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    A Cheap Way To Get Google Search On Your Site

    Did you know that Google is competing for your business with a broader set of user services? You probably already know about Google Apps (video), but don’t stop there. Get Google’s newly released search technology for small business!

    Let’s rewind briefly. Google has been in the marketplace with the Google Mini, a powerful search appliance/server with their onboard search technology.  But, the price tag is too high for most smaller companies and has additional hardware and infrastructure overhead.

    Good news: This week Google announced the “Custom Search Business Edition” of their search technology, with a price tag of only 100 bucks for up to 5,000 pages (other pricing models exist).  You can be up and running within the hour, and with no hosting nightmares or additional, hidden costs. The Google Co-Op program requires a Google account, but it’s easy to sign up and you probably already have an email account with them.

    “Millions of businesses have a web presence but offer users no ability to search their site,” said Dave Girouard, vice president and general manager, Google Enterprise.

    Dave and his team are listening to the marketplace, and now – instead of complex hardware setup and server config troubles, you only apply a simple HTML code structure to your website and tell the system to run the searchbox on your site, and include partner sites if you want to.

    Features - Benefits

    • Ad-free search results – create a non-commercial search system
    • Customize your look and feel through a simple web interface – logo, colors, fonts
    • XML feed of search results – for more advanced fit into existing design
    • Categorization of search results – to “tag” keywords to support themes
    • Custom links for subscribers – for special promotions or events
    • Reporting – discover what people are searching for and how often, user behaviors
    • Multiple languages – where text is reflected in the langugage configuration setup
    • Competitive pricing!

    To see a quick introductory overview, check this video.

    See http://www.google.com/enterprise/csbe/ for more information, and to sign up.

    SEO or PPC? Things you should know before choosing.

    These days, it seems not a day goes by without somebody asking me if Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Search Engine Optimization (SEO) should be used online, and why one may be better than the other.

    Search Engine Optimization is the applied practice of moving your website to elevated positions in the search engines. PPC  is an advertising medium you pay for and another way you can get a premier, top page listing in less than 10 minutes. Yes, you could potentially present your product or services millions of people, depending on your budget and targeting options – that quickly.

    Where do you start?

    Ideally, you should use both. Think about the power and business opportunity of ‘owning’ the search engine display, where you are listed not only in the top natural results, but on the paid search side as well. Great for brand recognition too!

    Let’s step back for a moment. As seen in a previous post, users of search tend to click more on natural search results than the paid listings. The acute awareness of what paid search is, exist among the user communities now, especially on Google.

    The trust factor is higher in the SERPs and some users even find that paid ads are a nuisance. And, with Pay Per Click costs rising, and becoming very competitive and especially high priced during holiday seasons, no wonder many look to SEO as their online traffic solution.  Some even feel that relevancy is higher in the natural listings, swaying decisions to choose SEO as their starter option.

    Business owners who focus on organic/natural results also know that, if done right, they are building a real business asset, by creating free traffic, and providing a more long term effect. Of course, search engine algorithms change often, and business owners need to stay on top of them.

    The immediacy of paid search is a fantastic “results-driven” opportunity. You can create a brand new account, add some keywords, set the targeting, relevant ad text and landing pages and be up and running in 10 minutes. You can use tracking software to see results very quickly, even that same day.  For example, if you have an event you are pushing, you can run it for a limited time, and tell the system start and end dates, including what times during the day, if you wanted to.

    Paid search helps you control your spending, so for small business it may be a good option. You may not have a professional SEO individual in-house, and it can get expensive to hire an outsider (if they are any good).

    Recently, I set up a Google account for a business owner in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space. We did it over the phone in 10 minutes, and after credit card and verification emails were sent, the account was ready. This particular business wanted to learn how to run a campaign in-house using PPC. To most, it’s a much more approachable option than SEO.  I help with keyword research, and they write the ads, and they could launch within 5-10 days. Then, with analytics scripts and good landing page designs and conversion tactics, they can have a “web leads engine” developed rather quickly.  It worked for them, but they are/will be looking into SEO as well.

    But, PPC has issues with click fraud, and it can get expensive if you don’t do the upfront keyword research correctly, and proper bid analysis and management, as well as applying known tactics for optimal quality scoring.

    If you use PPC and SEO wisely, they both can make sense for your business. It depends on your industry, budget, timelines and your own dedication.

    P.S.
    Oh, and the data you can capture from PPC campaigns, may help you to optimize your SEO programs, by watching keyword impressions, popularity and more. Always test!

    The Real Truth About Search Engines: Data!

    I have been astounded by well meaning designers and web marketing managers who have created websites with a flair, with a stroke of artistic genius, and with a look/feel that excites not only the internal teams but their visitors as well.

    Extreme graphics, use of Flash technology, smoothly streamlined, and pixel-perfectly positioned for web folks to admire, be impressed by and navigate within.

    I have told them that they have done a good (great) job. I have told them that they have created works with the user in mindNOT the search engines – which is the correct mindset, and the right place to start, always.

    However – the sad truth in two recent cases (yes, large firms too) – is that when I showed them what the underlying data looked like for search engines, they felt embarassed, almost helpless, and then the ”Oh, My God” expression on their face thinking about the loads of dough they’d spent on graphic design, development and implementation initiatives.

    See, the pictures I showed them tell it all – what the search engines really look for: words, content – heck, let’s call it like it is - quality content and links. (Off-the-page factors, the links are still considered the SEO trump card of yesterday, today and the future, especially for Google).

