Internet Marketing Specialist
For a Technical Writing class back in 1996, one of my homework assignments involved looking up eight different well-known phrases on six different search engines. This was before the days when students all had laptops, so I trudged over to the library to start my assignment. I wasn’t even 100% certain what the internet was, and had no idea what a search engine was, but even back then it was not hard to figure out. All I remember about the assignment was this; after five fruitless searches on five useless search engines, I came to my last one – Yahoo. Begrudgingly, I typed in www.yahoo.com, and was astounded to find that every single phrase on my list produced a list of results on Yahoo. My world had been forever altered. From that day on, any research or information that I needed came from Yahoo or later, other search engines.
Internet-savvy companies probably used Yahoo even back then to sell products. Thirteen years later, search engines have changed the way that most companies market themselves and their products. The internet has gone from an almost unknown entity to become the number one way most people find information. As a result, many companies have found that online marketing is an excellent addition to traditional marketing methods for introducing their business to the world.
There are two main methods utilized in inbound marketing. The first method is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing. With PPC, businesses bid on keywords (or phrases) through search engine sites (such as Google and Yahoo), and these keywords elevate that business’ ad about their product to the first page of the search results so that their ad will display on the top or to the right of the natural search listings, in the “Sponsored Listings” sections). Each time someone clicks on their ad, that business is charged a ‘click’ charge based on their keyword bid and the competition of the keyword. For example; Percept Technology Labs, a hardware testing and compliance lab, bid on the phrase “consumer electronics product test lab.” Anytime someone searches for the term “consumer electronics product test lab” on Google, Percept’s ad appears on the top or to the right of the natural search results.
The other method frequently associated with inbound marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search Engine Optimization involves designing an entire page on your website based around one or two keywords, phrases or topics. The goal of SEO is to have your website appear on the first page of the search results in one of the top natural search listings. When a user clicks a natural search listing (as opposed to one of the sponsored search listings), there is no cost to the company. The trick of SEO is building your website the right way, and then changing it often enough so that the search engines continue to find it relevant to the keyword(s) you are targeting. Research has shown that close to 70% of searchers will click on a natural search result, while the other 30% click on Sponsored Search Listings. This statistic alone should encourage companies to focus on SEO along with PPC.
What is so important on the search results page (particularly page one), is real estate. The more times that your company name displays on this results page after a relevant keyword to your company has been typed in, the more likely a customer will click to your site. So, for Percept Technology Labs, if a user searches on “consumer electronics product test lab,” the ideal result would be to appear not only in the sponsored listings, but high in the natural listings as well. If the user sees Percept at the top of the page, and then again in the top of the natural search listings, the likelihood of that user clicking on a Percept link climbs upward of 85%. Displaying in both the sponsored listing as well as the natural listing shows the relevancy of your company to the keyword that the user searched on.
Today, Yahoo still exists as a search engine, although it’s not the premier engine that it may have been back in the late 90s. The search engine concept has definitely changed the way that companies increase their customer base. As companies struggle to increase, or even maintain business in a weakening economy, internet marketing is an important aspect of a complete marketing effort. By using both PPC advertising and Search Engine Optimization in your internet marketing efforts, you are giving your company the best exposure you can on the internet.