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STOP BUYING YOUR TRAFFIC AND START EARNING IT by Brad Schwarzenbach and Josh Cole

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APP Foreword
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Forward the Foreword
This e-book is a tool to inform you of a better alternative to search engine marketing and
traditional search engine optimization spends. My hope is that this e-book gives you a little

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weapon — another arrow in your quiver, so to speak — to help you deal with a multitude of
laborious online acronymns. Specifically, I mean CPC, CPM, SEO, SEM, CTR and other terms
involved in building a comprehensive search engine strategy for your business.

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Online Brand Value
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While the current models for driving traffic to websites generate a lot of money for
Google and others, they are inherently flawed. They consistently show a lack of regard for

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the consumers they are targeting. This, in turn, devalues the brand being marketed and
negatively impacts the relationships that should lead to sales.

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The Engaged Audience
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An engaged audience will consume your content, share your content, and build a circle of

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activity around it. This, in turn, will build up your site’s relevance through the sharing of
links.
*Too many damn acronyms

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Truth is, current SEM and SEO practices are a poor long-term strategy, because they do not
foster any connection with visitors, and they attract traffic that isn’t inherently engaged
with your brand or message.

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APP 1—Search
BASIC Is Important
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The chapter title bears repeating with emphasis: search is important.
Really important.
SEO - Search Engine Optimization

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“[T]he process of improving the vol-
In fact, Google and Yahoo are the two most heavily trafficked sites on the web according to ume or quality of traffic to a web
web services company Alexa. Ignore their relevance to your online presence at your own site from search engines via ‘natural’

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peril. (‘organic’ or ‘algorithmic’) search re-
sults.”
—Wikipedia.org
Here are some older yet still relevant search statistics:
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»
»
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93% of all internet traffic is generated from internet search engines
89% of them are first-time visitors
Also sometimes referred to as “or-
ganic search,” your natural search rel-

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evance can be boosted in a number
» 99% of internet searchers do not search beyond the top 30 results
of ways including keyword relevance,
» 97% of them never look beyond the top three results
use of certain HTML tags and attri-
» Top 10 positions receive 78% more traffic than those in positions 11-30

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butes, linking, and overall web popu-
» 65% of online revenue is generated from websites in the top
larity.
three positions on search engine results pages (SERPs)
» 93% of global consumers use search engines to find websites

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» 76.7% of Google users use the natural search links (organic, unpaid listings)
Source: Forrester Research, 2006
SEM - Search Engine Msarketing
“[A] form of Internet marketing that

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seeks to promote websites by in-
What does it mean? creasing their visibility in search en-
gine result pages (SERPs) through the
How your brand appears on the results page of search engines is directly correlated to how

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use of paid placement, contextual
successful your brand is on the web.
advertising, and paid inclusion.”
—Wikipedia.org
Optimizing your site for search — in the right way — is a vital part of your overall web

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content strategy.
Paid search includes any arrangement
through which an entity pays a search

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engine to appear in the Sponsored
Links sections of search results.

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2—Debunking the Myth of Paid Search
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The myth of paid search is riddled with some truth
Just like a horse to water … you can buy traffic to your site, but you can’t make them stay.

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You can pay for SEM to build your links and increase your clicks and ranking. But without
quality content, this is just a simulation of what your audience can and should be doing

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naturally. It’s an empty exercise. It’s pole fishing without a hook.

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Example: The Drowning of SpiralFrog
Web startup SpiralFrog ran into this problem. The ad-supported free music download site
tried to drive revenues by hooking big sponsors like Nike and McDonald’s. “Our thought

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was that we needed to build volume and then swing over to quality,” said SpiralFrog CEO
Mel Schrieberg in an interview. So SpiralFrog bought their traffic with big SEM and affiliate
marketing spends.

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A recent article in CNET reported that in 2008, SpiralFrog projected to spend $2.8 million
with Google and $1.5 million with Yahoo on search marketing.

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And the tactic worked for a time. SpiralFrog crested 3.4 million unique visitors in May 2008,
according to Compete.com. But without engaging content, no one stuck around. *Too many damn acronyms

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SpiralFrog was shuttered in March 2009 when they couldn’t pay back their loans.

