March 23, 2007

Internet Exposure – Low Cost, High Returns

Optimizing Exposure – How it Works

Web designers and programmers embedded Meta Tags and Meta Tag descriptions into their websites in an effort to increase their chances of being picked up by the various search engines. In the earlier days of search engines such as Yahoo and Lycos, smart programmers would bury keywords in web pages by using the same colour font as the background to achieve the same effect. As search engines became and continue to become more intelligent, these and other similar tactics no longer work and in fact hinder the ability to be recognized by these search engines. The unfortunate fact is that Google has become the gorilla of the search engine industry and it’s heuristic algorithms for indexing websites has been more closely guarded than KFC’s seven herbs and spices and McDonald’s secret sauce combined.

Given the above, no one has a crystal ball that can make a website appear as the first non-sponsored website in a keyword search on Google or any other search engine but there are a few things that companies can do to improve their position by understanding some simple concepts about how Google and others are evolving.

Simply put, search engines have been evolving into an almost artificial intelligence entity. They no longer look for Meta Tags or simple words buried in the content of the site to determine the website’s ranking. Search engines now use relevance and popularity to determine ranking. Therefore companies need to determine how to increase both relevance and popularity to improve their websites ranking in desired keyword searches. Although relevance and popularity are considered mutually distinct topics they should be considered symbiotically to build importance.

“Relevance” is now the Buzz Word

Content of a website is what search engines use to determine relevance. Although the search engines are becoming smarter, they still have some trouble with Flash content. Although Flash is a great way to increase curb appeal, it does little to increase relevance. Website content needs to be carefully written and incorporated to replicate the corporate message and what it feels is relevant to its audience. There is a fine line between repeating relevant content enough times to affect search engine optimization (SEO) and making the site less readable and enjoyable by those entering the site. The words used in web site content are intricate components to increasing relevance.

Supporting documentation is also important in building relevance. Word, PDF and other types of documents are all searched by search engine spiders and robots that are used to help determine a site’s relevance. What types of documents do you need to add to your site to increase your ranking? Case studies, press releases, articles, white papers are only some examples.


Often companies that started high in the search engine rankings stay high in the rankings. This is no coincidence. By having a high ranking site, i.e., being ranked 1 -10 on the first page of the search result, sites are visited more often than others and therefore their popularity continues to rise. The task at hand for most companies is breaking that first page barrier. It was thought that by buying click-through ads, eventually the site would become more popular and thus organically rise through the search engine rankings and find itself on the first page in a short time. This is rarely the case in a highly competitive keyword category.

If companies cannot build popularity through search engines, they need to start doing it through less traditional means. Links, filtering mechanisms, partnership links, video testimonials, product reviews, training videos, and/or corporate presentation videos just to name a few options.

Blogs –New Age Internet Marketing Tool

Blogs are an excellent example of sites that can be strategically used to increase the popularity of a corporate site. Using a product like Blogger, recently acquired by Google, individuals can create Blog content that is relevant to a specific subject, while building links back to the corporate site. Google indexes changes to Blogger Blogs within hours and because a corporate website is linked to the Blog site and the article published (hopefully), it too is re-indexed; increasing its popularity and over time search engine ranking. There are even search engines for ranking blogs and social networking sites. Because of the dynamic nature of Technorati, Google has dedicated spiders that index it and therefore creating a mechanism to increase indexing at a much faster pace than traditional websites.

Companies and organizations need to encourage links back to their corporate website and each other’s Blogs. Setting up RSS feeds to all of the above would make it easier for visitors to be notified of changes, special offers, promotions and encourage more frequent website visits, thus increasing the Blogs popularity, which in turn, increases its relevance, thus increasing the relevance of the corporate site.

In a similar fashion, by adding to relevant content to social networking sites (SNS); both traditional and not-so-traditional, there is opportunity to increase both popularity and relevance. This can be achieved by posting non active, active and interactive mechanisms to these SNS's. Because each of these sites has their own search engine tagging solution, which are fed by the person posting the article, video clip or photos, it gives companies a chance to create their own meta tags which will eventually be indexed by the larger search engines like Google and Yahoo. Even if no one actually views the blog, watches a video or participates in an interactive site option from the sites mentioned above, the fact that they have been indexed and linked back directly or indirectly to the corporate site, increases the corporate site’s relevance and popularity.

A company or organizations’ partners and employees should be set up on specific sites – sites that people can use to set up internet bookmarks. This is important because Google indexes certain sites that are bookmarked regularly. By creating a network of users, all book-marking intertwines with other websites and Blogs that all link back to the corporate site that will ultimately increase the organic ranking of the corporate site.

The ultimate goal is to increase the organic ranking in order to decrease the dependency on pay-per-click advertising. Eventually, an organization can reduce its SEM (Search Engine Marketing) budget and use that money for other more efficient marketing programs. It is believed that organic links from search engines produce higher click-through rates than pay-per-click ads, ultimately increasing traffic to a corporate site and increasing downloads that can be turned into generating revenue.

What does this mean to my business?

It means business. In a nutshell, if you have a $100,000 website that has 20,000 interlinked pages on automotive parts, the more likely a search engine is to consider your site a source of expertise which makes you highly relevant and more likely to be on the first page of someone’s internet search.

It is important to understand that what worked well several years ago to drive traffic to a website doesn’t necessarily work today. And the things that are implemented today may not work well in the future. The internet moves at a different time-space continuum than the rest of the world and SEO and SEM are no exception. Truthfully, there are many things a company can do to increase website traffic without spending excessive amounts of money. Ask your web site or internet expert a lot of questions and let drive them drive your business on the internet highway.