How You Name Your Web Sites, Microsites and Blogs Can Impact Your Search Engine Rankings


SEO and Search graphic

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is very complex, with proprietary algorithms used by each of the major search engines to determine rankings and I am only scratching the surface in this article, but here are some important tips and guidelines.

Many people and companies often talk about web site content and content structure when discussing search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is about making your web site content efficient and effective so your web site ranks as high as possible in organic listings (not sponsored or non-paid advertising, also known as search engine marketing) but did you know that the web site URL you select is also very important?

Many companies like to use vanity URLs instead of a real company name in their URLs. A vanity URL is like a vanity phone number or a vanity license plate. A vanity URL for a fictitious company such as Acme Precision Widgets, whose real web site is could be or  Typically, the vanity URL would then redirect to the real URL and if you paid close attention you would see this happen in your browser http address listing. For permanent vanity URLs, coders typically use what is called a “301 redirect” to the real page URL shown above, but the user would only need to see (click on) or type the vanity URL. A 301 redirect is a redirect that does not have a time expiration as opposed to a 501 redirect, which does expire at a predefined time interval.

 google search results pageVanity URLs Can Suppress Search Engine Rankings
Search engine relevancy scores (the scores that determine which pages will make it to the top of a search engine’s organic search results) take into account page load times. Therefore, making pages too “heavy” with rich media content or having too many URL redirects (hops due to vanity URLs or other hidden structures) will slow page load times and consequently lower your page rankings with the search engines. This means that your web site moves down the list of organic search results, leading to potentially lower organic traffic and a need to rely more heavily on paid search. 

What Is Your Goal?
If your goal is to drive as much online volume as possible through organic search results, versus paid online media, then vanity URLs are not necessarily the best way to go. Instead, use your company’s real URL wherever possible and add a forward slash to drive to a specific landing page which contains content relevant to what you are promoting. Alternatively, you can drive users to your home page and feature whatever you are promoting there in what is called a “hero space”. Many companies use hero spaces that allow you to feature multiple products, services or offers, by rotating them at pre-set short time intervals.

 When Vanity URLs Are a Must
Sometimes there is a justified need for a vanity URL due to the nature of the product or service or promotion, or because your company URL is simply too long and is not easily shortened. When those exceptions are made, here are some helpful tips to follow.

Track Whatever Vanity URLs You Already Have or Create
When creating a vanity URL, keep a central repository of those links because they need to be maintained over time. A simple example is if you choose to move the location of the real page on your web site, then the reference point for the vanity URL needs to be updated or the user will have a broken link that goes nowhere.

Vanity URLs Should Also Have Strong Brand and Key Word Relevancy
Vanity URLs should also have strong brand and key word relevancy as opposed to making up or using words infrequently used by consumers simply because they sound “cool”. Strong brand and key word relevancy will further increase your relevancy scores with search engines. If the intended audience is not familiar with the term, then even if it’s catchy, it will hurt your organic results because you will achieve fewer exact matches. The only exception is if you are going to literally spend millions and millions of dollars advertising offline and online in order to create brand recognition for something like a new term or a new product, service or company name.

 For those who want to delve further into the technical side of how vanity URLs/redirects erode search engine relevancy, please see this article which discusses 301 redirects and confirmation from Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) that some link equity is lost when a 301 is used within a website – but not as much as when the true URL is completely removed from the vanity name.

Written by: Steven Copertino, Digital Marketer


P&G Tries Facebook Commerce Again With New Platform, Talks to Walmart About Joining After Scrapping Amazon-Fueled Effort, CPG Giant Uses Its Own E-store

By: Jack Neff                  Ad Age Digital                           Published: June 09, 2011

Procter & Gamble Co. is taking another plunge into Facebook commerce with a new platform and an effort to bring new retailers on board after scrapping an earlier effort using Amazon as a fulfillment partner.

Tide's new 'Shop Now' page on Facebook

Tide’s new ‘Shop Now’ page on Facebook


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P&G quietly has added “shop” or “shop now” buttons to Facebook fan pages of several brands in recent weeks, including Tide, Gillette, Olay, Gain, CoverGirl, Luvs and Febreze, with several more expected to come on line in the weeks ahead.

