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10 Tips on Search Engine Marketing for Your Small Business Website

Below are 10 tips on advertising in the search engines with sponsored links or ads. Information on optimizing your site to appear in the results generated by the search engine indexes can be found here.

  1. First consider the top two – The top two search engine advertising services are run by Google and Overture. Google’s advertising program is called AdWords, and the ads appear in colored boxes to the top and to the right of the search results on their search engine and as sponsored links on the AOL search engine. Overture does not offer its own search engine, but provides ads to other search engines, the most important being Yahoo and MSN. Between the two services you will get coverage on over 90% of the searches conducted on the Internet.
  2. Then consider the rest – There are a host of other search engine advertising services available. Most of them have a much more limited reach than Google or Overture, but the ads are usually far less expensive since they are not as popular. These services include companies such as Business.com, FindWhat, LookSmart, Enhance, Kanoodle, Search123, ePilot, and Lycos InSite. If you find success with Google and Overture, it may be worth experimenting with some of these others as well.
  3. About Google – Google’s AdWords program uses what is essentially a bidding approach to buying ads for certain key words that people may search for. You do not have to actually bid specific amounts for specific search terms, however. Instead you set a maximum price that you are willing to pay for a click-through on your ad for a search that contains your key words. The frequency and position in which Google presents your ad is based on what other advertisers are willing to pay and the available inventory for the key word. This maximum bid approach combined with the ability to set a daily budget allow you to easily manage the amount you spend without having to invest a lot of time in managing your campaigns, which is an advantage over Overture. Google’s approach to bidding on general key words rather than specific search terms generally makes them less labor-intensive than an Overture campaign as well.
  4. About Overture – Overture uses a bidding approach to buying sponsored links for specific search terms, and you set the maximum price you are willing to pay for a click-through. You have the ability to see what the other bids are for the search term, so you know exactly what position your ad will appear in. They also provide the ability to bid on searches that contain key words rather than on specific search terms, but it is far less convenient and effective than Google’s approach. So in general Overture requires more work to manage your campaign, but in some cases this can be a good thing, and their broad distribution makes them a favorite for all serious search engine marketers.
  5. Prepare your list of key words – The first step in getting started with search engine advertising is to prepare a list of key words that relate to the content on your web site. The idea is to choose words that people are likely to search on when looking for the product, service, or information that is offered on your web site. If you have a home painting business for example, such a list might include key words such as “home painting”, “house painting”, “residential painting”, “paint house”, “painting company”, etc. If your business targets a specific geographical area, be sure to include the name of the towns and areas you serve, for example “house painting atlanta”, “home painting atlanta”, etc. This prevents your ad from showing up when someone searches on “house painting new york”, since paying for a click-through on that term won’t do you any good. Both Google and Overture, as well as the smaller services, have key word suggestion tools that help you come up with other words related to ones that you can think of.
  6. Prepare your ad content – Obviously the content of your ad will have a huge impact on whether a searcher is likely to click on it to go to your site. It is important to give this careful consideration, and whenever possible include the key words you are bidding on in the headline and/or description of your ad. The lengths of the headline and description varies for each service, so you will need to develop content for each service you are using. Overture and Google each offer helpful advice on developing your ad content, so you should read this before you get started.
  7. Measure your campaign performance – It is important to track the success of your campaigns so you know what kind of return you are getting on your investment. Google and Overture both provide statistics on the number of impressions (how many times your ad is shown) and number of click-throughs for your ads. It is a good idea to analyze these occasionally to measure the effectiveness of the various key words you are bidding on so that you can improve or remove the poorly performing ones. You can also use tracking URL’s so that you can analyze it with your own web log analysis software if you have it.
  8. Use conversion tools – Both Google and Overture offer conversion measurement tools that you can use to take your analysis a step beyond simple click-throughs. These tools generate HTML code for you to paste on pages on your web site that only users who complete a desired process will see (such as buying something, signing up for something, etc.). This allows you to measure how many people actually “convert” into a customer or lead, which is ultimately more important than how many simply view your site.
  9. Experiment with content matching – Both Google and Overture allow you to show your ads on web sites that offer content related to your key words. This provides additional distribution for your ad beyond the search engine results pages where their standard services appears. You may find the performance for these ads is less than that for ads appearing in front of people who are actively searching, but it still may be a profitable way to attract visitors to your site, so it is probably worth experimenting with if your search campaigns are successful.
  10. Stay on top of it – Successful search engine advertising requires an investment in time to keep your campaigns performing well. You need to monitor your results and adjust your campaigns accordingly. And especially with Overture, you will need to constantly adjust your bid amounts since your position is always changing based on the activity of other advertisers.

This entry was posted on Friday, February 27th, 2009 at 1:00 pm and is filed under Company, Faqs, Portfolio, SEO / SEM, Services. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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