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News Story From Friday, November 26, 2004

The key to search marketing is in the ad copy, American Meadows says.

November sales at wildflower seed retailer American Meadows Inc.’s AmericanMeadows.com doubled sales of November 2003 – growth that president Ray Allen attributes largely to Internet search marketing driven by effective keyword ad copy. “All Internet search is good, but what really matters is how the search ad copy is written,” Allen tells InternetRetailer.com.

Allen says this month’s sales also benefited from better holiday merchandise to spark activity during a traditionally slow late-year period for the wildflower seed business, which blossoms mostly in the spring. Sales have been strong, for instance, of special holiday indoor growing kits of Amaryllis bulbs.

But American Meadows, which eliminated all print advertising this year to concentrate on electronic marketing, is benefiting from a policy of constantly modifying the text in the creative copy tied to its Internet keywords, Allen says. “We’ve been working for three years to get our keywords right, but now we’re working more on refreshing the ad copy,” he says.

American Meadows maintains about 200 keywords in the Google and Overture Internet search engines, though Google accounts for about two-thirds of the retailer’s paid search traffic, Allen says.

It also uses several smaller search engines, including Ask Jeeves, LookSmart, FindGift.com, FindWhat.com and Enhance.com.

But instead of striving for the top ranking in search results, Allen focuses more on producing effective ad copy that sets American Meadows apart from its competition, he says. “My competitors don’t know how to write copy,” says Allen, a former advertising copy writer. “They’ll say, ‘Buy wildflower seeds online,’ but I’ll write, ‘Wildflower seeds on sale,’” he says, adding that he often refreshes keyword ad copy to keep ahead of the competition. “With pay-per-click, you can write your own ad copy and change it in real time.”

Allen says he doesn’t have the time to constantly edit the ad copy for all of his keywords, so will focus on those getting the highest traffic. “It’s work, but it’s not horrible,” he says. “When I refresh ad copy, I see a spike in traffic.”

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