Fulfillment of items purchased within Facebook on the P&G brand pages comes through P&G’s own e-store that opened last year (, but the layout leaves room for other retailers to join as alternatives. is considering linking with P&G’s Facebook pages as an option, said a spokeswoman for the retailer.

People familiar with the matter said other e-tailers may also eventually join the P&G f-commerce effort as partners, including Amazon re-joining. In an e-mail, P&G spokeswoman Tonia Elrod said, “As we expand the tests across more of our brands, P&G products will also be available for purchase from a variety of qualified retailers,” but declined to comment on specific ones.

Through “buy it now” buttons across many of P&G’s brand websites, shoppers already can select from a variety of retailers, but the P&G initiative may mark a couple of firsts in Facebook commerce. It appears to be the first time a brand has allowed multiple retail partners for fulfillment of orders on Facebook, and, should Walmart follow through on joining the effort, it would be the first time has sold products entirely within Facebook.

“Social-network selling is an extension of our overall focus on innovation and brand building,” Ms. Elrod said. “We expect testing commerce via social networks like Facebook will help us accelerate e-commerce growth as consumers buy more of our categories online.” P&G began Facebook e-commerce last year with some fanfare via its Pampers brand fan page, which also offered products from several other P&G brands without leaving Facebook, using Amazon as the sole retailer fulfilling those sales.

But P&G quietly pulled the plug on that effort earlier this year for a couple of reasons, according to people familiar with the matter. The company was concerned about backlash from other retailers, particularly Walmart, being shut out of its Facebook pages, and the Amazon platform had technical issues that made for a poor user experience.

Similar issues appear with Amazon’s own brand fan page on Facebook, which does allow people to buy products without leaving the site, but doesn’t make it easy to find all the buttons needed to complete a transaction, in a stark contrast to the smooth running of Amazon’s mobile apps. Amazon didn’t return e-mails for comment.

Disclosures on P&G’s Facebook brand sites indicate they use the Distributed Commerce Platform from Columbus, Ohio-based Resource Interactive to complete the transactions. Resource also created the P&G e-store and is the digital shop for one of the brands involved — Gain. And the agency has used DCP for f-commerce efforts from retailers such as Victoria’s Secret and Home Depot and formerly handled digital work for Walmart. But people familiar with the matter said other retailers won’t necessarily have to use Resource’s platform, provided they use something more compatible with Facebook than Amazon’s current offering.

Vitrue handles Facebook management for many of the P&G brands involved, and a variety of digital agencies, including Publcis’ Digitas, Omnicom’s Proximity, and independents IMC2 and Strawberry Frog, handle digital duties for other brands involved in the Facebook commerce efforts.

While is still undecided on joining the P&G f-commerce effort and doesn’t currently sell goods entirely within Facebook, it has boosted its profile within the social network recently, said spokeswoman Amy Lester, by adding Facebook “like” buttons to item listings throughout That enables one of the key advantages of conducting sales within the social network — making it easy to tell friends about purchases or suggest gifts.

Speaking at Wal-Mart Stores shareholder meeting last week, CEO Mike Duke said, “In global e-commerce, we will not just be competing, we will play to win.”

At this point, however, is well behind Amazon in e-commerce, according to industry watchers, including in packaged goods, where it also lags Walgreens, which agreed to buy earlier this year. Getting ahead of Amazon on Facebook commerce, where Walmart has 6 million fans to Amazon’s 1.2 million, would give it one clear victory in the space, though it’s unclear that will hasten a link to P&G’s efforts.

Asked at a news conference after his speech last week how long he thinks it will take Walmart to catch Amazon in e-commerce, Mr. Duke said, “Catching Amazon is not the mission.” Walmart, he said, wants to leverage its strength as a multi-channel retailer that reaches 150 million weekly shoppers by offering online, offline and site-to-store linkups.

“What we’re doing is really being Walmart and investing and creating the e-commerce strategies that allow for continuous shopping the way that the customer wants to do it,” he said, “and not restricting them to one way or another.”

New Tool Promises to Put Social-Media ROI on Same Footing as Traditional Media

Interesting article in Ad Age about a new tool to measure Social
Media ROI. I think some marketers and finance people are too obsessed with measuring the ROI of Social Media, unless you are talking about a true ecommerce component like some retailers such as Express, JC Penney and others are integrating into their Facebook presence.

