Organic & Honest SEO
I was reading the Washington Post yesterday, a fine article by Leslie Walker titled "Web Giants Seek Fortune In Search Ads".
I'm going to cut, copy, and paste in two amazing sentences from this article (the bold emphasis is my own).
â€œResearchers at ComScore Networks recently found that people who click on sponsored links in search results are twice as likely to buy something as people who click on unpaid search results
after running the same query.
ComScore also found that paid search links had four times the click-through rate of unpaid search results
for the same queries.â€�
I was surprised to read this, because in the past two weeks, I had talked to two business owners about advertising at Google. Maybe it's a Midwestern bias, but they had completely opposite beliefs than those of the ComScore people.
The first business manager said that he'd never click on the "ads to the right side", because he felt that those websites were going to charge more for their products and services that the people who showed up in the listings more "organically and honestly." (Note: I like that term "organic & honest" in regard to SEO. . .so Midwestern, it made me grin from ear to ear. I think I'm going to use it from now on. This is not to say that I think that paid Google inclusion is polluted & dishonest, though!)
Now, the second business owner said that he'd never even seen the ads, and let me tell you -- this guy searches at Google religiously. His sole focus is on the listings, not on the ads. I had to actually point at the ads with my finger to get him to recognize that they were even on the page.
Now, I appreciate the different viewpoints of these two successful businesspeople, and I also appreciate the ComScore research. I'll likely pass it along to both of them.
Further, ComScore came out with this research finding right after Google made AdSense available to just about anybody with a website and a pulse, as opposed to their previous policy of sites with millions of pageviews only. It seemed to me that Google wanted to sell more click-throughs to their advertisers, and they weren't getting enough on their search engine queries.
The ComScore research came just in time to repudiate some of my conceptions, as well as my own analysis of customer conversion rates. Given their findings, all my customers' stats should show that visitors who came to their sites through paid search engine advertising buying at twice the rate of the "organic & honest" visitors. But so far, the conversion rates seem to be about the same.
So, I'll keep track of this over the coming weeks by zealously monitoring my web logs. We're a little slow to catch on in the Midwest, it turns out. Maybe the 'twice as likely' results will hit here in the next few weeks.
As a matter of fact, I have a meeting in about an hour to discuss the very latest ComScore findings and Google ad strategies. . .gotta run!
Frames CAN get listed. . .
It's not impossible to get framed pages listed in the top ten.
Don't get me wrong: it's not an ideal situation, but it's not impossible, either.
In keeping with the current theme of "clients calling me after all the design is done, wondering why they aren't listed in the search engines" - - - I can think of two clients who had framed sites.
It took me only a matter of days to get a top ten listing for one of them at Google, for a phrase that gets them a fair amount of traffic. It took mere weeks to get them top ten positioning for a number of other popular key phrases, including michigan waterfront property, michigan condominiums, Saugatuck real estate, Saugatuck realtors, Michigan cottages, etc. - - - at a number of top search engines, including Google. Go ahead -- take a look. You'll find them at Saugatuck real estate
And no, I didn't take down their site and re-design from scratch. They had already spent a lot of time and effort in development, and their site could be helped merely by adding good old-fashioned text-based content outside of their frames. A simple and perhaps inelegant fix, but it worked very quickly to get their target audience clicking through, or even calling the toll-free number listed in the title tag at the search engines. And that's kinda important in a seasonal business like lakeside cottage rentals.
Same story with a used honda parts
salvage yard. They had/have a framed site, and they've been in the top ten at important search engine sites for terms like "used honda parts" for years.
In some cases, you can put in a "quick fix" after the design is done. And yes, in some cases, framed sites can do well with search engine rankings.
Form B4 Function: It Hurts
It actually happened twice this year: I met with two U.S. companies who spent over $100,000 developing corporate sites, yet neither of them had an online marketing plan or strategy in place before they designed their pricey properties.
In both instances, I got called in for consulting months after the launch. Both companies had the same problem and the same question:
No one is coming to our site.
How can we get people to come to our site?
I wish I could have turned back the clock for these two companies and worked with their programmers before they designed sites that had no hope of being indexed by any search engine -- ever.
Don't get me wrong: both sites were utterly beautiful. One is very consumer friendly and content-rich. Unfortunately, all the content is contained within pop-ups. Not much hope of getting indexed there, without a major re-design, or making a whole nest of content rich html or other readable pages.
The other site was a sorrowful state of "nothing but pictures". Yep, even the copy blocks were converted to jpgs or gifs, which means that all their content was invisible to the search engines.
You'd think that businesses would show more marketing savvy. You'd think they might want to make the most rudimentary marketing or promotion plan before they spent the big bucks and months of time developing a site. You'd think that with all the information available on the internet, that someone in the marketing department might intervene and insist that their corporate site gets developed with their audience needs, wants, and desires in mind.
OK, maybe you wouldn't think that. But I would, and that's where I'm wrong, as it turns out. It's 2003, and even with the big old dotcom bust of a few years ago, some sites still haven't learned a very basic lesson -- a solid online marketing plan needs to be in place or else they are simply throwing development money down the drain.
So, if you know of anyone who's in the process of developing a brand spanking new site for their company, I beg of you: tell them to get their marketing and promo plans in place before they build, design, or re-design. Have them consult with an internet marketing specialist who can consult with their web designers before any programming begins. A marketing specialist (as opposed to a techie) can help a company maximize exposure to search engines, but also provide insight into a variety of other necessary promotional strategies and techniques and their budgets.
Bottom Line Hints:
If you're designing a new site, think about what your audience wants and how they'll find you. How many people visiting and buying from your site will you consider "successful"? What attraction strategies will you be deploying? How much will they cost? What's your communicational calendar look like? If you don't know the answers to these basics, you need help, my friend!!