Competition Among Top Search Engines

Google Dominates

Google continues to dominate as the top search engine in the United States. While a select few reign over the search engine industry, there is a great range between the top three largest companies. As of September 2009, about 70.5% of users use Google, 17% used Yahoo! and 9.3% sided with Bing. With such discrepancies, the number two and three search engines are losing a great deal of market share to the Google giant. In the past, Google and Microsoft have been fiercely competitive. From competing web browsers to applications, Microsoft has jumped directly into Google’s game with the unveiling of their new search engine in summer of 2009.

Does Bing Size Up?

The commercials seem promising, but does Bing really size up to Google? Formerly Windows Live Search and MSN Search, the new search engine has boldly labeled themselves as the “decision engine”. Some experts believe that Bing is a great improvement from what it used to be, and that it has the potential to threaten Google’s success. While the size of that threat is arguable, Bing offers relevant results that are competitive to those of Google. Another obstacle for Bing to overcome is attempting to win over loyal Google users. Bing is relatively young to Google and time will tell whether or not their technology and measurable marketing efforts will pay off.

New Competitors

Although Google is all we hear about when it comes to search engines, the market outside of the United States is drastically different. For example, did you know that AltaVista is the number one preferred search engine in Canada? The Swiss prefer Abacho, while China is no stranger to altogether banning access to Google. Google is great at recognizing competitors and making valuable additions to their company. Did you know that Google acquired Google Earth from a smaller company in 2004? New technology is emerging all the time and Google is definitely keeping their eyes peeled for new competitors.

Making Use of Local Search Results

Local Search Marketing

Increasing advances and improvements have made local search engine results more relevant than ever. When you’re browsing online for restaurants or hot shopping spots, you want results that are relevant to your geographical location. Google recognizes consumer demand for this relevancy and is working hard to become more local. With that being said, it would be foolish for businesses to downplay the importance of local search. A focus on your local search efforts means taking a close look at your campaign in specific geographical locations. As a small business owner, your recognition on the Internet relies on how well you do in local search results. Even on a nationwide level, a corporation, such as World Gym, can greatly benefit from ranking higher on local search results.

Improving Your Results

There are simple steps that you can take to improve your local search results. First, take advantage of free local Yahoo! and Yellow Pages business listings. You can make sure that your business is listed in other local business directories and listings from your local Chamber of Commerce. When it comes to keeping your website updated, always make sure to include your address and local telephone number, along with an 800 number. This way, customers and search engine results can easily tell exactly where you’re located. Local SEO efforts will also be appreciated in the long run. It can be as simple as adding your city to title pages and including in keywords and while link building.

What the Future Holds

Local search will only get more accurate with time. Earlier this year, Google has even begun to add pictures to their local search result pages. While this will help put local businesses on the map, it means This means that businesses will have another task of monitoring their activity on local search results and websites. If that’s not enough for you to keep up with, there’s much more. Twitter’s search engine allows users to search in real time. When local search is integrated with real time technology, who knows what the future holds!

How long does it take to improve the Google Quality Score?

google quality scoreWe’ve been working on improving our client’s Google Quality Score for our paid search clients and we recently asked our dedicated Google team the following question:

How long does it take to improve the Google Quality Score?

For those of you who are new to paid search, Google now provides your ads with a quality score. The above link goes more into detail if you’re interested. In short, Goolge wants to make sure that they’re providing relevant ads for the search and will reward you if your ad and landing page relates to the search phrase.

Here’s the response from Google:

There really isn’t a set time frame. All we know is that changes to Quality Score will not happen immediately. The system may take up to a few weeks to reassess the keyword’s Quality Score in the context of the ads and landing page. Please note that during this time you may see stronger fluctuations in Quality Score than usual, as the system processes the new information.

The Importance of Keywords

The concept of keywords and keyword phrases seems simple on the surface, but when it comes to organic search engine optimization, it can get a bit tricky. A keyword or a keyword phrase is a descriptive word or a series of descriptive words that a person might type into a search engine in order to find a website that pertains to the particular word or words searched.

So how is it, you ask, that a search engine identifies these keywords or keyword phrases? Search engines work by matching up patterns. When you type in a word or a phrase into a search engine like Google, Google would look through portions of content in search of the particular keyword or keyword phrase. If you searched for the keyword “Labrador puppy” Google would view a paragraph on a website and the only words that would pop out as different would be “Labrador” and “puppy.” All of the other words would appear as plain text, no different from each other. If you tried searching “dog food” then Google would view the same paragraph this time with the words “dog” and food” popping out.

Google only sees the keyword or keyword phrase you are searching for. Search engine spiders look at where the keyword appears and how frequent the keyword’s appearance is on the particular site and then determines how pertinent or applicable the site is to the particular word or phrase.

Latent semantic indexing
is a tool that is progressing at a fast pace. Latent semantic indexing is something that search engines use to determine whether certain words are related or not. This technology is still processing and until it is complete, the simple concept of keywords and keyword phrases will do when it comes to search engine optimization.

New Google Site For Advertisers

Well Google is at it again with another new site. This brings the Google site count up to 6,341*. Wow! There newest addition is for advertisers! There’s plenty of information on it which will help you in the advertising world. There’s a great case study on the home page which is a ‘worst case’ case study of a pet stick campaign. I love it! I’ve inserted the image here for a laugh. google-advertising-site1

The pet stick case study shows you the various tools you can use to market your product which I hope is better than a pet stick. Although I’m sure people would buy the pet stick! So from media planning, new keyword tools, buidling a social media site through OpenSocial, setting up ads on Google, creating a YouTube video, engaging YouTubers, (just learned this is an actual word) you can see how Google can help. The site gets into how TV and mobile ads work as well.

