|Search engine positioning, optimisation and submission (SEPOS) services provide useful services for website owners, from writing copy to giving advice on site architecture and helping to find relevant directories to which a site can be submitted.
Organisations need to optimise their search engine positioning to acquire more customers or members sell more online and for many other reasons. There are nearly 1 billion people with Internet access. Almost 550 million searches are conducted worldwide on the Internet every day. 65% of searches involve research or reference information. 35% are commercial in nature. A searcher is proactively requesting information. They are already looking for what you offer. They are a live prospect.
Search engine optimization has become much more difficult in recent years. It is no longer sufficient to add a few META tags, submit your website, and wait for top placement.
Today, obtaining a top ranking with all of the major search sites is attained by only a very few companies, and maintaining a top ranking requires constant monitoring and rework. What was once thought of as "FREE" now has a relatively high cost (either in terms of time and effort or in terms of fees paid to professionals).
Factors contributing to increasing difficulty:
As the Web continues to grow, so do the number of sites competing for top ranking on the same few critical keywords for each industry.
There are more optimization professionals, using sophisticated tools to help companies achieve better positioning.
New tools enable crawlers to access content that was previously hidden in dynamic content sites, thus increasing the number of total pages indexed.
Search engines, directories and crawlers are becoming more sophisticated in how they index and categorize sites. Old tricks, which many people depended on, no longer work.
For these reasons, most successful search engine marketing programs now involve both optimization and paid advertising. Search marketers must understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of SEPOS, paid inclusion, and paid listings, and should evaluate all three to see what best meets their needs. Most often, a blending of all of these methods yields the best results.
Recent research ["Into the mind of the searcher" from Enquiro Search Solutions] shows that search engines are much more likely to be used during the research or consideration phase of the buying cycle.
The search process is also complex as a typical search involves the search query being refined a number of times (generally becoming more specific) and the opportunity to introduce brand occurs early and repeatedly in the search funnel. The level of familiarity a searcher has with the product or potential vendors of the product affect searches. If there was a high level of familiarity, the searcher would often bypass search engines altogether and go right to a vendor's site, or use a trusted vendor's site in conjunction with a search engine. Interaction with search results early in the process can dramatically affect the search process, taking it in totally new directions. Confidence in search results reduces, the longer it takes a searcher to find what they are looking for.
A search process
Consideration or Research 68.3%
[Source: "Into the mind of the searcher" from Enquiro Search Solutions 2005]
Unsurprisingly for big ticket purchases extensive research is done, often involving multiple online research sessions and repeated use of search engines. The search process and the queries used are usually much more involved and diverse than in smaller ticket purchases and the path to conversion is much longer and there is a higher likelihood that the conversion will happen offline.
Men make decisions faster, spend less time on sites, are more likely to have pre-established "favourite suppliers" that they use in the search process and show less resistance to sponsored listings. Women tended to be more deliberate in reading search results, spend more time with their searches and spend more time on sites before making decisions.
It would also appear that many searchers divide the search engine results page into distinct 'mind-sections', and many will ignore some of these sections completely. For example, it appears that for many people organic listings are frequently seen and sponsored links 'blanked'. More research from Enquiro shows that the number one organic position receives 27.4% of all organic clicks, while 51% of all who click on paid results, pick the top paid search listing. This clearly shows that in paid search, you need your ad to be in the top position, while in organic, you can be in the top 3 to 5 results and still get a good share of the click-thrus.
The same research shows that visibility dropped quickly with organic rankings, starting at a high of 100% for the top listing, dropping to 85% at the bottom of the "above the fold" listings, and then dropping dramatically below the fold from 50% at the top to 20% at the bottom.
The golden rule is, like property: location, location, and location.
When looking at the search results page, most users look for a number of specific items, at least one of which must be present to capture a click through. These items include the key phrase in the title or description, product information and trusted brand names and vendors.
Nearly 60% of users have a search engine of preference, but will use another engine if they're not satisfied with the results from the first engine. So, although users may give Google as their engine of preference, they may actually use another engine, such as Yahoo or MSN, for a significant percentage of their searches.
About the Author: Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM http://www.e-crm.co.uk helps you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer. We provide practical solutions that pay for themselves. We help you to make sure that your marketing works.
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