Search Engine Marketing 101 For Corporate Sites
When most people want to find something on the web, they use a search engine. Millions of searches are conducted every day on search engines such as: google.com, yahoo.com, msn.com and many others. Some people are looking for your website. So how do you capture people searching for what your site has to offer? Through techniques called search engine marketing (SEM).
This tutorial is foundational information for anyone looking to implement search engine marketing. This tutorial will also help you understand how the search engines work, what SEM is, and how it can help you get traffic.What is a Search Engine?
All search engines start with a "search box", which issometimes the main focus of the site, e.g. google.com, dmoz.org, altavista.com; sometimes the "search box" is just one feature of a portal site, e.g. yahoo.com, msn.com, netscape.com. Just type in your search phrase and click the "search" button, and the search engine will return a listing of search engine result pages (SERPs). To generate SERPs the search engine compared your search phrase with information it has about various web sites and pages in its database and ranks them based on a "relevance" algorithm.Search Engine Classes
Targeted audience, number of visitors, quality of search and professionalism is what determines a search engine's class. Each search engine typically target specific audiences based on interest and location. World-class search engines look very professional, include virtually the entire web in their database, and return highly relevant search results quickly.
Most of us are familiar with the major general search engines; google.com, yahoo.com, msn.com. A general search engine includes all types of websites and as such are targeting a general audience. There are also the lesser known 2nd tier general search engines; zeal.com,ask.com,whatyouseek.com. The primary difference is that 2nd tier engines are lesser known and generate significantly less traffic.
There are also several non-general or targeted search engines that limit the types of websites they include in their database. Targeted search engines typically limit by location or by industry / content type or both. Most large metro areas will have local search engines that list local businesses and other sites of interest to people in that area. Some are general and some are industry specific, such as specificallylisting restaurants or art galleries.
Many other targeted search engines list sites from any location but only if they contain specific types of content. Most webmasters are familiar with webmaster tools search engines such as; webmasterworld.com, hotscripts.com, flashkit.com and more. There are niche SEs for practically any industry and interest.Search Engine Models
There are two fundamentally different types of search engine back ends: site directories and spidering search engines. Site directory databases are built by a person manually inputting data about websites. Most directories include a site's url, title, and description in their database. Some directories include more information, such as keywords, owner's name, visitor rankings and so on. Some directories will allow you to control your website's information yourself others rely on editors that write the information to conform to the directory standards.
It is important to note that most directories include directory listings as an alterative to the search box for finding websites. A directory listing uses hierarchal groupings from general to specific to categorize a site.
Spidering search engines take a very different approach. They automate the updating of information in their database by using robots to continually read web pages. A search engine robot/spider/crawler acts much like a web browser, except that instead of a human looking at the web pages, the robot parses the page and adds the page's content it's database.
Many of the larger search engines will have both a directory and spidering search engine, e.g. yahoo.com, google.com, and allow visitors to select which they want to search. Note that many search engines do not have their own search technology and are contracting services from elsewhere. For example, Google's spider SE is their own, but their directory is and Open Directory; additionally aol.com and netscape.com both use Google's spider SE for their results.
There are a few other search engine models of interest. There are some search engines that combine results from other engines such as dogpile.com and mamma.com. There are also search engines that add extra information to searches such as Amazon's alexa.com, which uses Google's backend but adds data from its search bar regarding tracking traffic to the site.Getting In
One of the most important things to understand about the SE database models is how to get into their database and keep your listing updated. With a search directory, a submission needs to be done to provide the directory all the information needed for the listing. It is generally recommended that this be done by hand, either by you or a person familiar with directory submissions. There are many submission tools available that advertise they automate the submission process. This may be fine for smaller directories but for the major directories, manual submissions are worth the time.
Not all search directories are free; many charge a one-time or annual fee for review. Many of the free search directories have little quality control. For free directories you may have to submit your site several times before being accepted.
There are three different methods for getting into spidering search engines; free site submission, paid inclusion and links from other sites. Virtually all spidering SEs offer a free site submission. For most, you simply enter your url into a form and submit. Paid inclusion is normally not difficult, except for the credit card payment. For free site submission there is no quality control. The SE may send a spider to your site in the next few weeks, months or never. Typically with paid inclusion you will get a guarantee that the page you submitted will be included within a short amount of time. The other standard way to get included is to have links to your website from other web pages that are already in the SEs database. The SE spiders are always crawling the web and will eventually follow those links to find your site.