Most social media is considered upper funnel activity that drives awareness and consideration. This does ultimately lead to increased purchase activity by makigng your SEM more effective or increasing organic site traffic, but it’s very difficult to tie back to your SM activities due to all the other variables at play.

– Steve Copertino

Marketing Evolution, Telmar Believe Effects Can Be Predicted, Accountable Like Other Media

By: Jack NeffBio               Advertising Age              Published: June 03, 2011

Social media has struggled for years to demonstrate return on investment on the same analytical playing field as more established media. Now, Marketing Evolution, which has been working on cross-media analytics for more than a decade, is joining with media planning software provider Telmar to release an ROI tool they say will do just that.

The companies will unveil the Telmar Matterhorn ROI tool, which became available earlier this week for early clients including Interpublic’s Universal McCann, during a presentation at Federated Media Publishing’s Conversational Marketing Summit June 6, the start of Internet Week in New York. That’s fitting, said Marketing Evolution CEO Rex Briggs, because a statement by Federated’s executive chairman, John Battelle, at a conference last year prompted development of the new tool.

“He lamented the fact that there was no way you could put the investment you were making in social media side by side with your TV investments or even digital display to figure out where you should be investing more or how much,” Mr. Briggs said. At that point, Mr. Briggs said he turned to Rick Brunner, a Doubleclick and Google veteran and longtime internet marketing analyst who has headed Marketing Evolution’s work on the project, and said, “We’ve got the data to do that. Why don’t we solve that?”

Mr. Briggs has been conducting cross-media effectiveness analysis with a wide variety of marketers for more than 10 years, adding new media in along the way as they emerge. The Telmar Matterhorn service will be based on data collected in working with clients such as as Unilever, Coca-Cola Co., Nestle, MTV, Time Warner and EA, among others. Inner workings of how the TMR tool evaluates media will be open for inspection, Mr. Briggs said, and open to addition of new media as they emerge.

“A lot of social media, search and digital advertising models just don’t follow the traditional reach and frequency and cost-per-thousand framework that media-planning tools have been using for decades,” he said.

In fairness, marketing-mix modeling now used by many big advertisers already can analyze sales impact from just about any marketing input, given sufficient levels of spending and a sufficiently well-defined time horizon. The problem, however, is that lower levels of spending for digital and social media often get swamped by the impact of higher-reach media, and earned media such as social and PR don’t always work on the same predictable schedule as paid media.

Also, not every campaign has as its objective an immediate sale, often focusing further toward the fat end of the so-called purchase funnel. Mr. Briggs points, for example, to automotive marketing that may aim to get a brand into consideration for a purchase that may not take place for years.

To address this problem, Marketing Evolution years ago began analyzing campaigns based on objectives often besides sales — such as changes in survey responses regarding what brands consumers are considering.

The TMR tool will look at “basically for every dollar you spend, how many people do you influence on whatever that business objective is — building awareness, changing a brand position, generating purchase intent or generating sales,” Mr. Briggs said.

Analyzing much of digital advertising isn’t so different than traditional, given that it operates on similar reach and frequency data and often similar pricing schemes, he said. But social media and other earned media, that is, public relations, depart from those norms in two key ways.

The costs are often structured very differently, with much of it coming in the form of relatively fixed salary or fee costs for internal or agency staff to, say, run a social media monitoring command center, Mr. Briggs said. Traditional analysis tools also often fail to count all or some of the pass-along effect of social media.

Lack of any ROI norms may have been OK when social-media marketing was still in its infancy and considered experimental, he said. But now the discipline has been around a few years — at least in its toddlerhood — and increasingly expected to stand on its own two feet.

“Earned media and the people curating it probably need to be held a bit more accountable today,” Mr. Briggs said.

Seemingly, such programs would have such a short history and wide range of reach, pass along and impact that it would be difficult to predict outcomes based on past experience, which is how the Telmar Matterhorn ROI tool works for other media. But that hasn’t been the case, Mr. Briggs said.

“What we began to see pretty quickly is that there is a range of results just like with any advertising,” he said. “Some TV ads are better than others. Some programs are more conducive to social sharing than others. But there are absolutely common patterns and averages. One thing we can do is say if you spend $100,000 or $1 million, what should you be expecting to get back as results? If you’re not getting these levels, the budget should really trade over to be invested somewhere else.”

