Docstoc
EXCLUSIVE OFFER FOR DOCSTOC USERS
Try the all-new QuickBooks Online for FREE.  No credit card required.

SearchEngineMarketing

Document Sample
SearchEngineMarketing Powered By Docstoc
					Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered
An Interview with Search Engine Expert Sarabjit Singh

June 2005

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

Introduction
Realizing the vast majority of engineers and technical buyers search for products and services on the Internet, many suppliers use search engine marketing to reach their target audience. Others are considering adding search engines to their marketing mix. Despite its growing popularity and potential, search engine marketing is a complex business. The constantly changing search engine landscape can be confusing and intimidating. Page optimization, pay-per-click keyword ads, pay for inclusion in search engines and other tactics must be carefully evaluated and frequently adjusted as search engine rules change and results vary. Plus, with the rise of vertical search engines, contextual ads and other search engine marketing strategies, marketers have more choices than ever before. Getting listed near the top of search results pages has become a specialized industry, often beyond the core competencies of many marketers in the industrial supplier community. And although you may generate Web site traffic through search engine marketing, you may not capture and convert qualified leads and achieve the ROI you set as your goals.

Sarabjit Singh Answers Your Search Engine Marketing Questions
Sarabjit Singh is Director of Search Operations at GlobalSpec. In his role, Sarabjit leads the search engine optimization team responsible for optimizing GlobalSpec’s Web site and setting strategy to drive qualified traffic to GlobalSpec. Sarabjit and GlobalSpec’s team of Web site developers, marketers and usability researchers have a deep understanding of the online behavior of a technical audience. His answers to questions on search engine marketing will help you better understand how search engines work and evaluate your options for using search engines to reach engineering, scientific and technical buyers on the Internet.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

1

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

What is search engine marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a group of strategies designed to help place your Web site near the top of results pages when users search on specific keywords. It consists of both free and paid strategies. Suppliers listed near the top of results pages will be seen by engineers and technical buyers and will drive more traffic to their Web sites. Suppliers not listed in the first three pages of results have a much less chance of being seen. GlobalSpec’s own research shows that 95 percent of search engine traffic from the technical community comes from the top three pages of search results.

Why should I add search engine marketing to my marketing mix?
It makes good marketing sense to be as highly visible as possible on search engines in order to reach your target audience while they are actively searching for products and services.

Search engine marketing has become a crucial component in an overall marketing plan for industrial suppliers. More than 90 percent of engineers and technical buyers use the Internet to research and find products and services from suppliers. It makes good marketing sense to be as highly visible as possible on search engines in order to reach your target audience while they are actively searching for products and services. Otherwise, your company, products and services may never be found on the Web. You may miss out on your best opportunity to reach your target audience and eventually experience loss of market share.

How do I make sure my Web site pages rank near the top for keyword searches important to my business?
This is the million-dollar question – and it seems there are a million theories about how to rank near the top. The fact is search engine marketing is complex and constantly changing. Each of the top general search engines has its own rules and nuances for handling searches and ranking results, which necessitates you to use different strategies with each search engine to optimize your rankings. In addition, many search engines feed search results to each other, which complicates matters more.
An algorithm is what search engines use to determine the relevance of the indexed information to what the user is searching for.

An algorithm is what search engines use to determine the relevance of the indexed information to what the user is searching for. But the algorithm each search engine uses to determine rankings frequently change. This is largely due to competition among the search engines themselves: those search engines delivering the most

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

2

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

relevant results to user queries will capture the most market share. Therefore, search engine companies are constantly tweaking their algorithms to deliver better results. To get started on your goal to rank near the top for keyword searches and generate qualified leads and potential sales, you’ll want to understand the differences among search engines and how they work. Plus keep in mind your marketing fundamentals: identify your target audience and the messages they respond to, plan effective strategies to reach them and choose search engine marketing programs enabling you to generate qualified leads and track ROI.