Once you are in a search engine database, you might change your site and need the search engine to update their database. Each directory handles this differently; generally each database will have a form for you to submit a change request. Spidering search engines will eventually find the change and add your updates automatically.Getting High Rankings
Getting into a search engine database is only the first step. Without other factors you will not rank in the top positions, a prerequisite for quality traffic. So how do you get top positions? You can pay for placement with sponsored links that is covered in the next section. To place well in the free, organic SERPs, you will need to perform search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization is one of the most complicated aspects of web development. Each search engine uses a different algorithm, using hundreds of factors, that they are constantly changing, and they carefully guard their algorithm as trade secrets. Thus no one outside of the search engines employ knows with 100% certainty the perfect way to optimize a site. However, many individuals called search engine optimizers have studied the art and derived set of techniques that have a track record for success.
In general, there are two areas to focus on for top rankings; on-page factors and linking. On-page factors mean placing your target keywords in the content of your site in the right places. The structure of and technologies used on your website also play a role in on-page factors. Linking, refers to how other website's link to yours and how your site links internally.Search Engine's Marketing Offerings
Search engines in the early days of the web were focused solely on serving the visiting searcher. They worked to capture as much of the web as possible in their database and provide fast, relevant searches. Many early website owners learned to reverse engineer the relevancy algorithms and to make their sites "search engine friendly" to get top rankings. They were the first search engine optimizers, manipulating the search engine's natural or organic SERPs as a means of generating free web traffic.
Often times these optimized sites compromised the integrity of the SERPs and lowered the quality for the searcher. Search engines fought, and continue to fight, to maintain the quality of their results. Eventually, the search engines embraced the fact that they are an important means for marketing websites. Today most search engines offer an array of tools to balance website's owners need to market while maintaining quality for the searcher.
You can generally break search engine marketing tools into free and for-pay. Realize these classifications are from the search engine's point of view. Effort and expense is required to setup and maintain any search engine marketing campaign.
Organic rankings are still one of the most important ways to drive quality traffic. Search engines now seek to reward ethical, high-quality websites with top rankings and remove inappropriate "spam" websites. While organic rankings can produce continual free traffic, it takes time from an experienced individual to achieve optimum results. Additionally, organic placement offers no guarantees, it generally takes months to get listed and can be unpredictable once listed.
Some search engines offer services that add more control to your organic campaign. Most of these services will list / update your site faster or will guarantee that all essential content is listed. For integrity reasons, no major search engine offers higher organic rankings for a fee.
If you need top rankings quickly, pay-per-positioning (PPP) is the most popular way to go. PPP rankings appear in normal organic SERPs but are usually designated as "sponsored listings". PPP listings use a bidding process to rank sites. If you are the top bidder, e.g. willing to pay the most per click on a given phrase, you will have top placement. The 2nd highest bidder is two; the next is 3 and so on. While most PPP works using this model, some search engines offer modifications such as Google's AdWords where bid price and click-through rates are both factors for positioning.
Search Engines have many other marketing tools, such as search specific banner ads; listings on affiliate sites and more.Getting Started
The majority of websites have sub-optimal search engine marketing. Most sites have no effective search engine marketing and are continually missing out on valuable leads. Many other websites are too aggressive, wasting money on low value traffic or harming the functionality of their site due to over optimization. Too many sites are even paying money and receiving no results because they have trusted unethical or inexperienced search engine optimizers.
All SEM campaigns should start with a strategic evaluation of SEM opportunities based on return on investment (ROI). You need to assess how much each lead is worth for each keyword phrase and determine which SEM tools will achieve the best ROI for the phrase.
You also have to decide how much you want to do in-house vs. retaining an expert. A qualified expert will typically produce better results faster, but the high expenses may destroy the ROI. Often it is best to work with an expert as a team, the expert to develop the strategy and internal staff to perform implementation and ongoing management.
Tom McCracken is the Director of LevelTen Design, a Dallas based e-media agency. He has over 14 years of experience in software engineering and marketing. He has developed solutions to improve custom service and communications for some of the worlds largest companies. With an education in chemical engineering and economics from Johns Hopkins University, his background includes; web and software development, human factors engineering, project management, business strategy, marketing strategy, and electronic design.
