Why are Search Engines important?
percent of internet users find the web sites they're looking for through search
engines. And 54 percent of experienced online shoppers primarily rely on a
search engine when trying to find a product to purchase online.”
- Jupiter Communications: Consumer Survey Data
”Search engines have created more awareness for websites than all other advertising combined including banners, newspapers, television, and radio.”
- IMT Strategies
”Over 80% of search engine users find what they are looking for within the first three pages. Sales leads made from keyword and phrase searches are the most qualified and have the highest purchase probability.”
- Forrester Reports
An effective online marketing campaign begins with solid search engine marketing. For driving new sales to your website nothing else is as effective. Search engines have a number of advantages.
You have people visit your site from all over the country and all over the world. There is no other method for targeting such a diverse group.
Cost per visitor and cost per sales it a fraction of offline print ads and lower than any other online alternative including banner ads and email.
In order to find you through a search engine a searcher must enter a keyword that’s on website’s pages. They can enter your site directly to product pages. This is as targeted as you can get.
The search engine sends out a ‘spider’ or ‘robot’ that records all the text on your website. That text is then indexed in a database, categorized by keyword, and given a relevancy ranking. A higher relevancy ranking makes your pages appear higher when the search engine returns results to a visitor.
a. Main Engines – Google, Yahoo, MSN
b. Benefits – These are the Big Three and they cover 95% of all search engine traffic. Concentrate your efforts here and forget about the little guys.
Directories have websites submitted to them for review. The best directories are reviewed by hand and disallow affiliate sites or sites with little or no content. Most directories get very little traffic but, since the included websites are reviewed for quality, the Big Three consider them a good source to find new websites. Getting listed in directories is the most common way to build link popularity.
a. Main Engines – Business.com, DMOZ.org, GoGuides.com, JoeAnt.com, Gimpsy.org
b. Benefits – While these engines don’t get a lot of traffic other search engines use their results. Spider engines like Google consider directories to have high quality content and often index the directory’s additions.
3. PPC – Pay-per-click search engines sell ranking by keyword in an auction format. If you want to have a high ranking you simply bid more for that particular word. These results appear at the top or side of the regular listings.
a. Main Engines – Yahoo Search Solutions and Google Adwords. Shopping PPCs or price comparison engines, include Shopping.com, Nextag.com, and Pricegrabber.com.
b. Benefits – Getting listed in a Directory or Spider engine can take weeks or months and getting a good ranking can take up to a year of trial and error. With a PPC listing you’re up and running in under a week and you can get exactly the keyword and ranking you want.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of altering a page’s text and HTML coding to be relevant for specific, targeted keyword phrases. A keyword phrase must be present on the page in various places for that page to rank in the search engine for that particular keyword. A page may be ranked for several different keywords.
A keywords search in a search engine may product 30,000 results, but visitors rarely go beyond the first two result pages. It’s very important that you rank high enough to appear in the top 20 results. Search engines use a formula to decide which pages best fit for a particular search and therefore where your pages will rank.
Search engines look at both on-site and off-site factors when determining your page rank. SEO deals with improving the on-site factors. Building a search engine friendly site begins by choosing the right keywords to incorporate into the website. Second, you need to structure your HTML to make it inviting to the search engines so they can find your keywords. Third, create keyword rich content for the search engines to index.
SEO is an ongoing process. It may take 3-6 months to get ranked for certain keywords and then even longer to get a top 20 listing. You may have to experiment with different combinations of keywords to get the rankings your want. Also, search engines often change their relevancy formulas and you may need to adjust your website just to maintain your current rankings.
Marketers are constantly trying to fool the search engines into giving them a better ranking. Search engines constantly change their ranking formula to increase relevancy and eliminate marketers looking for shortcuts. Some of these techniques will work for a time, but rarely long term. If search engines catch you using these methods they can lower your rankings, drop your pages from their index, and in extreme cases, ban your website. Here are some of the techniques that you’ll see advertised.
Your rankings in the search engines are determined by both ‘on-page’ and ‘off-page’ factors. Search engines perceive website with lots of incoming links to be ‘popular’ and deserving of higher rankings. They believe that if a lot of people have chosen to link to you then you must have a good website that other people will want to find.
Link Popularity is described by Search Engine Google like this:
“Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."
“Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search.”
Link Popularity is described by Search Engine Teoma like this:
“Instead of ranking results based upon the sites with the most links leading to them, Teoma analyzes the Web as it is organically organized—in naturally occurring communities that are about or related to the same subject—to determine which sites are most relevant. To determine the authority—and thus the overall quality and relevance—of a site's content, Teoma uses Subject-Specific PopularitySM ranks a site based on the number of same-subject pages that reference it, not just general popularity.”
Good Link Popularity
Links are judged by their theme, page
rank, and popularity. That means that you want links from website within your industry,
that rank well themselves, and are considered popular for your industry.
to find Links
Quality vs. Quantity Links
Link Popularity Programs generally focus on
quality or quantity, but not both. Quality link building can be a time
consuming process. Why would someone want to link to your website? It’s
probably a small pool of people that already know you and realize your value.
