Small Business and Web Marketing, 2004 Update

Direct Marketing News published an article about a survey conducted by The Kelsey Group among 300 small businesses whose customers and suppliers are mostly within 50 miles to gauge their use of the Internet. Two years after a previous such survey when just 35 percent of the small businesses said that the Web was important, now the majority indicate the growing importance of web marketing for their business and 55 percent of them have web presence.
Small Businesses and Web Marketing, 2004 Update
Some additional findings:

  • Only 6 percent reported using pay-per-click advertising
  • 14 percent said they optimized their Web site to appear higher in search results
  • 19 percent said they used Internet Yellow Pages

Managing Click-through Fees in Overture Site Match

I am asked often about the main risk of submitting web pages to the Overture Site Match program — being charged per click indefinitely. Indeed, Overture do not clarify this outright on their website. PositionTech, an Overture partner has been equally cryptic about this question on their site but luckily were more responsive to my emails.

Here I am sharing a paraphrased version of the answers I received…

  • Shall I participate in the Overture Site Match
  • Can I remove web links from the Overture Site Match program?
  • How can I manage my CPC funds in Overture Site Match?

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Removing information from Google’s index

Most people think of search engine optimization as an exercise to make more pages indexed by search engine spiders and then having them rank highly. That’s fair.

Now imagine yourself in a situation where your pages rank too high… Or rather, the wrong pages rank too high?

I found myself in such a situation when the representative of a large company approached me politely and requested I remove information which I was not authorized to publish. I tried to cooperate as much as possible but time was against us. Most people know that it takes weeks if not months to have Google reindex a site and update the pages already scanned.

I would like to share two ways of accelerating the solution to this problem — when the issue is urgent.
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I’ve been away from the WebSage blog trying to recover from a hard drive failure. In addition, I’ve been busy updating the QSSI SEO blog dedicated to helping government web managers understand the impact search engines have on information availability and outreach programs. I will renew the blog postings soon! Thanks for your patience!

PositionTech revamps site and paid submission offerings

PositionTech, the company I have been using for my clients’ paid submission to Inktomi, FAST, and AskJeeves, has redesigned its site to match the new offerings in time for the Overture Site Match launch.

The site offers detailed description of the categories which will define the cost of clicks through the Overture Site Match program. The following is a sample of categories and their associated pay-per-click fees:
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Yahoo Launches Overture Site Match

On March 1st at 6 pm Pacific Time, Yahoo! launched a new paid inclusion search program which combines and replaces the paid inclusion programs of Inktomi, AltaVista, and FAST, and distributes search results to Yahoo Search, AltaVista, AllTheWeb, MSN, CNN, InfoSPace, and other partners of its search distribution network.

While everybody in the search engine optimization industry is trying to understand and intepret how this new program will change the way web sites are marketed via search engines, stay tuned for more details. Google, not surprisingly, reacted quite negatively to the new program which essentially forces web marketers to pay for search engine traffic without an alternative. This week, I am going to the Search Engine Strategies in New York City and should have more updates on Friday.
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Government web privacy and commercial search engines

In its standard meaning, search engine optimization focuses on making web sites rank highly with the main commercial search engines. The other side of it all is making sure content which is not supposed publicly available does not get indexed into the search engines’ massive databases. logo and home pageToday’s Washington Post has on its front page an article on the importance of knowing how to properly secure information from being scanned by commercial search engines like Google. This is the type of information you wish government web managers would know when approaching search engine optimization.

Visual explanation of how search engine spider web sites and a link to article on how to protect directories with sensitive information from visiting search engine robots

Knowing the flip side of things, i.e. knowing how NOT to show in the search engines, is as important as knowing how to rank highly with search engines — all based on the type of information you have on the web of course…

FirstGov is not enough

FirstGov is not a sufficient resource for search engine marketing of a government website.

Just because government websites have monopoly on .gov domain names, it does not mean they have monopoly on providing information about certain government-related subjects or locations. Unlike the case with yellow/white/blue pages where the way to differentiate between government and commercial information is by the color of the pages, on the web things are much more seamless.

Whether they realize it or not, government websites do compete with commercial sites in providing information and should, just as commercial sites do, invest in search engine optimization — beyond listing with FirstGov!
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Government Web Sites and Search Engine Optimization

The most popular way for finding any information online is through search engines. The search for government information is no different than the search for any other type of information – search engines are the most popular means of finding information. Thus, government agencies should consider optimizing their web sites for search engines. In fact, search engine optimization would ensure that the heavy investment in usability and accessibility improvements of government web sites have not gone to waste.
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