The Search Agency Announces the Winners of Stars of Search

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The Search Agency Announces Winners of Stars of Search
The Search Agency Announces Winners of Stars of Search

Integrated online marketing firm The Search Agency announced the winners of its 2013 Stars of Search award at the DMA2013 conference in Chicago. The Stars of Search award recognizes search marketing professionals who push the boundaries of paid search, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, mobile marketing, comparison shopping, and search retargeting.

The Search Agency selected David Pedersen, PPC analyst for WhitePages, Elaine Lawson, VP of U.S. digital marketing for MasterCard, and Jeb Griffin, director of product strategy and development for RE/MAX the winners of the awards. Here's a bit more about the winners.

David Pedersen, PPC analyst, WhitePages

Star qualities: Pedersen has worked at WhitePages for more than four years and has helped the company cut its search-marketing spend by 30%. He also designed an animated mobile ad for WhitePages' Caller ID application, which led to a 47% increase in click-through rates and a 10% increase in conversion rate.

Winning words of wisdom: “Learn to do more things yourself—[by] becoming more skilled and wearing many hats. Had I not had previous experience doing animated graphics, I don't know if I could have translated this into what ultimately worked…. As time goes on, it just seems like you need more skills to be the best marketer you can be.”

Elaine Lawson, VP of U.S. digital marketing, MasterCard

Star qualities: After MasterCard changed its domain name from “.com” to “.us” in 2011, the brand completely dropped off the first page of natural search results for specific branded and non-branded keywords. Lawson sought to restore MasterCard's first-page search engine rankings. She teamed up with digital marketing agency iCrossing and the brand's technology division, MasterCard Technology, to optimize the new site by adding content to consumer-facing web pages and by adding meta data—a tedious six-month endeavor. By the first half of 2013 MasterCard had increased overall traffic to by 112%.

Winning words of wisdom: “You need to keep your finger on the pulse of search. As digital marketers, there are certain things that you have in your tool kit—search should be one of them.... Social is important, but it's the shiny object right now.”

Jeb Griffin, director of product strategy and development, RE/MAX

Star qualities: When RE/MAX decided to redesign its site, it adopted a new approach: focus on SEO first and design second. To establish a larger SEO footprint and drive organic traffic, RE/MAX generated more content. The brand built pages for specific properties, both for-sale and not-for-sale, and provided detailed information about each property, including its worth, selling price, and time of sale. Not only did this content make the site more visible from an SEO perspective, but it also provided consumers with a new research tool. In addition, RE/MAX created crawl paths based on user intent and past data to better understand how consumers navigate the site. The paths started with broad search results and narrowed down to specific ZIP Codes, cities, and addresses. RE/MAX only saw a slight decline in organic traffic, and its traffic had increased by the start of the peak real estate season.

Winning words of wisdom: “We learned from our mistakes in the past where design and architecture of the site came first and SEO came second. You're often putting a Band-Aid on your SEO component, and you're not doing it correctly.”

All candidates were judged on the following criteria: proof of leading a strong campaign, tangible results of successes through work, unique approaches to the search marketing industry, strong traits in overall digital marketing, examples of pushing beyond industry standards.

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