curve on an XY graph to describe the relationship between Amazon sales and Amazon sales ranking and found a large proportion of’s book sales come from obscure books that are not available in brick-and-mortar stores. The Long Tail is a potential market and, as the examples illustrate, the distribution and sales channel opportunities created by the Internet often enable businesses to tap into that market successfully.

ok, still don’t get it, read the original post on the long tail here.

Hello !!! “the long tail” is not about having 80,000 keywords in your search marketing campaign. But a combination of web analytics, traffic analysis, your search engine orientation, and the other smaller players on the web.

And, search contextual marketing is not long tail!!!

Many web-owners in India do not use their “web logs” or put to use popular web analytics. These tools forms the basis of data mining & looking at data which is driving traffic to your website, whether it is keywords people are searching for on the Internet or websites which are hosting your ads or websites/blogs talking about you. If you are a portal or a large website – this is basic hygeine. Here’s a good example of how “Weather.Com” put to use web analytics to drive their SEO efforts.

For Microsites or Web sites which are seasonal, don’t even bother to get into the long tail.

So, how do I benefit from “The Long Tail”

1. Start by collecting data driving traffic to your website.
2. Identify key offline trends which effect your traffic on your website.
3. Collect data for long time duration, give it atleast 6 months to settle in.

Once, you have all of the above put together, hire a data analysis company which specializes in web analytics. And, then you start working on your long tail.

But, I still want 80,000 keywords in my search campaign

No problem, here’s what you need to do:

1. Identify contexts in which your product/service fits the bill. Contextual marketing is relative & attempts to deliver the marketer’s message in a given context. So, it’s important to understand the importance of it.
2. Go back to your search marketing team/agency and help them understand your world of ‘context’, where you think your product/service will get the best results.
3. Don’t expect high & immediate sales from traffic coming from this approach. Collate data and work closely on those which are driving your “business results”.

I hope this will help clear some mess on the misconceptions of the long tail!


This post emerges after a extensive discussion with a old friend Mohak, on how search engine marketers around the world are talking about “Performance Based Marketing” or a “Cost Per Lead” business model, especially in the case when two SEM co’s are offering a lead price of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 1200 for the same product to the same advertiser? How do you decide which one is worth your money?

I’ll try to answer precisely that and some bits more.

1. Advertiser

A leading online portal selling airtickets online. They’ve estimated that they can incur a cost of Rs. 2000 per ticket sold to earn a revenue of Rs. 500. Now they want to optimize this spend to revenue ratio and bring it to Rs. 1500 & double their revenue. SEM must contribute at the minimum 60 sales per day.

2. Search Marketing Company

XYZ Limited charges a project setup fee and will deliver authentic ticket sales at Rs. 1500 per ticket as asked by the advertiser, but may not want to commit on the number of sales.

This is what the search metrics that the SEM firm has to sustain.

Search_Metrics The search firm has to ensure 1,000,000 impressions of ad per day with a bare bone 1% click thru rate delivering 10,000 clicks.

On a category like travel I’ve taken a conservative conversion rate of 1.25% and a spill over rate of 0.5% just to bring in some reality into the number crunching. (Read: Lead as Sale)

Given all this, the search marketer would be able to deliver at least 75 sales per day thru it’s efforts.

How does the Search Marketing firm make its dough?


The SEM firm now needs to work out its own numbers in terms of spends and how much money they can make to make this a profitable project.

It is evident that the SEM firm is operating at a 41% return on investment and earns its dough of Rs. 433 per ticket sold!

It looks all so simple when put up in an Excel sheet and see number’s crunched.

But the SEM company works hard every day to earn more and keep it’s costs under control – it’s not all that simple! Complex tools are used to sustain levels and they keep a track of data virtually every hour of the day!

3. Advertiser’s Devil Advocate

Assuming, you are an advertiser you would want to bring the CPA further down? The obvious answer is – Yes. But, reality is that you cannot operate below a maximum max CPA, given searchscape’s dynamic nature, number of competitors and effects of seasonality. And, Don’t push your luck with the lowest CPA’s, you will burn your fingers with poor performance.

4. What Should The Advertiser Do or What Should Be The SEM Suggest?

Search is not a one time activity which you should start and pull out from. At any given point of time the number of advertiser will differ given the category, geography and time of the year.

If you are an amateur to search marketing, start with the break even cost of acquisition (cost of acquisition = revenue), and slowly decrease CPA’s post at-least 1 month of data (keeping in mind the season/vertical/geo). If, you have a gratification attached with your product or service your conversions would be higher.

4.a Landing Page

Your landing page is the key offering to the search visitor, let the SEM partner help you design one or take their input in creating one which would be effective. Taking traffic to the home page or a page which doesn’t talk the same language as your ad copy will significantly impact your conversions.

4.b Ask the SEM co for Help

Take confidence in your search marketing expert, ask them for help in deriving an achievable CPA. Don’t suggest a number which the CMO or CEO or your Marketing Manager likes, it would not lead you anywhere. The closer you work with your search experts the better results you can expect from your search marketing campaigns.

Don’t stick to historic data i.e. one month you achieved a CPA of Rs. 1000 the following month it can either go up or down, this is especially applicable to projects done for very short periods.

In The End

If you are new to search marketing start with a simple project which is based on pure spends and a project management fee.

Once you have evolved into a slightly matured player and understand the dynamics of search marketing – build in performance metrics – and you would see how actually search engine marketing can make a difference to your marketing campaigns.

As for the Rs. 1000 or Rs. 1200 CPA offer goes, another SEM firm pitched for a CPA of Rs. 900! Now, the advertiser is confused πŸ™‚

Ebay, Ebay, Everywhere

When it comes to Adwords, Google preaches that you should have keywords which are relevant to your website and have ads which are relevant to the keywords (adgroups). It is also advised to use the keyword filter in the ad’s with care. However, Ebay has gone miles ahead of what has been advised and be present of every keyword in the dictionary, every product/service/brand name!

Ebay (baby ad)

Try searching for “baby” onΒ  google and see the ad which appears on the sponsered links on the right and read the Ebay ad!!!

SEM, should not be done in extream!

Things have become so funny that people have made games around, FIND FUNNY EBAY ADS! – Ebads! (you can play it too)

So, if you get into SEM…please watch your keywords and please write ad copies which make sense, please πŸ™‚

First, it was generating keywords relevant to your website and target audience. Now, it’s all about user experience. Google’s mission is to provide a good user experience while using any of the Google services, umm search user of Adword User?
Google recently introduced Landing Page Quality Score, things have changed a bit and a whole bunch of people using Adwords are confused as to what does Google mean by the whole issue, so some are on their way of taking them to the court!

Let me throw some light on it, Internet has always been the playground where the user should get what s/he wants within the first select pages, ideally 1-3. Off late people were taking searchers on their webpages using Adwords ads on Google and giving them nothing, this forces them to come back and search all over again. Here the Search User is in concern who is using Google Services.

Google, needs to ensure that the user experience is the best and searcher reaches the right place. So, this new quality score puts a lot of pressure on the advertiser to ensure:

1. Their landing pages are relevant to their ads.
2. Use of selected keywords related to the ads and pages.
3. Cut down on Arbitrage.
4. Optimize, Optimize and Optimize.

So, if you are an Adwords user…watch your CPC’s, CTR’s, LP’s and Get off irrelavant keywords.

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