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Marketing your Website Online

10 minute read

You might be surprised to know that marketing your website online is the most effective to create online success.

Yes marketing your website in traditional channels such as television/radio and print can give you limited success, but be real – people reading newspapers/watching TV/listening to the radio are not browsing the web and unless they are given a reason to remember or have an amazing memory most times you will find they will simply forget about it.

So that leaves us with the Internet. I have been in charge of a large web development company for a number of years and I always hear comment like this;

1. “I want to be number one in search engines” or 2. “the other web developer said he will register me in thousands of websites and directories” or 3. “My developer has worked out how Google works”

Let us deal with this one by one.

1. Type in Google “real estate brisbane” (your suburb) and look at how many results you get back. Real Estate Brisbane gave me 627,000 links for that search query. Now if your developer can get you to number one he/she is a genius. Just to be listed on the first page would be a great feat. and contain a certain amount of luck!

2. Sure – go for it, register your sites on thousands of link lists and directories and watch the spam roll in. Fact is their are only 5 real search engines and about 20 directories that you should be listed on in Australia and New Zealand. The rest will only bring you pain and little results.

3. No he/she has not. Google changes its algorithms about 4 times a year. Sure there are sensible ways to approach the design of your site and the set up of metatags/content but these are things any suitably qualified developer will consider when designing your website.

The only thing your developer should ensure is that if someone types in your company name with the suburb/state you are located in – then yes, you should appear on the first page (first ten results).

Most web developers are not trained in understanding search engines, they are trained to either design or develop your website. (some very loosely calls themselves designers/developers)

Pay Per Click
Pay per click means that you pay a few cents each and every time your ad is clicked on NOT when your ads are served and is the common method of paying advertising on search engines.

Bidding
This happens when you have more than one company with the same keywords targetted. The company prepared to pay the highest price per click through ads will appear higher than the others. It can be a little dangerous to get in a bidding war and yes the one at the top will receive a few more click throughs. My suggestion is to just make sure your ad appears on the first page. Search Engine users do not just go to the one site, especially when seriously looking for real estate so if you are on the first page you will get results.

Bookmark Us
A good way to get paid for visitors to return to your site without reliance on ads is to have a clear (standout) “Bookmark us” link on your front page (all pages). This is just common sense, if a visitor likes what they see they will probably bookmark your site. Your statistics will (should) tell you how many people have done this each month/year etc.

Natural Search Terms
A natural search terms is the term(s) you think a person might use when looking in a search engine for a product or service you may have.

An example of this would be for Sarah Lorden Real Estate with properties for sale in Balmain in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Let us say a person types these words into the Google search engine “real estate for sale in Balmain new south wales”.

If Sarah Lorden wanted to make sure that their ad appeared in Google every time a person typed in these words then they would reserve the words “real estate for sale in Balmain new south wales”. I would also suggest they have an ad that appeared like this

Looking for real estate
in Balmain NSW? Go to
Sarah Lorden

This is how it is done (sort of). It does take a long time to set up your site and takes some know how, but the results are immediate (within 10 minutes your ads start appearing) and you basically get what you pay for. Most search engines allow you to budget per day/month so that once your limit is spent, your ads will no longer appear.

Another good thing is that you must carefully think about not wasting money on words that do not bring you business. I would rather only have one paying visitor a day (that was the right visitor) rather than forking out thousands on trapping people to come to my site that are not interested in the products or services I provide.

So reserving a word like “real estate” on its own may bring you thousands of visitors a day, but the majority of them will not be interested in what you have to offer, so make sure you think about what people are likely to type in search engines to find what they are looking for in your area, much like you do when you are searching for a product. Reserving the words real estate (your suburb), (your state) makes alot of sense. This way you end up with what is called “targetted keywords” that is keywords that will perfrom for you.

If I were searching for Petrusma and Partners real estate agents in Hobart Tasmania I would not use the terms “real estate agents” in Google/MSN or Yahoo. I would type in “Petrusma Hobart Tasmania”…… this is called natural targetted searching and more and more people approach searching in this manner.

Where to advertise?
Today the only way for you to get true results is to pay for it and there are only a handful of alternatives available (thankfully). They offer immediate results (done correctly) and can sometimes increase your visitors numbers exponentially.

