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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Guaranteed #1 . . .?

Should you believe a guarantee of top placement?
If you hear that phrase remember what people say about something that is too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.

A client came to me last week and said, "Can you guarantee #1 listings? The other company we spoke to said they could, what do you guarantee?"

I could guarantee anyone page one listings for virtually any one phrase a company selects but what good would that be? Let's say you are in the insurance business and your premium product is automobile insurance. If you are listed on the first page for the phrase "automobile insurance Kansas" will that really increase your traffic? It depends on the number of people who search that specific phrase and since common terminology is "car insurance" you'll probably be missing the boat.

The goal instead is to have multiple high ranking terms for a variety of phrases related to your business. Some people will use the term "car insurance," some will say "auto insurance" and still others will just look for an "insurance agent." One of my clients is found through over 900 different key phrases, that explains why she gets a healthy number of visits (and conversions) each month.

Another important thing to remember when it comes to keywords is the "long-tail" search. The long tail refers to those phrases that more specifically define your product or service. This is important because 82% of search engine users will start the same search over using the same initial phrase but adding more keywords to refine the search. This long tail search not only results in a more specific listing of companies, it also leads to a greater chance of conversions because the searcher is more qualified.

Long-tail search terms on their own produce very little in the way of traffic but are a good investment due to the high quality of leads they produce.

The best bet for increased traffic and higher rankings is to have a well rounded keyword list and content written in a natural language using the keyterms.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


Funny how that word reminds me of "Ned the Head Ryerson" the insurance salesman in the movie Groundhog's Day. But in this case Bing is the latest attempt by Microsoft to create a search engine that can compete with Google, replacing Live search.

The similarities with Google are interesting: one word name, very simple front page interface, and sponsored (pay per click) ads by Google. They even have a Bing Community Blog - which is similar to the Google community blogs. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery but will having a search engine choice that so closely resembles Google be successful?

How is Bing different?
  • When you hover your mouse pointer at the right side of the search results, you'll get a preview of the website content and other links in the site (although this feature seems a bit hidden, you have to know that you are supposed to hover over the small orange orb)
  • If Bing understands what you are asking it will show fewer results. One example: if you search for Facebook it will give only one result - facebook. But what if you were searching on data about facebook?
  • Some search results are divided into categories like news, songs, movies, biography, wallpaper and downloads. Videos are included as part of the search as well as images that apply.
  • Bing shows the Wikipedia searches inline when you click the "Enhanced view" link.
  • The front page has a different background image everyday (similar to Google's logo being changed for special occasions) and each image has hot spots with more information. But this doesn't interfere with load time.
  • Video results shown in Bing can be played without leaving the search engine.
On the other hand, some of Google's features are missing, Bing doesn't recognize misspellings that Google often identifies with "Did you mean . . . " consequently, Bing returns no results in these cases.

Although Bing has many similarities to Google, but some people have found its results stronger. Microsoft is planning to spend up to $100 million to make this search engine work. Whether Bing is successful or not, it will keep Google in innovation mode. If they develop their own pay per click venue, this could give Google a run for the money.
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