Small firms urged to consider search engine marketing
Small businesses could do more to take advantage of the benefits of search engine marketing.
This is according to Microsoft, which has released the findings of a new survey suggesting that six in ten US small businesses with a website currently do not make use of search marketing services.
The study also found that 86 per cent of the 400 small business owners surveyed were fearful they may be missing out on ways to grow their operations, with three-quarters of respondents saying it was likely that consumers search online for their offerings.
A quarter of firms said they felt search advertising was too complicated for them, while 35 per cent admitted that they would require the services of a search engine marketing agency to help them with such campaigns.
“By investing in paid search marketing, small businesses can track online sales and determine the return on investment for their campaigns, while at the same time boosting traffic and visibility for their websites,” Brian Boland, director of adCenter at Microsoft Advertising, commented.
Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that 70 per cent of small firms in the UK currently have their own website.
Almost all of us use search engines, but most Britons “either have no idea or an inaccurate view of how online search results are determined,” according to the Online Search Matters Survey produced for FastHosts, the Web hosting company. The main findings are:
Nearly 1 in 4 Britons (24%) believe that the order of the search listings they use cannot be influenced by the publishers of websites listed, whilst a similar proportion (22%) suspect that results are ordered entirely according to how much has been paid by the websites listed. 1 in 5 consumers (19%) have no idea at all how results are compiled, and 5% believe that search listings are arranged completely at random like a lottery.
To be clear: the major search engines do not charge for listings, but their results are influenced by Web site publishers, partly through the use of SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques.
Men (33%) understand how search engines work a little better than women (26%).
Britons also trust organic results more than the “sponsored listings” that often appear above or alongside them. Fasthosts says:
1 in 3 (33%) believe these listings to be ‘less worthy’ and ‘less useful’ than main search results. Two thirds of web users (66%) report that they always pay attention first to main results, and some 40% of women and 34% of men will consciously ignore sponsored links whenever they appear.
The survey is based on 1,636 UK adults interviewed by Tickbox.net in November 2008 via electronic feedback forms.
Of course, if you started compiling a list of things that lots of Brits don’t understand, you’d be busy for some time. It’s also not clear that understanding how search engines work has much practical value if you just want to find sites, rather than promote them. However, if I ran a search engine, I’d be looking for ways to make it clearer that organic results, unlike sponsored links, are not paid for.
The online marketing strategy of search engine optimization [SEO] could prove to be an asset for those working in nonprofit organisations,according to researchers.
A team working at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management discovered that search marketing can prove to be a cost-effective strategy and therefore useful for non-profit groups.
It also suggested that using keywords to boost SEO could attract the attention of potential benefactors, which could provide a welcome boost during the economic downturn.
The researchers stated in their report: “The compilation, selection, and evaluation of search engine keywords are vitally important to any Search Engine Marketing campaign.”
Last week, ITV released the results of a poll, which discovered that respondents claim prefer overlay advertisements to pre-roll advertisements.
Today the U.S. Internet titan will take the wraps off its first-ever Google Canada Zeitgeist, a yearly ranking of the most common Web queries made by Canadians through the company’s search engine.
The results are as surprising as they are curious.
The most common keyword Canadians punched into Google this year was “Facebook,” the popular social-networking site. Google’s own video-sharing site YouTube came in at No. 2, and music-loving Canucks pushed “lyrics” into the No. 3 slot. The Top 10 also contained more mundane terms such as “map” and “weather.”
Until this year, the list only included U.S. search data, but for 2008, Google is taking the Zeitgeist international for the first time by publishing the top queries from 36 countries, including Canada.
If the federal election were to be decided on the basis of which party Canadians spent the most time Googling in 2008, then prime minister Elizabeth May would be unpacking at 24 Sussex Dr.
“Obama” was the keyword that saw the greatest increase in Canadian search queries between 2007 and 2008.
But on a global basis, no search keyword showed greater growth than “Sarah Palin.”