At the same time, other ads in traditional media also generate social-media pass along that needs to be calculated, and draw on some of that investment in things like social-media monitoring, Mr. Briggs said. TMR can account for that, but, he said, more important, it aims to calculate the combined impact of media elements, including their synergy, rather than viewing them entirely in isolation.


Procter & Gamble Names Ilonka Laviz New Top Digital Marketer

For the second time in a row, P&G selects an executive who has not held a digital marketing role to be its top digital marketer. What are your thoughts on this?

Always Marketer Assumes Role Held by Lucas Watson

By: Jack Neff – Ad Age Digital                                                  Published: May 02, 2011
Procter & Gamble Co. is getting a new top digital executive as Lucas Watson, who has served in that role since 2008, moves to an overseas assignment with the company. He’ll be replaced by Ilonka Laviz, associate marketing director on the Always feminine-care brand.

Mr. Watson referred calls to P&G spokeswoman Tonia Elrod, who confirmed the move and said Mr. Watson would be shifting to a role in P&G’s personal health-care business in Latin America. Ms. Laviz will transition this quarter into the role of marketing director-digital brand-building strategy and global e-commerce in the global brand-building organization. Mr. Watson, based in Panama, will be marketing director in P&G’s personal health-care global business unit.

P&G has substantially stepped up its digital and social-media marketing efforts under Mr. Watson, who reported jointly to Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard and Alex Tosolini, VP-global e-business. P&G earlier this year consolidated its digital marketing and e-commerce efforts into a single “e-business” unit.

Since Mr. Watson took the job in 2008, P&G has more than tripled measured internet ad spending to $169 million last year, according to Kantar Media. P&G also had one of the most widely watched social-media and viral-video campaigns ever with the “Responses” effort for Old Spice last year. It also had several other videos, particularly for Old Spice and Gillette, notch top spots in the viral-video viewership charts in the past year, launched its own e-store and added click-to-buy options or Facebook commerce for several brands.

Mr. Watson was associate marketing director on Pampers when P&G Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard selected him for the digital position. He didn’t have direct experience in digital media or marketing prior to that, but had worked with a Pampers brand that had one of the company’s biggest websites and online relationship-marketing programs.

Mr. Pritchard appears to be taking a similar tack with Ms. Laviz. She, too, hasn’t been a digital marketing specialist at any point in her career, but has been a strong supporter of one of P&G’s longest-running online relationship-marketing and community programs,, which primarily serves the Always and Tampax feminine-care brands, according to people familiar with the matter.

Always, the brand Ms. Laviz has worked on since 2005, most recently as associate marketing director, has relied far less on TV than other P&G brands in recent years. But measured spending for the brand has been mostly on print, which got 78% of P&G’s $78 million outlay on the brand last year, according to Kantar. TV got 21% and internet received 1%. Kantar data cover online display but don’t pick up spending on search, mobile, or website development and don’t cover the full cost of behaviorally targeted advertising.

Ms. Laviz joined P&G’s finance department 16 years ago in her native Colombia before moving into marketing on the fabric-care business there two years later. She worked out of P&G’s Latin America headquarters in Venezuela starting in 1999, and in 2004 joined the global feminine-care organization, where she helped lead expansion of the Naturella feminine-care brand from Latin America to Russia and Poland.

During her watch on Always in the U.S., the brand launched the unusual and sometimes controversial “Have a Happy Period” campaign from Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett, Chicago. That campaign is criticized in an “open letter” to a fictitious P&G brand manager, James Thatcher, that appeared in 2007 and has been making the rounds virally on the internet ever since.

Despite the criticism, P&G’s share in sanitary pads rose from 44.7% in 2006, before the campaign began, to 51.4% in 2009, according to SymphonyIRI data from Deutsche Bank. But Kimberly-Clark Corp.’s U by Kotex launch helped carve 0.5 points off Always’ share last year.

In a 2007 interview with Advertising Age, Ms. Laviz said, “Yes, we understand periods definitely are not the best part of the month. … But it doesn’t have to be that bad.”

The campaign, she said, “started behind the understanding that unlike tampon consumers, the pad user doesn’t want to get rid of her period. Her period is a natural part of being a woman.”

Most women who criticized the campaign, she said, are tampon users, who aren’t the target for the ads.