Monday, July 11, 2005

Supercharge Your Search Engine Results

Supercharge Your Search Engine Results.
By Steve Plunkett

By now, just about everyone in the industrialized world has used Internet search engines. However, understanding the mysterious, mathematical machines that drive search engine results – that’s another matter. Millions of websites around the world are subject to complicated formulas and processes that determine where they’ll rank in search engines. Even more complicating, the math is ever-changing – so much so that it has created an entirely new industry called search engine optimization (SEO.)

Secretly, behind the scenes, “organic” SEO has been going on since the mid-90s from the early days of public Internet usage. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that every time you run a search on highly searched business words, nearly every entry on the first page of results got its top 10 ranking as a result of SEO. To be competitive on the Internet, every website needs to shoot for that first page. And if you’re not there, you need to contact an SEO professional. To get you started, here’s a primer on the two basic types of marketing via search engines – the first using “organic” methods and the other using sponsored links.

Going organic.

Simply put, organic search placements are the ones you’ve always gotten from search engines. The ones that have been around for years. The ones that make up the bulk of search results. And, other than the initial registration costs with search engines, a listing in organic search results costs you, the website owner, nothing if you know how and where to submit it.

Now, submitting your website does not, on its own, mean you’ll make the first page, or even tenth page, of search placements. That’s where SEO comes in. To optimize your organic search placements, an SEO professional determines the appropriate “searchable” terms for your website and optimizes each page within your site using these keywords. Also, the SEO professional modifies the HTML with certain properties that search engines consider relevant in their ranking methodologies. SEO services can be performed on an existing site or initiated in the planning stage of a new website. But for budgetary reasons, organic search engine optimization is most cost-effective as part of a larger commitment, guiding the construction or redesign of a website as opposed to simply trying to retrofit a site that already exists.

Optimizing a website for search engines does not carry a daily cost. Normally the investment is upfront – to determine the keywords needed and the process to insert them into your website. If the website is already listed in search engines but not listed favorably, organic search engine optimization can take less than 48 hours to take effect. Of course, that’s a best-case scenario. On the other end of the spectrum, if your website is brand new, plan on a study of your keywords and budget for Pay Per Click expenses until your website performs well in organic search engine results. That sometimes takes several months.

Click, pay. Click, pay. Click, pay.

Sponsored links, or Pay Per Click (PPC), are a more recent invention than organic results. Also based on keywords, PPC results appear physically separated from the other (organic) results. Normally located inside a box at the top or on the right-hand side of the page, they’re often labeled as “Sponsors,” “Sponsored Links,” “AdWords,” etc. Every time a searcher clicks on one of these PPC links, the search engine charges the website owner at a prearranged fee. Thus the term “Pay Per Click.”

The costs of Pay Per Click campaigns vary tremendously – from a few pennies per click to a few dollars – depending on the competitiveness or popularity of the keywords selected. For example, the phrase “Search Engine Optimization” currently costs $4.23 per click. In May 2005 on the Yahoo! Pay Per Click network, this phrase was searched 159,916 times. If every searcher had clicked on that link, at a cost of $4.23 per click, the expense for linking to the advertiser’s site, based on that one phrase would have been $676,444.68. On top of that, research has shown that the majority of search engine users prefer to click on the first three organic results before they explore PPC listings.

So which is better?

It depends on lots of factors – among them, whether your site is brand-new or existing, whether your existing site is registered or not, whether your goals are long-term or short-term, whether your need is lead generation or brand awareness. The list goes on and on, but I can share with you one certainty about organic SEO.

From an optimization standpoint, organic SEO is a necessary part of any long-term commercial website strategy. Much like having a sign in front of your physical location, it’s an investment in the future of your business. If enough people drive by and see your sign they will remember you and not have to look up your name every time they are looking for your product or service.

The decisions regarding PPC campaigns are not as simple. You need to ask a variety of questions when considering a PPC campaign in addition to organic SEO. How much will it cost you per click? How many clicks should you expect? How does your site already perform on purely organic searches? Are you looking for a long-term solution or short-term results? Do you need results yesterday or can you wait perhaps one month or more for organic SEO to kick in?

Like I said, it’s a mysterious, mathematical machine. That’s why the industry exists. For assistance, a credible SEO provider will help you find the right answers to all these questions and more.

