Making Communications Buzz

Friday, May 12, 2006

Is Google the Only Game in Town for Search?

When was the last time you heard someone say, "If you want to find out more, just 'Yahoo!' it"?

Right. Never. Why? Because nearly 50% of all searches done on the Web use Google. The runner-up is Yahoo!, accounting for about 22% of all searches. (Source: Nielsen//NetRatings )

That is why, when we talk about "optimizing" a Web site for search engines, what we (more than likely) really mean is "making it show up on page 1 or 2 of Google results for certain keywords".

These results are what's known as "organic" search results, because no money is paid to the search site (Google, Yahoo!, MSN) to make your site show up at the top. Your ranking depends solely on the computer algorithmns used by the search site.

Google's algorithms favor sites with content that matches the keywords being searched and that are linked to by other highly-ranked (authoritative?) sites. Google does not screen its organic results, so sometimes searches can have unanticipated or disturbing consequences.

There is another option when it comes to search marketing on the Web: Paid Search Analysis. One form of Paid Search Analysis uses Google AdWords.

In general, here's how Paid Search works: You bid for the rights to specific keywords or key phrases on any number of search sites. When someone does a search using your keyword, your site is listed as a sponsoring link, and you pay again whenever someone clicks on that link.

A consultant like McBuzz Communications analyzes how your keywords are "converting" (bringing people to your Web site) and recommends changes to overall budgets, increases or decreases to keyword bids, additional keywords and keywords that should be dropped.

These results have nothing to do with how your site ranks in organic search results.

Whether you choose to focus on search engine optimization for organic results, or on paid search — or on a blend of the two (probably the best choice) — it makes sense to go with Google. Just remember, 50% versus 22%.

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