Author Archives: AU Editor

Danny Ng fills us in on the GACP Summit

published by on 2nd November 2010 under General


I recently headed to sunny California to attend the 3 day Google AnalyticsCertified Partner (GACP) summit at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View. It was an exciting journey that took 14 hours of air time to get to, meeting GACP & WOAC partners from all around the globe, engaging with the Google Analyticsteam and definitely checking out Google’s cool offices and facilities!

Although I cant go into the exact details of the summit’s content (yes, they have Google alerts monitoring me right now, perhaps even my phone!) but what I can say is that it is great to know Google is focused and determined to make Google Analytics into a really kick-ass enterprise level web analytics product.

Main highlights were the development roadmap for Google Analytics, future features and also the collaboration between the Google team and the GACP partners on strategies on how to make Google Analytics and the partnership better.

Many things were learnt through the summit and I’m very exciting and proud to be a part of this great product and global team. Look forward to the GACP Summit 2011! Until then, happy analysing.

p.s we liked the Google cookies… points to those who get it…


Danny Ng

Consulting Manager

An unfair advantage in SEM

published by on 9th March 2010 under Search Engine Marketing (PPC)

The low barrier to entry doesn’t help. It is an uncomfortable feeling knowing that just about anyone with a credit card can become a search engine marketer.

The low barrier to creative isn’t that great either. Just when you think you have the best ad creative (i.e. the best 3 lines of text), a competitor goes and copies most of it, neutralising your advantage.

Even Quality Score is losing its competitive advantage, with Google offering automatic rotation of ad creatives based on click-through rate (a key quality score factor), and publishing of each keyword’s score along with several improvement tips.

There is however, one often ignored factor that can give search engine marketers an unfair advantage.

The kind that can help you consistently dominate your competitors, and is sustainable in the long-term.

That factor is Conversion Rate.

The immediate benefits of a higher conversion rate

Let’s assume that in your current SEM program, one of your keywords is converting 2% of your website visitors into a sale, and this is producing a cost per sale of $50.

Let’s further assume that you are happy with paying $50 cost per sale.

If you go ahead and redesign your landing page, and increase your conversion rate by 25%, two things will happen:

  1. You will now generate 25% more sales than before, and
  2. Your cost per sale will drop from $50 to $40, and

We all know about these benefits. But there is something here that is often overlooked by search engine marketers.

The unfair advantage revealed

Using the example above, you have now increased your conversion rate by 25%, and reduced your cost per sale to $40.

You have two options now:

  • You can choose to do nothing. Just continue to generate 25% more acquisitions
    on this keyword and save $10 per acquisition compared to before


  • Re-invest the percentage increase in conversion rate, into a higher keyword bid

This latter approach is obviously a bold move. In the example above, you improved your conversion rate by 25%. So this means you would increase your keyword bid by 25%.

I call this approach Conversion Rate Re-Investment (CRR), and it can have profound implications on your SEM program – in terms of your click-throughs, sales, and cost per sale.

How will CRR affect my SEM program?

When you bid more on a keyword, something very interesting usually happens – your Ad Rank increases.

Remember the formula: Ad Rank = Quality Score X CPC bid

A higher ad rank means a higher ad position for your keyword. A higher ad position means a higher click-through rate (CTR). And of course a higher CTR means more click-throughs, and therefore more sales.

So even though you are bidding more aggressively, you are increasing your ad position, click-throughs, and sales, at an ROI that is just as cost-effective as the lower bid. This is exciting!

But you might be asking, “If I bid 25% more on my keyword, won’t I blow out my cost per sale by 25%?”

Yes, you will. But that’s ok.

Remember the beginning of this article? You had re-designed your landing page, and increased your conversion rate by 25%. This is going to act as an offset against your higher bid.

So this cost per sale ‘blow out’ is merely going to bring you back to your original $50 – which you were already happy to pay for every sale.

Consistently hit the top paid ad positions – within your cost per sale

As mentioned above, if you steadily and progressively increase your conversion rate against a particular keyword, you can steadily and progressively increase your CPC bids against that keyword.

In turn, this will generate a steady and progressive increase in your ad position against that particular keyword.

The implications of this are compelling.