META Tags Explained and How To Use Them For Ranking
The META tags are used to provide extra information about a web page. There was once a time where a good search engine ranking could be achieved by simply changing the value of the META tags. However these days are long gone. Nowadays the META Tags are decreasing in importance in the eyes of the search engines who are using more sophisticated methods of ranking pages (namely link popularity, optimized anchor text).
Google, Yahoo! and MSN Line up More Goodies for Internet Users
Internet users have never had it better what with Yahoo!, Google and MSN planning to roll out more goodies. Yahoo! is launching its Yahoo! 360 and Google has already made its beta version of the Desktop Search tool widely available for anyone to download it for free to enable one to search e-mails, book marked web pages, or content from your desktop with the use of keywords in the stored Microsoft Word or PDF files. Not to be left behind MSN is readying itself to pose another challenge to Google after its launch of MSN Search. Microsoft is launching its own paid search advertising services like the adwords of google.
The 7 Points of Do-It-Yourself SEO
Ever felt intimidated at the convoluted, jargon-ridden information about Internet marketing for small businesses available on the Net? Ever been horrified by the huge fees the experts charge, putting search engine optimization beyond your own means? Ever thought: What exactly is search engine optimization anyway, and can I do it myself?
Are Search Engines Worth It Any More?
The "Number One" Question - the question that I (and probably every other Internet marketing expert on the planet) am most frequently asked:
Submitting to the Search Engines and WebCrawlers
When you want your brand new site to be indexed into major search engines, you usually go to their free submit page and submit your website, correct? Seems like the right thing to do, right?
The SEO Game - Do You Play It?
Most people do not think of SEO as a game. Let me take 5 minutes of your time and explain how SEO is simply a game of Chess.
Monitor Your Visibility in Google, MSN, and Yahoo with these DIY SEO Tools
This is the second part of an article series in which you'll find many tools that you can use to monitor your site's search engine position and see how your do-it-yourself search engine optimization efforts are coming along. The following tools are for monitoring your search results in the three major search engines. It isn't an all-inclusive list, but rather a highlight of some of the tools you can use. (I'll point you to one of the master lists when we get into more general tools in part three.)Using Your Google Site Information PageI've covered this in an earlier article, but just in case you missed it, we'll go over it again briefly here. (If you need more help following along, you can listen to one of my recent podcasts for a convenient audio walkthrough.)Open up your browser and go to Google's home page. Type in info:yoursitenameandsuffix. So if your site was ExactSeek.com you'd type info:exactseek.com. You can also use site:yoursitenameandsuffix to find out which pages have been indexed by Google's search engine spider.This search will tell you pages that Google considers similar to yours. It will also show sites that it considered linked to you, and show sites that carry your full url, hyperlinked or not. It's not 100% accurate as far as telling you all the sites that are linked back to yours, but what you can learn from this is which backlinks matter. From here you can also see the last day Google spidered your home page. To see this in action, click on the first group of information links, "Show Google's cache of yoursitename.com" If you look next to the word "cached" one the first line, the date is expressed also.Sometimes it seems that the cached time for yoursitename.com and www.yoursitename.com are different, so be sure and check both. Finding Information About Your Site In Yahoohttp://help.yahoo.com/help/us/ysearch/tips/tips-08.html This document will tell you how to find out what sites are linking to you, give you the results for how many pages of your site are in Yahoo, and more. Once you get to the results page, you'll be able to view your cached pages, etc. Discovering Your Site's Status on MSNhttp://search.msn.com/docs/siteowner.aspxAs the page in the help section states, you can use site:www.yoursitehere.com to find out if a document at your site has been indexed. The results page will also give you the date of last caching. Google Rankingshttp://www.googlerankings.comYou'll need a free Google API key for this one, and the site has the direct link telling you where to get one. You'll have to enter this key in order to query the site for information on Google.With Google Rankings, you'll be able to see where you rank within the top 40-1000 results in Google for a given keyword. I recently noticed that it also displays results for MSN and Yahoo, with links to each search engine. They also have some other tools that will track your keywords over time, as well as one they call the "Ultimate SEO Tool" that will measure your site's keyword density.Google Backlinks Checkerhttp://lilengine.com/tools/backlinks-tool.php LilEngine.com's Backlink Checker will measure the number of links you have pointing back to your site against competing sites. Handy if you just want a quick comparison of how many links you have versus others, though how much getting more links back will help varies, depending on other factors.Yahoo Search Rankingshttp://www.yahoosearchrankings.com/ From the same folks who brought you Google Rankings, using Yahoo Search Rankings, you'll be able to see where you rank within the top 1000 results in Yahoo for a given keyword. If you just want to see your Yahoo rankings, it's quite helpful.You can find more Yahoo tools that use the Yahoo Web API at their developer's site : http://developer.yahoo.net/wiki/index.cgi?ApplicationList..In the next part of the article, we'll take a closer look at other tools that give you more specific information about the links pointing back to your site, keyword research, and more.
