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July 20, 2006

Smart Search Marketing: There’s More Than Just Google Page Rank

By Li Evans

There’s a lot to be said about putting all your eggs in one basket. That’s a mistake I have seen over and over again by beginning professionals entering into the realm of Search Engine Marketing or Search Engine Optimization. 

Like any good professional – I scour the message boards from SEW to High Rankings and every where in between and the constant theme I see from the beginners is questions about “Google Page Rank”. I become amazed at how many are so focused on attaining the highest Google Page Rank (G.P.R.) possible. 

Perhaps its Google’s enormous impact on our society that has this affect, or perhaps it’s the staggering figures of Google’s market share, or just all the press that Google gets as to why there is this total fixation on G.P.R. when first starting out. It seems like there are just blinders on or tunnel vision and the end of the tunnel is the almighty attainment of the best G.P.R. you can get. 

So, if you are new to SEO, take off the Google blinders! 

Don’t get me wrong – ranking in Google is important, and to a degree G.P.R. is important, however, if you are trying to attain a well rounded Search Marketing Program for your clients’ websites, there’s a whole other world out there beyond G.P.R. Besides that, I give you some things to ponder on – “Does my Google Page Rank, really matter to what searchers are searching on?” and “Google Page Rank – for what exactly am I ranking for?” 

While Google holds the market share for the most used search engine, a wise search marketer looks at just what kind of traffic does Google bring, and does that traffic convert. At the end of the day, the conversion is what counts. The conversion can be a subscription to an email newsletter, purchase of a product or even signing up for a newsfeed, all of that is based upon your client’s definition of conversion. 

Different search engines produce different types of traffic and also appeal to different segments of the population. Let’s take the example of selling women’s jewelry online, basing your entire search marketing efforts on your G.P.R. would have you missing out on the segment of the market that is most important to your client’s success. According to a May 2004 Hitwise study “55% of women prefer MSN Search while a majority of men favor Google Search”, so by focusing on Google alone, your search marketing program is already forgetting about the most important segment that would actually buy the products the website sells. 

Granted, that study is already over 2 years old, however, those statistics generally are still accepted in the industry. There are other studies out there from Hitwise and iProspect that shine some light into how the segments get broken up into more usage in Yahoo!  and MSN in certain age groups as well as men compared to women. Local search, as well, should be figured into your Search Marketing program, and the big player in that arena is Yahoo!

All of these facts, figures, spastics and studies should really help to guide you in assessing for each customer where to target your Search Marketing programs. It truly isn’t all about Google, Google may be the big behemoth on the block, and can bring you the traffic – but, stop and ask yourself - is it the quality traffic that you want, or should your efforts be focused in Yahoo, MSN, Ask or beyond first?

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