Over time, and provided that your keyword’s quality score is competitive, you should consistently hit the top paid ad positions against that keyword.

All of this while maintaining your cost per sale.

In other words, CRR allows you to bid to the top paid ad positions, but without the cost per sale blow outs your competitors are probably experiencing.

How to increase your conversion rate

Obviously, conversion rate re-investment requires a steady and progressive increase to the conversion rate of your landing page. Without this, you should not increase your keyword’s bid, unless you are happy to pay a higher cost per sale.

So how do you go about increasing your website’s or landing page’s conversion rate?

In my next article, I will discuss proven ways to increase the conversion rate of your website and landing pages. This advice will enable you to start dabbling in CRR.

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Mistake #1 in SEO keyword research

published by on 19th February 2010 under Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), I have to tell you – marketing managers make a lot of mistakes.

I can easily count 20 of them. Of these, there is one mistake that I see over and over again. When this mistake is committed, it can destroy the business value of any SEO project. The mistake I am referring to occurs within SEO Keyword Research.  I call it the High Search Volume Addiction (HSVA).

What is HSVA?

HSVA is the addiction to selecting SEO keywords that show high search demand today, to the exclusion of other key selection factors.

Now I want to make this clear – I get HSVA. I really do. In these busy times, researching and selecting keywords based on search demand alone, is compelling. Especially considering that many keyword selection tools are free, e.g. the Google Keyword Tool.

So you’ve just used a keyword tool, and discovered 3 keywords that produce the highest search volume in their category.  You’re feeling pretty good about investing your SEO dollars in these keywords. All good?


The truth is, search volume is just 1 of 3 factors to consider. You have to cross-check search demand with two other key research and selection tools: trend analysis, and conversion analysis.

Trend Analysis

Trend analysis is an underused tool in SEO keyword research. Trend analysis can help you determine whether or not the ‘high search volume’ keyword you have chosen to spend thousands of SEO dollars on, is a declining rollercoaster ride. In other words, trend analysis can help you determine whether your targeted keyword has retained, or increased, its search demand over the past three to four years.

Take a look at the keyword ‘bicycles’ below.  Based on its decreasing search demand since 2004, would you want to spend thousands in SEO fees to be #1 for this keyword?  Or would you rather focus your investment on another keyword that has proven its staying power?

  • Source: Google Trends (Australia), 18 February 2010

Have a look at another related keyword, ‘bikes’. This one appears to have maintained its search demand over the same period:

  • Source: Google Trends (Australia), 18 February 2010

Based on this trend analysis, which keyword would you choose?

We have one more step to go, before you make your final selection.

Conversion Analysis

I always marvel at how some marketing managers fail to grasp that SEO is just like paid search; the only difference is that instead of paying per click, you pay per month – the agency fee, that is.

Once you start thinking of SEO like SEM, you start to treat your keyword research with a lot more vigour.

Let me explain. Assume you took over as head of SEM for a large company, and then discovered that one of your search managers was bidding on 3 keywords that produced 40,000 clickthroughs between them at a cost of $40,000 – but with 0 conversions. What would you do? Would you be horrified? Would you consider firing that person?

If you answered yes to the above, I want to ask you: Why?

Probably because your search manager focused on search volume, but ignored Conversion. If an SEM keyword is clearly not converting, then why continue bidding on it and waste the company’s marketing budget? By the same logic, why would you invest your SEO dollars in keywords that show poor conversion history?

Whenever you conduct SEO keyword research, make sure you use your SEMconversion data to identify those keywords that show the highest conversion rate. Then cross-check these high-converting keywords against the keywords that have been identified through your previous search volume analysis and trend analysis.

This process should produce a list of SEO keywords that will generate the highest level of search volume (today and in the future) and conversion volume.

To summarise, the key tools to use for your SEO keyword research are search volume analysis, trend analysis, and conversion Analysis.

The above process might seem straightforward. Yet, when it comes time to conduct SEO keyword research, few marketing managers (or agencies for that matter), take the time to use these selection factors. This is probably due to the amount of research introduced by such a framework.

Those who do, ensure the success of their keyword selections, and SEO project in general.

