Today’s search engines sort results by relevance—in other words, which pages out there have the most significant relationship to the search terms or keywords supplied? This process can be, as the British say, a “sticky wicket,” since each search engine has its own method for determining relevance. A site with a top-ranked position on Google may not even show up in another search engine’s results.
So how do you get your site recognized by all search engines, all the time? This is a tall order—sort of the “Holy Grail” of online marketing. And it requires a great deal of research and preparation (and, truth be told, a lot of work!).
This is where the “optimization” part of Search Engine Optimization comes into play. You’ll learn more about this in the next chapter: “Search Engine Optimization Marketing vs. Paid Search Engine Marketing.”
The second approach to accomplishing higher rankings is through Paid Search Engine Marketing. When this strategy is implemented, the owner of a website agrees to pay search engines like Google and Yahoo a fee for the privilege of being “attached” to certain keywords (this is usually done through a bidding process). When a prospect searches for those specific keywords, the website owner’s listing appears above (or alongside) regular search results. Every time a prospect clicks that listing, the website’s owner is billed a predetermined amount, which can range from ten cents to several dollars, depending on the popularity of those search terms.
This process is also known as PPC or “Pay Per Click” advertising. Through a bidding process, website owners choose the amount they are willing to pay to be connected to certain keywords. That amount is referred to as the CPC or “Cost Per Click.” A daily budget can be setup so you will have a good idea on how much you will spend for the month. No long term contracts are needed and you can cancel at any time without a cancellation fee. Test your market out for a week to a month to determine if this is a viable option for your site.
Remember, search engines can only make sense out of text. They can’t differentiate between an attractive site or a poor-looking site. What they want to see are places throughout your site where the specific search terms or keywords are used. These terms may be part of the text on a page, a caption on a picture, or in a blog or news release. Beyond the text, there’s another important factor search engines look for: links.
Links are connections, or referrals, between your website and other sites (whether owned by you or someone else) or external documents or web pages. Search engines like websites with large numbers of links to other sites because it suggests that people—other than the website’s owner—have found the material on that site to be valuable or relevant. The more links a site has, the more relevance it is given by search engines.
So how do you know where your site ranks among other results? Google has answered that question with a proprietary system it calls PageRank. Google’s promotional material describes how the system functions:
“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page Bas a vote, by page A, for page B. But Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves important weigh more heavily and help make other pages important.”
PageRank isn’t a perfect system, but if you want to play on Google’s turf, you have to play by Google’s rules.
That’s it for the terminology. Now we’ll move on to how these abbreviations, and the words they embrace, can be put to use to increase the effectiveness of your own online marketing program.