Google Continues to Dominate Search

According to Hitwise, last month Google accounted for nearly 68% of all search in the US. Wow. And if you compare the April numbers to March or to April of last year, you see that they are expanding their dominance.  That is the phenomenal part. Typically if a company creates a new niche and dominates it, other companies come in later to cash in on the good times and in the process they steal some of the market share. Google just keeps growing their share of the market.

Can you image what it would be like to “own” your industry or niche like that? Yahoo has less than 21% of the market (which is still pretty hefty) and MSN has fallen to less than 6.5% of the search market. Ask, while holding a smaller share, continues to grow their share. With Google and Ask expanding, MSN and the rest of the search engines are “taking it on the chin”.

Why do you think Google just keeps grabbing more of the market?

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6. What words do I expect people to have searched for when they click through to my site?

Now the conversation turns very clearly to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). There are many facets to SEM. Two of the biggest are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC).

So first you must determine what key words your customers search for. Notice how I worded that. Not what you think they search for but what they actually do search for. Many business owners are so focused on what they are selling that they don’t take time to realize what their customers are buying. For example, a hair stylist might think she is selling “professionally styled hair” while her ideal customer might be searching for “good haircut” at a “good price”.

There are several good free tools that will help you determine other related keywords. We really like and recommend the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. When I visit this site and type in “good haircut” and then add one more word so that I don’t get jobs in Australia or Alaska: “Denver”. The tool returns 34 possible other words I should look at. Some are obvious like “beauty salon haircut” and “best haircut Denver” but there are a few very nice surprises there as well, like “prom haircut” and “wedding haircut” that would probably be very customers.

The beauty of this tool is that you can also see what the competition is for a certain keyword. If you find some that have lots of searches but little competition, you have just found a niche that you can capitalize on.

Work with your website designer to optimize your site and then you are ready to with SEO and PPC. We’ll deal with both of these with the next question.

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Question 2: How do I expect people to find my site?

As we continue to examine the top 10 questions each business owner needs to consider when taking their site to the next level, we look at question 2: How do I expect people to find my site?

The Kevin Costner approach in Field of Dreams does not work. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve spoken with people who honestly believe “If I build it, they will come.” But it just isnt’ so. If you want to get people to come to visit your site, you have to have a plan to market that site.

Here’s a quick list of ways you can plan for traffic to your site:

  1. Make sure every piece of paper and email you generate lists your web address
  2. Run a Pay Per Click campaign in one or more of the search engines
  3. Provide an incentive for current or past clients to come and visit – include that in your newsletter
  4. Get others to link to your site (this can be as easy as picking up the phone and making a call or as easy as offering the right partner a small amount to link to you)
  5. Ensure that your site is optimized for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Live
  6. Get involved in social bookmarking and bookmark relevant pages in your site
  7. Highlight your site in any print advertising you do
  8. Create a blog on your site and post to it regularly so that people have a reason to come back

These ideas are just intended to help you get the creative juices flowing. The important thing is that you have a plan for your site and then you go about implementing that plan.

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Three Tips to Improve Your Ranking

Getting your web site ranked high in the search engines should be the goal of every site owner. And if you have carefully defined the niche that your business and web site serve, then it is that much easier to get that high ranking.

First you need to make sure the key words you want to be ranked for are actually used on your site. Sounds simple, right? Take a minute to consider the words your site should be ranked for and then look at your site. Have you used them?

Next it is a good idea to use those key words in the links on your site. For example, a store that rents tuxedos might have a page that explains how to rent a tux for prom. Rather than saying “Click here for prom tuxedos” link the actual text for prom and tuxedo like this “Need a tuxedo for prom?”

Third you should think about naming or renaming the pages on your site to match your key words. Instead of calling a page home.htm or page3.htm, give it a meaningful name like prom-tuxedo.htm. That will not only help you understand what page it is but it will also help the search engines identify what the page is about and what your site is about.

Using these three tips will help get you started on the road to getting your site ranked well. As always, give us a call if you’d like some help in this. We’re at 720-275-4646. Ask for Brian or Maki

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Local Search Takes Off

Do you ever search for local things – a restaurant or other business – online? A lot of folks are. A whole lotta folks. In fact, you might be missing out on local searches if you haven’t prepared for it.