Which search engines should I focus my efforts on?
Although a few well-known search engines dominate the landscape, they’re not your only — or perhaps even your best — places to focus search engine marketing efforts. Three broad, general search engines control most of the market: Google, Yahoo! and MSN. These are followed by a second tier of general search engines such as HotBot, Teoma, Ask Jeeves and about a half dozen others. However, in the last few years, the search engine market has begun to segment, just as television broadcasting changed over time from three networks serving the entire viewing audience to many specialized cable networks targeted at segments of the viewing audience. In the case of search engines, this change is happening very rapidly — in Internet time. Today, vertical search engines focusing on a particular market segment have become more prominent and more valuable to marketers targeting a defined audience. Now there are search engines for medicine (webmd.com), travel (expedia.com), law (westlaw.com), business (business.com) and other specialty areas. GlobalSpec, The Engineering Search Enginesm, is an example of a vertical search engine specifically for engineering, scientific and technical search. Vertical search engines are being used by a large number of fast growing communities. Business-to-business marketers find them to be an excellent and cost effective vehicle for zeroing in on their target audience.

Vertical search engines focusing on a particular market segment have become more prominent and more valuable to marketers targeting a defined audience.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

3

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

What are the differences between general and vertical search engines?
General search engines are heavily slanted toward consumers and therfore search results tend to be skewed towards consumer shopping sites. Vertical search engines cater to the needs of a clearly-defined target audience having specific needs. Vertical search engines can better understand the context of a user’s search; for example, an engineer searching for pumps is most likely not searching for woman’s shoes, but a general search engine may not realize this. The vertical search engine searches only those parts of the Web containing subject-specific information and returns more relevant results to user searches.
A vertical search engine will search only those parts of the Web containing subject-specific information and return more relevant results to user searches.

In addition, a vertical search engine may offer the user — your prospect — access to more detailed and relevant content not found on general search engines, such as content hidden behind firewalls, blocked by user registrations or dynamically generated from a database. It’s estimated that search engines can access only 16% of the Web. (Design News, January 2004) Vertical search engines aggregate and deliver a targeted audience, making the advertiser’s job much easier. Also, sophisticated search mechanisms and filtered results help create more qualified connections between advertisers and searchers. For instance, GlobalSpec offers parametric search allowing users to search by specification from suppliers’ catalogs and search by part numbers. General search engines typically don’t offer the specialized search mechanisms your technical audience prefers.

What’s the difference between human-powered directories and crawlerbased search engines?
A human-powered directory is an index of Web sites compiled, edited and ranked by editors who work for a directory search engine.

These are the two types of search engines. A human-powered directory is compiled and edited by hand. Editors working for the search engine evaluate every Web site submitted to it. They assign your Web site a category and rank the relevance of its pages for certain keywords. This way, your Web site gets into the search engine’s index of Web pages. Yahoo! Directory and “Open Directory Project” are examples of popular human-powered directories. You can submit your Web site to human-powered directories. Some are free; others charge a fee. However, even fee-based directories do not guarantee to include your Web site. Your site may be rejected if its content or design is deemed irrelevant.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

4

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

And even if your Web site is included in a directory, there is no guarantee you’ll rank high for keywords important to your business.
A crawler-based search engine is an index of Web sites created automatically by a software program that roams the Web and analyzes Web sites.

A crawler-based search engine uses a software program called a spider that automatically roams the Web. The spider looks for Web sites and Web pages, analyzes their content and puts them into its database. The primary way a crawler finds a Web site is through a link pointing to that Web site. Crawler-based search engines use sophisticated algorithms to rank Web pages. An example of a popular crawler-based search engine is Google. There is no way of knowing if a crawler-based search engine will visit your Web site or how often it will visit. You can submit your Web site for free. However, as is the case with human-powered directories, there is no guarantee the crawler-based search engine will add your Web site to its database or that you’ll rank high for your keywords.

What strategies should I use to drive search engine traffic to my Web site?
There are two main types of strategies for driving traffic to your Web site through search engines: paid and unpaid. Paid strategies include paying to be included in a search engine’s database and using pay-per-click keyword-based text ads. Unpaid strategies include optimizing the content and coding on your Web site pages to make them more search engine friendly and creating links from other relevant Web sites to yours.

