Written by Bill Hartzer, December 2004.
What is a search engine listing? When you go to www.Google.com or www.MSN.com or www.Altavista.com, for example, and perform a search at one of these websites, these search engines show you a list of websites that contain information relevant to what you’re looking for. The results that are returned are commonly referred to as SERPs or Search Engine Results Pages.
When someone performs a search for a product or service that you sell, then you should be at the top of the list of SERPs.
What is a search engine listing?
To understand what a search engine listing is, let’s begin by looking at the business to business B2B sales cycle. When someone identifies that they have a need for a particular product or service, they usually perform research on the internet. They open their web browser and either use their default home (this may be set to MSN.com if they have a Windows-based PC, for example) or they go to their favorite search engine to perform a search.
According to recent statistics, Google at www.Google.com is the preferred search engine of choice when it comes to business searchers.
In the search field, they type in the something they’re looking for (the terms they use differ greatly depending on the status of their need). The search engine then returns a list of web pages, complete with the title and description of each web page, to them. Search engine listings are these results that are returned to the user after they perform a search. To get the best return on the investment in your corporate website, it is imperative that your website show up in the top 10 listings of these search engine results.
How do you get your corporate website to show up in the results?
There are two ways to get your corporate website to show up in the search engine results. Both ways, though, require some investment.
1. Pay to be listed in the search results. Essentially, this is paying for advertising on a search engine. You open an account directly with the search engine or a third party and visitors are sent to your website when they perform a search that’s related to your website. In this case, the ROI can be very measurable. You pay a set price for each visitor that is delivered to your corporate website. By determining how many visitors came to your website and how many sales you made from these visitors, you can determine how much it cost you to get one sale. This method can get you to the top of the search results in as little as 3 days. Usually, the person who pays the most per visitor gets to be at the top of the list. You determine which terms you want to be “found for” and you bid (auction-style) on terms relevant to the products and services you sell. This is commonly referred to as PPC or pay-per-click. Some search engines refer to this as sponsored listings.
2. Hire a search engine optimization specialist to make subtle changes to your website (optimizing the web pages) so you appear at the top of the search results without having to pay to be listed in the search results. Ultimately, this is the preferred method as some searchers look at paid search results differently than they look at non-paid results. There is a fee involved, however, as you must pay the search engine optimization specialist to optimize your corporate website. It also can take longer to show up in the search results as there is a significant amount of work involved in optimizing a corporate website, and the search engines don’t always update their indexes often.