Posted Thursday, December 9, 2004
Buying your way into MSN Search may be a good idea. I don’t usually recommend my clients spend any money on search engine placement, but I may be about to change my mind.
For just $39 you can get listed in the third most popular search engine within 72 hours.
So why choose this option above competing payment plans from Yahoo, Overture and others? To answer that we have to have a little background information.
Determine Your Strongest Keywords
One of the keys to high placement in search engine listings is the proper use of keywords within the text of the page as well as the code. Keywords are phrases typed into search engines when someone is searching for a list of businesses in your category.
Choosing the strongest keyword phrase for a give page is therefore a critical part of optimizing your site for the search engines.
The tool I use most often to help a client choose strong keywords is WordTracker (http://www.zmoon.com/cgi-bin/pl.pl?word).
WordTracker tracks how often a keyword was typed into all the search engines for the last 60 days. After it helps you expand your keyword list it can show you how often any word or phrase was searched on in the last 2 months.
Now you might guess that a keyword searched on 5,000 times in the recent past would be a better choice than one that was only searched on 150 times. However, the critical factor is how many competing web sites have that phrase in use as well.
So if the phrase that is searched on 5,000 times has 100,000 web sites that match, it might not be as good as the lower one if it has only 25 competing sites.
Why KEI is Important to You
WordTracker uses a formula to calculate the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) for your keywords. It’s based on the relationship between the number of times a phrase is searched on and how many competing sites contain the same phrase. You want to find keyword phrases that get a lot of searches, but have relatively few competing sites.
Keywords that have a KEI of less than 10 are so competitive it’s very tough to get a high ranking. Keywords that rate a score from 11-100 are promising phrases for your site. If you can create a keyword phrase that scores between 100 and 400, but sure to use it! WordTracker says any keyword with a KEI above 400 is “a gift.”
The Surprising Search Engine
When you look at the KEIs produced by the different search engines, something really pops out. Given the same keyword phrase, the KEIs in MSN Search are often much higher than in Google and Yahoo.
Here’s an example from a recent client. In Google, the phrase “life coach” rated a KEI of 3.175, hardly worth considering. Google has 58,500 sites with that phrase in its data base.
On the other hand, MSN Search only lists 29 sites with “life coach” on their pages. That’s why the KEI is 6,405.552. So for this phrase, you definitely want to be in MSN Search because there’s virtually no competition.
MSN Search only gets 12% of the search engine traffic compared to Yahoo’s 33% and Google’s 35%. However, that 12% represents 39 million searches a day, not too shabby in my book.
Pay to Play
You can try the free submission to MSN Search (http://submitit.bcentral.com/msnsubmit.htm) , but they don’t sound too encouraging about your chances of getting listed within 60 days if at all. You can also pay Inktomi (http://www.inktomi.com/products/web_search/submit.html#subscribe) a yearly charge of $39 for your first page and $25 for subsequent pages and get listed in MSN Search and several others within 72 hours .
Yahoo charges $299 a year to be considered for admission, and Pay per Click services like Overture can churn through a lot of money in a hurry. Thirty-nine bucks sounds like a deal if you’re cautiously dipping a toe into this area of search engine marketing.
Tune Up Your Pages
Of course getting listed in the search engines is only the start. If you’re not on the first two pages of a search, you don’t exist. So make sure that each page you submit is optimized for a specific keyword phrase.
If your site features a lot of content for your visitors, just give each topic its own page and keywords and you’ll have multiple ways for people to get into your web site.
For just $39 you can get at least one page of your site into an arena with minimal competition. This is the least expensive search engine payment option and seems to hold the possibility of a high ranking for your site. For more suggestions on optimizing your pages, see my article (http://www.zmoon.com/articles/home_page.shtml). Good luck!
About the Author
Les Goss is President of ZebraMoon Design, Inc. To see a partial list of high-ranking web sites we've created for our clients, please visit our web site at (http://www.zmoon.com). Sign up for our free newsletter at (http://www.zmoon.com/webdesigntips.html). You'll receive two issues a month on topics that should help you stay a step ahead of your competition.