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To: email@example.com Subject: IMC! Search Engine Tools and Rules Date: Thursday, March 18, 1999 6:06 AM The Internet Marketing Chronicles http://www.marketingchallenge.com Issue 139 -- March 17, 1999 IMC is published on Wednesdays and distributed to over 60,000 Internet marketers and webmasters who've asked to receive it. (..) ========================================================= CONTENTS: 1. EDITORIAL: Search Engine Tools and Rules 2. FEATURE ARTICLE: Optimizing Your Site For Search Engines (..) 5. GUEST ARTICLE: Search Engine Tips 6. FEEDBACKS AND TYPEBACKS: The Subscribers' Section (..) ========================================================= 1. EDITORIAL: Search Engine Tools and Rules The big talk these days on the Web is about search engines. Enjoying a top position is certainly the optimal goal for most site owners. But while they are the Internet marketer's easiest tools for creating traffic, search engines should never be considered as tools on their own -- like the yellow pages, they are only support systems and not full-blown marketing media. However, it would be unfair to omit at this point that search engines do have their place and therefore should not be discounted. But even the search engines themselves are slowly redefining that place in similar ways -- they too are now starting to realize the need to find other, more targeted means of traffic generation. Last week's editorial, "A Web Site Can't Live On Search Engines Alone," alluded to the fact that there are more effective ways of creating traffic. As we approach a more hypercompetitive marketplace, a prevalent trend is in "niche" or offline target marketing to build a stronger online presence. Many Internet marketers have also used direct mail marketing (such as with "card decks," postcards, even coupon envelope packs) to successfully increase visitors to their sites. For instance, coupon envelope packs are usually mixed-and-matched to meet specific demographic requirements. While they mostly operate offline, new mediums such as subscriber-based e-mail coupons and Internet "coupon-on-demand" services (such as http://hotcoupons.com) help Web sites approach far better, more highly targeted markets. In the same way, more and more search engines are fusing their online and offline marketing efforts in order to target their potential visitors more effectively. In fact, they are recognizing firms such as ValPak and Money Mailer; firms that offer specific targeted marketing information and tools that make it easy for advertisers to find their best advertising clients. According to Money Mailer, "In 1996 alone, direct mail generated $35 billion in sales. And over the past 16 years, direct mail has grown an astounding 232%." Consequently, Yahoo! has recently joined the offline traffic generation bandwagon by teaming up with ValPak, the coupon pack direct mailer giant. Called "YahooCoupons!" (see http://coupons.yahoo.com), visitors simply enter their zip code in order to receive a panoply of special offers that one can print, cut out, and redeem in their area let alone their area of interest. This type of partnership is surely not alone. The face of the Web has drastically changed since Jeff Mallett, Yahoo!'s president and the mastermind behind the recent merge, joined the popular engine in 1995. According to CNET's Jim Hu (http://www.news.com), "In 1995, the (Web) was defined by a handful of search engines run by Stanford grads. While the jury was still out on whether (they) would work, the fact remained that they had the ability to attract hoards of Netizens." Hu continues: "Since then, (...) Excite, Lycos, and Infoseek have become some of the most desirable properties on the Web, with offline media giants and broadband companies taking stakes or partnering with them to create the Net properties of the future." Therefore, search engines will play an even greater role as time goes on, not only as support systems but also as excellent marketing models for smaller online businesses, which thrive primarily on "niche" and targeted marketing as well. Nevertheless, while search engine placement is indeed more of an art than it is a science let alone a process, in this issue we will attempt to demystify them by providing some basic rules to follow. Our first article centers around key elements for search engine preparation and the second article, by guest author David Silverman of PrimeTime Internet Services, offers some search engine "back-to-basics" guidelines. Enjoy! Michel Fortin, Ph.D. Editor of the Internet Marketing Chronicles mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org (...) ========================================================= 2. FEATURE ARTICLE: Optimizing Your Site For Search Engines There's a pretty good chance that we can save you literally hundreds or thousands of hours worth of research, work, and frustration when it comes to search engines - and using them to promote your site. You see, in terms of marketing effectiveness search engines are highly over rated. And most marketers pay them too much attention. The absolute truth of the matter is that for most online businesses, search engines are definitely not the most effective way to promote a web site. In fact, depending primarily on the products and services you're marketing they can be almost useless. Don't take that the wrong way, many targeted prospects discover our web sites at the major search engines. And we'll show you how to profit from them too. But before we do, you need to know the