A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Archive for January, 2007

Asheville Tourism Marketers Start Using the Internet

The Western Carolina Business Journal recently had an article on how Asheville Tourism Marketers such as the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Biltmore, and Grove Park are using the Internet to market their tourism sites.

In the article, the journalist (Nathan Cain) revealed some interesting facts.  Here are the high points…

Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.ExploreAsheville.com)

  • Uses a Pittsburgh-based called “Ripple Effects Interactive Inc” firm
  • Spends about 10 percent of their $2.2 million budget on Internet Marketing.
  • Uses SEO, PPC, banner ads, and Podcasting.
  • Likes banner ads.

Biltmore Estate (www.Biltmore.com)

  • Uses Charlotte-based “Websitebiz” firm
  • Had no budget before 2005 for Internet Marketing (unbelievable!)
  • Uses SEO, PPC, banner ads, and Podcasting
  • Saw a 33% increase in visitors in 2006.
  • Spent about 5% of it’s advertising budget online in 2005.  Will be 10% in 2006.

Grove Park Inn (www.GroveParkInn.com)

  • Spends about 1% ($30K) on advertising and marketing budget.
  • Advertises on RomanticAsheville.com and Asheville.com.
  • Email list has about 25K subscribers.


  • Interestingly, I work with both Chimney Rock Park and Cherokee Indians locally to handle their Internet Marketing.  I wonder why Mr. Nathan Cain didn’t contact me? 


  1. Note that almost all of them have been increasing their online spending and expect to increase it even more.
  2. It’s about time that the local tourism industry in Asheville is starting to invest in online marketing.  It seems they all are quite a bit behind the times.  The tourism industry has long recognized the power of online marketing, especially in search.
  3. Why do the big players look outside Asheville for “firms” to handle their online marketing?  I know that we don’t have many with good experience here locally, but none of these players even contacted me (or my local colleagues).  Shouldn’t they at least ask?
  4. Kudos to Chimney Rock Park and the Cherokee Indians for checking into and using local agencies such as myself and The Goss Agency.  Thanks!

Google and User Behavior

There was a great interview on the web this week between Gord Hotchkiss and Marissa Mayer (Google VP responsible for usability).

Gord has always been one of my favorite marketers to hear from.  He is the CEO of Enquiro, a search marketing firm that produces search engine user eye tracking studies and other research.  He is also the current chairman of SEMPO, I believe.

In the interview, he discusses with Marissa several findings that they have had in their eye tracking studies.  In turn, Marissa comments on why Google has done some of the things they have done.

Here are some quick highlights you may want to note:

Results show that Google’s presentation of search results are better than the competition (Yahoo and MSN).  Yet, the actual quality of the results didn’t seem to be as much of a factor as how the results were presented.  Google’s presentation made it easier to determine which results were relevent.

Google’s large amount of white space on the home page is still a major factor in how people view the search engine.

Google purposely keeps their paid advertisements along the right side in the same color as the natural results.

Google determines if a “one-box” showing local results, news, etc. by looking at the clickthrough ratio per query.  If people click on the news instead of search results, they keep the new on top.

Google designs for 1024 x 768 resolution.  Yet, they see as many as 30% of their users using 800 x 600 so they continue to appear professional for that resolution.

You can read the full article here.

New YSM Ranking – How to beat it

On February 5, 2006, Yahoo will start using a new ranking model

They will start ranking your ad based on both bid price and “Ad Quality” which involves (in their own words):

Its historical performance—the ad’s click-through rate relative to its position in search results

Its expected performance—determined by various relevance factors considered by Yahoo!’s ranking algorithms, relative to other ads displayed at the same time

So what can you do to take advantage of this?

To start, let’s take a look at the two points listed above.

1.  Historical performance:   Not much to say here.  It will probably be determined primarily by your click through rate (relative to your position).

2.  Expected performance:  What does this mean?  How can Yahoo “expect” how well your ad will perform?  It will probably be primarily based on how well your ad text and landing page match up to the keyword you are bidding on.

Given this, how do we take advantage of the new ranking?  Here are some ideas…

1.  IMPROVE YOUR ADS – Similar to Google AdWords, you should try A/B testing your ads to see which perform better.  The more your ad gets clicked on, the less you have to pay for better position.

2.  LANDING PAGES – Try using the keyword phrase you are bidding on in your title tag and page headings of the landing page you send them to.  This improves the user experience (continuity) and is likely what will drive up your “expected performance” with Yahoo.

3.  FORGET BID MONITORING – If you have been using third-party software to monitor your bids and keep them one penny over your competitor or anything like that, forget it.  They’ve never worked well for AdWords, and they won’t work well here.

