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Increasing Your Brand's Visibility by Search-engine Marketing

Digital Brand Expressions
classic article by Veronica Fielding President & CEO of - Digital Brand Expressions - December 2003
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Increasing Your Brand's Visibility by Search-engine Marketing
the author - Veronica "Niki" Fielding
About the Author

Veronica "Niki" Fielding is the President & CEO of Digital Brand Expressions, a New Jersey-based marketing firm specializing in search engine marketing and visitor optimization programs designed to increase sales for national and international brands.

Before founding DBE, Niki was the President United Multimedia, an interactive marketing firm she founded in 1995 and sold in 1998 to Princeton Partners, an integrated marketing agency. She successfully ran UMM as a division of Princeton Partners through 2001, after which she resigned to form DBE.

Niki has a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in writing from Rider University where she also did post-graduate work toward an MBA. She is a member of the New Jersey Technology Council and the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, and a past board member of the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Network. Niki is frequently asked to speak to business and industry associations and the media on search engine marketing and related topics She writes a bi-monthly column on technology for the online edition of Business News New Jersey.
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There was a time you could expect your brand's site to appear in the top position for at least its own name on any search engine. But even that isn't a guarantee anymore as competition for precious Top 5 positions becomes fiercer. Wonder why some companies - even small ones - are making it into the Top 5 positions, and others are not?

Search engine marketing is an emerging area that consistently delivers quantum leaps in leads, sales, and awareness when effectively implemented. In a recent survey, Jupiter Research found that more than 75% of executives who used search engine marketing found it to be more effective than banner advertising, and 66% expected to increase their use of it.

Yet many companies think their site is optimized because someone programmed 15 or so keyword phrases into the site's source code a while back. They are surprised to find that this approach is quite outdated. Companies that are consistently in the Top 5 positions on the search engines for the search terms important to their brands usually have committed to the active optimization of their sites to retain that visibility.

Real optimization involves studying your target audiences' search behaviors and uniting them with information about your brand, your customers, and their preferences. It involves changes to the design, copy, and programming of your site to make it more attractive to both customers and search engines.

A well optimized site will have a genuine balance between what a human needs to see on the site to have a good brand experience and what the search engines need to "see" on the site to draw searchers to it.

Typically, search engines like to see good use of title tags, text including the search terms in some degree of frequency, and in-bound links from quality sites, along with clean coding.

Another avenue to increase your brand's online visibility is search engine advertising (referred to as 'pay-per-click' advertising). This involves buying search terms on Google (Google AdWords program), Overture, LookSmart, and other ad networks and creating ads that appear whenever people enter those keywords as search terms on the search engine network.

The ads are 'bought' via a bidding system, whereby the advertisers that want their ads to appear when someone enters a particular search term bid against each other. The advertiser pays the search engine every time someone clicks on the ad. It is important to understand the value of each visitor so you can create an expectation for results and ROI.

Managing these pay-per-click ads requires active monitoring and expertise. If your bid/advertising falls below the 3rd or 5th position (depending on the network), your ad won't appear across the entire network, just on the search engine itself. Bid too high and you're spending money needlessly to be in the #1 slot (if slots 1-3 are always seen, why pay extra to be in the #1 position?); bid too low and risk losing exposure.

Pay-per-click costs range from as little as $.10 (10 cents) per click to more than $10.00 per click for very competitive target words, And keep in mind, that's just for 1 network, just for one term—not for all of the terms you'd need to buy to reach your audiences. That's why companies with mission-critical websites tend to invest in site optimization and use search engine advertising to complement, not substitute, for natural listings.

the above article was first published here December 2003.

...Later:- in August 2005 - the author Veronica "Niki" Fielding published an excellent article called White Hat Optimization to Protect Your Brand's Image on the Web (in the event of bad news or negative publicity). This shows how search-engine marketing is a different proposition to search-engine optimization. (And why you need experts to do it for you.) FAQs for connected IT marketers