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June 5, 2008

Is Search Engine Positioning Dead?

One of the trendiest takes on Internet marketing these days seems to be this notion that securing top search engine rankings “no longer works.” Where it started, I have no idea.

But rarely does a week go by when I don’t see one or more Internet marketing “experts” claiming that search engine positioning is largely a waste of time and should not be a primary focus of web site owners.

Well…as the saying goes, “there are two sides to every story.”

But let’s not make this article about my side, or your side, or anyone else’s side. Let’s forget about my opinion and other “experts” opinions and stick to the indisputable facts, as reported by highly credible 3rd party sources:

  • According to a Forrester Research Media Field Study, getting a loyal audience in the first place is best done by Search Engine Placement.
  • According to a GVU Users Survey, 84.8% of Internet users use Search Engines to find websites.
  • In a study released by ActivMedia Research in September 1999, Search Engine Positioning was ranked as the #1 website promotional method used by eCommerce sites.
  • And look what I found in the April 2000 issue of Target Marketing Magazine. (Source: IMT Strategies – imtstrategies.com)

“Top Ways Websites are Discovered”

Banner ads: 1%

Targeted email: 1.2%

TV spots: 1.4%

“By accident”: 2.1%

Magazine ads: 4.4%

Word-of-mouth: 20%

Random Surfing: 20%

Search Engines: 46%

You’ve now seen the numbers and know that search engine promotion is very much alive and kicking. But let’s take this a step further. Let’s talk about the *quality* of prospects coming to your web site through search engines as opposed to other advertising mediums.

Every time your potential customers use the search engines, they qualify themselves as *hot prospects* by conducting searches on keywords that are directly related to your product or service. Their choice of keywords is proof that they have a genuine interest in what you offer. These people spend their valuable time exploring the search engines for your type of product or service.

Think about that.

They didn’t stumble upon one of your ads, or wander past a hyperlink to your site. And they didn’t get a banner ad thrown in their face. They made the *decision* to actively search the keywords that brought them to YOUR website. And when they get there, they are ready and willing to do business with you. At the very least, they’re seriously considering it!

But merely getting your website “indexed” or listed in the search engines is not enough. In order to get any significant traffic from the search engines, your website must be listed within the top 30 search results (preferably the top 20).

Very rarely will anyone look beyond the first 30 results returned from a search. This makes perfect sense because the most relevant sites are always listed at the top. So if your prospect doesn’t find what they want within the first 20 to 30 listings, they’ll simply do a new search.

If your site falls anywhere below the 30th listing, you don’t stand a chance against anyone in the TOP-20. Hence, it should be your goal to achieve Top 20 positions.

So how do you get your website listed in the top 20?

  1. You can attempt to gain these Top 20 rankings yourself. However, this can easily become a full time job. (I think this is why so many marketers advise against focusing on search engine positioning.)
  2. You can hire a reputable company who can achieve AND maintain your Top 20 rankings for you (be sure they guarantee their service and have several verifiable clients that currently have multiple Top 20 rankings).
  3. You can do nothing at all. But as you’ve seen from the third party statistics I referenced above, search engine positioning is something you can’t afford to ignore.

Whichever choice you make, I hope that your eyes have been opened to the tremendous profit potential that exists with top search engine placement.


Jennifer Horowitz is the Director of Marketing for www.EcomBuffet.com Over the past 10 years Jennifer’s expertise in marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped clients increase revenue. Jennifer has written a downloadable book on SEO and has been published in many SEO and marketing publications. Jennifer is the editor of the popular Spotlight on Success: SEO and Marketing newsletter. Follow Jennifer and stay current on SEO, marketing, social media and more: http://twitter.com/EcomBuffet

2 Responses to “Is Search Engine Positioning Dead?

    avatar Graham Jones - Internet Psychologist says:

    While I agree that search engine marketing should be part of the “mix”, I feel you are over emphasising its importance. Firstly, whilst studies show that significant numbers of people use search engines to find web sites, there are several more that also show that when they do find those web sites, most people are disappointed with what the search engines throw up. People may find sites via search engines, but on the whole don’t like what they find. Hence being in the Top 20 may actually work against you.

    Furthermore, the study you quote saying that the top way people find web sites is through search engines is an eight-year-old study done before blogging took hold, before social networking came online and before most newspapers and other traditional media took an integrated approach, providing web sites in on-screen captions, for instance. Quoting an eight-year-old study when the environment has so dramatically changed is unfair on your readers.

    What is clear from several studies and analyses I have made is that most people find web sites without using search engines. Things have changed. Search engines may have been number one a few years ago, but not any more.

    Having said that, they still play an important part, so they must not be ignored. Equally, they will inevitably adapt to the changing online environment, so you should utilise them in your business.

    Well i believe being in the first two pages of a search is always a good thing since it helps attract viewers.

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