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How Search Works

Video: How Search Works by Google (March 2014) [3:24]

Key Points on How Search Works

  • You’re searching Google’s index of the web
  • Spiders fetch a few web pages, then they follow the links to other web pages, and so on
  • Google indexes many billions of pages across thousands of machines
  • A search command results in Google checking the search terms against its index
  • Google decides which pages show first in results by looking at:
    • how many times does a page contain the search terms?
    • do the search terms appear in the title or URL?
    • does the page include synonyms for those words?
    • is this page from a quality website, or a spammy one?
    • what is this page’s PageRank?
  • Google does not accept payment to include a site, improve its PageRank, or change results (except for Ads)
  • Google wants to display only ads that you would want to see
search marketing Google search results components

Google search results components

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

Video: Search Engine Marketing – In Simple English by Rapid Learning Life (Jul 2010) [4:43]

Key Points on Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

  • SEM is the practice of marketing or advertising your website through search engines
  • SEM may consist of one or more of the following:
    • organic search engine optimization (SEO)
    • pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
    • pay-for-inclusion (PFI)
  • Reasons to use SEM:
    • nearly all businesses are expected to have a website
    • SEM should lead to more traffic to a website
    • more traffic can mean more customers for a business, and higher revenues
    • SEM can be very cost-effective
  • To measure SEM effectiveness, compare site traffic before and after implementing SEM
  • It’s also important to track conversion rates: what percentage of visitors did something on your site that you are tracking

Note: Yahoo Directory was discontinued at the end of 2014.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Video: SEO for startups in under 10 minutes by Google Webmasters (Jun 2012) [9:53]

Key Points on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Verify website ownership through Google Webmaster Tools
  • Perform a domain background check
  • Fetch as Googlebot
  • Include analytics code
  • Plan a strategy for your site design
  • Define your conversion (I want visitors to ______)
  • Be smart about your copy; include relevant keywords
  • Page strategy—each page should include:
    • unique topic
    • unique page title
    • unique meta description
    • keywords in the URL, lowercase and hyphen-separated
    • descriptive anchor text/label for every link
    • descriptive alt attributes for every image
  • Encourage Google Sitelinks with meaningful site navigation
  • Avoid shady SEO practices, link schemes, or valuing site design over proper coding
  • Aim for page speed
  • Check your rankings
  • Find an audience via social sites
  • Plan a social media marketing strategy

Paid Search Results

Video: Why You Should Use Google AdWords by DigitalMarketer (Sep 2014) [4:19]

Key Points on Reasons to Use Google AdWords

  1. AdWords has unparalleled reach
  2. Nearly instant guaranteed page 1 rankings
  3. Reach highly motivated, targeted prospects
  4. You only pay for clicks/website visits
  5. It dominates search results
  6. Controllable and flexible
  7. Geographic targeting
  8. Highly measurable (data)
  9. It forces you to get you act together: set goals, measure success, and make improvements
  10. Highly effective keyword research and market research tool
  11. The “little guy” can still win

Further Reading: Reach 90% of Internet Users Worldwide (And 10 more reasons to buy traffic from Google AdWords)

Video: 7 Tips to Improve Your Google AdWords Clicks by DigitalMarketer (Jan 2014) [3:54]

Key Points on Tips to Improve AdWords Clicks

How to write an AdWords ad to attract more attention

  1. Use specific numbers
  2. Use funky characters
  3. Use a call-to-action (an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response)
  4. Include the benefit
  5. Include a phone number and address
  6. Tell a story
  7. Remove risk (guarantee)
  8. Free shipping
  9. Ask a question
  10. Include social proof (e.g. how many people already own it?)
  11. Scarcity or urgency
  12. Make a threat

Further Reading: 12 Proven Tricks That Get More Clicks From Google AdWords

Early Planning for a Product Launch

Identify Your Audience

It is necessary to find the right balance when defining your target market in a way that causes your audience to recognize that you are talking specifically to them. This often requires companies to narrow down their target market.