Large quantities of low-value links are easier to come by. There are two
Directories – There are hundreds of free directories that
let anyone add their URL to their website. Software allows anyone to create
their own directory or dozens of directories for a specific industry. Links are
then put on those directories pointing to the client’s website. Many of these
directories are created by the marketers themselves so they fit the clients
from unknown websites – Marketers will ‘crawl’ the internet looking
for email addresses. They then send out offers of reciprocal links. They often
offer 10 incoming links for 1 outbound. The incoming links will come from the
marketer’s link farms and will do them little good.
You’ll need to create a link page on your website where you can put other people’s links as well as provide information for other people to link to your website. You’ll want to provide them with a variety of graphic and text links that they can put on their website. It’s best to supply them with HTML code that they can simply cut-and-paste.
Pay-Per-Click (also known as Pay-Per-Placement or Pay-Per-Performance) search engines sell ranking by keyword in an auction format. If you want to have a high ranking you simply bid more for that particular word. These results appear as Sponsored Listings at the top or side of the regular listings. Whenever someone clicks on your link you get charged.
The advantage is you can get the exact ranking you want for the exact keyword you want all in about 24 hours. Traditional SEO can take months to take effect and even then can not guarantee specific keywords. PPC ensures you are found for your most important keywords and helps to deliver a steady stream of traffic to your website.
The main disadvantage is cost. Most search engines only display the top 3 or 4 positions, so those rankings are very competitive. Costs can range anywhere from $0.10 to $10 or more per keyword. Keyword choice and careful monitoring are very important to maintain a positive return-on-investment (ROI).
Just like picking keywords for SEO, you need to carefully select keywords for your PPC campaign. More generally keywords are more expensive and will result in higher clicks, but generally lower ROI. Niche keywords have a lower price and lower traffic but generally a higher ROI. It’s important to track your results and to find a balance.
Right now there are two main PPCs, Yahoo Search Solutions and Google Adwords. Many other search engines use their search results to augment their own listings. MSN currently uses Yahoo Search Solutions results for their paid listings but are expected to roll out their own PPC in the near future.
General PPC listings appear in the
major search engines like Yahoo, Google, and MSN. Shopping PPCs or Price
Comparison Engines have their own websites. People come to these websites to
compare products and pricing. They collect data from websites about products
through a datafeed which supplies photos, descriptions, and pricing. Visitors
can then comparison shop before going to the individual websites. While these
engines produce fewer clicks than regular PPCs, visitors from these sites are
already pre-qualified themselves and generally result in more sales.
Shopping PPCs also buy ads from the regular PPCs. There product listing commonly appear in paid and regular search engine listings. Here are a few of the biggest.
More and more people are choosing the internet as their first choice to look for local businesses. Go to Yahoo Local and type in ‘pizza’ along with your address and you’ll have all the pizza restaurants within a 10 miles radius of your address. There isn’t an offline medium that offers that kind of power and convenience.
This is why in the past year, the search engines like Yahoo, MSN, and Google have spent large amounts of money to improve their search functions for local markets. All the major yellow pages are now online to capture visitors. Most will sell you a package of online features along with your offline ad. Online ads have a number of advantages
Local search engine marketing uses the
same techniques as outlined above but targeted at a specific geographic region.
You will include local keywords on your website by state, city, county or by
region, like the
Targeted local search will save you money and effort. You won’t have to compete with national chains or people in other regions. You’ll have lower traffic but warmer leads as people self qualify by their location.
Internet Yellow Pages Advertising
Internet Yellow Page Directories are online versions of traditional printed yellow pages. They contain local business listings and advertising. Many yellow page listings are appearing near the top of the rankings within the organic search results at Yahoo and Google for local keyword searches. The major Internet yellow page directories provide a cost effective solution to businesses seeking to attract local customers via the Web.
Each market has its own directories but here are the major players with national coverage.
Online Marketing Management
Blue Avenue Design can help you manage your online promotions. As an industry, internet marketing is less than 10 years old, and is very fluid. You need to understand and adapt your marketing as changes arise. A comprehensive online marketing campaign can drive a lot of qualified traffic to your website and determine whether the internet is a profitable marketing channel for you.
How many people are visiting your site? Which pages are they looking at? What keywords did they use to find you? These are the questions we can answer with visitor tracking. Most importantly, visitor tracking records the referring website so you know where your visitors came from and if your marketing dollars are producing results.
My web hosting packages include basic visitor reports based on server records. For low volume, non-commerce sites this is fine. For eCommerce sites I recommend that you use software based visitor tracking. Code inserted on every page of the website updates a cookie written to the visitor’s computer that allows us to track them as they move through the website. Software based tracking also allows us to follow visitors from ads. We can track a visitor from a paid ad, to the site, and all way through the shopping cart. You can then determine how much revenue each ad produced.
Website Updates & Maintenance
Your business isn't static and your
website shouldn’t be either. You want to add new products, change descriptions,
add features, and generally improve as time goes by. Monitoring, maintaining,
improving your website is an ongoing process. After your website is complete,
Blue Avenue Design can continue to maintain your website and manage your online
Every month I can provide you with an Executive Summary telling you how your website is doing. Are more people coming to the site? Is the new marketing effective? Are people finding the new products? I give you an easy-to-use ROI report that has all the relevant numbers as well as keep you up-to-date on search engine news that can affect you.