TOP POLITICAL PARTIES
1. Green Party
2. Liberal Party
3. Conservative Party
5. Bloc Québécois
1. Britney Spears
2. Jessica Alba
3. Heath Ledger
4. Lindsay Lohan
5. Angelina Jolie
6. Kim Kardashian
7. Megan Fox
8. Tila Tequila
9. Zac Efron
10. Pamela Anderson
TOP PERSONAL ELECTRONICS
1. Palm Treo
4. HP iPAQ
Zeitgeist Canada 2008
Canadians have Googled the social-networking site Facebook more than any other website this year.
For the first time, Internet search-engine giant Google released its most-popular and fastest-rising Canuck search queries for 2008.
Google says Britney Spears topped the list for most the sought-after celeb in Canadian cyberspace and the Green party as the most-searched political party.
The California-based company ranks the massively popular Facebook first overall.
It also says the search word “Obama” rose in popularity more than any other term between the end of 2007 and November 2008.
Yahoo! Canada released its most-searched items for 2008 earlier this month.
Yahoo! says Canadians queried the online multiplayer adventure game RuneScape more than anything else this year.
The company also says Miley Cyrus surged ahead of last year’s most-popular celebrity, Britney Spears.
1. Under-monetize to buy mindshare. (almost every category Google is in)
2. Offer a free version to make sure everyone who may want to has a chance to experience your product and/or service. (almost every category Google is in)
3. Offer something that forces people to keep coming back to your website. Alternatively, bundle your stuff into the browser. (the Google Toolbar is huge.)
4. Invest heavily in distribution deals and public relations. Keep making small changes and talking about how important they are so you stay in the media. Maintain that your success is because superior products even while you are buying marketshare.
5. If a business model competes with your model, try to guide the conversation and get market participants to attack each other to your own benefit (this, above all other reasons, is why it is not smart for “professional” SEOs to publicly endorse outing each other…nobody wins but Google).
6. Offer free or low cost versions of cash cows of competing services to distract them and/or force change upon them. (Google Docs)
7. Even when you have a market leading position, keep investing heavily in complimentary markets to reinforce your position as the default. Become ubiquitous. Become a verb. (mobile operating system)
8. When you tap out the potential of your product or service look for ways to make it deeper is select high value verticals. (onebox, universal search, site search)
9. When you have enough leverage and a large enough lead, change the market to put yourself at the center of it. (the Omnibox in Google Chrome)
If your site hasn’t added a Google Sitemap page, consider doing so. Google and other major search engines share a common feature that allows Webmasters to tell them about each page of their sites available for crawling and how often it changes and how important it is to the site. “You’re actually producing a page to have the search engine come to you,” he says.
Another free tool especially useful for small companies with a local clientele is Google Maps, a free local business-listing service, which displays an address, hours and description, sometimes at the top of a search-results page.
“It’s hard to pay for that kind of advertising
It should be friendly not only to the human eye, but also to search-engine spiders—programs that crawl the Web looking for up-to-date information.
A site’s structure can make a big difference in how easily a spider can crawl it. Web addresses that use keywords related to the content of the page generally help a search engine better correlate them with the site. For example: www.yourwebsite.com/keyword/filename.html. The closer the keyword is to your homepage in the Web address, the more relevant a search engine will consider the page to be for that keyword, and the more likely the search engine will be to give your site a better ranking.
Another consideration is where content is placed on the page. Spiders read pages starting at the top left corner of a page, so pages, keyword links to content that’s especially important for search engines to see should be moved there.
The keyword or keyword phrase you choose for a page should directly reflect the page’s content. Headlines, subheads and formatting, such as bold and italics, also should be related directly to this central subject. These indicators will signal to search-engine spiders that the keyword or keyword phrase is more prominent or prevalent than other words on the page, increasing the likelihood of a higher search ranking.
Web-site hosting services and search engines have tools offering an array of statistics about what pages were visited on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, the Web pages that visitors used to reach your site, how long they stayed and other data. Sit down once a day or week to see how people are using your site, so you can learn what’s working and what isn’t.