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Why Search Marketing Is Important…and Difficult

An excerpt from Chapter 1 of "Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Web Site"

Search marketing. Perhaps you've heard this term kicked around, but you don't know what it means. Or, if you do know, you don't know where to start. As with anything new, if you take it step by step, you can learn it. A systematic approach can lead to search marketing success in any organization.

When a searcher types a word into Google, finds your home page, and clicks through to your site, you have attracted a visitor from a search site. If you do nothing at all, searchers will still find your site—sometimes. To maximize the number of searchers coming to your site, however, you must take specific actions to attract visitors to your site from search sites. That's search marketing. This book shows you how to become a search marketer. This chapter covers the following topics:

• Web search basics. What do we mean when we talk about "Web search"? You might think you know the basics already, but it is important that you thoroughly understand search fundamentals as you start your search marketing career. The advanced topics you need to learn will come more easily if you do not skip over the basics. In this chapter, we describe several different types of search, we introduce the leading search sites on the Web, and we talk about what makes them successful.

• Search and your marketing mix. You are probably not reading this book as an academic exercise—you want to know how to get more visitors to your Web site. You already spend your marketing budget on other ways to entice people to visit. How do you reallocate some of that budget to fit search into the mix? In this chapter, we demonstrate the huge opportunity of search marketing and show why you need to make room for it in your company’s marketing mix.

• The challenge of search marketing. Attracting searchers to your site is appealing, but it's harder to do than you might think. And the larger your Web site is, the more difficult it can be. In this chapter, we explain why so many Web sites struggle to attract search visitors.

But don't worry. The rest of this book shows you how to overcome these challenges. Before examining the promise and the challenges of search marketing, we need to explore what we mean by Web search.

Web Search Basics

You know search is important. You want to attract search visitors to your site. You are reading this book because you expect to learn what you need to know so your site succeeds at search marketing. And the most fundamental fact behind what you already know is that more and more Web users are searching.

Congratulations on spotting the trend! Your intuition that search usage is growing is correct. Seventy-six percent of all Web users performed at least one search in January 2004, totalling 114 million Web visitors to search sites. Fully 64 percent of Web users employ search as their primary method of finding things and 59 percent of U.S. users employ search daily. The top five U.S. search engines processed close to 11 billion searches in March 2008!

Beyond the numbers, search is becoming a cultural phenomenon. If you have never "Googled yourself" (searched for your own name in Google), I bet you are going to do so now. Even people who do not use the Web have heard of Google and Yahoo! The Web is growing in popularity every year, and search is growing right along with it. And younger market segments cannot be reached as easily through traditional advertising, because teens and young adults now spend more time online than watching television. When ou add it all up, your Web site cannot ignore the increasing importance of search to your visitors.

But that does not make you an expert in how to do search marketing. You might not know the first thing about how to get your site into the top search results. Maybe you heard that your competitors are succeeding at search marketing—and one of your customers told you that your site cannot be found. You want to fix it, but how?

Despite how little you might know, you need to learn just two things to get started:

• The kinds of search results. When a search site responds to a searcher, different kinds of search results display. To begin your search education, we explain each type of display.

• Where searchers go. You might have a favorite search site, but not all searchers use what you do. Some search sites are even specific to a particular region or country. You need to understand which search engines are the most popular so that you can focus on them in your marketing efforts.

This excerpt is reprinted with permission from the Second Edition of Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Web Site, authored by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt, published by IBM Press, Sept. 2008, ISBN 0136068685, Copyright 2009 by International Business Machines Corporation. For more info, please visit www.ibmpressbooks.com.

Mike Moran, former Distinguished Engineer for IBM, has 20+ years' experience in search technology and holds four search patents. He led the original search engine marketing strategy for ibm.com, managed the site’s site search technologies, and spearheaded IBM projects in content management, personalization, and metrics. In 2008, Mike retired from IBM to pursue speaking, writing, and consulting, including serving as Chief Strategist for the digital communications agency Converseon. He is a charter member of the Direct Marketing Association's Internet Marketing Advisory Board and a member of its Search Engine Marketing Council. He has spoken at events ranging from Search Engine Strategies to the Enterprise Search Summit. He is also author of the book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules (IBM Press, September, 2007) Visit www.mikemoran.com for more information including a daily blog.

Bill Hunt has been a pioneer in search marketing and is considered the leading thought leader on enterprise and global search engine marketing. Bill is CEO of Global Strategies International (GSI), a company that specializes in helping Fortune 500 companies develop, implement, and manage global enterprise search engine marketing programs. He is an internationally recognized global marketing expert who has spoken at conferences in over 30 countries. He is currently on the board of directors of the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) and has also been named by BtoB Magazine as one of the Top 100 Marketers. Visit http://enterprisesem.com/ for more information.