Saturday, January 23, 2010

SEO and Social Media Synergy!

There's an avoidable synergy between search & social media promotion. The search engines are including social media results in their listings in excellent positions on top of the SERPs.

But the problem is blogs, tweets, postings and videos on the major social media sites aren't always quality content. All you have to do is read some of the posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn by some wind bags to see what I mean.

I'm not referring to some opinionated people who do have something meaningful to say (even if they aren't within my ideological camp). But there are plenty of tasteless people emitting harmful and hateful venom on a digital soapbox provided to them on social media. This is a discussion for another day.

Therefore, the search engines will have to create a quality filter on real time search in order for it to be useful and relevant to the average Internet user. We'll revisit this issue later in the week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Kick the Science (KTS) Search Engine Terms

1. Search Engine - Is a database of web sites that is ranked according to the computerized criteria called an algorithm. Search engine programmers (engineers) decide in advance what is the configuration of the algorithm.

Various search engines determine ranking on their own different factors of importance or relevancy. For number of years the Google search engine has been the most popular search engine. Google even supplies the search results for lesser known search engines like AOL. Google conservatively has a 51% marketshare in search.

This all changed a little recently after Microsoft developed the Bing search engine. Microsoft also purchased a important share of Yahoo! and it's search properties (like Alta Vista, AlltheWeb, Yahoo! search marketing).

Searchers input keyword queries into search boxes and are given results from the databases of the search engines in accordance with the ranking algorithm from whatever search engine they are using.

In other words, search engines index sites it feels will be of value to its customers, which are Internet surfers searching for information.

The most important concept to grasp with a search engine, is that it uses an automated computerized system to find and rank the sites within its database of web sites.


2. Internet Directory - An Internet directory is a large listing of categorized web sites - however the concept that should be understood with the Internet directories, is that they actually have editors that decide what goes into the directory. Remember an Internet directory is decided and managed by human editors, while in contrast, a search engine is ranked by a computerized algorithm
or system. Directories are important to get links from because, they will raise your rankings in the Google algorithm (which is based on Page Rank or links from other sites to a great extent).

3. SEO - Search Engine Optimization From the Tao of Search Engine Promotion represents the Ying or Female Principle in that it is more fluid and receptive to the algorithms of the search engines, which of course you - do not control. SEO promotion is using known conventions and in some cases deconstructing the algorithms of the developers of the search engines and working with them. In other words it is like Judo where you use the momentum and power of the search engines to build your business. You will have to be constantly vigilant, in order to try to stay abreast of the latest developments in SEO promotion.


4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising with the search engines is bidding for particular keyword phrases or search terms used most frequently by Internet users related to information on certain niches and sectors. Overture was the first great pay-per-click advertising sales channel for the search engines. It presently represents Yahoo, MSN, AOL, Alta Vista, Hot Bot, and related partners allowing advertisers to bid on particular keywords. Google presently runs its own PPC Search Engine advertising branch called Google's Adwords Select. Since PPC advertising is so expensive use it in moderation by setting daily and monthly budgets (otherwise for high volume searched keywords you could go broke). After setting budgets, which you do in the Overture and Google advertising interfaces, use PPC to test your conversion rates for subscribers, sales, etc., and constantly monitor it and fine-tune it. You want to increase your conversation rates.

This is critical because as we alluded to the expense of PPC in earlier in this article the typical major ad agency or corporate brand only spends $5 - $15 dollars to reach a thousand people (CPM). Although they may go higher for a responsive direct mail lists like $100 or $150 to reach a thousand people. In PPC advertising small business are usually paying at least 35 cents on the dollar (for any word with any real competition) to reach a thousand people or $350 dollars. I have seen and experienced people paying $2.50 a click or $2250 dollars to reach a thousand people. The true expense of PPC is never discussed by experts in that industry. Any small business using PPC should have an outstanding product ready for prime time, to see any return in investment. Alternately, they should only use it for limited testing or to get a product quickly to market on-line.

Given the expense of PPC some small business people might be better off buying classified direct response advertising in a niche publication or obtaining ad space in ezines.

Another point to discuss in PPC is how the major companies hurt their advertisers (stab them in the back) by using pop-up blockers, which hurts the advertisers ability to collect email addresses on the front end, and with spam filters block even legitimate marketers ability to reach opt-in subscribers on the back end. Google is more of a front end pop-up blocker, AOL is more of an email blocker, while Yahoo is both. There are better ways to stop email and web site spam.

What is important is that small business, if it is not careful with PPC could be paying AOL, Google, and Yahoo/Overture to put them out of business.

5. Pay Per Inclusion is paying to be included in the database of a search engine or Internet directory. Presently it is free to be included in the Google search engine. You just need a link to your site from a few other sites already in the Google database and your site will be spidered in many cases. Recently it has been announced Yahoo will charge a fee to update your new content into their search engine database. From what I understand if you are already listed in Yahoo its all well and good, but any new content that you put on your site will not be indexed (thus so up in the search results without paying a fee).

6. Search Terms (AKA Keywords or Keyword Phrases) - Search terms and more specifically keyword phrases are words searchers put in a search box to find information on a particular product, service, or item. Keywords and Keyword phrases have different tiers. For instance the top tier keyword business probably receives 500,000 searches a month. But it is so general that it would not be a good keyword for which to optimize your site. However, the second tier Keyword phrase "small business" would have less searches, but it is more of a targeted search. The third tier keyword phrases are even more targeted and would be ideal for persons to optimize their sites for although there are less monthly searches for them.

7. Search Engine Algorithm - Algorithms are sets of rules according to which search engines rank web pages. Figuring out the algorithms is a major part of SEO. The thinking is that if you understand how they calculate relevance, you can make specific pages on your site super relevant for specific search terms. For more on algorithms and SEO in general, please refer to the Search Engine Yearbook.