My favorite section was the free marketing section. We’ve discussed some of these tools in past posts, such as Webmaster Tools and the Local Business Center, but there are many more such as Product Search, FeedBurner, Gadgets, OpenSocial, Maps API, and YouTube. I recommend reviewing these free tools and making them work for your site.

larry-and-sergeyIt just occurred to me that a lot of these free tools were companies that Google bought out. We’re actually in the process of creating a tool for our clients so maybe Google will try to buy us out in a few years. We shall see! Please forward this blog URL to Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google Co-Founders) so they can start preparing for the buyout!

* just kidding – I’m sure there are plenty but I just picked this number out of thin air 😉

Google search results are starting to include local results

Google's including local results
Google's including local results

Just heard through the search marketing grapevine that Google is starting to include local results for search queries that they think you’d like to see local results. Try a search for “cars” and half way down you’ll see local results based on where you’re searching.  This is based off the IP of your computer where you’re searching from so if you’re surfing the net from your office and the network has a block of IPs from a provider out of state you will most likely receive results based off of where that IP is located.

So with this in mind it will become more important to make sure your business is listed in Google Local. Click here if you need to get listed in Google Local.

How to work with a search marketing company or consultant

I thought this topic would be relavant to our customers as well as others out there that work with a search marketing company or consultant. I recently spoke to one of our paid search and search engine optimization (SEO) customers today and discovered some interesting data. The orginal intent of the call was to followup on a new 800 number to better track the calls coming through. The customer went on to discuss what keywords are most effective for their paid search and SEO campaigins. This customer surveys all potential customers to find out what search engine they found them on, what keyword was specifically used to find them, and what state they’re calling from. With these 3 pieces of data we were able to make adjustments in real time to their paid search campaign. The SEO campaign does not have this flexibility but when it’s time to renew thier SEO campaign we can add some of these words to their campagin. So make sure to keep your search marketing company up to date on what’s working for you. The more information you can provide, the better the company or consultant will be able to fine tune the search marketing campaign. This could be done through a weekly phone call or a weekly email. If you’re not already tracking this information, start today. It’s your money so you might as well get the best value out of your marketing spend.

Here’s a list of some helpful things you can do yourself to get the most out of your search marketing campaign:

  • Track site traffic through free Google Analytics
  • Use free Google Webmaster Tools (You might need some help from a webmaster to get this initially setup)
  • Track your data on a spread sheet (what search engines you were found on, what words, was it organic or a paid search ad?, etc.)
  • Stay in touch with your search marketing company on a weekly basis
  • Stay current with search marketing trends by reading blogs like ours and one or all of these: Search Engine Land, Search Engine Guide, or SEOMoz (I currently subscribe to these and 6 others through Google Reader which is a nice way to feed all of these sites into one reader.
  • Request your paid search log-ins for Google, Yahoo, and MSN and log-in yourself to see what’s working and what words are being advertised. Some search marketing companies will not give this information out and provide generic reports. At emarketed we give access to your accounts if you request this information. You can login and run all types of reports to find out what’s working and what’s not.

Well that’s it for now. I will post more tips to this post in the future so stay tuned. Please also feel free to comment if you have some ideas that can help.

Google AdWords Editor Update

Google is at it again with another update for the Google AdWords Editor. I look forward to testing this out. First page bid estimates for your keywords is now used in this version while the minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bids are no longer used. The quality score is now displayed for your keywords. You can also now change the language and location for the Keyword Opportunities tool within the Google AdWords Editor. There are some other updates but these are the biggest.

Here’s a quick recap for you newbies out there that aren’t sure what I’m talking about. This tool allows you to manage your Google AdWords account offline through a software interface. If your managing 100 words or less than this tool might not be for you. It’s really geared for larger campaigns and is idea for search marketing companies or consultants that manage multiple accounts. Some of the more tedious work such as updating your ads online can be done fairly quicking with the editor. All you need to do is download the software and install. It will ask you for your user and password and then it will download your AdWords account info so that you can start editing. Your changes are pushed through to your account when you save your data.

New Google Keyword Tool

Google just released another tool to help you find keywords for your pay per click campaign and/or your overall search marketing campaign. First you’ll need to input your website and some of your target keywords and click submit to see the results. See below for a screen shot of the search results that I received when testing this out. I entered in emarketed.com and the following keywords: seo, ppc, web marketing, web design, website video marketing, cms, seo cms, organic cms, search engine optimization

google keyword tool
Google keyword tool

And it gave me 810 suggestions showing me monthly searches, competition level, and search trends. You can click the magnifying glass icon to see the search trends for a specific keyword. A new window will open with Google Insights for Search which provides some very interesting data. You can see how many searches are done wordwide and have it broken down by country, state, and city level. The below screen shot shows what I found when I drilled down on “web design” and then selected United States and California. I was able to see that San Francisco had the most searches for this keyword with Los Angeles coming in 4th. It also displayed “google web design” as a rising search term so this would be a good word for us to optmize. Please disregard this last statement if you’re an SEO and/or web design company. Wink Wink 😉

Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search
Google Insights for Search

Google SEO Starter Guide

Google just released a great SEO starter guilde that I have skimmed through and plan to tackle in the next week. It covers the basics and is coming from the mouth of Google so the information has to be in line with their standards. I think this will be helpful to anyone new to SEO or if you’re trying to do search engine optimization (SEO) yourself. The information here will be helpful across all of the major search engines. I’ll post a blog after I’ve reviewed and give an unbiased review. It’s a 22-page PDF that covers some of the following:

  • Page Titles
  • Meta Tag Descriptions
  • Site Navigation
  • Creating Quality Copy
  • Anchor Text (Links)
  • Heading Tags
  • Image Optimization
  • Robot.txt files

Please post a comment if you get a chance to review this.