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The Importance of Connecting with Users
“You can buy your way into 1 or 2 million views, but beyond that you need content with an

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emotional power to connect with the end user. The afterlife is only as good as the content
will permit,” says Scott Button, founder and CEO of video marketing agency Unruly Media in
an article for AdAge.

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2—Debunking the Myth of Paid Search
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Paid search buys are really really good at making traffic arrows point up. However, that
traffic is hollow.

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Users are looking for a reason to stay, and you need to make a good first impression if you
don’t want them to move on. There are plenty of other sites on the web; how are you
making yours different? What are you doing to make them stay?

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3—The New, Audience-driven Strategy
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Who should be driving your search strategy?
Your audience. They’re the ones asking the questions.

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Strategy for the Long Run

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Give the people what they want: Something good. Something they’ll read. Something that
answers the question they asked in the first place.

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Don’t forget that it’s a search engine that people are using, so you can assume that there’s
something they don’t know the answer to, and this is likely more broad than “Tell me
about [INSERT BRAND NAME]’s products.” That’s not how I search. If I’m looking for the

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best running shoes, I’m likely to search for something simple like, “Best marathon running
shoes.”

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I’m not a marathoner … yet.
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Own Search Naturally for FREE
B TMDA* M2V
The “winner” of that search string will be the site offering the best* information about
*Too many damn acronyms
shoes for marathon running (*determined by the search algorithm as most relevant).

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A common mistake I see companies make is bidding on their own brand name when making
pay-per-click buys. This is backwards for a couple of reasons:

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1. From a search perspective, you will likely own your keyword in the natural (“organic”)
search results anyway. These are more often clicked on than sponsored/paid results, by

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a significant margin.
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2. Motivated users researching products are more likely to start with a broad-based,
category-level search, rather than with branded terminology.

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3—The New, Audience-driven Strategy
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Owning the category discussion for a product or service is a much more effective way of
approaching search relevance.

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Are you trying to own your company name on Google by paying for it? Or by loading up the
keyword volume with your name? To become more relevant, try using broader terms in
your SEO activities that more closely would answer a question posed in a search engine.

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4—The Relevance of Relevance
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Re-Envisioning the Playing Field
The web universe is not what you think it is. It is not a fixed system that revolves around

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your corporate dotcom. Thinking that way is like adhering to the beliefs of Ptolemy — the
Earth-centered cosmos.

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This background belief is what drives you to put your faith and dollars into your website.
But it’s false. Your website is not the center of the universe — or the internet.

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The internet is more like the heliocentric model championed by Galileo, with search as the
sun. It is an ever-growing collection of distribution channels, each with their own audience,
revolving around an increasingly contextual search experience.

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Thinking Beyond Your Website
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Your customers discuss your brand on channels like Twitter, or on blogs with hyperfocused
content. Search is increasingly about these contexts where people spend their time doing
business and having fun.

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The more active the source, the more frequently search engines are combing it for content.
In fact, within the Galilean model, your corporate dotcom is just a distant satellite. *Too many damn acronyms

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Participating in the Right Space

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What you’re doing when you look to SEO and SEM with Google is you’re trying to pull
people away from their interests instead of engaging them from within their interests.

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In order to be a real player on search engines, you have to participate outside of your
domain. You have to populate these sites with content. Create content not only for your
dotcom, but for your audience in these different channels, as well.

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Take the focus off marketing communications, and you will naturally be inclined to create
higher quality content. Go with this flow. Your business really is all about your customers.

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5—Are You Marketing to People or Machines?
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What’s Best for your Audience?
If you’re shaping your content to fit the needs (wants?) of a Google spider, you’re letting

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a machine dictate your content development strategy. You’re also assuming that the
search engine knows what’s best for your audience and you’re neglecting your audience
altogether.

