If you are going to be successful running Yahoo! Search Marketing campaigns for your business, then you must use analytics to measure the performance of various elements of your campaigns. For instance, you need to know which keywords generate the most conversions. This will allow you to allocate your budget to those keywords that generate the highest return on investment.

To turn analytics on:


1. Log into your Yahoo! Search Marketing account.

2. Click the Administration tab.

3. Click the “Analytics” link on the sub-menu.

4. Click the blue “Enable Analytics” button.


It will serve you well to have some kind of well-defined conversion event on your web site. This gives you something to measure. If you sell products, it’s easy. You just pass the amount of the sale to the analytics, and Yahoo! will calculate how much profit you are making on your campaign. If you sell services, it’s a little more difficult. In that instance, what you need to do is assign some kind of value for having a visitor complete some action on your web site.


Conversion tracking like we are talking about here, where you can actually determine with precision the profitability of every keyword in your campaign, is accomplished by placing a snippet of JavaScript code on the page of your web site that signifies the completion of a conversion event. Examples are an order confirmation page for a web site that sells products, and a mailing list signup thank you page. Into the JavaScript code you pass the value of the transaction. So if you sell products, you would pass through the actual amount of money you made on the product. If you sell services, you might pass through a static value like $1 every time someone signs up for your mailing list.


If you have enough data, you can more accurately assign a value to an event like a newsletter signup. For example, if you know that your average customer is worth $100 in profit, and you know that 5% of the people who sign up for your newsletter eventually become customers, then you can assign a newsletter signup a value of $5 ($100 X 5%). This means that every newsletter signup is worth $5 in revenue, because for every 20 you will make $100 in profit. You should be able to come up with a reasonable guess about how much profit you earn on the average customer. After you have generated a few hundred newsletter signups, you will have a good idea what your average conversion rate is for newsletter subscribers.


To start tracking your campaign financially, you need to enable “Conversion Only” analytics.


To enable Conversion Only analytics, tags that record conversion events and revenue:


1. Click the radio button next to “Conversion Only Analytics”.


2. Click the blue “Activate” button.


You will see a section of the page that contains a snippet of code something like:


window.ysm_customData = new Object();

window.ysm_customData.conversion = “transId=,currency=,amount=”;

etc…


As the instructions say, you need to place the code snippet in the header section of the page on your site that represents your converting event.


If you sell items that can be different prices, such as items in an ecommerce shopping cart, you will need to have your web site administrator or programmer place some code that will dynamically insert the price. It should be appended to “,amount=” in the appropriate line of the JavaScript code snippet.


For example, if the sale is for an item that costs $24.95, line 4 of the code snippet above would end:


…conversion = “transid=,currency=,amount=24.95″;


If you only sale a single-priced item, or if you are a service business that is going to assume some dollar value for the converting event, you can always pass the same dollar amount through by setting the “Revenue Value:” dropdown on the Analytics Settings page to “Constant Average Value”, typing the amount in the textbox, and clicking the “Save” button. If you do this, you don’t have to worry about modifying the JavaScript code to pass the amount of the sale through.


When you activate analytics, some new columns of data are added to your campaign summary, campaign detail, and ad group detail charts: conversions, revenue, CPA (cost per acquisition), and ROAS (return on ad spend). This will show you at a glance how well your campaigns, ad groups, and even keywords are doing financially.


If you need some more detailed information about setting up analytics, such as configuring your ecommerce platform to pass revenue data to the tracking code, refer to the Yahoo! Search Marketing Analytics Setup Guide, which is a PDF file that can be downloaded from Yahoo! at help.marketingsolutions.yahoo.com.