Can you explain paid strategies for driving Web site traffic from search engines?
Each search engine has its own paid program to help you appear near the top of search results, but fundamentally there are two types of paid strategies: Pay for inclusion Pay for placement Pay for inclusion is simply paying to have the pages of your Web site included in a search engine’s database. Your Web pages might be included without this payment, but it could take many months for this to happen and there is no guarantee it will ever happen. And even if your Web site is included in a search engine’s database,

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

5

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

this doesn’t mean your pages will achieve high rankings. Inktomi’s Trusted Feed program is an example of pay for inclusion.
CPC stands for cost-perclick and refers to the amount of money you pay for a click to your Web site from a paid placement.

Pay for placement involves buying placement near the top of the search results area. Often listed as “sponsor links” or “sponsor matches,” these placements are essentially ads you buy for certain keywords. Pay for placement, often called keyword purchasing, is usually conducted as a bidding system; you bid how much you are willing to pay for a click to your Web site. This is called cost-per-click (CPC) or payper-click (PPC). The amount you pay determines your position. Those willing to pay more will have their Web site appear higher on the results page, usually in an area separate from the unpaid results. A competitor willing to pay a higher CPC for a certain keyword could outbid you at any time. Google and Yahoo! (Overture) are two search engines offering pay for placement advertising. In pay for placement, your ranking is determined by how much you pay for specific keywords, as opposed to how relevant your Web site really is to the user query. The danger here is you could end up paying for unqualified traffic to your Web site.

Knowing which keywords to target is one of the most challenging aspects of pay for placement.

Knowing which keywords to target is one of the most challenging aspects of pay for placement. Keyword selection is a function of what products you offer and what words and phrases Web searchers use to describe what you offer. Consider the example of a supplier specializing in chillers. Should they pay for the keyword ‘chiller?’ Probably not. Many Web users searching for chillers may be looking for ‘wine chillers.’ The supplier would do better targeting ‘process chillers’ or ‘process water chillers’ or something equally specific to a technical audience. This would give their ad a better chance of being seen by a more qualified audience. Although this example is simple, keyword targeting is complicated. For this reason, it’s important to understand user behavior and keyword preferences for your products and services to increase the likelihood of effectively reaching your target audience.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of paying for traffic to my Web site?
The number one advantage of search engine paid programs is you can generate traffic to your site almost immediately. Your paid placements can effectively reach your target audience and generate relevant and well-matched user click-thrus. The main disadvantage is that a click-thru is not necessarily a sales lead, and you may be paying for traffic to your Web site that never turns into good sales leads.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

6

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

The other downside of paid programs is the cost to maintain your position and performance may continue to climb, particularly on general search engines as more companies get involved in these types of programs and you must compete with them on the price bid to sustain higher rankings on your keywords.

Are there other costs associated with paid placement?
In addition to paying for placement on search engine results pages, there are other costs associated with paid placement programs. For example, you’ll need people to stay on top of keyword bidding and adjust bids as needed if you are participating in pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) programs from Google and Yahoo! (Overture).
Suspect traffic quality is one of the most significant issues associated with general search engines.

And while these paid programs may drive traffic to your Web site, you may not get high-quality leads if you aren’t reaching and attracting your target audience. In this case, your sales force will incur additional costs as it attempts to qualify the good leads and discard the poor leads. Suspect traffic quality is one of the most significant issues associated with general search engines; the money you spend may not produce the ROI you need in terms of highly-qualified leads and potential sales.

Can you explain unpaid strategies for driving Web site traffic from search engines?
Search engine optimization: the continual process of designing and editing your Web site and its pages to achieve higher rankings on search engine results pages.

