Successful web site promotion for Small Business - 4
1. Pay-Per-Click Search Engines
This search engine model has been steadily increasing in popularity over recent years. You submit your web site on a 'pay-per-click' ('P-P-C') basis for the keywords you select, which means that you are charged a fee each time someone clicks on your link on the search engine results page.
The level of interest in a particular search term by the web sites using their service means that the simple market forces of supply and demand drive the price per click of every individual 'keyword' (or phrase). This is where the 'CR' of your web site becomes a major factor in determining how much you should pay. Refer to the relevant section on Page 2 of this guide to calculate this for your business.
This can be an excellent way to drive traffic to your site very quickly and easily, but obviously at a cost.
The best tactics with 'P-P-C' search engines are:
1. Make sure that your entry describes your product attractively to encourage 'targeted' searchers to click on your link rather then the one above or below, but make the description as specific as possible. For example, an entry for our oil paintings site should not read something like "Oil paintings for sale" but "Oil paintings from photographs and Famous paintings reproductions, starting at $150".
With free inclusion search engines, you don't mind if visitors arrive at your web site because they 'clicked' just out of curiosity. With 'P-P-C' search engines, this is costing you money! Your aim is to 'qualify' your visitors (i.e. make sure they are 'targeted' for your product) as much as possible before they spend your money by clicking on your link.
2. Use your keyword list from 'Wordtracker' to bid for as many of the less popular (and therefore cheaper) keywords with high KEIs as possible. You're much better off bidding for hundreds of less popular 'niche' keywords for your product or service that are more likely to attract very 'targeted' visitors, than spending the same amount of money bidding for a few of the most popular, highly competitive keywords.
3. Look for where there is a significant 'gap' in the bidding for your keywords. You may find with some of your keywords that the top 3 positions are only separated by a small amount in the cost-per-click, but there is a large gap between the 3rd and 4th positions. Don't pay a lot extra just to get a top position. Try the 4th position first, see how much traffic it delivers, then re-assess the situation.
Whilst 'Overture' may well still deliver the most traffic out of all the pay-per-click search engines (although 'Google Adwords' is gaining ground all the time), it is becoming very expensive for the most popular keywords.
Added to this is the fact that keywords that don't generate enough searches at 'Overture' are rejected, so bidding on the low-cost, lower-number-of-searches keywords is not as straightforward as it used to be.
The good news? There are now numerous 'P-P-C' search engines and the next best one to try is 'FindWhat' (at www.findwhat.com), followed by 'Kanoodle' (at www.kanoodle.com).
Now the pay per URL....
2. Pay per URL included
There are still a couple of major search engines that use this model e.g. 'AskJeeves', despite the fact that two of the most popular in the past ('Inktomi' and 'Fast'), are now part of the 'Yahoo!' network.
The biggest attraction of these 'paid inclusion' services is that they guarantee inclusion of however many URLs you pay for and they re-visit your URLs frequently and refresh their index if there have been any changes to your web pages.
As you'll appreciate, this gives you a great opportunity to optimise your pages (as covered in a previous page), see how they rank and then 'tweak' the pages as much and as often as you need to until they rank highly for your particular keywords. You can see the results more quickly because of their commitment to re-visit your pages often.
Another advantage is that you use a third party service to submit your URLs and monitor the search engine's activity to ensure it's all functioning as it should. We've used two of these paid-inclusion services in the past, and by far the best is a company called 'Position Technologies'.
Click here to see the paid-inclusion options available from Position Tech.
Firstly, a quick word about the difference between search engines and directories.
Quite simply, search engines use automated technology called 'spiders' to follow all the links to and from web pages and web sites to build an index of web sites and the web pages within individual sites. Directories use human beings to visit web sites that are submitted for inclusion to their service and only include those which they feel will enhance their current index of sites.
The three major directories are 'Yahoo!', 'Open' and 'LookSmart'.
'Yahoo!' charge a fee to review your web site, and the same fee yearly thereafter if they include your site in their directory. There is no guarantee they'll include your site and if they don't, they give you 30 days to fix their concerns and after that, you've lost your money!
'Yahoo!' is also in the process of developing its own search engine, having acquired the 'Alta Vista', 'Inktomi' and 'Fast' search engines into its network. Most search engine experts feel that the impact of all this has yet to establish a clear direction.
