According to Netcraft* ..."as of January 2007, there are 106,875,138 web sites, with over one million new web sites per month being added to the total".
"There are a thousand questions...How long has the web site been online? What is its traffic history? What are its current search rankings for specific keywords? Does the site have any opportunity to be a major information provider in its category? What is the method used for accepting contacts from the web site and responding to contacts? Who are the web site's competitors and what are they doing about these SEO? Is a real-time, easily accessed measurement and analysis system in place? Does the content on its web pages directly support specific keyword phrases and different phrases for various pages?... " Jack Landman
Introduction - Search Engines
Every year, I make a new effort to explain what it is we do here at Jman5 Web Site Services, and put it on this web page. This is the first time in those ten years, I believe these services have finally become part of the mainstream of standard advertising services and techniques. In general, what we do at Jman5 is market web sites, and we're interested in every possible way users of the Internet can be induced to visit our client's web sites.
The largest providers of internet traffic are that group of web sites we call "search engines". Today, almost anyone knows what I'm talking about when I say "search engines", and if you say "Google" or "Yahoo", everyone knows what you're talking about. Because they are the largest determinants of web site traffic, we give special attention to all marketing issues related to search engines.
In 2007, Jman5 Web Site Services celebrates its 10th anniversary for providing search ranking and listing services for web sites. We can't help but to have learned a few things, and I believe the most important one is this: there are no shortcuts or tricks to getting high ranking organic* search engine listings. There is a process, which works, if diligently applied over time, for making web pages contain appropriate and necessary information which a search engine can read, prioritize and consider relevant for a given search query or search request. The concept is simple; implementing it is hard work.
I think of search engines as the web's brain. Without them, the web wouldn't know what to do with itself, and we wouldn't know what to do with it. Search engines must have been intrinsic to the web as web sites. It's as if they naturally evolved to provide the irreplaceable, essential service we must have. Imagine the web with no search engines and you can easily imagine how clumsy and frustrating would be the process of navigating to the information you desire.
Over 80% of web surfers daily depend upon them to find people, places, things and web sites. This might be like saying 80% of telephone users search the Yellow Pages for business phone numbers, which may have been true 20 years ago, making the Yellow Pages a dominant marketing system in the past, but web searches aren't just looking for phone numbers, they're looking for everything, so I think of the web as a marketing tool as the Yellow Pages at its peak, times 1,000 or maybe times 1,000,000. No science involved here, I'm just trying to create a comparison of the immeasureable.
So, when it comes to finding web sites, search engines are by far the biggest show in town and in the cosmos. As an example of the influence of just one search engine, more than 500 million people a month use Google. Yahoo and MSN, as well, are very close to the 500 million per month number too.
Two Types of Search Engine Listings
At present, there are two types of listings on search engine results pages. The primary listings are called, technically, the "organic" or "natural" listings. It is worth spending a lifetime making your web site pages rank higher and higher in the "organic" listings. For now, and at least for the foreseeable future, there are, and will be, no fees charged to appear in these listings. A well-placed web site will receive hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of web site visitors every year from high ranking organic listings. Money can't buy that. It is an advantage forged and maintained over time.
The primary listings are called "organic" or "natural", because they are produced "naturally", when the search engine does what it was designed to do. All search engines use complex mathematical formulas for analyzing and ranking web pages when a search is initiated. The formula is unbiased and ranks web pages by its determination of which web pages are most relevant to the subject being searched.
The secondary set of web site listings on a search engine results page are the "sponsored" listings. This listing group is completely an advertising product. The search engine charges a fee for each of the keywords or phrases you choose to trigger the appearance of an ad listing. The higher up in the resulting list you choose to place your ad, the higher the fee. However, you are only charged when someone clicks on your ad and goes to your web site, and it is this particular characteristic of sponsored search which separates from every other form of advertising known. A customer only pays for the advertising which works, which delivers a targeted prospect to the advertiser.
I have expressed my personal opinion for several years now that sponsored search campaigns are are absolutely the best advertising money can buy. If an advertiser has not had the opportunity to see that for himself for his or her specific products and services, then he or she owes it to himself to do so, especially since you can learn everything you need to know for as little as fifty bucks.
I still hear way too many would be sponsored search advertisers say, "I just know it isn't right for my business". And I say, "Have you tried a small test campaign for $50 or $75 to see for yourself?" The would-be customer says, "Well, no I haven't". I say, "My experience shows me you have at least a fifty-fifty chance of discovering something terrific, maybe the most powerful, cost-effective and positive business marketing tool for your web site which has come down the pike in the internet era, but you've got to pull the trigger and see for yourself ".
Some of the things we've learned...
A web page contains two kinds of information. It is publically viewable information and graphics we often call the "content" of our web site, plus it is another kind of information, "information about the information" which describes and identifies the type of subject matter in our web page, and how it should categorgized and catalogued. This information is what the search engines read, analyze and rank, in addition to visible textual content on the web page. Both kinds of information are embedded in web pages.
Search engine positioning is a process which should never end. Continuous attention and periodic changes are the only reliable methods for achieving and maintaining top listings. Remeber, "search engine optimization" really means "web page optimization for search engine rankings".
The three things for your to-do list:
It bears repeating, no two search engine marketing projects are the same. Every search engine listing development project is a custom project. How long has the web site been online? What is its traffic history? What are its current search rankings for specific keywords? Does the site have any opportunity to be a major information provider in its category? What is the method used for accepting contacts from the web site and responding to contacts? Who are the web site's competitors and what are they doing about these matters? A profile is developed. The profile spells out what the site needs to get to the pinnacle of search engine recognition.
Once established, the position grows and improves of its own accord, by providing high quality information to to search engines, so long as it is periodically infused with new material, especially freshening title and meta taginformation, and adding new web pages. Many sites with which I have worked, have made some of their most meaningful upward movements as recently as last month, and that's after five years of tweaking.
There is no one thing which can be done to suddenly achieve great listings, which dominate a category. The web sites which meet with search engine success are the ones committed to the process for the long haul. Years of regular attention, development and updating of listings is required. The sites with which we have worked the longest have the highest rankings, are most firmly entrenched and will not be easily dislodged from their positions.
A permanent ongoing plan puts a web site in the highest echelons of dominant representation in a limited universe. By "limited universe" I mean there are only twenty top twenty positions and only ten top ten positions. That's it. You can't make more.
Google is the biggest horse in the stable. You simply must develop significant positions in Google. It is worth spending a great deal of time and effort to make that happen. You may have to stay with it for over a year just to see the first satisfying results, but you have no other choice. You must fight and keep fighting for your position, then you must fight some more to stay once you get there.
So instead of tricks, magic, hocus-pocus and abracadabra, there is a straightforward process for
* Netcraft - Netcraft is an Internet services company based in Bath, England.