Google is King of the Mountain when it comes to market share for search. ComScore released their December 2010 search statistics, where Google leads the way with 66.6% of the search market. By comparison, Yahoo was in second place with 16.0% and MSN was third with 12.0% (essentially giving the Search Alliance a 28% share). Google’s numbers are overwhelming and undeniable. If you are running a Pay-per-Click (PPC) campaign, there is a high probability you are either running ads in Google now, or have used their AdWords platform in the past. With that dominant market share comes big-time competition, and it can be very difficult for smaller companies to compete with large companies who can spend ten times or more in PPC campaigns. Optimizing your PPC campaigns, bidding on long-tail keyphrases, and building quality landing pages can help increase your conversion numbers so you can still maintain a presence in Google, without getting buried under an avalanche of competitor ads.
Another option to consider is to allocate budget toward other online media channels. One channel that has recently made positive strides for targeted advertising is LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com). LinkedIn recently unveiled a new targeting option that allows advertisers to target their PPC ads based on job title, company, and specific Groups LinkedIn members have associated with their account. Imagine being able to run a television commercial or radio spot that is only served to people who have a high probability of purchasing your product or service? This type of granular targeting is an excellent way for smaller companies to expand their online presence and still keep a tightly focused marketing message to their most desired demographic.
For example, if you are a painting supply company specializing in paint brushes and other accessories for contractors and design professionals, you can run a campaign just serving ads to those professionals on LinkedIn. That is a very powerful way to brand your business and at the same time closely manage your advertising costs. While you may not see the huge number of visitors or impressions that you get from Google’s user base, the conversion is more important and you may find these alternative channels to Google, such as LinkedIn, are the perfect fit for your online marketing message.
Yahoo and MSN/Bing announced this week that you will now see “Powered by Bing” at the bottom of search results on Yahoo. What we have been hearing since the initial announcement of the Search Alliance is finally coming to fruition; organic search results in Yahoo are now based on Bing’s index and algorithm. If you have been hesitant to bid on keywords you already ranked well for in Yahoo, now might be a good time to rethink that strategy. The fact is, most websites ranked differently in the two engines prior to the partnership and now that difference can directly affect your site’s performance and your company’s bottom line.
One strategy I believe is very relevant today, given the Yahoo-Bing search partnership, is leveraging the keywords from organic traffic and adding those keywords to your PPC campaign. This approach takes on greater significance if your website historically ranked well in Yahoo, and not so well in MSN/Bing. If you haven’t seen it yet, you soon will see a major change in traffic to your site based on how well your site is ranked by Bing’s index. You can offset the loss of traffic from Yahoo’s organic rankings by adding the keywords you ranked well for into your PPC campaigns.
Hopefully you employ an analytics tool to analyze and identify sources of traffic and the keywords that drive people to your site. Google Analytics (GA) is an excellent choice given its wide array of features and cost (it’s free!). It is imperative you bridge the gap between Yahoo and MSN/Bing for any terms you held strong organic positions in Yahoo, but lack under the Bing index. The quickest way to accomplish this is to incorporate those terms into your PPC campaign. In this way, you can maintain a strong presence for search queries in Yahoo even if your organic rankings are buried by Bing’s algorithm, while you work to improve your organic presence.
For any advertiser who has participated in search engine marketing, part of the difficultly is saying what you want to say within the allotted characters. The major search engines; Google, Yahoo and MSN (Bing) each allow 70 characters for the description lines (including punctuation and spacing). What makes Yahoo’s situation unique from Google and MSN is that Yahoo automatically places a period at the end of the ad description; which technically allows 69 characters. As many search engine marketers know, one character can make a big difference and as a result you will need to completely rewrite ads.
Only recently, Yahoo broke the mold of limiting the amount of characters from 70 to 71. This one extra character makes a big difference. In the past many advertisers have had the last letter cut off the end of the ads, which caused the ads to not make sense. In the case of advertisers who used automated platforms to push campaigns to various search engines, many did not even know that the last letter had been removed and replaced with a period.
One character may not seem like a lot, however in the world of search engine marketing, a little goes a long way. This may be the perfect opportunity to revamp your Yahoo ads or to start running on Yahoo, if you are not already doing so.