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Still Putting All of Your Eggs in Google's Basket?

Google has become synonymous with searching the Internet. So much so that "googling" means to search for information online. When people try to improve
their site's visibility, it's no surprise that they measure their success by their Google ranking.

This perception is not unreasonable. Google is still the most popular search engine, used for about 46 percent of all searches [1], down from a high of 80 percent [2].

However, focusing all your efforts on Google means ignoring a large part of your potential audience. Yahoo is used for 22 percent of all searches, MSN for 13 [3], and both companies are positioning themselves for dominance of the search engine market. All three engines remain relevant when building a web marketing campaign.

Don't forget about the major directories like Yahoo Directory and Open Directory (DMOZ). Be sure to hand submit to these directories separately. You may remember it was just months ago that Yahoo! was ONLY a directory! At the same time, Google, partnered with DMOZ to compete with Yahoo. But, unlike Yahoo's $299 annual directory submission fee, a DMOZ listing will get your site listed for free in almost all other major search engines. No wonder DMOZ is called the "mother of all search engines".

Use of pay-per-click advertising, which is offered by all three major engines, has become a hugely popular form of search engine marketing. The Overture system (now named Yahoo! Search Marketing Products) which is used by both MSN and Yahoo is at least as useful as Google AdWords. If you're going to advertise on the web, now is probably the time to start spreading out your resources to include at least the top 4 engines.

Demographics are yet another important element to factor into your internet marketing plan. A study by Hitwise found that Google was the preferred search tool for males, while MSN Search appealed to females. Yahoo! was the more popular engine for 18-34 year-old searchers. MSN Search captured the over 55 crowd [4].

Remember, 'follow the money' to predict competitor and user trends. In 2004, $4 billion dollars was spent on search marketing where by 80% went to Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising [5]. So it's no surprise that both MSN and Ask Jeeves are coming out with their own Pay-per-Click advertising products similar to Yahoo's and Google's Adwords.

Where SHOULD you, the web site owner, invest your online marketing resources to gain the greatest return? Consumers generously boosted Google's 2004 profits by advertising in Adwords. Yahoo! got some of the pot too! Why? Because web advertising is relatively easy and appears a sure bet to fast web visibility. But how many website owners truly understand their online market and more importantly, how to leverage their return on investment for the long haul? On the one hand, Google (Adwords) advertising seems like a no-brainer - and why not? ... you simply pay $.01 more than your top bidder and voila - you're in top rank position, visitors will come, and you'll make lots of money.

Think again. A slightly different 2004 test was conducted - this time, to determine where the majority of web visitors searched first. The study revealed that 80% of the searchers observed went to the "organic" or non-ad listings first [6].
A web site that ranks high in the organic or regular search listings is the result of diligent market research. This includes a well designed and architected web site, search engine optimization (SEO), an ongoing link campaign, and regular analysis of visitor behavior and their transactions on your website. SEO may cost a bit more up front but can save you a bundle in advertising fees. A high rank position in the regular listings can offer long term brand visibility after your advertising budget dries up.

Limiting your marketing efforts to one search engine or one search engine marketing method (i.e. online advertising), is like spoon feeding your hard earned profits to your competitors. Very similar to the brick and motor world, a web marketing campaign should be multi-faceted, with an eye towards capturing the niche markets your competitors may have overlooked.


Martha Lee
Founder and CEO
Get In Position

Alex Kahl
Kahl Consultants


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