Beginners - Getting Listed In Search Engines
Once you have your web site complete and ready to be listed you need to take a slow step by step approach to get listed in the search engines. If you do it right the first time and then build on that formula, your profits and your site will benefit in the long run. Those willing to spend the time and put these techniques into practice are the ones that will benefit and are more likely to be successful.
The Real Search Engine Optimization Guide
Nowadays, there is so much talk about SEO (search engine optimization) that it has become an industry of its own. Still, 90% of webmasters don`t know how to achieve high search engine positions. In this article, you`ll learn what the 90% doesn`t...
How To Get Number 1 Spot In Google, Every Time, Guaranteed
Woaah! Wait a minute. Before I exclusively reveal these insider secrets can I ask you question? Well, actually, I want to ask you a series of questions.
Designing a Better System for Search Engines
Designing a Better System for Search Engines and Information Distribution, information and knowledge are power. Having run out of things to study today, I thought about Researching and Research. Here are some observations on R and R. If you owned a body shop that would be remove and replace. For many Americans it is rest and relaxation, but for Wash Guys it is now researching Research (ing) and/or (ers). I believe that Search engines are getting better as that business model continues to perform before, during and after the Internet Bubble. However I believe they can do better.
Keywords: The First Step To Recognition
Open Wordtracker [ http://www.wordtracker.com/ ] and you'll see following proclamation by Brent Winters, President, FirstPlace Software, Inc., the makers of award-winning web promotion software, WebPosition Gold [ http://www.webposition.com/ ]:
Increase Web Site Sales with a SEO Proposal - Part 2
Part I of this article discussed some of the points that should be included in a search engine optimization proposal. Visit the resources section at the bottom of the page if you wish to get a copy of the whole article.
New Site and Sandbox: How to Get Rid of It
You have put lot of sweat in making your site. Now you want it to engender revenues and only source of traffic is search engines. You have completed your seo optimization well but there is no precursor of any traffic. Yes Google places new sites in "Sandbox" and this means that your site would not rank well for high traffic keywords for a certain period. This phenomenon is called as "Sandbox". What if your site is in "Sandbox" or on hold? Should you hang around or is there any way out. Lets look at few of them:
Things You Must Realize When Searching
For the uninitiated, searching for web pages can seem a slow, obscure process. Unless you have a high-speed Internet connection, web pages may seem to take days to load. And the searching itself ? you have to admit it looks weird typing in bunches of plus signs, asterisks, parenthesis, and other funny symbols and operators to find what you want.
From Corpora to Matching
Making effective use of the Internet is increasingly about creating better and more intelligent applications and search engines. Here is a brief introduction into how search engines work:
Search Engine Optimization For Blogs
Blogging software is really a simple Content Management System (CMS) that easily adds new pages and integrates them into your site's navigational structure and linkage.
Are Your Keywords Making Money for You?
I built my website, it's perfect. My chosen subject of the website is Computer Support Services. Of course this is an example, but moving along, what should my keywords be?
Selecting The Title Of Your Link Exchanges
I want to touch base with selecting the title of the links that are added to other sites. Adding your link on another site is very important for your search engine saturation and rankings.
Meta Tags - An Important Part of Every Web Page
Meta tags are an absolute must from a search engine optimisation perspective, there are many mistakes that can be made by not including these or even trying to 'spam' the SE's using them so heres a quick summary of the three main ones:
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