Four brand-building activities that lay the foundation for SEO

At Google’s inception, one innovation differentiated it as a search engine: It used information gained from off-site sources to inform its estimation of the relevance, importance and quality of pages in its index. Originally, this source of off-site information was the network of links found by crawling the web.
Nearly two decades later, in 2017, with countless other rich data sources at its disposal, Google uses a more diverse and sophisticated set of data to determine just how big a deal you really are in the marketplace. In my experience over the past 10 years working in SEO, Google has always been pretty good at making this determination, and the signals have become harder and harder to fake over time.
At this point, the most efficient and sustainable path to making your company look like it is a significant player in the marketplace is to become a significant player in the marketplace. What does that mean for SEO folks?

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Three ways to use a domain name for business today

www.Com
Registering a domain name is one of the first steps to starting a new business. That’s because whatever name is chosen will represent the business’s space on the internet — and, possibly, a customer’s first impression of the company.
But once you have that domain name, what do you do? Don’t stress over building an online space. Start using a domain name right away. Here are three ways to do it.
Set up a company-branded email address
The web address can also be used as an email address. A company-branded email address can give you and your employees a more professional-looking branded channel for communication with customers, as well as free marketing for your company. In a 2015 survey, 74 percent of consumers said they would trust a company-branded email address more than a free email address. It’s easy and cost-effective to set up, too. The provider you use to register your domain name can most likely help you set

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Amazon vs. search: Why you shouldn’t put too many eggs in one shopping basket

No matter where they’re located or what market they serve, retailers around the globe have questions about how consumers use search and Amazon.
At Bing (my employer), we’ve found that retailers — regardless of size — ask us about the same three things:

Where do consumers look for products online?
How do users behave differently on search vs. Amazon?
Can my search and Amazon channels benefit each other?

The answers are likely to surprise you.
The consumer decision journey looks incredibly complicated to us marketers with its interweaving between research, comparison, intent and transaction, but it feels far less complicated from the consumer point of view.
As consumers, we follow certain behavior patterns almost subconsciously:

If we have questions around what it is we need, or want more information before we make a selection, then it’s natural to turn to search.
If we know what we’re looking to buy, often we have a predefined preference for which retailer website to begin looking for it.

For many customers,

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SEO: The missing piece in brand protection

Let’s face it — if you have worked in the industry for a while, you are aware that a stigma has existed around SEO for years. In addition to putting your site at risk for a manual penalty, questionable SEO practices can tarnish a brand’s reputation. Those of us who have properly applied SEO principles and committed to protecting our brands have gotten a bad rap due to others that have misapplied SEO for their clients or companies.
Running an enterprise SEO program for an established brand requires that one acknowledge the stigma and place a focus on changing perception. Changing perception requires action, not words. Simply educating the company on the value of SEO, or how SEO can be applied responsibly, is not enough. Strategy alignment, allocation of assigned resources, and a full demonstration of defending and enhancing the brand is critical.
Positioning SEO as brand protection
Iconic brands stand the test of time by placing brand ahead of everything else —

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Initial Interest Confusion rears its ugly head once more in trademark infringement case

Two years ago, Multi Time Machine brought a lawsuit against Amazon for trademark infringement, alleging that web pages on Amazon.com for “MTM special ops watches” keyword searches could be too confusing to consumers, since the MTM watches are not sold on the site. Now, a similar complaint was brought by Bodum versus Williams-Sonoma for French press coffeemakers. These cases illustrate significant risks for e-commerce sites.
Multi Time Machine’s complaint was based on a few different search results pages at Amazon that involved keywords associated with Multi Time Machine’s trademarks. When one searched for “mtm special ops watches” (and similar keyword searches that could be related to their marks), Amazon displayed what are essentially related search results. As mentioned before, MTM watches are not sold on Amazon — but the site associated those keyword searches with other watches that might be considered similar.

Initial Interest Confusion
Multi Time Machine claimed that this caused “Initial Interest Confusion” (IIC), which is a controversial theory of trademark law.

