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Two High-ROI Methods for Increasing Your Brand’s Visibility on the Web

By Veronica Fielding
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004

There was a time you could expect your brand’s site to appear in the top position for at least its own name on any search engine. But even that isn’t a guarantee anymore as competition for precious Top 5 positions becomes fiercer.

Wonder why some companies—even small ones--are making it into the Top 5 positions, and others are not?

Search engine marketing is an emerging area that consistently delivers quantum leaps in leads, sales, and awareness when effectively implemented. In a recent survey, Jupiter Research found that more than 75% of executives who used search engine marketing found it to be more effective than banner advertising, and 66% expected to increase their use of it.

Yet many companies think their site is optimized because someone programmed 15 or so keyword phrases into the site’s source code a while back. They are surprised to find that this approach is quite outdated. Companies that are consistently in the Top 5 positions on the search engines for the search terms important to their brands usually have committed to the active optimization of their sites to retain that visibility.

Real optimization involves studying your target audiences’ search behaviors and uniting them with information about your brand, your customers, and their preferences. It involves changes to the design, copy, and programming of your site to make it more attractive to both customers and search engines.

A well optimized site will have a genuine balance between what a human needs to see on the site to have a good brand experience and what the search engines need to “see” on the site to draw searchers to it.

Typically, search engines like to see good use of title tags, text including the search terms in some degree of frequency, and in-bound links from quality sites, along with clean coding.

Another avenue to increase your brand’s online visibility is search engine advertising (referred to as ‘pay-per-click’ advertising). This involves buying search terms on Google (Google AdWords program), Overture, LookSmart, and other ad networks and creating ads that appear whenever people enter those keywords as search terms on the search engine network.

The ads are ‘bought’ via a bidding system, whereby the advertisers that want their ads to appear when someone enters a particular search term bid against each other. The advertiser pays the search engine every time someone clicks on the ad. It is important to understand the value of each visitor so you can create an expectation for results and ROI.

Managing these pay-per-click ads requires active monitoring and expertise. If your bid/advertising falls below the 3rd or 5th position (depending on the network), your ad won’t appear across the entire network, just on the search engine itself. Bid too high and you’re spending money needlessly to be in the #1 slot (if slots 1-3 are always seen, why pay extra to be in the #1 position?); bid too low and risk losing exposure.

Pay-per-click costs range from as little as $.10 (10 cents) per click to more than $10.00 per click for very competitive target words, And keep in mind, that’s just for 1 network, just for one term—not for all of the terms you’d need to buy to reach your audiences. That’s why companies with mission-critical websites tend to invest in site optimization and use search engine advertising to complement, not substitute, for natural listings.

About the Author
Veronica "Niki" Fielding is the president of Digital Brand Expressions, a Kingston-based interactive consultancy helping clients increase sales through brand alignment, advanced site optimization, visitor optimization, and e-marketing. For more information, visit (


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