Exa Newletter, Summer 09 Edition











Search Marketing’s Might & Muscle

Plenty of businesses make the mistake of having a web presence purely for branding sake, missing the real point of having a website in the first place – to connect you with new customers searching your marketplace for your business or product right now.

In Australia, 87% of all websites are found via Google. It is literally the web’s most powerful direct marketing tool.

Your website must be found in Google for your most relevant keywords and search terms. It’s a critical success factor in today’s internet savvy marketplace. Having a website that is not listed on the first page of Google for the right keywords is like having an ice-cream parlour in the South Pole.

Listing your website in Google is done via two methods:

  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO); and
  • Google AdWords (GA).

Google AdWords is a pay per click (PPC) solution to search marketing where you position your ad in the ‘Sponsored Listings’ down the right hand column of the search results and pay only when a Google user clicks on your ad. Like most of Google’s services, it is free to set up your GA account and there is no minimum spend or contract required.

GA works on a bidding system where the advertiser sets a budget for campaigns and a maximum cost per click for keywords. Cost per click can be anything from 50c to $50, depending on the degree of competition in the advertising network. Keeping a close eye on the performance of campaigns and measuring conversions is essential, using data to optimise, fine tune or even cull ads as necessary.

The downside to PPC is threefold. Firstly, maximising results can be very costly. Secondly, ‘Sponsored Listings’ are frustratingly unpredictable. Because Google uses so many different variables to determine what site lists when, where and how, ads move up, down and around constantly. Thirdly, Google can inflate its prices at any time. In July 2008, some keywords went from a few cents to $10 cost per click overnight with no warning – something dubbed the ‘Google Slap’. For small businesses where every penny counts, a blow-out in an advertising budget can put them out of business.

For businesses after an effective, cost-efficient, predictable method of search marketing, SEO is the go. SEO is the technique used to increase a website’s visibility in organic search results. Organic search results are listed in the main body of the Google page and are generated in response to a search enquiry. Essentially, Google determines which websites are naturally most relevant to the keywords entered in the search bar and lists them in order of importance.

The basics of SEO involve coding, linkages, structure, design, content and things like meta-tagging and title tags, plus text content appropriately optimised with targeted keywords.

SEO is a job for an experienced professional.

Aside from driving high rates of traffic to your website, attracting quality, targeted visitors, achieving a high conversion rate and winning you business, being found at the top of Google adds credibility to your business, positions you as the industry leader and gives you a competitive advantage.

An eye-tracking study on the behaviour of Google users has become one of the most influential pieces of research in online marketing. The ‘Golden Triangle’ illustrates where search engine users focus their attention in the search results.

What this research proved is that:

  • Search engine users have the highest degree of trust for organic search results and that their degree of trust is relative to the order that Google lists them;
  • Search engine users trust organic search results more than ‘Sponsored Listings’;
  • Search engine users read top to bottom, left to right;
  • Search engine users will click on the first link, then the second, and perhaps the third depending on their success with one & two, and so forth;
  • Search engine users usually perform a new search rather than scroll down the page; and
    Search engine users very rarely go beyond the first page.

Many businesses choose to incorporate both methods of search marketing into their online marketing strategy. The benefit of combining SEO with GA is that it allows you to concentrate both campaigns on a different set of keywords; delivering better results overall, and reduces potential cost blowouts associated with PPC.

If your communications plan is not yet focusing heavily on search marketing, it’s time to rethink your approach. In the current economic climate, businesses cannot afford to cut marketing all together, but must look for ways to cut costs and maximise ROI. The advent of Google search marketing means the days of unmeasurable, non-accountable, hit-and-miss advertising are over.

For information on Exa’s search marketing solution, go to: http://www.exa.com.au/seo/

To speak to an Exa Consultant about supercharging your search results, Contact Us