truth about search engines - and how they should fit into your overall Internet marketing strategy. It's quite possible that they won't be a top priority, because search engines are just one little part of a much larger picture. No doubt you've heard search engine fanatics shouting things like, "90% of your traffic will come from search engines!" Well guess what? That's total BS. The only way that 90% of your traffic will come from search engines is if you listen to these people, and do nothing to promote your site but submit to search engines all day long. It's a proven fact that most searchers rarely look past the top ten or twenty listings, so to begin with you need a really good ranking in order to generate a decent number of visitors from search engines. This presents the first big problem with relying on them for web site traffic - the competition can be extremely fierce. If you're targeting a small niche market competition may not be a big problem. With a modest amount of effort you may find that your web sites get listed in the top ten or twenty positions at the major search engines, generally because there aren't 50,000 other marketers to compete with. But what if your market is a little bigger? It's a classic Catch-22 really. As the number of web surfers searching for a particular keyword or keyword phrase increases, so does the competition for their attention. If your intention is to attract web surfers who are searching for things like "software," "gifts," "games," "chat," "jobs," "music," "free stuff," or any other popular topics, you need to realize that you'll be competing with thousands of other Internet marketers for just a few top rankings. After all, how many "Top 20" listings can there be? To make matters worse, search engines don't all rank web pages the same way. In fact they are all quite different. Here are just a few examples... Using proper meta tags in your pages will normally give your ranking a boost on HotBot and Infoseek, but not on any of the other search engines. AltaVista, Infoseek, and Lycos will index image "alt" tags which can affect the way your page is ranked, but the rest of the search engines don't. Search engines like AltaVista and Infoseek are case-sensitive, but Excite, Lycos and Webcrawler are not case-sensitive. And Hotbot is somewhere in between. Most search engines make use of "stop words," which are common words such as "internet" or "web" that are ignored in searches. But Infoseek doesn't use "stop words." Infoseek and Lycos use "stemming" which means that a search for "swim" might also turn up "swimmer" or "swimming." But not on the others it won't. Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and Web Crawler will give your ranking a boost if lots of other sites link to yours - but AltaVista and HotBot will not. Things like meta refresh tags and invisible text will result in a lower ranking on AltaVista, but Excite doesn't seem to care. The rest have mixed feelings. Each search engine places a different priority on each of the criteria used to rank web pages, and they change their priorities and procedures often. And that's just the beginning. After all of your hard work trying to get everything right, a page that you manage to get into the famed "Top 10" on Infoseek might be listed #100 on AltaVista - and a listing in the 100th spot is almost worthless. The bottom line is that in order to achieve a high ranking on each of the major search engines, you'll need to create a separate web page that is optimized for each. If there are five keywords or keyword phrases that you're targeting, you're looking at creating and maintaining at least thirty different versions of one web page. Is it worth the time and effort? If you're promoting an adult site it might be, because "sex" is the most popular search term with millions of queries per day. But if you're selling anything else there are more effective ways to spend your time - especially if yours is a small business with just a few employees who are already overworked. And that's only half of the story. An even bigger problem with search engines is that unless you're dealing with a really popular theme, you just won't get that many visitors from them. Even with a favorable "Top 10" listing at all of the major search engines, most businesses will not receive enough traffic to generate significant profits. We're talking about daily visitor counts in the five-figure or higher range - the kind of web site traffic that 99% of businesses just can't get from the search engines. For now, stick to basic web page optimization strategies that everyone should take advantage of while designing a web site. Then, as you go along you'll need to decide how important search engine rankings are to you and your business. Remember, your time is limited and you need to spend it wisely. --------------- Condensed from the IMC Private Web Site --------------- Why reinvent the wheel, wasting time and money going it alone? The highly-successful Internet marketers behind this newsletter have spilled their guts at a new private web site. Click now for instant access: http://www.marketingchallenge.com ========================================================= (...) ========================================================= 5. GUEST ARTICLE: Search Engine Tips Search engines are cracking down and penalizing Web site owners for violating their terms of submission. We have outlined below several important factors that should be taken into account when designing and/or submitting your Web site. 1) Make sure to use keywords that only apply to your Web site. 2) Do not repeat the same keyword consecutively on your page. 3) Limit the amount of doorway pages. 