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The multitude of websites present today on the Internet made the competition for the top placement in the natural section of the search engines very fierce. So, we have to admit that it’s quite a big responsibility for Google, Yahoo, and MSN to accurately and fairly establish which 10 websites out of thousands and thousands deserve to be placed on the first page for a certain search query. Let’s imagine a simplified version of the mechanism behind the search engines: think of the Internet as a huge database that contains all websites in it. Each website is labeled as belonging to a certain industry and as responding to certain search queries or keywords, and then graded based on relevance, popularity, user friendliness, technical attributes, etc. When we perform a search query for a certain keyword, the search engines already know which thousands of websites, out of millions, are relevant and should be presented to the visitor. Then, they extract from their database those websites that were labeled as “relevant” for that search query and list them based on the grade they received for that specific keyword. This all happens in a matter of seconds. But how do the search engines establish which websites deserve the top positioning? Each search engine has its own algorithm or mathematical formula for evaluating and grading a website. The closer a website is to meeting the algorithm’s terms, the higher the rankings.

The algorithm behind the “grading” is not made public, but all major search engines provide website design and optimization guidelines for improving rankings that can put us on the right direction. Of course, the intelligent interpretation of these guidelines and the correct implementation of the solutions found is what makes the difference between two SEO companies. Search Engine Optimization is a relatively new industry that has been rapidly embraced by many self proclaimed “SEO experts”, who’ve seen in it one of those rare opportunities to get rich fast. They started to charge huge up front amounts promising the world, but in the end delivering nothing, creating a huge wave of disappointment among business owners. The reason why so many people adventured themselves in the Search Engine Optimization jungle is because everything looks simple from the outside. Truth is that succeeding in this industry, like in any other industry, takes commitment, continuous training, permanent knowledge acquisition, and mastering all means of online communication. Actually it goes beyond that: it requires a deep understanding of the psychology of the online behavior and search patterns, careful analysis of website statistics and analytics, correct implementation of corrective actions, and creative approach of optimization strategies.

The inability of many SEO companies to deliver the promised results, which had caused huge financial loses and disappointment among business owners, created a new trend in the search optimization arena: Performance Based Search Engine Optimization or the “Pay for Results, not for Promises” approach. According to this new, revolutionary approach of the SEO, a business owner who hires the services of an SEO company to achieve top rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN will pay only after the promised results are delivered, and NOT before. We witness a shift in power and control between the service provider and the beneficiary of the service. Performance Based Search Engine Optimization empowers those who use the services of an SEO company, and help them be in control of their finances. This new approach of SEO has already started to filter the participants in this industry, by eliminating those companies that do not employ ethical business practices and do not posses the knowledge and expertise to deliver what they promise, and by promoting the real masters of SEO. Performance Based Search Engine Optimization works like a natural selection process, where the weak ones will be automatically self-destructed and eliminated. Nobody can survive in business if revenues do not come in; if results are not delivered, the SEO company will not only be unable to record any income in its books, but will incur huge loses buy investing money in trying to implement an optimization strategy that does not work.

The benefits of the Performance Based SEO are very tangible when it comes to ROI. SEO used to be a huge investment for businesses, but used to bring back in the investors’ pockets very low returns, if any at all. SEO was in many cases a rather huge expenditure than a business investment. The difference between expense and investment stays in the ROI. A business expense can have an indirect influence on the ROI, but it is hardly measurable; this is why, in a financial sense, a business expense is considered a necessary controlled loss (think of office supplies). An investment is supposed to produce an easily measurable profit. In most cases, old SEO tactics used to have a very measurable positive impact on the ROI, but instead of doing so for the business in need of SEO, they were acting solely in the benefit of the SEO Companies. Performance Based Search Engine Optimization on the other hand, where payments are made only after the top results are achieved, became a basically no-risk investment. No results, no payment. It’s as simple as that!

The Internet is a moving target, and trying to control all variables that account for a certain ranking scenario is not a the subject of a hobby. There is no such thing as “Part Time SEO.” The Internet is a market that is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. These should be the business hours of those in charge with exposing and promoting your business on the Internet. Unless an SEO Company can ensure you 24/7 top online presence in the search engines you want for the keywords you want, you should not even consider pursuing such an adventure. It is a huge responsibility to promise top 10 rankings in Google, Yahoo, and MSN, and an SEO company that offers Performance Based Search Engine Optimization with a “Results First-Payment After” approach, should give you the confidence that that they will deliver.

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