CEO at Econsultancy
22 October 2000 16:42pm
Search engines and their importance as a marketing tool to help bring traffic to your site have been discussed an awful lot. Rather than repeat much of these discussions, I have included some selected useful links further down that will give you more than enough to follow up on if you wish.
What I am more interested in is what your search engine strategy should be. Or more particularly, how much time and money is it actually worth spending worrying about search engines?
There are several options you might consider:
1. Do nothing at all
2. Make sure you have the code basics covered (page titles and meta tags), manually submit your site to the major search engines and directories (the top 15
account for over 95% of all searches) then forget about it.
3. Cover the basics, spend some time researching more specialist search engines and directories, submit the site, check on its positioning occasionally and re-submit where necessary
4. Pay someone to take care of an extensive search engine initiative for you including creating doorway pages, fine tuning your pages for each search engine, monitoring and re-submitting regularly etc.
Your decision will depend on the nature of your site. Are people likely to come to you through a search engine? Do you want this kind of custom? It is undeniable that search engines send a lot of traffic to sites but it is equally true that users don’t find them very satisfactory on the whole. Most users will now try guessing the URL a few times before resorting to a search engine, so having the correct URL and spending money to make sure users know who you are in the first place are clearly very important. For big, well-known brands, there is a strong argument for them not to bother with trying to rank high in search engine results. Would you go to a search engine to find Nike’s site? Or might you take a wild guess with www.nike.com ?
It is also worth pointing out the truism that not everyone can be in the top 10 of a search engine’s rankings all the time. It just isn’t possible and cannot be guaranteed. The number of web agencies and marketing specialists who guarantee to achieve this is remarkable. Assuming the thousands of companies that exist who claim this have the odd client or two, there must be some disappointed clients out there. It smacks of the early dot com ‘I have a web site therefore I am a millionaire’ tendency. Just because you have some software that can automatically re-submit your site if it drops out of the top 10, doesn’t mean it will always be in the top 10.
Looking at the simple options suggested above I would contend that:
Option 1: Not a good idea. It’s so easy to do that it is plain stupid not to do it at all, unless you have a very restricted and non-consumer facing site i.e. you don’t actually want traffic that is not invited.
Option 2: This would represent the very basics. If you are very busy and have an existing client base then perhaps your time would be better off spent servicing and retaining the clients you do have than spending any more time on search engine submission.
Option 3: This is what I would recommend as ‘standard’. It takes about half a day to manually submit your site to the major search engines, research specialist directories and submit to them as well. Specialist directories are definitely worth it for quality of traffic (a good example is Find (http://www.find.co.uk ) – “the leading internet directory for UK financial services”). Buy some software (see below for examples) to do periodic checking and re-submission. It’s really very easy…
Option 4: If money is no object (is that every the case…?) and your business model relies on as much traffic as possible of whatever sort (e.g. some advertising models) then this could be sensible. If you need to promote particular products, especially if they are strongly branded, then it is worth considering ‘doorway’ pages and promoting particular site areas to the search engines.
The bottom line is that search engine submission (including creating the pages for submission) is not difficult or expensive to do fairly well yourself and in the vast majority of cases I think this will suffice. If search engine rankings really are that important to you then pay someone else to do it: there are people who live and breathe this stuff and your time would be much better spent concentrating on other marketing, the product itself, and serving customers to the best of your ability.
Who are the major search engines?
http://searchenginewatch.internet.com/links/Major_Search_Engines/The_Major_Search_Engines/index.html – lists the big non-specialist players with explanatory notes
Tutorials – meta tags, how search engines work, page creation, doorway pages etc.
Search Engine submission software
WebPosition Gold - http://www.webposition.com/
TopDog - http://www.topdog.com
Web Position - http://www.netpromote.com/webposition/
http://www.searchenginewatch.com – for a long time considered one of the best destination sites for everything you want to know about search engines
http://www.topwebsite.co.uk/diy.shtml – Web Site Promotion Services Ltd who run this site have the distinct advantage of being UK based for a change. There is a very good resources section (http://www.topwebsite.co.uk/links.shtml ) with links to everything you could ever need.
http://www.wilsonweb.com/webmarket/searchengine.htm – links to hundreds of articles across the web about the merits, pitfalls and techniques in search engines submission.
http://www.beaucoup.com/ - a list of 2,000+ search engines, indices and directories. Useful for finding those more specialist directories.
http://searchengineforums.com/bin/Ultimate.cgi – a busy forum where you can discuss the minute details of each search engine’s inner workings if you wish
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