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2017 SEM growth hacks: Monster growth from brand protection

Today’s article presents one of the more powerful search growth attack strategies for 2017: PPC (pay per click) brand protection.
This article is the first in my eight-part series presenting SEM marketers with the most effective growth hacks for 2017.
As CEO of the ad monitoring company, The Search Monitor, I see the ads, campaign strategies and performance results from agency and brand clients. In this series, I will use this data to present the best growth hacks for 2017.
Why does brand protection matter?
An ongoing and serious problem threatening your SEM revenue is competition from affiliates and competitors bidding on your valuable, high-converting branded keywords. The result of the increased number of advertisers competing against you is obvious: higher CPCs (costs per click), lower clicks and a lower click-through rate (CTR). We estimate that each competitor with ads running on your brand or brand-plus keyword terms costs you a 10 percent loss in clicks and a 20 percent increase in

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The value of search across the modern consumer decision journey

As disruptive technologies reshape the digital marketing landscape, advertisers are scrambling to stay relevant and top of mind with consumers. In this shifting landscape, paid search continues to evolve outside of the traditional search format as an omnipresent influencer throughout the entire consumer decision journey.
For years, search marketers have obsessed over bottom-of-the-funnel activity for its seemingly higher CTRs and conversion rates, in part fueled by last-click attribution. I’ve certainly been guilty of obsessing about conversions and bottom-of-the-funnel tactics, because they would win me incremental search budget in the future.
But most marketers today agree that it is essential for a brand to appear at all stages of the funnel — and thanks to some new findings from the Bing Ads research team, we now have even more visibility and hard data to show how paid search is driving brand affinity and recall across the decision journey.
Deconstructing modern decision journeys & query paths
In many ways, today’s search marketers must unlearn

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Dos and don’ts of PPC advertising for universities

If you’re a marketing manager of a post-secondary education institution (or a PPC agency working on its behalf), then you already know that universities, colleges and similar organizations present specific challenges (and opportunities) for online advertisers.
Over the years, my advertising agency has had the pleasure of working with a number of these institutions, and we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way!) some important lessons.
Here are a few dos and don’ts of running PPC advertising for the education vertical market:
1. Do advertise year-round
At most universities and colleges, admission activity peaks and falls at predictable times of the year. Accordingly, most educational institutions bump up their online advertising when application deadlines grow near. And that makes sense.
But that doesn’t mean you should shutter your advertising during less busy periods, for several reasons:

Lead time. The lead time for acquiring new students is long, and students can start researching their options at any time of year. Therefore, you want your online advertising

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Attention search marketers: ALL keywords are branded keywords!

Look, I get it. For the longest time, PPC marketers and SEOs alike have been segmenting brand campaigns and content (those with trademarks and company names) from more generic search terms.
After all, branded keywords tend to be “unicorns” — in PPC, these are keywords which generate ridiculously high CTRs (click-through rates) (40, 50 or 60 percent) and Quality Scores (9 or 10); in SEO, these are keywords that rank at the top of the SERP. Meanwhile, non-branded keywords perform like donkeys — in other words, average at best.

While branded vs. non-branded is an interesting distinction, it’s also an incomplete one. Even non-branded keywords can act like brand terms when brand affinity exists.
Here’s why it’s time that we re-examine some of our assumptions about branded vs. non-branded keywords in both paid and organic search marketing.
Search doesn’t grow demand
Generally in search marketing, the goal is to connect with people who are searching for your products and services. If you reach them at the

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Using PPC brand protection to decrease campaign costs by 51%

Search marketers with whom I consult like to complain about how giant improvements in PPC growth are behind us. They fondly recall the glory days of the 2000s when the immature PPC market allowed savvy marketers to boost PPC revenue a ton using simple tweaks to keywords or bidding strategies.
I recently completed a series here on Search Engine Land that made the case that there are still big gains to be made if you know where to focus. The eight-part series showed how branded keyword protection is this year’s secret weapon to achieving the monster revenue growth we miss so dearly.
The impetus for this series was how PPC brand protection is changing, but I’ve noticed that most marketers are not keeping up. Here’s the brand defense story I presented:

Optimization tactics have come and gone since the days of five-cent bids, and we’ve discovered that PPC brand bidding is the next tactic for driving meaningful revenue gains.
Branded keywords

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