Why is Your Target Market Important in Branding?

It does not matter what your Brand mission is—identifying and gaining the devotion of your target audience is the necessary means to reaching those objectives.

To achieve your brand marketing goals, it is important that you know your target market inside and out. This requires conducting a market analysis. This market analysis must be as in-depth as possible, providing you will all the data you need to reach your target effectively. By knowing your target audience you will be more confident in the steps to take to connect with that audience.

The power of your brand relies on the ability to focus. That is why defining your target market will help to strengthen your brand’s effectiveness.

Conduct Your Informal Market Analysis

The following questions will help you create your market analysis. Make your study as complete as possible. Use the Internet to conduct research. You can also read news stories that are related to your target market. This will help you to narrow down your target by interest, demographic, and common trends.

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. Where is your target audience located?
  3. What would you like them to think about your brand?
  4. How will you attract them to your products?
  5. Who else is competing for their loyalty and devotion?
  6. Are you targeting business or consumer sectors?
Additional Resources

Designing for Ecommerce: Know Your Audience

How to Define Your “Target Audience” for your E-commerce Business

Define Your Brand

The first step in developing your brand strategy, defining what your brand is allows you to create the foundation for all other strategy components to build on.

That is, your brand definition will serve as your measuring stick in evaluating any and all marketing materials and strategies. You begin this process by answering the questions below.

  • What products and/or services do you offer? Define the qualities of these services and/or products.
  • What are the core values of your products and services? What are the core values of your company?
  • What is the mission of your company?
  • What does your company specializes in?
  • Who is your target market? Who do your products and services attract?
  • What is the tagline of your company? What message does your tagline send to your prospects?


  • Focus on your target audience when answering each question.
  • Compile each answer in a journal or notebook specifically designated to the Brand Development of your company.
  • Be honest with your answers, answer each question thoroughly.

Discovering the answers to these questions creates a personality or character for your company that represents your products or services. What is the character like? What qualities stand out? Is the personality of your company innovative, creative, energetic, or sophisticated?

Use the personality that you created, and build a relationship with your target market (desired customers) that you defined last week. How does that personality react to target audience? What characteristics stand out? Which characteristics and qualities get the attention of your prospects?

Create Brand Goals

Critical to effective brand management is the clear definition of the brand’s audience and the objectives that the brand needs to achieve.

What are the objectives that you hope to achieve with your brand?

Your brand should be comprised of the company personality, image, core competencies and characteristics. The impressions that you make, as well as the words people will use to describe your company to others, are the basic framework of your brand.

With a strong brand you build credibility, have more influence on your market, and motivate customers and clients to purchase from you. If done correctly your company will be looked at as a leader, not a follower.

To determine your brand objectives, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is it that you want your brand to do for your company?
  • What do you want others to know and say about your products or services?

You will find that by defining your objectives with specific timelines it is easier to develop a plan of action to achieve those objectives. By defining your objectives you are able to map out a plan on how to achieve those objectives.

Keyword Research

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of making a conscious effort improve the ranking of your website for specific key terms.

The efforts we make for SEO fall into two basic categories: in-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first, on-page, involves the coding of a site. The second, off-page, involves getting other websites to link to yourself

It all begins with really understanding the nature of your website and the audience it intends to attract. Your goal should be to get your intended audience to find you through Google (and other search engines) using the search phrases they are most likely to use. We will focus on Google search results today because it is by far the most-used search engine in the United States.

Your initial task when doing SEO is to decide which keywords or key phrases you want to focus your efforts on. You want to pick relevant, high-traffic keywords that will have less competition in the Googlesphere. There are a number of techniques to accomplish this, but I will cover one approach today. Keyword research is what we will focus on this week.

Importance of Keyword Research

Selecting the right keywords is critical to generating two things for your website:

A High Google PageRank

This is a number from 0 to 10 that describes what Google considers your relative importance to be in the world wide web. While in and of itself it might not increase your search engine traffic, it will probably affect your position in the SERPs.

