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Reaching Internet Users Through Search

February 15

When you consider how frequently search is being used on a daily basis, it makes sense for your company to be featured prominently in search results. But do you really need both "organic" and "natural" listings, generated by search engine optimization (SEO), and paid placement through pay-per-click advertising (PPC), to be successful on search engines?

Organic describes a search that returns results by indexing pages based on content and keyword relevancy. Sometimes this is called "pure" or "natural search." To get a positive ROI with your natural search results, it is important that your Web pages are optimized for high search engine rankings. Optimizing content provides some control over listing content via tags and page text. More importantly, organic listings provide high levels of integrity and broad coverage on potentially every search engine worldwide.

Organic SEO requires changes to your website and patience while results build, with no guarantee of exact results. One strategy is to maximize free listings through SEO first, then supplement and round off with PPC placements. PPC may also help in the early stages of SEO for must-have keywords while SEO is in progress.

Exactly how does PPC work? Certain words or phrases are available for purchase, and when a potential candidate searches for that word or phrase a text ad will appear either above, below, or next to the organic search results. This rapidly growing medium helps advertisers reach potential customers in a highly cost-effective and contextually relevant environment. Search has become an integrated part of Internet activity and, by nature, has a direct impact on a user's Internet experience.

Pay-per-click can be implemented quickly and turned on and off as promotions require. PPC provides tighter control over where listings appear and what they say, making it easy to test search terms and ad wording. While keyword buying offers dynamic ad placement it does require monitoring and adjusting constantly. Optimizing a paid search budget to its full potential involves far more than setting random bid prices and guessing at returns. And, getting a positive ROI depends on the keywords you use in your pay-per-click campaigns as well as using the right text in your ads.

Google and Yahoo! Search, the two most widely used search engines, account for almost 70% of the over five billion searches on the Web. (Nielson NetRatings, November 2005)

Google serves more than 59 million unique visitors each month and performs more than 200 million searches per day. Google's AdWords program delivers ads that are relevant to what search users are looking for based on the keywords or search terms they enter. AdWords ads are displayed alongside or above search results on Google, as well as on search sites in the Google Network, including AOL, EarthLink, CompuServe, Netscape Netcenter, Ask and AT&T Worldnet.

Yahoo! Search Marketing Network draws on the strength of the Yahoo! Network. Yahoo! Search's primary offering, Sponsored Search, also offers advertisers distribution of their search results to other sites, including MSN, AltaVista, CNN.com, Excite, Go2Net and InfoSpace. Through a more advanced offering called Content Match, search listings are displayed along with relevant articles, product reviews and more, providing an additional source of leads. The Content Match distribution network consists of popular, high-quality sites such as Yahoo! and MSN.com, as well as CitySearch, CNN.com, ESPN, Edmunds, Knight Ridder, National Geographic and WallStreetJournal.com.

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