'The Open Directory Project', to give it its full title, is currently the only one of the three that accepts free inclusion...just don't hold your breath! It can take up to 6 months (or more) to be included in 'Open' and again, there are no guarantees that they'll include your site after they have got round to reviewing it.
'LookSmart' charge for inclusion. They used to provide search results to 'MSN', one of the major 'free' search engines (in case there's anyone out there who hasn't heard of the 'Microsoft Network' :-). It's contract to do that ran out in January 2004, so the future for 'LookSmart' is currently uncertain.
4. Joint Ventures
What do I mean by 'Joint Ventures' ('JVs')? Quite simply this is where two companies work together for their mutual benefit.
Let's look at a fictitious illustration to make this clearer.
'Makemericher & Sons' has a great product with a good net margin. They identify 'Givemethemoney Ltd', who have a large customer base that is a very good 'targeted audience' for their product. 'Makemericher & Sons' approaches 'Givemethemoney Ltd' and say,
"If you provide an endorsement of our product to your customers, we'll split our profits with you 50/50."
Win/win situation, right? 'Givemethemoney Ltd' has identified a great product for their own customers that is a complementary 'fit' with their product or service. Their customers have always found 'Givemethemoney Ltd's products to be reliable, good value-for-money etc. etc., so a percentage of them are more than happy to buy this latest recommendation.
'Givemethemoney Ltd' makes money on their endorsement from the 50/50 split of profits on 'Makemericher & Sons' product. 'Makemericher & Sons', although taking a reduction in profits, sells 'y' products that they wouldn't have otherwise sold. Is this easy or what?
If you've got both a great product and a large customer base, you're in an even stronger position to arrange JVs.
Our marketing company (Filman Marketing) specialises in 'Joint Ventures', so this is a subject very close to my heart. In my experience, it is the most under-utilised marketing strategy for small businesses particularly, but also to a surprising degree in large and very large companies and corporations.
So if you've got a great product, how do you find the companies with a large customer base and vice versa?
Whether you have the product or the large customer base, the starting point is pretty much the same. Just ask yourself, what other products are most likely to be attractive to the people that also buy your product?
Here's an example of what not to do. If my large customer base is for my cut-price 'scratchit', there's no point me writing to them to endorse a 'Ferrari Testosterone 599Z', just because you approached me and offered me a slice of the profits! Even if someone bought one :-), think of the potential damage to my own credibility with the rest of my customers.
OK, a bit extreme, but you get the idea... The products have to be complementary, that's all. Generally speaking the better the 'fit', the more successful it will be. This isn't rocket science!
We've successfully arranged JVs with a diverse range of companies, from introducing our oil paintings to a prestigious timeshare development in the English Lake District at one end of the scale, to introducing an American software company to 'BT Plc' (who endorsed the software on their business portal, ranked #250 on the internet by traffic) at the other end. Despite that, we still have more failures than successes in our approaches to other companies.
Why? Because companies have their own agenda and their own way of working. These kind of JVs are still relatively uncommon, and it takes perseverance to 'educate' people about the benefits and the fact that this is a virtually no-risk opportunity for them. The no-risk element is even more pronounced on the internet where an email endorsement can be just as effective as a mailed letter, and is virtually free to send!
Thomas Edison was approached by a critic when another experiment to light a light bulb with 'electricity' had just failed. He asked Edison if he now intended to give up, as he had already conducted a thousand such experiments and they had all failed. Edison said he had no intention of giving up - one thousand failures meant that he was one thousand steps closer to success...
Don't worry about the short-sighted companies you approach who turn you down flat - this will happen, I guarantee it! Just keep going until you're successful with a small-size company and then start approaching the larger ones when you've got a success or two to tell them about.
Recommended resource: Just as I was writing this page, 'SiteSell' (the company that make "Site Build It!") have announced the launch of their brand new 'Value Exchange'. This will be a large database of high-quality web sites that have expressed an interest in exchanging links with similar complementary web sites.
If it's anything like the other 'SiteSell' products I've purchased (and recommended elsewhere in this web site), it will over-deliver! It will also be automated, and it will find the web sites that are the best 'fit' for yours and let you know. While they're building up their database of sites, it's free to join.
for more details and register before they start charging for this service.
Now discover the facts about 'Affiliate Programs', and what they can do for your business...
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