Thursday, June 30, 2005 "SAN FRANCISCO - A seller of online marketing tools said Wednesday it sued Google Inc., charging that the Web search giant has failed to protect users of its advertising program from 'click fraud,' costing them at least $5 million."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Click. Click. Click. You’re Out.

Click. Click. Click. You’re Out. - by Greg Hansen

Have you ever become frustrated with a website when you couldn’t find the information you wanted? What did you do? Leave? Never to come back?
Here are a few tips regarding website navigation, that will keep your clients clicking:

Click. Click. Click.
When it comes to website navigation, the old rule still applies – users only should have to click three times to get the information they want.
I believe it should be two clicks. From the home page of your website, users should click on a main category. From that category, one more click should provide the information they want. Two clicks. Simple.

Consistent navigation
Your primary and secondary navigation should fall in the same place on all pages. Don’t move them around on each page or section; you could lose your users.
Primary and secondaryYou should have only two major navigation areas on your pages: primary and secondary. Users won’t know how to respond to more than that.

Don’t put everything on one level of navigation
Use your navigation system. Don’t try and make everything accessible from one level. Doing so can become a mess and, again, your users won’t know what to do.

Your navigation system should help users get through your site easily and should not confuse them.

The sitemap crutch
If you have to rely on a sitemap to help users get around your website, you should reevaluate your navigation system. A sitemap should function as an alternative, not as a crutch, for poorly designed navigation. Sitemaps do serve a great function for Search Engine Optimization, but that’s a topic for a whole other article.

Simple and logical
Keep it simple and logical. Put your most important information first, and make it easier to obtain. Less important information can be down a level.

Try something new
There are common navigation designs that many websites use such as navigation on the left and top of a page. But don’t be afraid to try something new. As long as it works and you get the results you want, it’s a good design.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Know Your Website by Steve Plunkett

M/C/C Technique - Search Engine Optimization - Steve Plunkett

When you search online for your company name or your trademarked products, are you at the top of the search engines? On the first page? On the second page?

Are those $0.50 per click visitors to your site looking to purchase or just looking?

Is having the top listing for a particular keyword on Pay Per Click Advertising the best thing you can do for your website?

Internet marketing involves more than just building a website. It requires building a great website using qualified keywords and phrases as part of your website copy. It also means using elements within your website to boost your rankings in search results without using unethical strategies or techniques such as cloaking, hidden keywords or multiple pages with no unique content.

Making changes to your website to alter your search result placement is known as organic search engine optimization (SEO). However, making changes to your website without the proper research is a time-consuming activity and some changes even may be detrimental to your ranking or listing.

A comprehensive study of your website's history – what has and has not been done – should dictate the direction of your Internet marketing efforts. If you were lucky, that history includes your website’s submission to Yahoo! back in 1996. That means you have seniority, and you also avoided the $299 fee to have your site listed. Regardless, you need to find out if the current description of your website in Yahoo! accurately portrays what your company does today. In addition, you’ll want to consider professionally submitting your website to the major search engines, and you’ll need to know if there is something that isn’t “search engine friendly” in the actual HTML of your website.

It’s also important to understand how competitive your business channel is. Are you one of only 13 vendors that supply a really neat device, or are there 1,500 suppliers that could be viewed as competition by a potential customer that has not yet learned the difference? Trying to drive prospects to your website with Pay Per Click (PPC) could be cost-prohibitive for these types of situations – especially when you consider that 80 percent of Internet users skip over PPC advertising unless they recognize the brand and the web address.

Organic SEO, on the other hand, might be very effective. If you and six other companies, out of the 1,500, are using organic SEO on your websites, that would narrow your search engine placement from among 1,500 to just seven, which improves your chances of driving potential customers to your site.

To make organic SEO effective, you should conduct research on what your potential customers are looking for when they go searching. You need to know the common words or phrases used in describing your product(s), and you need to think about whether or not your product/service is transparent enough to have only one search engine result. You also should be sure that when someone types in your particular company name, technology trademark or service mark, they find you. By analyzing your current website traffic, you can determine how people are finding you now and, if necessary, change how they find you in the future.