Search Engine: Google
System Name: Google Adwords
Ads Appear: Google, AOL, AskJeeves, Shopping.com and many more complimentary sites

Overview
By far the most successful and easiest to use of all the systems. Very clean interface!

However it does take some time to do a campaign properly. You will pay about AU$0.15 cents click through rates on average and some keywords cost more – especially if you want to appear on top of the ads. Google have some useful tools that allow you to see what keywords are being used in their search engine. I have been using them for about 3 years and have built a successful real estate directory Propertypoint with over 36,000 visitors per month without spending a red cent on traditional advertising.

One painful thing is – because I manage many accounts for many agents I have to create username and passwords for each account as it does not allow for multiple accounts and competing keywords under one account.

Believe me, this costs me a couple of hours a week in wasted time/billing. However you will not have to worry as most agents only need one account (it is just me venting some anger).

The history tool is great and you can also view click through rates and see how many times people have used certain keywords each month, all information is archived and can be retrieved.

Overall 7/10

Search Engine: Yahoo/MSN
System Name: Overture
Ads Appear: Yahoo, MSN, Altavista, CNN and many others

Overview
Yahoo purchased this system for a few $billion over a year ago and has been acquiring search engine tools left right and centre. The Overture system is not a search engine but more so a pay per click system that is used by so many search engines (integrated). The ads that appear are more informative than Google ads but the system is a nightmare for the amateur to understand and work effectively. It took me about 6 months to finally work it all out as they themselves (Overture) do not use terms to describe sections at all well. Overture has some fantastic tools but it is just so technical that I nearly gave up.

Results are varied and you must spend a minimum amount ($25USD) per month. There are various ways you can approach this but we poor people are left with only a couple of choices as the mid to high range features costs $1000s per month.

I would recommend this only because their ad listings appear on NineMSN’s and Yahoo Australia’s Portal.

If Overture made the system easier to use I would score this higher. But results is where it counts and Google Adwords whips its butt at this point in time.

Overall 4/10

Coming Soon

Search Engine: Sensis
System Name: Bidsmart
Ads Appear: Sensis/Yellow Pages/White Pages

Overview
Sensis wants your advertising money in more ways than one! As the traditional Yellow/White Pages is becoming less effective and more expensive, you can bet your bottom dollar that Sensis will stop at nothing to get you spending as much of your advertising dollar with them and they have just released their search engine Sensis, which allows for searching for a company/product service and also a region. It is not a bad start and will be continually refined. The one interesting thing is that they are combining results from Yellow/White pages directories in search results (which you can turn off and most people will because it is painful). This is done basically so they think they can sell this with Yellow/White pages listings (as an add on I assume) and get more money!

The Sensis (Bidsmart) system will probably be cheaper than Google and Overture when it is introduced.

Their search engine has had a reasonable start, however some search terms return silly results and they will have to make it smarter. If your company has their servers hosted overseas (as so many do because it is over 5 times the cost for similar services in Australia) it is hard to be listed on their search engine if you do not have a .com.au domain name.

However I will expect that Sensis will roll out the Bidsmart system sometime in August 2004 (It says July 2004 on their website and it is already August and it has not launched….I hate that).

I will write more about it here once I have tested its useability and results.

Overall NA

Search Engine: MSN
System Name: ???
Ads Appear: MSN (and probably Ninemsn in the future)

Overview
Steve Ballmer admitted that Google had kicked its butt in the search arena, but that is just another way for Microsoft to pretend that they have serious competitors.

What do you do when you have about US$70 billion in the bank and someone is beating you at something you think is valuable?

Microsoft pour billions into making a product either better or integrating with a current product so you weed out choice and force users into your system. (as it seems most companies would do if they were that big)

So when the next operating system rolls out (Code named Longhorn) it will have a search engine that searches your computer, your network and also the web. Pretty smart – if it works well!

MSN have rolled out their beta engine and results are getting better, but it will be some months before we get a clearer picture. Your log files (stats) should be recording the visits from the MSNBot about once per week.

Microsoft will also get into the pay per click market – but don’t expect them to get aggressive until late 2005. I will keep you informed as I get more information.

Overall NA

Search Engine: MSN
System Name: MSN Search

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