Good Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Placement

SERP is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a keyword query. The closest to the number one position for a given keyword or key phrase you get, the better the click-through rate, meaning more traffic from Google. SEO professionals often talk about being one the first page, within the first three results, or even being the first result.

Keyword Development

In determining the right keywords of key phrases to stress in your SEO, it pays to do a good deal of research ahead of time. Selecting the best keywords can make a big difference in your search page ranking and consequently in your site traffic. Choosing a keyword is more art than science, and takes some gut decisions, but here are some basic steps to follow:

  1. Define the content of your site in general terms.
  2. Identify key phrases related to your topic (about 10-30 phrases).
  3. Research the competition.

What is your product all about? Who is likely to want it? What words might they use to search for what you have? Come up with several possible key phrases.


Now that you have described your product in the most general terms, you can use a free tool to suggest relevant keywords and phrases.

  1. Log in to your Gmail account (or create one).
  2. Go to the AdWords Create Account page.
  3. Go to Tools > Keyword Planner from the top menu.
  4. Click on “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas“.
  5. Enter a short key phrase you’ve identified (or the URL of the website you are analyzing).
Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.08.11 PM
  1. Your results will show you related keywords and phrases, along with their recent activity on Google. You’ll get a competition ranking and the average monthly searches over the past 12 months for each phrase.
Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.07.11 PM
  1. Click the Download button and select All Search Results. Select CSV for Excel as the Format and click Download.
Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.10.46 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.10.58 PM
  1. Open the file in Excel and save it somewhere.
  2. Select 10 to 30 keyword phrases to research further (avoid single words as they will usually be too competitive.)
    Some guidelines:

    • hide or delete all the columns except for: Keyword, Avg. Monthly Searches (exact match only), andCompetition.
    • eliminate any phrase with over 50,000 searches per month—these may be difficult to compete for
    • eliminate any phrase with fewer than 3,000 searches per month—these aren’t generating enough interest
    • eliminate any phrases that really aren’t relevant to your site focus

    Hint: Sort the rows by the Avg. Monthly Searches (exact match only) column (Data > Sort). Click and drag down the row numbers for rows to eliminate. Right-click on the left bar within the selection and click on Delete.

Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.16.33 PM

Time to size up your competition in order to determine your best bets for key phrases. If you can optimize your site better than your competition, you can attract more votes/clicks on Google.

  1. Visit Google and enter the first key phrase you are considering.
  2. Write down (or record in the spreadsheet) the first 3-5 natural search results (ignore the paid listings.)
Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.18.57 PM
  1. Begin a site-by-site analysis. Do the following for each of the 3-5 competing websites in order to determine if you can outrank them.

    • Website URL
    • Google PageRank (this can be discovered by using the Google toolbar in your browser (IE only) or by going to PR Checker)
    • Keywords in title tag, meta description, and H1 tag
    • Number of sites linking in (search Google using the term “link:” followed by the URL)
Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 7.20.45 PM
  1. Complete this process for at least one key phrase to get a feel for the process of collecting the data. For the remaining competitors key phrases, can can use SEO Quake to automate of much the process.
  2. Determine which of your key phrases have a high percentage of competitors that you can beat. For example, they are not:
    • using the key phrase in their title
    • using the key phrase in a meta description
    • using the key phrase in any H1 tags
    • using external CSS and JavaScript, making the HTML bloated and slow to load
    • using web-standards code
  3. Narrow your choices to 3 key phrases to focus on for SEO.

Sample Keyword Research

Sample Keyword Final Phrases

Now that you’ve completed your analysis and seen what the competition is doing, do you have some idea what you can do on your site pages to enhance your ranking for your chosen key phrases?

Additional Resources

Finding Keywords

5 Ways Google Is Changing SEO

Google Advanced Search Operators

Get More Blog Traffic with These Free Keyword Research Tools