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Performance Online Advertising & Performance Branding – Advertising & Marketing Summit 2009

published by on 30th July 2009 under Events, Performance Media

First Rate’s Consulting Director, Samuel Stadler, spoke on Performance Branding at the Advertising & Marketing Summit 2009, “Tough times – Tougher Tactics”, at Luna Park this week.

Samuel’s presentation focused on the following aspects of Performance Marketing:

Here the full list of speakers and topics presented at the Advertising and Marketing Summit 2009:

Day 1

  • ‘The Future isn’t what it used to be – How the role and relevance of advertisers is changing with the challenge’ - Chuck Porter, Co-Chairman, Crispin Porter + Bogusky (USA).
  • ‘Brands should be great storytellers’ – Ivan Wicksteed, Global Creative Director, Coca-Cola (USA)
  • ‘The view from the boardroom – Why marekting is more important than ever’ – Bruce Buchanan, CEO, Jetstar
  • ‘Marketing the Best job in the World’ – Anthony Hayes, CEO, Tourism Queensland
  • ‘Breathing life into Woolworth’s Brand’ – Luke Dunkerley, GM Marketing, Supermarkets & Corporate, Woolworths Limited
  • ‘Expanding the Conversation: A better way to converge with the wider creative world’ – David Nobay, Creative Chairman, Droga5 Australia
  • ‘Facebook and harnessing the power of social media: How marketers can leverage the social media platform in a unique and different way’ – Paul Borrund, Regional Vice President, Facebook
  • ‘The Power of 2: Creating a Rhapsody in Red’ – Tara Lordsmith, GM Marketing, Simplot and Ant Shannin, Executive Creative Director, Grey Worldwide.
  • ‘Opportunities in the Mobile Society’ – Greg Walters, Founder & CEO, QPay
  • ‘Competing for Consumer’s Time: The Challenges of Marketing Cricket’ – Luke Bould, Commercial Marketing Manager, Cricket Australia
  • ‘Reel Good not Feel Good’ – Craig Maclean, Brand Manager – Cascade, The Foster’s Group

Day 2

  • ‘Where Next for Australia’s Digital Community?’ – Richard Freudenstein, CEO, News Digital Media
  • ‘Better Targeting through better Understanding’ – Rohan Lund, CEO, Yahoo7
  • ‘How digital gets you more when you need it most’ – Jack Matthews, CEO, Fairfax Digital
  • ‘Becoming more intimate with your audience’ – Joe Pollard, CEO, Ninemsn
  • ‘The Mitchell Prediction | What 2009 holds for Australia’s Media Future’ – Harold MItchell AO, Executive Chairman, Mitchell Communications Group
  • ‘The LEGO Brand Universe: From the child on the floor to the user online’ – Jacob Kragh, Chairman of Global Marketing Board, LEGO (Denmark)
  • ‘Linking Brand Strategy and Shareholder Value’ – Amanda Johnston-Pell, Executive Director of Brands and Marketing Communications, Telstra Corporation
  • ‘Valuing Marketing in Challenging Times’ – Joe Talcott, Director of Marketing, News Limited
  • ‘Repositioning for tougher times’ – Andrew Seager, GM Marketing, Westpac
  • ‘Developing your competitive intelligence to drive a strategic advantage’ – John Batistich, GM Marketing, Westfield

First Rate consultants at the Advertising & Marketing Summit 2009 – Celebrating in style (inside a Hummer Stretch limo).

Looking for more information on how to grow your marketshare with performance-based marketing tactics…? Please visit our page on Performance Online Advertising.

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Search Engine Marketing & Google Analytics Featured at Google Geek Night Sydney

published by on 24th June 2009 under Events

Some of the team here went along to Google Geek night yesterday. We always have an excellent time – thank you to Google for extending the invitation.

Obviously most of the night was about Search Engine Marketing, with the feature presentation relating SEM to offline in-store sales. Some good insights and AU specific stats were shared which was great.

Search Engine Marketing & Google Analytics Featured at Google Geek Night Sydney - Team Photo 1

Google setup a booth for Google AnalyticsAdwords, Ad Planner (good for estimating audience share for online advertising), Google Mobile (Android) and using banner advertising on Google’s content network.

Google Analytics and Search Engine Marketing - Google Geek Night Sydney: Team Photo 2

We really enjoyed the buildig tour as well, thanks heaps!

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