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Search Engine Promotion

Beating the Search Engine Game

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Web site owners will often attest to the frustration of getting listed and ranked highly on the search engines. Knowing which search engines to target, how much to pay, and how to get a high listing is most often the source of that frustration. The unfortunate reality is that you must be listed on the search engines to drive adequate traffic to sustain your online venture.

A sample report of search engine rankings
on Google for given keywords.
Search Engine Ranks

Why Search Engine Promotion is Important
To compete efficiently against your competitors on the search engines, you'll need a strategy long before you launch or re-launch your web site. In fact, recent surveys indicate that one of the major reasons for redesigning web sites is to perform better in the search engines. In other words, if you don't incorporate the necessary structure and data in your web site, you won't be getting listed in the search engines anytime soon. Another important role search engines play is as a platform for advertising. Search engine advertising is further discussed on our Online Advertising page.

Search Engines: Pay or Don't Play
Four search engines in particular are essential to your web site traffic because combined they reach over 90% of the Internet audience. They are Google (#1), Yahoo! (#2), MSN (#3), and America Online (#4). According to Nielsen, even the engine Ask Jeeves reaches about 10% of the Internet audience. Our point? If you want to drive traffic to your web site, you need to ensure you receive a well-ranked listing in the top four or five search engines.

Of these five search engines, only two are considered free for inclusion - that's Google and AOL (which uses Google's listing as their own). The remaining three search engines have some kind of fee associated with being listed. This is called 'pay-per-inclusion'. While the fee is relatively nominal for each - around $200 to $300 dollars - the combined cost can be daunting to the small business. Because these engines control so much of the Internet population, inclusion in their listing is essential to your online success - and they know it.

Optimizing for the Free Engines
Paying to be included gives some assurance of visitors finding your web site. But what can you do to ensure you get listed in free engines like Google? The fact is Google is pretty good about including your web site in its listing. The problem is getting listed where someone can find you. If you get listed but end up on the 125th page of search results, then your listing will have little impact on your traffic.

If you understood the complex algorithm Google uses to rank web pages, your web designer could optimize all your pages accordingly. Understanding what Google 'likes' is the first complex issue to tackle. Through trial and error, you could change your web pages and re-submit to Google in hopes of seeing your rank increase. Or you could spend countless hours studying search engine optimization only to find what you learned is now irrelevant because Google has changed their algorithm once again (yes, it happens frequently). Or you could contact NetCentric and utilize their search engine optimization expertise to develop your web pages for you.

Other Affordable Options
If paying to get listed is too expensive and optimizing your web site is too complex and time consuming, then you have other affordable options. One of options is pay-per-click keyword sponsorship. Pay-per-click is a way to circumvent the methods discussed above and get almost immediate results. Certain advertising networks have implemented sponsorship advertising on Google, Yahoo!, and several other search engines. To get listed, you bid for the keywords that your visitors use to find your web site. The higher you bid, the higher your ad is ranked. In most cases, a top three bid will ensure you get listed on the very first page for the selected keyword search. However, if you bid on a term that is very popular, you can expect to pay a considerable amount.

For popular search terms, you could expect to pay between $25 and 100 dollars - that is per click. That means anytime someone searches for your keyword, finds your listing, and clicks on it, you pay that amount. The good news is, less popular keywords can be bid for pennies on the dollar per click. Knowing what are the most popular yet least expensive terms is the trick to optimizing your results with pay-per-click advertising. Knowing how much to bid is another challenge. NetCentric's proprietary pay-per-click bidding tools are helpful for identifying the best terms at the best prices. To learn more about pay-per-click advertising, visit our Online Advertising page.

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