SEO Grab Bag

The major search engines and directories have made significant changes this year. In an effort to make better sense of it all, I will cover a wide range of issues in this article, including which engines are most important to work with and the current top engines and directories for 2001, and more about in-house efforts, submission software, and SEO pricing models. But first, an important industry observation.

SEO Versus SEP

Many of you are accustomed to seeing the industry acronym SEO (search engine optimization). But today, SEO is more frequently referred to as SEP (search engine positioning). After all, the goal of SEO is to position your site in the proper engines, and since all of an SEO company’s efforts are essentially about positioning, I’ll be using the SEP acronym a lot more from now on.

Now let’s get to the heart of the matter. Make sure you do an online analysis of all of the top search engines and directories. This is an important part of the SEP process. I believe the following are the top search engines and directories for 2001:

Search Engines:

Directories:

In-House SEP Operations

In my opinion, in-house SEP efforts are a real challenge. If you’re considering hiring an in-house SEP crew, be prepared to allocate a minimum of $250K of your annual budget (including equipment). At a minimum, you’ll require a staff of two or three full-time people to achieve your goals. The cost of staffing, technology, and equipment, along with incorporating the continuing search engine changes into the SEP process, have brought many in-house SEO people to their knees. SEO technicians always require more tools, more time, more effort, more research, and more development to keep current with all of the industry changes.

Submission Software

Currently, the only open-market SEP software solution falls way short of dealing with SEP and the old “doorway” issues. If you’ve been reading my articles, you know which software solution I’m referring to, but I’m not going to mention any names. (Email me if you can’t figure it out.)

The features offered in most software solutions can’t accommodate the dynamic nature of search engine algorithm changes because they do not allow for hand submissions. In other words, the software may result in some listings appearing in some engines, but perhaps not in all of the engines that you would like. If there were a viable off-the-shelf software SEP solution, I would be the first to integrate it into my own operations. Unfortunately, for the moment, none exist.

So, if you are considering a software solution for your SEP needs, be prepared to spend the time and money it takes to redesign many of the features to meet your specific needs.

SEP Pricing Models

I consider the pay-per-click pricing models to be more of a media buy than an SEP campaign. That is, when you buy traffic, it becomes a media buy. When you are building traffic to your Web site through long-term SEP strategies and tactics, you are not buying traffic, you are simply buying services with long-term benefits. The resulting visibility, site awareness, linking, and any traffic generated from a professional SEP campaign are far more valuable than purchasing click-throughs.

There are several differences between customized and standardized SEP campaigns. In a nutshell, you’re either dealing with customized SEP client-side-server modifications or standard SEP-hosted pages. A customized, professional SEP campaign can range from $150K and up; whereas a standard SEP campaign will generally run $500 to $5,000 per month.

  • Customized campaigns will address the long-term linking aspects of the media property, its domain name, and its subpages on the client side. The SEP intellectual property, techniques, and modifications will reside on the client server and generally require (at a minimum) an annual contract. Customized campaigns also include additional contractor-hosted pages, paid directory submissions, monitoring, and maintenance.

  • Standard plans will position the media property in directories and engines with less emphasis on the client-side server and more effort focused on hosting the SEP contractor pages. The SEP intellectual property, techniques, and modifications reside on the SEP contractor’s server and generally require (at a minimum) a month-to-month contract. Standard plans also include optimized home pages, paid directory submissions, monitoring, and maintenance.

Other methods for pricing SEP services include charging:

  • Separate fees for each page-one, page-two, or page-three listing by the week or month

  • A monthly or start-up fee upfront, plus pay per click
  • A $35 CPM fee for text links on page one

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.

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