4.  BID HIGH EARLY – I also think that securing a top position for your best performing keywords right at or around February 5 will likely lead to locking down a good CTR and therefore enable you to lower your price and keep that good position.  (This one is more of a theory.  But we’ll be trying it.)

In conclusion…

Many of us have been taking advantage of Yahoo’s dumb way of ranking ads purely by bid price for quite some time now.  Those days are over as of February 5.  What will now win the war is more granular targeting. 

In other words…

  • Choose good keyword phrases.
  • Write your search engine ad specifically for your keyword phrases.
  • Send them to a landing page specifically for that ad.
  • Convert them from that landing page.

Truthfully, this is the way good paid search engine marketing should work.  It’s better for the user.  Yahoo is now rewarding this way of working.

As you know, this is a lot of work.  Therefore, the new challenge will be determining which keywords bring the results that truly make this work worth your time and energy.

No more Wikipedia Links!

For about a year now, one of the best links to get to your website was a link from Wikipedia. If you are not familiar with Wikipedia, it is simply a user-generated encyclopedia. In other words, anyone can add, delete, or edit any information they want to.

Why did site owners want a link? The traffic is good, but the link is even better. The pages in Wikipedia are on-topic and carry a lot of weight (PageRank) with Google, in particular.

But Barry Schwartz at Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Land is now reporting that they have put the nofollow tag on those links. In other words, although the link still works, you do not gain the added benefit of increasing your Google PageRank.

To put it in SEO terms…

No more gaming Wikipedia for Link Love!

Google is coming to North Carolina

The Western Carolina Business Journal is now reporting…

Internet search titan Google will locate a $600 million computer server ‘farm’ in Caldwell County. Approximately 220 technicians will be hired/moved to Lenoir to staff the facility. Duke Energy’s recent announced plans to expand electric generating capacity in Cleveland County fit with Google’s need for massive kilowatt service for such an installation. Sources close to the firms involved tell the WCBJ that AdvantageWest,the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and Governor Mike Easley’s staff have been working to bring the deal together for the past several months.

DelTec, Inc., a corporate relocation consultancy firm, assisted in assembling the incentive package which ledto Google’s positive decision. Charleston, S.C. was the other location on the eastern seaboard considered by Google.

Are Touchscreens the Future?

In the future, will you still be using a keyboard and mouse?

Maybe not.

After all, you may already use a touchscreen on your PDA or laptop, right?
Personally, I’ll never forget seeing a buddy of mine that worked as an artist use a pressure-sensitive pad to create artwork on a screen. I visited him in his office in New York almost ten years ago.  He was quickly switching between pen, pencil, charcoal, different colors, etc.  He could press harder or lighter and affect the way it would look on his screen. He even had three monitors running at one time.  Which at the time was pretty incredible.

I still think touch screens and digital input is amazing.  It seems so much more intuitive than a QWERTY keyboard and a mouse with two buttons.

Let’s face it, the greatest invention in how we interact with computers in the past ten years has been the little scroll wheel on the top of the mouse.

But today, my issue of Fast Company came in and I saw something that blew my mind. Jefferson Han is an engineer that showcased the latest in touch screens at the recent Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) Conference. The conference included thinkers and doers such as Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and others.

Jefferson’s presentation actually got oohs and ahs from this elite crowd. By the end, he was basking in the rock-star applause, according to the article.

Check out the video below.  You’ll see what he is doing with touch screens and I’m sure your imagination will run wild with the possibilities. I’ve watched it three times now and still love it.

Click here for the video and here for the article from Fast Company to learn more.

Where Do Advertisers Spend Money?

Marketing Sherpa released a fantastic chart on “Estimated US Annual Ad Expenditures” for 2005/2006.  They have broken it into two different charts.  One shows the “interactive” (online) spending and the other shows the offline spending.

It is truly amazing to see how much advertisers spend on print, TV, radio, and direct mail in comparison to online.  Search Marketing is gaining in popularity.  Many advertisers are seeing the value.  But it is still a small minority compared to what is spent offline.

You can see the charts at this link.

NOTE:  These are simply reports on what has been spent, not where you SHOULD spend.  It may give you an idea of what others are doing.  As with all competitive analysis, you should review what others do for ideas. 

But should you imitate them or do the opposite?  The answer is what makes a good marketer, in my opinion (offline and online)!

How to Write Title Tags

Writing Title Tags is still one of the most important aspects of Search Engine Optimization. In fact, quite often new title tags on your home page and other important pages can (more…)