Entries Tagged 'vertical search' ↓
June 5th, 2008 — vertical search
Today I’m using search engines to find more search engines…
I have a new client that is a Toronto church; they’ve hired me to rewrite and redesign their website using Search Engine Optimization best practices.
(SEO for ministries? Yup, there should be nothing old-school about any line of work anymore!)
So, naturally, one of those practices is link building - a pillar of SEO. And one way to generate quality inbound links is to list your blog/site on all appropriate search engines…
And that should not stop at Google, Yahoo!, MSN and other horizontal search engines.
For every search, there’s an engine to drive it
Vertical search engines are on the rise - both in the business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets. For every market, there’s likely a search engine of some size out there.
In the case of my church client, I went looking for B2C (C2C? Christ-to-consumer?) search engines, and found more than 50! (Cutest name: Fish the Net: The Evangelistic Tackle Box. Some of the targeted marketing: “family-friendly” and “safe search.”)
And speaking of highly specialized B2C search engines, I read about the recent launch of Rushmoredrive.com: Discover More - the first search engine for black Americans looking for products, services and events aimed at them.
Also in beta is the “world’s first search engine for hostels.” Frankly, I don’t see how different this tool is from travel directories, like Expedia, that have been around for quite some time.
Anyway, no matter how you slice it, we’ve come a long way, baby, from the days (not that many years ago) when we had to wade through reams of unrelated, often spammy results to find what we wanted.
And that’s a good thing.
May 23rd, 2008 — vertical search
Location, location, location …
That hackneyed creed of real estate is no less important in the highly competitive world of the Internet: the location of your website in the search result pages served up by Google and the other major search engines is everything.
While not every business has to worry about the locale of their prospects (in our global economy, where you live doesn’t necessarily affect what you buy or from whom) - real estate agents are a different animal. They need to attract people looking to buy in a very specific geographic region.
Become the local expert
So as a realtor, just as your street signage is located in particular neighborhoods, your online presence needs to be geo-specific as well. What am I talking about? Three words: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
As a realtor, maybe you’re just starting to put up a website, or are about to rework the site you have… Stop! Before you take another step, get yourself a little SEO 101.
Simply defined, SEO is the application of best practices in research, writing, linking, and design that optimize your chances for getting ranked by Google and other search engines. In a nutshell, proper SEO means you get found online by your prospects (and who doesn’t want that?!)
SEO tips for your site
- Keyword research: Your first step. You need to figure out what the very best search terms (known as “keywords/phrases”) are for your website before you start any writing, or even creating the site’s navigation. And then write using different and appropriate keywords on every page. It’s a fine art and a science: How many searches per day? How many other websites are using those keywords? How often, where and in what context do I write with the keywords? Seriously consider hiring an SEO expert to do the keyword research and mapping for your site.
- Consider blogging: The software is free and easy, so you can post fresh, unique content on your site regularly - a practice Google takes into consideration when ranking sites as substantial and authoritative. (Blog software can be used for other content purposes, too.)
- Submit your listings at these leading real estate search engines:
RealtorSolutionCenter (range of fees)
Move.com (fees): list your rentals and new homes
Yahoo Real Estate ($50 for 3 weeks)
Real-Estate-Blogs.com (free; submit blogs only)
- Stock up on books and other forms of information about Search Engine Marketing (SEM), particularly as it pertains to your industry. I recommend “Realty Blogging: Build your Brand and Outsmart your Competition, by Richard Nacht and Paul Chaney, as a good starting point. (It has a great chapter dedicated to Search.)
- Email marketing: Very powerful; be sure to offer “sign up for our monthly e-newsletter” on your site’s home page. Too busy to write your own newsletter? There are lots of good, affordable newsletter providers out there.
Be geo-specific in your website writing
Keep in mind that Personalized Search is a feature on both Google and Yahoo! as an option where people can enter certain words and phrases to drill down their searches. The SEO by the Sea blog writes about personalized search:
For example, if the client has performed numerous searches for real estate in the San Francisco Bay area, the search system may select San Francisco Bay as a search parameter or search term automatically for future searches of the index for real estate.
Therefore, your best keywords will likely be geo-specific: say, “Markham real estate” or “San Diego realtor” in conjunction with “condos”, “houses”, etc. Think of all the terms (formal and jargon) used to describe a city or town where you sell - even a neighborhood that goes by a trendy name.