4) Avoid having your pages listed under the same keyword. 5) Do not submit all your pages at once. 6) If using repeated keywords, limit them to 3-7 times. 7) Use longer titles with important keywords. 8) Frequently check your Web sites ranking. 9) Pay attention to the competition around you. 10) If submitting several pages, do not submit on the same day. --------------- About the Author --------------- The author is David Silverman of Primetime Internet Web site consultants (see http://keystat.com/consultation.htm). Primetime performs research on your existing business Web site and monitors the content for search engine readiness. They will analyze your site and suggest methods to improve the search engine ranking. (..) ========================================================= 6. FEEDBACKS AND TYPEBACKS: The Subscribers' Section This week's typeback is from: Jeannie Ouellette at http://www.cjeans.com > Question: Is there a rule of thumb on what constitutes a high > traffic web site to a dud? I know numbers are subjective and > hits are interpretive, but when I started in 1996 you had to > have millions of hits a day to be considered "worthy" of > gaining advertising dollars. Most small businesses don't and > won't ever fall into the "Top 5%". > > Is there a realistic number of visitors or requests for the > average "small business website" that defines bad, good and > great website traffic? Generally, it all depends on the type of traffic you generate. If you're niche-oriented, you may have less traffic than larger, more generalized sites. But the traffic you do generate will be of a much higher quality -- something advertisers do look for. To illustrate, let's look at an offline example: To generate quality leads, your ad must read by a specific group of people and as much as possible. Many people have their ads published in large, high-circulation, general newspapers or magazines. But in the end, their *cost-per-lead* can add up significantly. Specialized publications, on the other hand, have the distinction of appealing to a specific audience and thus increase the chances of it being noticed as well as read. For example, if one publication has 10,000 readers but only 1,000 of this number fit into the advertiser's demographics, where another has only 4,000 but all of which fit into the advertiser's demographics, which one do you think will give the greatest response? In other words, rather than fishing for small fish in the middle of the ocean, one will be a catching big fish in a small pond. Similarly, a Web site that may have a tremendous amount of traffic won't necessarily generate leads let alone sales. In such a case, there's no amount of traffic that will help justify the advertising dollars. It's not the advertisement's cost or the number of hits that really counts but the cost-per-lead. Of course, advertisers will not likely buy ad space on a site that produces little or no visitors. But most advertisers would be very happy to do so if you produce a moderate amount of traffic that at the same time is highly qualified -- i.e., it logically fits into their target market. I've seen, for example, that your site is geared towards antiques. If you're trying to get dealers to advertise on your site, try to focus more on the *kind* of traffic you produce rather than on the number. If you have other advertisers that can substantiate the success rate of their ads on your site, use them as referrals or provide their testimonials if possible. Now, to define the cost-per-lead in advance, the trick is to calculate it backwards. For instance, according to the latest data from NetRatings (http://www.netratings.com), the average click rate of online ads is about 0.85%. If your traffic is, say, 1,000 visitors per day, that would equal to approximately 8.5 leads per day -- of course, with all things being equivalent and depending on the quality of the ad. You can then take the cost of the ad per day and divide it into 8.5. This will give you the advertiser's cost-per-lead. Try to focus on that instead of the total cost of the ad or the amount of traffic your site generates. This is just a tip to help you sell ad space, but of course some advertisers do buy their space according to a site's traffic numbers and thus traffic should not be ignored. Nevertheless, if your site produces enough traffic to meet the person's goals in terms of potential leads (based on the average click rate), then the costs are justified according to the potential results and not a specific amount of traffic. Good luck! Michel Fortin, Ph.D. Editor of the Internet Marketing Chronicles mailto:email@example.com Have cybermarketing questions? Want to share your thoughts? Send your lemons or your laurels to: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=Share Are you a successful cybermarketer? Would you like to contribute an article in exchange for some exposure? Send us your contribution (with promotional byline) at: mailto:email@example.com?subject=Contribution ========================================================= Internet Marketing Chronicles Copyright 1999 Internet Marketing Company Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org Don't hesitate to forward this newsletter to friends and associates, but please ask for permission before reproducing the content in any form. We would just like to know who you are that's all. Thanks!
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