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Search Engine Marketing 101

Posted Monday, November 29, 2004

Search engine marketing is one of the most effective methods of getting qualified buyers for any online buisness. Throughout this article I'll be discussing how to improve your rankings in search engines and which ones you should be submitting.....

Search engine marketing is one of the most effective methods of getting qualified buyers for any online buisness. Throughout this article I'll be discussing how to improve your rankings in search engines and which ones you should be submitting your site to.

In the first section we'll be covering how to maximize your efforts in the search engines (I'll cover pay-per-click search engines later in the article). In order to do this we need to understand how a search engine rank certain sites according to their keywords. There are several factors they take into consideration. These include:

Presence of the keyword or a part of the keyword somewhere in the name of the category or in the name of a higher level category. We can improve this by being sure your site is listed in the correct category. Example: FortuneHosting.com would be listed in a category somewhere along the lines of website hosting. Usually this problem remedies itself.

Click Popularity, how many times a user clicks your URL and how long they stay in your site. We can improve this by having excellent content in your site. Be sure users stay in your site longer than they might in a competitors site. What should you include that a competitor doesn't?

Link Popularity, how many external websites are linking to your website. We can improve this in a number of ways. Affiliate programs and writing articles for online publishers to publish are the two methods that work best for this. You can either have a programmer incorporate an affiliate program to your site or get a third party solution. These tend to be more expensive, but then again, they usually advertise the program for you. You might try either Commission Junction or My Affiliate Program. Also, write articles about the services you offer, or something that relates to your company. A few places to publish these are at Ezine Articles, Idea Marketers, Marketing Seek, and WWIO.

Presence of the keyword or a part of the keyword in the Title and Description. This means don't include hype, your description should be grammatically correct, and try to include the more important keywords for your site in the beginning of the description. Here's a sample title and description for FortuneHosting.com, FortuneHostings.com: offering website hosting, free domain name registration, and a host of other solutions. For some reason search engines prefer for the first word in the description to be lower case. Keep in mind that by having embedded words in your description will also boost your rankings for those keywords, this can be seen by "website hosting" and "web hosting."

Presence of the keyword or a part of the keyword in the URL. This should already be included in your website. This is why FortuneHosting.com choose the domain (http://www.fortunehosting.com) instead of something off the wall like (www.freedomainnameregistration.com).

Now that you have the basics for improving your site's ranking in the most common search engines, we'll go over how deal with pay-per-click search engines. The two most important are Overture and Look Smart. How Overture works is competitors bid on keywords, whoever bids the highest amount, gets the better ranking (you should always be in the top 3 to get the best results). Unless you have a very large advertising budget, you may need to pay for keyword aren't as obvious. The last time I checked the keyword "web hosting" was $6 per click! One the other hand the keyword "domain name" is usually around $2 per click. Look Smart isn't nearly as important as Overture, but then again, it's far less expensive. It's a $45 deposit to get started, a $45 setup fee, and a flat rate of $0.15 per click. This means that their ranking system is similar to other search engines. Keep in mind, MSN uses Look Smart, and as you can see in the graph below, MSN is in the top 3 search engines.

As you can tell from this graph it is vitally important to be included in Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and AOL. What the graph doesn't tell you is that Yahoo! uses Google, MSN uses Look Smart, and AOL uses DMOZ and Google. Luckily DMOZ and Google are both free. While Google is a META tag search engine (you need specific tags in your html pages to tell Google the title and description), DMOZ is a human editted directory. This means that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn't be in DMOZ and Google. Some of these search engines offer free submission (who knows how long it'll take to be included), and some offer an express submission option. For Yahoo! it takes 7 days and the cost is $299 annually (very expensive). On the other end of the scale, there's Lycos, which only costs from $35 to $39, and you're included in 2 to 3 days. But they don't only submit you to Lycos, they also guarantee that you'll be in a list of other smaller search engines.

The best part about search engines is the inexpensive nature, but the major downfall is that it takes awhile (6 months) to see real results. That's where pay-per-click search engines come in, with them, it's nearly instant, but far more expensive. What should you do? Only time will tell.

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Jason Shpik

About the Author
Jason Shpik Internet Communications FortuneHosting.com (http://www.fortunehosting.com) Offering affordable and reliable web hosting and design solutions.