    So, to protect my clients, I will show you other pictures of a recognized website that is highly ranked in Google, a well known brand. I simply typed “shoes” into Google, and received this page when I clicked the link:

    shoes from payless

    It’s payless shoes! Great looking site – inviting, strong call to action, relevant and apparently well designed at first glance (thinking ‘web site visitor’ now)…

    However, looking at this page from a search engine perspective, we see a different view, not as pretty, but now we’re really looking at it with “search-bot eyes“:

    payless search engines style

    There is really no content here at all, only links. My quick disclaimer note is that they have thousands of incoming links and have built a long-time presence on the web, such that content for this (home) page may mean less (no pun intended) to them than you & your own website.

    To find out what you can do to look under the covers – try the Lynx Viewer, which is a text-only based browser and what I used in this example. (You can also use Google itself, by clicking on the “Cached” link from search results, and then the “cached text” link on the resulting page).

    It is certainly revealing, and hopefully will help you think about how you can structure content and links on your page to support your core keywords and theme(s).

    It’s good practice to provide at least 200 words on a page and sprinkle your keywords/phrases throughout: “early, often & naturally”.

    Adjusting Complex Systems: Google Search

    I recently came back from the inaugural SMX Seattle, the Advanced Search Marketing Series. It was hosted by Danny Sullivan, a supreme personality in the world of search engine marketing.

    There was a lot of buzz around this article from the New York Times, which contains never seen data from the tech teams inside the search giant.  For example, do you know what a “signal” or “classifier” is?

    It was the first time (?) Google let a journalist into the search board rooms, and Matt Cutts appeared a little apprehensive at first, but you can see his comments here. (bookmark his blog!)

    If have a chance to read it – what will change in your daily SEO task plan because of it – if any?

    Why Does SEO Really Matter?

    I was recently asked why search engine optimization (SEO) is so important for a website and online business.

    Good question!

    When you hear people in the business speak about natural search or organic search results, they are talking about the website listings that show up in the non-paid area of your result pages.

    Paid advertising, sponsored ads, PPC (pay-per-click) refers to ads you can purchase/bid for placement and are displayed around your page (top, right, bottom) *format & positions vary depending on search engine.

    Search engine optimization is the art and science of tuning your site for maximum exposure in the non-paid area for your key search terms – and optimally, on page #1 of the search engine results pages.

    Once a search engine visitor types a query into the search box and receives results, findings have shown that:

    • Natural Search receives 250% more traffic than the paid search.
    • Natural search converts 30% higher than PPC
    • 1st Page on SERPs gets at least 80% of the clicks
    • 2nd page on SERPs gets much less at about 10% of the clicks

    It is widely known that the SERPs have a higher credibility factor, and as shown on the picture below (courtesy Eyetools), subjects tend to view data on a page in an “F-shaped” fashion, top-left and staggered downward and to the right. This area has been referred to as the Golden Triangle, since being shown here for your key terms is the most trusted, and collects the highest and best action & conversion.

    Eyetools Golden Triangle
    Click for larger image

    Explanations of HeatMap:
    Red/Orange color: all subjects halted their gaze at this part of the page
    Yellow color: More than half of all subjects halted their gaze here
    Purple X: Shows a mouse click
    Dotted line: Shows where computer breaks on the PC screen (“fold”)
    Red lines: How far subjects scrolled down before leaving the page

    In the next post, I’ll show you why content on your page is so important, and what the difference between what the human and non-human visitors sees. It’ll blow you away! :-)

    Your-information-on-page-1-of-blank

    Why this somewhat provocative question in my first SEO blog post? (entrepreneur magazine seo blog network)

    The <blank> entry in the headline may remind you of school tests you’ve taken before.

    Something that makes you stop and think.

    My hope is that it also can reflect the message or intention of this blog – to educate, learn and talk about how to deal with online issues, and specifically around SEO and Search Engine Optimization.

    Since SEO is becoming a broader field in which to operate, I wanted to start with some fundementals, not just dive right in.

    Most folks that I come across think that the <blank> should be replaced with Google, and perhaps Yahoo, or MSN.  This is wrong!

    The line should read: “Your Information On Page #1 of ……=> “Your Own Page”.

    See, if you don’t have your own page(s) set up ‘correctly’, with quality content, relevant call-to-action statements, and with both a user-friendly and search-friendly (in that order!) architecture, you don’t deserve to be on page of Google (which probably was your choice of the <blank> entry, right)?

    So, here are some quick’n-dirty tips to get your own website whipped into shape. Amazingly enough, these changes can boost ranking in search engine results pages (SERPS).

    Here is a list to get you started – a Beginner’s Success Formula, if you will:

    1. What is the sole purpose of your website? – Start by answering this question first!
    2. Think “Above the fold” for messaging – your Unique Value Proposition Content and main navigation on the top half of page, most people read here first
    3. Well designed internal link structure, navigation and quality content – relevant keywords and phrases – early on the page is better, and with a relevant, matching keyword(s) title on top of the page + supportive meta tags (for search engines, a big deal!)
    4. Think 2007, not 1997 – get your site updated to reasonable and current time standards, an “old looking” site is not preferred anymore, and keep content fresh
    5. What would make people bookmark the site and keep coming back? – think ‘visitor value’ over the long term and how much cost, revenue or other opportunities they could provide to you over that term.

    A discussion could be had around what an exclusion of some of these would mean, or what additions would further boost opportunities. For example, what if you only did #3? Would that be enough? (Hint: It’s a good beginner’s SEO Strategy)

    What has been your own experience?

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