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March 18, 2009

Six Questions with Jamie Smith

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We’re back with another Q&A in advance of SES New York. Next up is Jamie Smith, CEO of Engine Ready. Jamie is set to speak at the advanced PPC track session Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Black Hat PPC Tactics. Will this interview be taking us to the dark side? Time for an adventure!

1. I’m guessing this session is gonna be one packed house. Let’s start with a definition. How do you define black hat PPC tactics? Are the tactics you’ll be sharing explicitly frowned upon by search engines?

In terms of the definition, I think Black Hat was a little extreme for the session title, but we will be talking about advanced strategies very few people are aware of that you can implement and more importantly strategies your competitors may use against you. In terms of the “Black Hat” aspect, this is much different than SEO because in paid search the rules are much more clear. Well, the rules were clear when it was Overture and the top bid was #1 and the bid prices were disclosed. Now, with Quality Score everything is becoming much more similar to SEO because we are all trying to determine the “algorithm” or most important factor that drives the Quality Score. This session should reveal some real secrets to implement that can help you stay ahead of all the changes the engines are making and more importantly, stay ahead of your competition.

2. Are you really going to be giving away black hat techniques or do you see them as being more on the grey side? This may be asking too much, but can you give us an example or a flavor for the kinds of tactics you’ll be sharing?

I don’t want to ruin the session, but the strategies Engine Ready uses are always above board and within the rules. We just come across small glitches or settings that can be adjusted to give you an advantage against your competitors or an advantage against the search engines to improve your ad creative or pay less per click :)

3. There’s a lot of talk in the industry about black hat techniques being okay for testing but bad for actually implementing with a client site. Are the tactics you’ll be sharing during this session ones that you’d use for a client?

Yes, the techniques I will be discussing have been used on clients account and can be used on your accounts. We encourage all clients to dedicate at least 5%-10% of their budget to testing as these strategies may not work for everyone. It is always recommended to draw your own conclusions to determine the results of each strategy.

4. Do you see the increasingly competitive PPC environment as requiring more stealthy tactics? Do you detect more interest in the SEM industry to learn tactics “beyond the normally documented limits generally discussed” (quoted from the session description)?

ABSOLUTELY! If you are not innovating and pushing your PPC strategies to the limit, you will quickly fall behind and results will begin to suffer.

5. It may be too early to see any trends, but have you been adjusting your clients’ PPC strategy at all due to the recession? How do the “black hat” (read: outside-the-box) PPC tactics like those you’ll be sharing put search marketers at an advantage?

I view the recession’s impact on PPC tactics to be much less disruptive than other marketing initiatives. Successful marketing entails major market research, understanding your target market, and devising a strategy to get in front of that audience and PUSH your message on them. Search marketing is still one of the only PULL marketing strategies where someone has to request information / pre-qualify themselves and all you have to do is PULL them to your site. This is why search marketing is so effective and the best part, if you don’t pull them in, you don’t pay for anything. I’m not saying the recession is not having an impact on search marketing, but the strategies we will be discussing allow you to be more efficient and get a little more out of each dollar spent.

6. You can bet I’ll be at the Black Hat PPC Tactics session. Are there any sessions you don’t plan to miss? Where can people catch up with you at the conference?

I’m looking forward to the Advanced PPC strategies session to see if there is anything new Engine Ready hasn’t tried.

People can catch up with me, or Engine Ready’s noted Author and Vice President Brian Lewis at the Engine Ready Booth # 310. I’ll be doing an interview talking about search behavior and our new free landing page analysis tool ConversionCritic (www.conversioncritic.com) at the WebmasterRadio booth on Wednesday at 11:30.

I encourage you to also stop by our booth … we’ll be running attendee’s landing pages through ConversionCritic to pinpoint exactly what modifications can be made to improve their conversion rates.

I guess we’ll have to check out the presentations to see just how “black hat” the session really is. Either way, it will certainly get some attention! Check out the blog next week for my liveblog coverage of the show, including Black Hat PPC Tactics. Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jamie!

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One response to “Six Questions with Jamie Smith”

  1. Listorbit writes:

    If Google guys will come to know blcak hat in PPC are they going to block our account?



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