Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Get Your Name on the List

Marketing, March 10, 2010 | Go to article overview

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Get Your Name on the List


Companies blaming Google for their poor showing in search results should look closer to home first.

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor, Stoic philosopher and author. His following utterance is one that should be kept close to the hearts of every company that wants to be listed on Google. 'Look well into thyself; there is a source of strength which will always spring up if thou wilt always look there.'

Now, I know you might switch off when you read the next sentence, but I urge you, press on. Search engine optimisation is important.

Geek? No. Business.

Google and other search engines display two basic types of results: the 'natural rankings' - a list of results generated by sending software 'spiders' out on to the web and indexing the contents of billions of websites - and 'paid listings' - the results displayed at the top and down the right-hand side that people bid to place their ad in.

SEO is important for two really good reasons. First, it makes you money Second, it saves you money. Now who doesn't think this is important?

Well, apparently, the biggest firms in the US, who, according to a report by SEO firm Conductor published last month, 'suck at search'.

According to the research, 72% of the Fortune 500 companies have very low or non-existent visibility for their most advertised keywords - the ones they spend money on, but haven't bothered to optimise their SEO performance against. Between them, this is costing hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted spend on paid search advertising, and much more in missed business.

SEO makes money because between 60% and 80% of clicks in Google are on the natural results; so getting this right is important. It saves money because the better you perform in the natural rankings, the less it costs to compete in the paid results - because Google takes the quality score of your site into account when deciding how much it charges you to bid for position.

For those who rely on search as a key business driver, then, where they appear in these results is vital.

Hence the start last week of an investigation by the European Commission into whether Google manipulates its results to the detriment of competitors. Foundem, a price-comparison site that competes with Google's own shopping product, joined Microsoft-owned Ciao and French search site eJustice in alleging their sites were penalised by Google, making them almost invisible in search.

Google has always manually intervened in the rankings, either to remove offensive material or to punish companies that used result-rigging methods of which it disapproved. …

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