Because approximately 85% of all internet users looking to buy online will place a keyword in the search box of a search engine, you had better have a good understanding of how to market your website to them.
I wrote this article to help you understand a little bit about how search engines work.
Search engine marketing was once the gold rush for online customer acquisition. When the internet was much smaller and search engine rankings was easier to come by, a business could earn top ten ranking and free traffic quite easily.
Today, through, competition has skyrocketed, and ranking in the top ten for leading search engines within the chosen keywords or phrases can be next to impossible. Additionally, search engine algorithms or the criteria they base relevancy against, change as frequently as once per month.
As a result, developing a website that meets the criteria for superior ranking results is the same as chasing a moving target. In any regard, the basic foundation is important in internet marketing today and why search engines are pay-per-click driven, discussed in detail in my book “The Newbies Guide To Internet Marketing.”
Portal vs. Search-Only Sites
Search engines have two basic styles – portal and search box focused. Yahoo.com is a portal site, along with Netscape.com and MSN.com. These engines, sometimes called directories, offer search, news, mail and other user features to encourage repeat visits and visibility.
Other search engines offer nothing aside from a search box. Google.com, DMOZ.org and AltaVista.com are search box based engines. Each time one searches these engines, he or she receives a listing, often many pages long, of relevant results listed according to their relevancy algorithm.
In either search style, results depend on inclusion within the engine’s extensive database, some using human edition and others fully automated, some requiring paid inclusion and others free. Results listings are called SERP’s or search engine result pages.
Search engines began in the early 1990’s to organize the growing online information sources. Since then, search engines have become one of the leading avenues for online business marketing. According to the Internet ranking source Alexa.com, Yahoo is the most visited site on the Internet, reaching an average of nearly 270 billion users, Google reaches an average of almost 150 billion users each day. Lycos averages nearly 5 billion, Netscape averages 4.3 billion and Alta Vista reaches nearly 5.5 billion users per day.
Studies also indicate search engines and links are the most effective method to reach users. According to GVU users survey, 85 percent of all new visitors currently arrive from search engines. Other strong marketing venues include word of mouth and print direct mail advertising.
Not all search engines are created equally. Each database is built on specific classes, such as visitor quantity, professionalism, search quality and target audience. The higher regarded search engines return the most relevant results and compile the most comprehensive resources for any given search. In addition to the all-inclusive search engines like Yahoo.com and google.com, other location or industry-specific search engines specialize in sites of interest, such as bed and breakfast, restaurants or art galleries. These are smaller, but offer more niche industry or geographic-based results.
Search engine marketing is tiered, each level offering a distinctly different service that the next. At the most basic level is search engine listing. Listing refers to registration in any given database. This does not guarantee ranking in the top search results, but does obtain consideration.
The next level up is search engine optimization or improving a website based upon current search engine algorithms – what they seek, how they label relevance, who they place first.
Search engine placement and positioning refers to particular rankings promise for given search terms or keywords. Because most people who search pay attention to the first three pages, if not the first page only, search engine positioning generally aims for top ten placements in the largest search engines. It’s one thing to be included in a database and another thing completely to actually be found among the millions upon millions of searchers reading only the first few results.
To rank relevantly within search engine results, each website must be considered relevant to a particular search algorithm for a given keyword or phrase. Keyword selection can be a challenge to both experts and neophytes. While anyone can come up with various words that may be used when searching for their product or service, these words may not be the ideal mix for search engine ranking. Why? If a marketer chooses a popular keyword phrases, he or she and a million other businesses compete for top placement. Top SERP placement is dense, searchers typically giving up after the first three pages. To succeed, one must use relevant keywords that are not being used by everyone else and that are searched for quite often. This may include misspellings and other alternative data. After finding relevant keywords and phrases, the results must encourage conversion or success based on each business’ criteria. For example, while it may be possible for a DVD rental firm to get top listings under the search criteria “free DVD rentals”, the person who visits is looking for free merchandise and will leave if its not found.
For optimal search engine rankings, a page will be optimized for only one to two popular but non-competitive keywords or keyword phrases.
Needless to say there are far more aspects to marketing to search engines than I can cover in this article but the information provided here should give you a good insight into understanding how important it is to design a website that is search engine friendly.
By John Hester