Unpaid placement is also called search engine optimization — making your Web site search engine friendly with the goal that your Web pages organically rise to the top of search engine results for your keywords. Unlike paid placement, which can deliver short term results, search engine optimization is more of a long-term strategy as its effects take longer to achieve. It’s often used in conjunction with paid placement. Everything about performing search engine optimization falls into two categories: onpage or off-page criteria. On-page criteria includes how you write and code Web pages to help ensure they’re ranked high by search engines. To get started, you must understand what a search engine looks at to rank the relevance of a Web page for a specific keyword. Then you must optimize your Web pages to take advantage of how a particular search engine works. What each search engine looks for and what you must do in response is continually changing.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

7

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

First generation search engines generally trusted the content of Web sites and placed emphasis on keywords, metatags and general page content — thus the term ‘onpage’ criteria. Then certain Web sites started “tricking” search engines into ranking their pages higher. They did this by manipulating Web pages to include many instances of keywords hidden in the HTML code, creating mirror pages and mirror Web sites with redundant content and performing other tactics. This is dangerous as it could backfire and get you kicked off of search engines. For example, if your keywords appear too often on a page or you submit too many pages that are almost identical, a search engine might think you are trying to spam it and blacklist your Web site from its database. Once kicked off of a search engine, getting back in is difficult. Second generation search engines now place less emphasis on keywords and metatags and consider other criteria not related to the actual content of a page — ‘off-page’ criteria — when determining rankings. For instance, Google pioneered the idea of using a page’s link popularity to ascertain its ranking. A Web page will rise in the rankings if many other pages link to it, under the theory that the most relevant pages are also the most popular. However, the most relevant pages may not always be the most popular and link popularity generally works against new Web sites with few links pointing to it. As part of your search engine optimization, you should focus on getting Web sites relevant to your industry and audience to link to yours.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of unpaid placement strategies?
The primary advantage of unpaid placement strategies — or search engine optimization — is you’re not paying for placement on search engine results pages.

The primary advantage of unpaid placement strategies — or search engine optimization — is you’re not paying for placement on search engine results pages. Plus, if you rank high for your keywords on organic search results pages, there is an implicit understanding your content is relevant to the user’s search. Also, there are a few simple things you can do to help your ranking, such as using keywords in page titles, metatags and page content. On the downside, unpaid placement requires expertise in search engines and an ongoing commitment to stay on top of search engine changes. You’ll also need to constantly monitor your rankings, keep your pages fresh and up-to-date and adjust your tactics. Optimizing pages for search engines is a difficult, ongoing process. Ironically, with unpaid placement you’re still paying for skilled resources to manage your program.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

8

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

What is a Search Engine Marketing firm? Should I work with one?
A Search Engine Marketing (SEM) firm helps market your company, products and services through search engines, primarily by implementing strategies to improve your rankings on search results pages. Services offered may include keyword analysis, Web page optimization, submitting your Web site to search engines, keeping up on search engine trends, creating link programs to increase the visibility of your site to search engines and more. The idea behind working with an SEM firm is a sound one: some are experts on the complicated and changing world of search engine marketing and know what to do to help you achieve better results. But if you decide to work with an SEM firm, choose one carefully. Do your research, make sure the firm is reputable and get references. Search engine marketing is a booming business and many SEM firms are opening and closing their doors. Some may implement tactics search engines consider unethical and can cause your site to be permanently removed from search engine databases. Avoid SEM firms promising you “top ten positions” on organic search results pages. No one has control over any search engine or which pages they decide to index or how they rank them. Also, never outsource 100 percent of search engine marketing to an SEO firm. You still need core knowledge of search engines so you can understand and evaluate the specific strategies your SEM firm suggests.

The idea behind working with an SEM firm is a sound one: some are experts on the complicated and changing world of search engine marketing and know what to do to help you achieve better results.

If I do a good job at search engine marketing and rank near the top for keyword searches, will I get increased Web site traffic and leads?
Increased traffic, yes. Increased leads, not necessarily. Ideally, you want to funnel qualified prospects to your Web site from the millions of Web searchers out there. In reality, when you play the search engine marketing game, you might end up reversing the funnel and sending hordes of unqualified visitors to your Web site. This will only increase the burden on your customer service, sales and Web resources without delivering payback in terms of leads and sales.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

9

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

How can I ensure more of the traffic I drive to my Web site is converted into qualified leads and potential sales?
The first thing to keep in mind is traffic does not equate to leads. Even traffic from qualified, motivated prospects does not translate to leads unless you offer a convenient way for visitors to contact you and give them a compelling reason to do so. Many suppliers create “landing pages” on their Web site specifically designed for search engines. The content of landing pages should be oriented towards the keywords the user searches. It should also let the visitor know what your company does, help them navigate the rest of your Web site and provide a lead capture mechanism. The lead capture mechanism can be as simple as a prominent phone number or can be a form to fill out with an offer for a whitepaper, CAD drawing, seminar registration or other offer.
Whether the traffic you get to your Web site is from paid or unpaid strategies, you have to remember the ‘marketing’ part of search engine marketing.

