SEMPO hosted the monthly Google Hangout on March 18, 2015. This hangout brought together search marketing practitioners (Carolyn Shelby, Director SEO and SEM from Tribune Publishing, and Thom Craver, VP Development & IT for Internet Marketing Ninjas) and tools vendors (Chris Hart, Head of Client Development at Linkdex, and Joe Taylor, Manager of the Agency Customer Success Team, Conductor) to discuss the topic of SEM Tools. It was hosted by Education Committee chairs Justin Fuchs and Dana Todd plus Board member Simon Haseltine.

The purpose of the SEMPO Hangouts is to inform a larger audience in a casual, conversational mode. Unlike a webinar, the unstructured format and streaming video provides a sense of shared space with the audience and a more familiar “face” for technology discussions. Below are some key takeaways and insights from the panel.

1. The distribution of budgets for search marketing tools (SEO and paid search) is primarily very large/enterprise-level or very small/free. Free tools and enterprise budgets were the largest groups of respondents on the SEMPO poll. Here is a graphic of the breakdown of results:

search engine marketing tools budget

2. There are pros and cons to each side when considering the options of using an all-in-one comprehensive solution or enterprise platform versus using a DIY approach with multiple low-cost tools. Some of the discussion included:

Advantages of Enterprise-Level Suites & Platforms:

– Connect disparate teams and disparate data inside a company or across multiple organizations working in a single combined system.

– Data can be more easily normalized and tracked over time inside a dashboard instead of having to import/export using Excel. Trend lines are more valuable for making business decisions, said one panelist.

– More efficiency and less jumping around tool to tool or wasting time trying to figure out data disparities.

Advantages of Lower-Cost or Free Tools:

– Price

– You can pick single-use tools for individual tasks, which suits the style of many SEOs who like to “roll their own” solutions (this is less common among paid search managers but still possible).

– Less waste: you do not pay for features you won’t use, especially if you have a smaller business need.

3. Tips for Choosing a Tool:

– Pick what’s right for your team: the members’ styles and workflow. It should be a seamless part of their day, and they should not have to spend time fighting the tools.

– Figure out what you’re looking for before you buy tools! Know what data or reports you want and need— your needs may not be the same as other companies’! Know what is valuable to you so the tool providers can help streamline the conversation. Can it track what you really need?

– Rank tracking is still considered a baseline metric; however, other types of data, such as combined insights from SEO and paid search, are becoming far more important features because they may help better inform strategies.

– How easily can you obtain data from various sources (paid, SEO, social) and normalize it in the platform?

– Give a vendor your current reports and make sure they can replicate them. Reporting should be easy or even automated – ideally, a new tool should reduce the amount of time you spend making reports.

– Does the vendor offer strong account management and support service?

– Look at real data rather than dummy data in a demo.

Notable Quotes and Discussion Points:

[Tweet “”Try not to be all things to all people.” -@thomcraver”]

[Tweet “”Ranking [reporting] is like a compass…it’s not the Holy Grail, but it does help you stay directionally true to where you need to go.” -@chris_hart”]

[Tweet “”We do make editorial decisions based on what words we rank #1 for. People are still invested in where they’re ranking.” -@cshel”]

[Tweet ““It’s not all about Google. People are having conversations all over the internet, so it’s about integrating different channels into a platform.” -Joe Taylor “]

[Tweet “”Not everybody uses Google Analytics. We use Omniture, so we need tools that can integrate.” -@cshel”]

Coming Up:

Next month, we’ll talk about Social Tools. In this informative session, we’ll discuss the necessity of various types of tools, what can be done on a limited budget, what should be automated, and other tools-related questions. Mark your calendars for April 21 at 2 pm EDT, and learn from those who create and use the tools. We’ll cover these topics in an open question-and-answer format.  Be sure to also keep an eye out for the upcoming SEMPO tool buyers guide.

In the meantime, you can revisit the SEM Tools Google Hangout at your convenience here or on the SEMPO YouTube Channel:


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