Internet marketing is one of the best measurable forms of advertising. It can help you know what people searched for to find your website, what pages they clicked on and how they moved around on the website. You can know how long they stayed on each page and where they exited. Based on the referrals from the search engines and the exact time that they contacted you, it can also be determined which search engine and which keywords or key phrases led them to contact you. In addition, when you make changes to your website, traffic analysis can tell you what worked and what did not. Combined with e-mail marketing, traffic analysis can tell you how long it took them to read the e-mail you sent them, what time they clicked on the link and how long they stayed there.

All of these factors should be considered prior to the development of your Internet marketing plan. Ultimately, understanding your website’s history and the way potential customers search for your website can help you determine if PPC is right for your SEO plan or if you should just start with a few keyword changes in your HTML.

Tuesday, June 08, 1999

East Texas Web Guide

East Texas Web Guide
If you are a business owner, here are the facts about this www thingy, 52.5 percent of U.S. households, or about 53 million households had a personal computer as of 1999; 36.7 percent of those, or about 37 million households had online access. That translates into 90 million possible online shoppers out of a total U.S. population 270 million, which means one out of every three Americans is online today, says Evan Cohen at Jupiter Research. ( Online users have a mean income of $61,540 and 40 percent are college educated. This represents home use only, the facts are still not in on how many business users there are, but my estimate would be very close to those numbers. In case you are wondering just who in East Texas has a WebSite, here is a partial list, but you can find a complete listing at upcoming Asia Pacific football league, Check here for Fitness Schedules, Rates, and the latest Health information. Alan Utz and Associates, General Global Contractors Find great links to financial sites, and lots of information about one of East Texas leading banks. Bailey and Colley, L.L.P, Railroad Law and Personal Injury Law Firm. East Texas' Favorite Internet Service Provider, set this as your home page for a great starting point to the internet. Ronald's Barber Shop, specializing in Military Style haircuts. 24 hour sudden service Chuck's Travel, take a trip to your favorite American destinations via comfortable motor coach. Citizen's State Bank, find out banking information for the East Texas Area. DeHaven Eye Clinic, East Texas' pioneer in Eye surgery, with lots of good info. The Skin Doctors - Dermatology Associates of Tyler the Discovery Science Place's latest exhibit. Dixson-Hager Air Conditioning Service and Sales , need a tractor? This is the place. Medical Recruiter for the Emergency profession in East Texas East Texas Advertising Federation, Television, Radio, Print, and New Media, the gang's all here. Need a patio furniture or gas grill for summer? Also, find out about a fireplace for winter. Custom fasteners for any need. East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, the place for all your health information in East Texas. Back/Leg/Arm/Neck Pain, Cant sleep? check here. East Texas State Fair, If you want to know what is going on at the fair, plan in advance by visiting their website. Feliciano Insurance and Investments, financial information that can help you plan for the future. University of Texas at Tyler East Texas Food Bank, visit their website and find out how you can help. KFXK Fox 51, want to know what's on Fox? If you golf, you must go here, Goodwill Industries of Texas Shop for your favorite collectibles. Local Baseball organization for kids. Get that special touch and relax. Moving out to the country? They can help. The man with the voice! The man with the voices! Need to lose weight for summer the Natural way? Really yummy stuff, find out where to buy it online. Almost 40 years of Classic Rock, 96X East Texas #1 Country Radio station. Jammin 93.1 The Jammin Oldies Station Jordan's Mobility Solutions - special utensils for special needs. Employment consultants Mike Pile Jeep, Mazda, and BMW, shop for used cars online. the Cap Ranch Cookout online! Candles from an angel. The most continuous hit music in East Texas. neurocare Network, back pain specialists. The Center for Corrective Surgery Blackjack Outback, go fishing or Hunting in Montana. Accountants for East Texas Bad Credit, Good Credit get a home loan here Emerald Bay Real Estate. See who's playing at Rick's On The Square. Robert's and Robert's Law firm Civil Litigation Firm Rusk County Chamber of Commerce WebSite and History on Henderson, Texas Simmons General Contractors. Metal Finishing Supplies Tyler's Newest Skating Rink with lots of fun activities. Pro and Home Audio Equipment sales and Installation The Suit Club - the place for Tommy Bahama Tyler, Texas Chamber of Commerce Tyler Area Builders Association Tyler Economic Development Council Tyler Today Magazine Online East Texas Piney Woods Regional Advisory Council for Texas Department of Health Baseball and Golf training aids Voted the Best Website in East Texas Tyler Neurosurgical Associates , check out the latest in Neurosurgery Azalea Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Clinic