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The Importance Of Search Engine Marketing

by Ryan Allis

Note: This article is an adaptation of an excerpt from the introduction of Obtaining a #1 Ranking in the Search Engines.

So you have a website. You have spent hours getting the design to look just right, ensuring your navigation works properly, and adding all the content. You are now ready to get the word out. Search engines are a very effective way to do just this.

Although a few people have given up on obtaining top rankings, saying it is just too hard and takes too much time, I disagree.

Search engines are the market makers of the Internet. They connect consumers with providers at the very moment of consumer interest and enable all of us to find exactly what we want, when we want it. They bring great efficiency to the Internet and our lives and shall exist as long as the network of servers and computers we call the Web is around.

Positioning, one of the four Ps of marketing, is an absolutely critical component of the marketing mix. If you are not positioned to be where your customer is when your customer is ready to buy, you lose. Your competitor who is in that place at that time wins.

The first purpose of search engine optimization is to be positioned in the places where your customer is. The second purpose is to be positioned better than your competitions in these places. In the world of search engines, better means higher, and higher means a much greater probability that an individual will click on your link. While this figure varies by engine, recent search data has shown that approximately 70% of users, if they click, will click on one the first three listings in a search engine.

In a survey by Jupiter Media Matrix, 42% of respondents cited search engine listings as the most common way they search for products and vendors online. Here are the full results.

As you can see, it is crucial to be positioned well in the search engines.

However, obtaining top rankings in the search engines is not an easy job, especially for some of the more competitive keywords. It will take dozens, perhaps hundreds of hours of your time, and you will have to wait two or more months to begin to see any results whatsoever. However, the return on your invested time will be more than worth your efforts. The money you save by receiving traffic at no charge instead of paying per click to receive traffic will alone make your time well spent. The years of free prospects being sent your way without any further effort will just be icing on the cake...very valuable icing on the cake that is.

To make a search engine positioning campaign worthwhile, however, you must have the right information and must execute your plan properly. While there is quite a bit of information available on the Internet, much of it is outdated and no longer effective. The dynamic nature of the Internet means that search engine technology, spidering capabilities, ranking criteria, and strategic alliances are all changing rapidly.

So how can you obtain up to date and accurate information and ensure you know the most effective strategies? Well, this week I have completed a thirty-three page guide to search engine positioning.

In the guide I explain the current state of all the major search engines, how one can ensure you are listed in each one, and most importantly, exactly, step-by-step, what one needs to do to get a number one position on each targeted keyword.

In "The Guide to Obtaining a #1 Ranking in the Search Engines", I detail a case study of a former client of mine which I would like to share with you here to emphasize the importance, and opportunity, of being well positioned in the search engines.

In August of 2001 I began working with a client who had a product but no marketing or distribution system nor any employees at that point. Sales were negligible, perhaps a couple hundred dollars a week, when I came in. On October 26th of this year, 2002, a little over fourteen months later, we hit the $1 million mark in sales for this product. As of December 16, 2002, the date of this article, the company has done $1.4 million in sales. The profit margin is 51%, the company presently has just three employees, and the company continues to grow around 15% each and every month.

In accomplishing this, I employed a number of marketing strategies, some online and some off. My work in positioning the company well in the search engines was a significant component of the overall strategy. One highly competitive keyword alone is responsible for approximately $40,000 in sales each and every month.

How long did it take me to achieve this number one position? Well, I would estimate it took me about one hundred working hours spread out over a period of three weeks. While this is quite a bit of time, if you do the math I think you will likely see that it was a very good investment.

What exactly did I do to obtain this top position across eight of the top ten search engines (the company is #2 on the other two engines)? Well, I went through a methodical seven step process. I go into intricate detail on each of these 7 steps in my 33-page "Guide to Obtaining a #1 Search Engine Ranking".

My point is simply that although it took a hundred hours of my time and two months to begin to start to see the return on that investment, it surely was worth it. As such, If search engine marketing is not presently an integral part of your overall strategy, it should be.

If you are not there when Joe is looking for your product, your competitor surely will be and will be glad to take the sale in your place. Search engines are very effective way to obtain a continual stream of prospects at no charge to you besides your initial investment of time. It really is not very difficult to obtain top rankings. You simply have to have the right information, use the proper strategies, and be willing to invest some time now for recurring benefits later.

I thank you for reading this article and I encourage you to read my other articles here on search engine marketing, "Making Your Site Search Engine Friendly" and "Dispelling Common Search Engine Positioning Myths". More information on my Guide to Obtaining a #1 Search Engine ranking can be found here.

Ryan P. Allis is the author of Zero To One Million, a guide to building a company to $1 million in sales. He is the founder of Ryan is also the CEO of Broadwick Corp., a provider of the permission-based e-mail marketing software and CEO of Virante, Inc., a web marketing and search engine optimization firm. Ryan is an economics major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is a Blanchard Scholar.


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