Warning: Do not use the same content more than once in your site; just swapping out city/town names will not fool Google. The search engine will recognize it as “duplicate content” and penalize your rankings for it. Instead, take the time to have each web page written precisely for that topic - be it condos in Palm Beach or townhouses in Burlington.
The wrong keywords will not get you the traffic you want and need to be a success - so don’t leave it up to chance; the business benefits of SEO merit doing it right.
Good “curb appeal” for your site traffic
With Search Engine Optimization writing and keyword research, it’s all about what your prospective customers think when they’re looking for real estate help, and therefore what they type into that Google bar.
The Internet is a powerful, built-in marketing channel that can drive the right home buyers to the right page on YOUR website, and not your competitors’ sites.
Having your site buried on page 2, 3, 4, or worse, on Google’s search result pages won’t bring you any “drive-by traffic,” that’s for sure. Search Engine Optimization - along with rich, unique content and great Internet marketing - will get those visitors to park and come on in to your site… and generate sales leads!
May 8th, 2008 — vertical search
I was giving a tutorial on Search Engine Optimization to a dozen employees at a multinational corporation, when a lone cowboy spoke up:
“Why is Google so powerful, anyway?” he asked me suspiciously. “It just doesn’t smell right that they should have so much say over what we find and read online!”
Don’t many of us, secretly or otherwise, have a problem with (quasi) monopolies? (Think Microsoft, which regularly gets slapped down by authorities for market dominance.)
Even SEO experts feel the “Google-creep”
Even professionals in the search engine marketing business get wary of the Giant G. Debra Mastaler at The Link Spiel confesses:
… I don’t like the idea of one entity having so much power and right now, Google has a lot. Don’t tread on me, and power to the people comes to mind when I think of Google. (Which is pretty funny if you consider their motto.) And while Google doesn’t tread, right now I feel like they are creeping along into everything and that kinda worries me.
(By the way, Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.”)
Google knows best… or does it?
The presumption is - a fairly big one - is that Google Knows Best. Ann Smarty at Search Engine Journal puts it well:
There is one SEO Golden rule: what Google likes, we should too - i.e. if Google regularly crawls the page, it must like it; so that must be a good page.
You have other search engine choices
But here’s where it gets interesting; not everyone stops at Google, especially if you’re a business looking for product or services. A growing number of people are moving off-shore from the mighty Google to:
SEO is your machete in the thickening jungle of online info
To give Google its due, a colleague and I were talking the other day about how much Google search results have improved over just a couple of years ago. It’s even becoming old-school to get just text web pages delivered up; now Google is integrating videos and images into its search results, in what’s known as “blended search.”
Great news for searchers - more challenges for companies seeking to get found online. All the more reason to employ Search Engine Optimization on all your web pages!
April 21st, 2008 — vertical search
I preach the importance of pleasing Google endlessly - because the reality is that more than half of all online information seekers use that search engine.
But Google (and Yahoo! and MSN) are general search engines - that is, they sweep horizontally across the broadest possible sampling of websites to find results.
Who’s got time for needle-in-a-haystack?
Have you ever done a Google search and come up with lots of great sites to check out - but many of the ones you want - specifically business sites - are buried in the volume? The proverbial needle in the haystack search…
Try threshing the hay by also using vertical search engines; the most popular ones for business are Business.com and KnowledgeStorm.com.
There are reams of smaller, more specific vertical search engines for business - both in B2B and B2C markets. (For example, Trulia is a popular B2C search engine for real estate listings.)
B2B search engine are fewer - but they’re influencing buyers
Like most things online, the B2C space for search engines is bigger than B2B … but don’t underestimate the influence of vertical search engines on the B2B buyer.
According to a recent study by Enquiro Research, B2B consumers are using vertical search engines in all phases of their research. (Click on this Enquiro graph for more details.)
How do you benefit?
So, how do YOU capitalize on the growth area of vertical search engines, right? I suggest the following:
- Research which vertical search engine is best for your line of business. (E.g., if you’re a B2B supplier of manufacturing equipment, check out ThomasNet.com.)
- Submit your website to the vertical search engine(s) you think best fit your market. Be forewarned: the engines will decide if your site is appropriate to add.
- Keep monitoring your rankings in those vertical search engines; compare them to your rankings in Google and the other major general search engines.
- Continuously use SEO best practices to keep your website top-of-mind for ALL the search engines you appear in!