Search Beyond Google, Part 1 of 2
As the influence of search engine giant Google, and to a lesser extent Yahoo! and MSN, continues to grow, many multichannel marketers have been left to wonder if there are any other avenues to reach an online audience. In a recent whitepaper from search engine marketing and optimization services provider MoreVisibility entitled Marketing Strategies Beyond Traditional Search, author Amber Frensley provides several ways to effectively market to your audience through less-traveled roads. Here are some options she advises trying out.
1. Contextual advertising. This involves advertising your product/service on such digital media as Web sites and mobile phones, primarily on a cost-per-click basis. These ads generally appear next to related non-search engine-generated content, such as news articles, travel articles, etc. Because of the large number of impressions contextual advertising can deliver, the cost-per-click structure assures marketers that they’re paying for leads and not just eyeballs. This type of advertising appears in two forms — keyword-targeted and site-targeted ads.
Keyword-targeted ads are based on keywords used in sponsored search listings. The ads are provided to third-party distribution sites (partner sites) that have content relevant to the keywords. The whitepaper’s author cites an example of an advertiser using the keyword “interior paint” within its sponsored listings campaign. A search engine may associate that with an interior design article on a partner site. The engine notes a relationship between the behavior of a reader of that article and the relevance of the search term, and displays the ad next to the relevant article.
Site-targeted ads appear on specific sites a marketer chooses based on the relationship the site has to the product/service being marketed. Dependent on the Web site, text, banner and video ads are possibilities.
2. Use second-tier engines. With the cost-per-click increases seen from Google, Yahoo! and MSN, it may make sense for some marketers to devote more money to the smaller, second-tier search engines. Some of these include Ask.com, FindWhat.com, LookSmart and MIVA, among others. Though these engines drive a smaller percentage of the search-market share, most offer lower-priced clicks, sometimes up to half that of Google, Yahoo! and MSN. While these engines may not provide the same quality traffic or offer conversion tracking, they do put you where your competitors may not be.
The whitepaper gives the example of TonsilFacts.com and its highly targeted search marketing campaign centered on common tonsil-related symptoms. It specifically targeted parents searching for tonsil-related information. By running a pay-per-click campaign on LookSmart, it received a greater amount of qualified traffic. TonsilFacts.com was able to purchase popular terms such as “tonsils” and “adenoids,” as well as high-trafficked symptom terms such as “ADHD” and “sleep apnea” that were too costly with other search engines. By running a pay-per-click campaign in a second-tier engine, TonsilFacts.com increased the volume of site traffic through more targeted search marketing at a lower cost-per-click.
3. Local search. Consumers looking for a local service, business or retailer usually are close to the final stage in the buying cycle. Local clicks often result in better leads and conversions. Even the larger search engines are aware of how successful local search engine marketing is becoming, witnessed by all of the mapping services, geo-targeting capabilities, local directories and pay-per-call options that are popping up on these engines.
4. Vertical search. These search engines focus on specific, niche businesses and the needs of their consumers. Examples include Business.com, WebMD.com and Move.com. Business.com serves the B-to-B industry, helping key decision makers find the industry-specific information they need to grow their businesses.
On the B-to-C side, WebMD.com provides consumers with online health information. For advertisers looking to reach specific demographics related to the health care industry, it offers a niche marketing environment. Move.com targets searchers interested in topics related to moving by listing available real estate, decision-support tools and professional connections. For example, the finance section in Move.com displays advertisements related to financing a home.
While the volume of response from these search engines may be lower than that of Google, Yahoo! and MSN, it often results in higher ROI. Citing a case study of a Siemens Profitnet marketing effort, the whitepaper found that Google drove more than twice the clicks of Business.com; however, Business.com generated 60 percent more conversions at one-fifth the cost.
In part two of this two-part series (which will appear in our Jan. 8th edition), we’ll continue with more techniques from the whitepaper on how to thrive with search marketing beyond the typical outlets (i.e., Google).