How big is it? Well, simply by the fact that every major search engine has a special vehicle for local search should tell you something. For Yahoo! you can visit local.yahoo.com. For Google it’s local.google.com and for Microsoft it’s maps.live.com.

It was easy to sign up for Yahoo and Google (register my business so that it would be listed) but even though I have a Microsoft Live account I spent about 20 minutes searching for a way to register my business so it would show up. That search proved fruitless. Both Yahoo and Google allow you to sign up for free. Yahoo offers additional services for additional cost. Google offers additional services at no extra cost. You can add coupons, upload images, and add as many services as you like.

The Google local search wants to make sure that you really are at the address you list so they send a letter with a code that you have to respond to. The process takes a week or two. Yahoo reviews your info in four to five days and then posts your listing.

We recommend getting listed in all three of these local search engines. Local search is only going to continue to grow in importance and popularity. Get in now and continue to monitor your progress. Need help getting listed or benefitting from your listing? Call EduCyber at 720 275-4646

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Losing at Search

I’ve spoken with several clients and colleagues about Search Engine Optimization lately. I am amazed at the wild misunderstandings at how to go about getting ranked well in the search engines.

One business owner I spoke with was quite excited about the concept of cross-linking (having two different web sites link to each other to help each of them improve their rankings). Done correctly, this is indeed a good way to improve your rank. But then he proceeded to describe what was little more than a link farm. If your site is linked to from a link farm, the search engines will toss you from their rankings completely. I tried to dissuade him from that path but don’t know if I was successful or not.

I spoke with another client who knew that he needed to have text on his web site because the search engines like text. The only problem is that his text was actually a part of a graphic (image file) so the search engines didn’t see any of his text. This meant he was not ranked for any words having to do with his business. When he learned that over 40% of all search is local, he was dismayed to realize the piece of the pie that he was missing.

Search engine optimization is a little bit science and a little bit art. To succeed (to get your site ranked well for key words) takes time. It takes time to understand the latest trends and technologies. It takes time to craft your site so that the content is in align with what the search engines look for. It takes time to build good links from other sites to yours.

So as you prepare your site for the search engines, give us a call to discuss your options.

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Google Office?

The word Office has come to mean a suite of productivity products from Microsoft that includes Word, Excel, Outlook and depending on your needs other programs like Access, OneNote and more. But Google, which has become a verb in its own right, is determined to give the Bill Gates and company a run for their money.

Enter Google’s Docs and Spreadsheets. This cool new “product” from Google lets you keep all of your data online so you can edit, retrieve, use your documents from anywhere. And yes, you can import your Microsoft documents and use or save them in Docs and Spreadsheets. But can you afford it? If you can afford $0, you can. Check it out and let us know what you think.

But there’s more to it than word processing and spreadsheets. What about email? Sign up for a free Google email account and you can manage your email from the same interface. And Google really does email pretty well. The interface provides you with all the bells and whistles of modern email clients from filters, to archiving and what about storage space? I’ve got 2.8 GB of space! That’s a pretty big mailbox.

Just like the old cable TV commercials though, I have to say “But wait! There’s more . . .” You can manage contacts, your calendar or group calendaring and much more. The docs and spreadsheets interface even lets me collaborate with others on a document. We can all login and work on it together.

It does sound pretty cool and I continue to learn more as I go, but . . . I have to confess I still use Microsoft and my testing of Office 2007 so far leaves me impressed with how they continue to improve upon their products.

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News Alert

Want to stay on the cutting edge of your industry or sector without having to invest in expensive research? Google has a nifty tool called Google Alerts that allow you to stay in touch with breaking news (as well as new postings to non-news web sites) about virtually whatever you want.

If you own a hair salon that sells Redken, you might want to configure it so that you receive an email anytime there is news about: Redken “new product”. Using the quotes helps limit the news search because only when new and product appear next to each other will it generate an alert.

Simply enter your search terms at www.google.com/alerts and then choose whether you want news, news and web or groups as the area you want Google to scan. Then tell it how frequently you want to be notified – as it happens, daily or weekly and enter your email address and voila! you have created your first alert.

You can create as many of these alerts as you like and you can also tweak these alerts by adding or removing terms to make sure you don’t get information overload.

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