Sometimes web businesses miss out on the most effective and cheapest method of web site promotion – search engine positioning.
The 10th GVU Study says the likelihood of searching with intent to buy is 75 percent. People are increasingly using the web for transactions. Personal and professional shopping are up by 10.3 and 23.7 percent since the Ninth survey.
Not only that, search engine positioning was ranked as the number one web promotional method used by business-to-business sites in a September 1999 ActivMedia study. Above email, above print, above catalogs, and above trade shows! So it might be worthwhile to include a budget for search engine promotions in your marketing plan.
Push Vs. Pull
Banner impressions, pay-per-click, and opt-in email are dominant media vehicles used to push window-shoppers into the store. To broadcast a message, you splash color and text to compel or arouse.
Broadcasting is considered a push. It remains the dominant method of advertising, both online and offline. Broadcasting goes back to the Roman days of politics and persuasion. It’s a fairly effective method, and we see billions of dollars spent each year broadcasting messages to us day and night.
The debate surrounding eyeballs vs. clicks in the banner advertising world centers its claim to action. The goal is to convert window-shoppers to take action.
We’ve all been hooked into taking action through both techniques, impressions and click-throughs. The measure of cost and return to the vendor will employ database developers, programmers, traffic auditors, media planners, and publishers for years to come. Was the campaign effective? What was our return on investment? Can we target more effectively? Is the creative working?
Search Engine Undertow
Meanwhile, there exists a strong undertow, a pulling action that occurs each day on its own. Similar to a rip-tide pulling a swimmer out to sea, we have a pulling action below the noise. The pull of search engine traffic.
Pulling window-shoppers in has a fantastic end result. Because they’re self-directed, shoppers tend to browse pages for a much longer period of time. They dig in much deeper, perhaps 6 or 7 pageviews vs. 2 or 3, and if the offering is genuine and attractive they become loyal customers. Loyal customers – isn’t that one of the latest buzzwords?
The pull effect, regardless of whether you’re AT&T or a mom ‘n’ pop, appears to be a significant Internet virtue. Candy at the counter always sells with the least amount of effort, and buyers like to buy at their discretion, on their terms, at a time when they are hot to buy.
Pull marketing is often overlooked because it requires comprehensive planning. Any successful campaign should be an integrated marketing plan utilizing both push and pull techniques.
Yes, branding is important; yes, impressions and pay-per-click are important; yes, opt-in email works; and YES, being properly listed in the major search engines is a powerful component of the successful, integrated online marketing campaign.
Since 1995, we’ve all been dealing with search engines. I remember when Yahoo was called something like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures,” remember that!? We’ve come a long way, and search engines are now bulging at the hips.
Some engines have reported receiving over 10,000 submission requests per day…that is, per day. The larger databases are randomly dumping data due to the high demand and their current limited size capacity.
There are changes on the search engine front lines. Changes that have simply happened, but no one has told you about. Fact is, you can no longer simply “submit your site” and expect to witness fantastic or measurable results. What does this mean to you and me?
When it comes to search engine work, nothing can replace experience, manual registration and placement. Engines are sniffing out automated submissions, spamming is relentless, variables are changing more frequently, and the importance of being properly listed remains a critical feature when considering the value of pull marketing techniques.
Submissions, Listings and Positioning
There are three misunderstood terms in the search engine industry: ‘submission,’ ‘listing,’ and ‘positioning.’ They are as different as the terms ‘bicycle,’ ‘motorcycle,’ and ‘car.’
Submission means nothing today – it’s equivalent to the term ‘distribute.’ Would you pay someone to distribute your business cards out of an airplane – casting them out the window at 20,000 feet? Submitting a web site to an engine means nothing unless you receive verification back from the engine, document it, and return the following month to see if the engine listed your web site in its database.
Listing a web site is of more value than submitting a web site. When you’re listed, someone has verified that your web site is entered into the database. A listing also requires monthly maintenance. Someone must return on a recurring monthly basis to verify that your web site continues to remain in the database, and if not, then re-submit, verify, document, and so on. The engines have changed; they are growing at a record pace and simply cannot keep up with the demand.
Listing also requires an intelligent decision regarding the category your web site should be placed in. Automated submission software cannot make human, intelligent decisions about the specific category you belong in. Category selections in large directories such as Yahoo are diverse and critical to your web site representation and professional appearance.
Positioning is the most desirable, and coincidentally, receives the most hype. The subject of positioning requires a separate article; however, I’ll just say for the sake of definition that positioning (a.k.a., search engine optimization) is a complex series of tasks that ensure your keywords work and your web site appears when your target audience performs a search using those keywords. This is basically an outsourced service that requires a specialist with professional tactics who will protect your image online. You don’t want to position at the expense of breaching the search engine code of ethics or federal trademark laws.
But there’s a lot you can do for yourself. Below are ten hot tips for getting listed. Then it’s up to you to stay listed.
Ten Tips For Getting Listed In Search Engines
- Be careful with FRAMES. If you use Frames, place your Meta Tags along with some basic text inside the tag.
- Put your Meta Tags on ALL sub-pages, too. Mix them up on each page so they appear different to the engine.
- Use up to 1,000 characters, including spaces and commas, in your META name=”keywords” content.
- Use your most important keyword, for that specific page, as your tag on each page.
- Manually submit your URL(s) to each engine and verify it was received properly.
- Try submitting only one URL domain name per day to each engine.
- Return to each engine once per month and verify you are in its database; re-submit manually if not found.
- If you must select a category, take your time to select the best category for your business.
- Get listed, stay listed, verify each month, and only re-submit if you’re not in the database.
- Experiment with new sub-pages designed for specific keywords; these are commonly known as Doorway Pages.
Good luck pulling ’em in!