The Inside Scoop on Search Engines

You have a great Web site. You offer great service. And, you're sure your comissions will go through the roof, if only...

If only your clients could just find you on the Web!

Today, with millions and millions of Web sites, how does anybody ever find anything on the Internet? Is it really as easy as submitting your site to search engines to get it listed?

It can be just that easy. But, sometimes easy doesn't mean simple.

When it comes to getting listed with search engines, confusing is the name of the game. There are bewildering terms, tricks, and strategies that make getting listed no small adventure. But, if handled properly, using search engines to help you advertise and direct customers to your site can be a very inexpensive and effective way of promoting your business.

Getting Listed

When you want to get your site listed on a major search engine, one way is through "Search Engine Submission"-a process where you simply submit your site for listing. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, each search engine (e.g., Yahoo, Google, MSN) has different hoops for you to jump through in order to get listed. In addition, some engines even charge you for the honor of showing up in their search results. How nice of them, don't you think?

Keep in mind that submitting your site to search engines is simply asking the engines to look at your Web site. Whether it seems fair or not, this doesn't guarantee that you will be included in their listings. Even if your site is included in the listings, it can take months for it to show up. And, even then, your site could be listed on page 24,000! In other words, favorable rankings are far from guaranteed.

Think of it like this, submitting to search engines is like buying a lottery ticket. Just because you have a ticket doesn't mean you'll win. But, luckily, there is a way to help increase your one-in-a-million odds to becoming a winner and this magical means is called Search Engine Optimization.

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the act of "tweaking" your Web site so that it's more favorable to the search engines.

All of the major search engines have computers that surf the web 24 hours a day. They're called Spiders and they "crawl" (visit) all over your Web site-ranking your site on how well you do a number of things. The tricky thing is that each search engine places importance on different areas of your site. Some rank your site heavily by your MetaTags-lines of code in your Web site that are only seen by these spiders that tell them what your site is all about. Others weigh heavily upon the actual content on your site. And, still others consider how well your code is written, the number of people linking to your site, and the frequency that certain keywords show up in your copy.

Now, let's say you hit the lottery and your page lists at the top of search engines. Congratulations! On the search engine's results pages, your site will appear at the top of the page directly under the "sponsored results". These sponsored results are reserved for companies who bid (meaning they pay money) against other companies to be at the very top of the search results page. These companies are charged every time someone clicks on their link. Being at the top drives business-it's a good place to be, so these companies are more than happy to pay for the privilege. This method is called Pay-Per-Click.

Pay-Per-Click

Pay-per-click (PPC) allows you to buy your way to the top. If you've got the money, this guarantees that you are listed at the top of search engines. There's no lottery here! You bid against other companies on keywords. Obviously, some keywords are much more competitively sought after than others. For example, if 75,000 people a month are searching on the keywords "loan consolidation," you better believe that companies that sell related services are going to do what they can to get that top spot. In fact, for loan consolidation the recent top bid was-are you sitting down?-$29.69! That means that the top bidding company is willing to pay almost $30.00 every time someone visits their site. Wow!

Thankfully, this is an extreme example. In most cases, you'll see bids range anywhere from ten cents per click to a few bucks per click. If no one else has bid on your search term, the minimum bid is only $.10. That means that you and your business can jump to the top of the list for only 10 cents! Amazing, isn't it?

I bet you're wondering how to get started?

A company by the name of Overture handles the PPC of most major search engines with the exception of Google. Google has their own PPC called Google Adwords. But, be careful of jumping into this alone. It's not as simple as just going online, purchasing a few keywords, and then being listed at the top. There are many, many variations of keywords that get very different results. Choosing the wrong keyword(s) could be costly. In addition, since Overture and Google charge a minimum monthly fee that must be spent each month, choosing the wrong group of keywords can result in no increased traffic to your site and a lot of wasted money out of your wallet. That's where we come in. (Ahem: Start shameless plug here!)

At WGC, we can work with you to help get the most out of your search engine advertising budget. For example, if we can get you listed at the top by simply using SEO-meaning you don't have to pay every time someone goes to your site-we will and we'll save you countless dollars in doing so!

Every situation is unique and-just to keep things interesting-search engines are always changing the rules in the middle of the game. Because of this, you need to continue tweaking and fine tuning to maintain your search engine positioning. We're here to help you through the process and make it as painless as possible.

Contact us today for your free Web Position Analysis detailing how you can increase sales by driving more traffic to your site.

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