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The same is true with broad, untargeted keyword buys. Carpet-bomb search campaigns will
draw visitors, but how many of those people are actually going to find exactly what they’re

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looking for?
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Be Ready for the Future
Avoid an SEO strategy that isn’t 100% focused on boosting your search relevance through
the creation of quality content. Any other strategy will lead to higher bounce rates or

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worse.
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Further, don’t forget that search technology is forever changing, just as the needs of web

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content consumers are ever-evolving. The coding hack that works on Google today to boost
relevance may not work tomorrow, and any tech work that went into altering the code of
your site would be rendered useless. *Too many damn acronyms

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Trying to game the search engines can result in your site being blacklisted. To borrow a term
from 1984, you would essentially become an unperson on the web; you would no longer

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exist. That would be the worst punishment of all.

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APP 6—Think
BASICLongBIOS
Term
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Make your Content Useful
While marketing activities have focused more and more on reaching people on their virtual
“Quality content is definitely
one of the most important fac-
tors when it comes to increas-
desktop rather than through the newspaper, radio, or TV, the basics haven’t really changed.
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Even when dealing with the complex algorithms that are the backbone of search engine
ing organic traffic and rankings.
However, it’s not just the search
technology, what’s still the most important factor in reaching your audience is providing
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engines that value this kind of
them with something they find valuable.
content. Articles, blog posts, even
just on-page copy, can do won-

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Enter the Discussion
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You can’t fool them if your product is poor, because they will say so. You can’t ignore them,
ders in improving click through
rate, lowering bounce rate, and
increasing conversions. The real
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because they’re influential. And you definitely can’t run a hard sell, because web communi-
ties aren’t shopping, they’re discussing. secret of SEO is to think about
how your content needs to ap-

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In today’s online world you must create valuable content that is designed to foster a long-
peal to users before it needs to
term relationship with your audience. Relationships influence buying decisions, and buying
decisions drive revenue. appeal to search engines.”

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Engage the Marketplace B TMDA* M2V —Lucy Langdon, Search Marketer
at Distilled, a search engine opti-
*Too many damn acronyms
mizati on agency in London
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Relationships are built over time — both online and in the real world. Relationships are
secured by trust, and they must be honest and open to be considered valuable. The most
influential people are the most trusted in a specific area of expertise. If you provide a prod-

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uct or service in a particular market you must achieve a level of credibility, knowledgeabil-
ity, and understanding of your market.

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Then you have the perfect opportunity to share your knowledge and create content that
communities are ready to consume and engage with. When they do, your search relevance
is boosted as people share the content.

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Summing Up—Acronyms and Action Items
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SEM, CPC, CPM
Paid search is great for making traffic arrows point up but is poor at engaging users for the

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long term.

Action: Rethink this spend.

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SEO, CTR
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Making changes to code and keyword frequency for the sake of boosting search relevance
will get you only so far up the results page.
Some coding activities can damage your search reputation, sometimes irreparably.

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Action: Double-check that your SEO activities are on the up-and-up and aimed squarely at
getting relevant content to your audience.

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TMDA
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Real, valuable search relevance comes from providing your audience with something they
want, something they’re looking for, something they can use.
*Too many damn acronyms

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Action: _____________________________________

It’s up to you.
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Acknowledgments and Credits
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Extra special thanks going out to those who contributed ideas, insight, and content:

James Cosco

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Andrew Davis
Anita Roy Dobbs
Scott Loring

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Eric Sagalyn
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A Tippingpoint Labs E-book PAA PDF SAS SMS
Tippingpoint Labs is a digital content creation shop

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We use the creation and distribution of valuable content to increase brand value, gain trust
and traction in the market, develop relationships, and increase touch points with partners,
customers, amateur influencers, leads, and employees.

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We use proven strategies, dependable technologies, and a scientific approach to online
content marketing, designed to deliver measurable results.

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Contact Us
B TMDA* M2V *Too many damn acronyms

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We love to learn new things. We love to be challenged. Get in touch with us at your conve-
nience:

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83 Chapel St.
Newton, MA 02458
617.332.8261

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www.tippingpointlabs.com
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Copyright © 2009 Tippingpoint Labs
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0
United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc-nd/3.0/

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us/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
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