Whether the traffic to your Web site is from paid or unpaid strategies, you have to remember the ‘marketing’ part of search engine marketing. High rankings and increased traffic are worthless if they don’t translate into sales and proven ROI. That means you need back end processes in place to track where searches come from and what becomes of them: whether they convert to sales or not. Only with this information in hand, can you determine where to optimally allocate your search engine marketing dollars.

What should I do next?
Make sure your Web site architecture is search engine friendly. Some crawlers have difficulty reading pages generated from a database dynamically based on user queries. Visitors to your Web site should be able to search for and quickly find what they are looking for. Have contact information readily apparent. Target the right keywords. Perform research on what keywords and keyword combinations are used by your target audience searching on the Web for products and services like yours. You may be missing out on some important keywords, targeting the wrong terms, paying too much for high level keywords or getting unqualified traffic.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

10

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

Get your metatags in order on all Web pages. Many so-called experts say metatags don’t matter anymore. The truth is they don’t matter as much as they once did but they are still important. And because there’s no downside, there’s no reason not to use them. Establish a program to trade Web site links with other reputable companies and sites relevant to your industry and target audience. This will help improve your “off-page” criteria used by Google to rank pages. Submit your site to crawlers and directories. Each search engine has its own URL submission guidelines you must follow. In addition, use these resources to learn more about search engines: o Contact GlobalSpec. We have in-house search engine and online marketing experts who can help answer your questions. http://www.globalspec.com o Search Engine Watch is a good repository of information on everything related to search engines. http://searchenginewatch.com/ o Google offers some practical advice on how to choose a Search Engine Optimization marketing firm. http://www.google.com/webmasters/seo.html o Cadenza offers a comprehensive glossary of terms related to search engines and search engine marketing. http://www.cadenza.org/search_engine_terms/index.htm o Bruce Clay Consulting offers an interesting and often updated chart showing the relationships among the various search engines. http://www.bruceclay.com/searchenginechart.pdf

What search engine marketing should I consider for marketing my products and company on the Internet?
The most important thing is marketing fundamentals. Search engine marketing should be a channel in your marketing mix and not the only avenue you explore. If your objectives are to reach your target audience, gain the greatest number of high-quality leads from engineers and technical buyers in a cost effective manner and

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

11

Search Engine Marketing: Your Questions Answered

to implement programs that are measurable and deliver high ROI, then you should explore the opportunities on GlobalSpec, including: SpecSearch® — a searchable online catalog on GlobalSpec featuring your products and services. Engineers and technical buyers can search by specification to find your products and services meeting their exact needs. GlobalSpec provides leads with full-contact information and area of expressed interest, allowing you to pursue, track and measure ROI on leads faster and better than before. AdEnginesm — a pay-per-click ad program on GlobalSpec regularly used by millions in the technical community every month. Your text ads appear prominently on relevant search results pages on GlobalSpec and on our network of partner sites targeting engineering and technical communities. GlobalSpec offers a hassle-free program and does the work for you: matching your listings to the keywords relevant to your offerings, determining the relevant categories for your business and optimizing your ad copy to help you achieve the best results. GlobalSpec was founded by engineers and, with its team of Internet specialists, has a deep understanding of engineers and technical buyers and how they prefer to search. Marketing on GlobalSpec offers you an accountable, measurable program complete with reporting, leads statistics and proven ROI. It also allows you to avoid the complexities and pitfalls of general search engine marketing while benefiting from a highly targeted audience searching for products like yours.

 2005 GlobalSpec, Inc.

12


				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:2
posted:6/27/2009
language:English
pages:13