Two High-ROI Methods for Increasing Your Brandís Visibility on the Web
by Veronica Fielding
Therewas a time you could expect your brand’s site to appear in the topposition for at least its own name on any search engine. But even that isn’t a guaranteeanymore as competition for precious Top 5 positions becomes fiercer.
Wonder why some companies—even small ones--are making it intothe Top 5 positions, and others are not?
Search engine marketing isan emerging area that consistently delivers quantum leaps in leads, sales, andawareness when effectively implemented. In a recent survey, Jupiter Research found that more than 75% ofexecutives who used search engine marketing found it to be more effective thanbanner advertising, and 66% expected to increase their use of it.
Yet many companies think their site is optimized because someoneprogrammed 15 or so keyword phrases into the site’s source code a whileback. They are surprised to findthat this approach is quite outdated. Companies that are consistently in the Top 5 positions on the searchengines for the search terms important to their brands usually have committedto the active optimization of theirsites to retain that visibility.
Real optimization involves studying your target audiences’search behaviors and uniting them with information about your brand, yourcustomers, and their preferences. It involves changes to the design, copy, and programming of your site tomake it more attractive to both customers and search engines.
Awell optimized site will have a genuine balance between what a human needs tosee on the site to have a good brand experience and what the search enginesneed to “see” on the site to draw searchers to it.
Typically, search engines like to see good use of title tags, textincluding the search terms in some degree of frequency, and in-bound links fromquality sites, along with clean coding.
Another avenue to increase your brand’s online visibility is searchengine advertising (referred to as‘pay-per-click’ advertising). This involves buying search terms on Google (Google AdWordsprogram), Overture, LookSmart, and other ad networks and creating ads thatappear whenever people enter those keywords as search terms on the search enginenetwork.
The ads are ‘bought’ via a bidding system, whereby theadvertisers that want their ads to appear when someone enters a particularsearch term bid against each other. The advertiser pays the search engine every time someone clicks on thead. It is important to understandthe value of each visitor so you can create an expectation for results and ROI.
Managing these pay-per-click ads requires active monitoring andexpertise. If your bid/advertisingfalls below the 3rd or 5th position (depending on thenetwork), your ad won’t appear across the entire network, just on thesearch engine itself. Bid too highand you’re spending money needlessly to be in the #1 slot (if slots 1-3are always seen, why pay extra to be in the #1 position?); bid too low and risklosing exposure.
Pay-per-click costs range from as little as $.10 (10 cents) perclick to more than $10.00 per click for very competitive target words, And keepin mind, that’s just for 1 network, just for one term—not for all of the terms you’d need to buyto reach your audiences. That’s why companies with mission-critical websites tend to investin site optimization and use search engine advertising to complement, notsubstitute, for natural listings.
Veronica"Niki" Fielding is the president of Digital Brand Expressions, aKingston-based interactive consultancy helping clients increase sales throughbrand alignment, advanced site optimization, visitor optimization, ande-marketing. For more information,visit www.digitalbrandexpressions.com.
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