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Many website owners put the cart before the horse- anxious for search engine traffic and rankings, the first thing they do once their site is complete is buy a “submit to 1,000 search engines for $29” service. Unfortunately, what they receive is a tenfold increase in e-mail spam but no increase in search engine traffic.
Do-it-yourself SEO is a great way to go- if you’ve got the time to put in, anyone can effectively optimize a website. However, it makes sense to hire a professional when your time is better spent doing what you do best; running your business.
Where to start? Selecting an internet marketer can be a daunting task. There are a wide range of fee levels as well as different attitudes, strategies and experience levels.
A few pros and cons can help you in your search:
Con: Submit your site to 25,000 Engines
There are professionals who will prepare and submit your listing request to the major directories as well as industry-specific portals. This is a valuable service– a well-written description as well as a carefully chosen directory category can improve your chances of getting listed quickly and accurately.
Directory listings are valuable links that add to your link popularity and can send traffic in their own right. Many directories are still free but several have paid options that can speed your review. Directories such as Yahoo and chúng tôi are paid listings only. Directory submission specialists can let you know what options and fees are available.
Con: We Won’t Change a Thing on Your Site
Companies that do their optimization “off-site” by building a mini-network of sites or pages on their own site that point to yours aren’t really optimizing your site. They may send you traffic, but when you stop paying, the traffic goes away. You can do that yourself with PPC listings!
search engine algorithms. The key is that they are only for search engine spiders to see; not humans. They may work for a short while (if at all.) The problem is that these pages have no links pointing to them and aren’t very important in the eyes of the search engines, therefore they are not very effective.
The most dangerous companies will tell you that you won’t “see” any of their changes- they add hidden links, hidden text, and other tricky techniques designed to fool search engine spiders. Some create different pages that are shown to spiders than to people- this is referred to as cloaking. These techniques can and will eventually get your site penalized or banned.
Pro: We Can Optimize Your Site
A professional SEO is likely to work with you on keyword research, change your tags, your copy, possibly your links and other code on the page. They will optimize the page- making it friendly to users and search engines while making it relevant to the terms you have agreed upon.
Con: We Guarantee #1 Listings in the Editorial Results
No one can guarantee you a #1 listing in the search engines’ algorithmically determined results for a specific term. The engines do not have special agreements with anyone that allows them to choose where your site will appear!
Read the fine print- often the guaranteed terms are “guinea pig” terms- words no one is searching or optimizing for that even a guinea pig could get you #1 rankings for! Remember that a guarantee doesn’t mean they have to achieve the results- simply that they’ll give you your money back if they don’t.
Other companies guarantee rankings on PPC terms. That’s easy enough, you just have to have a big enough wallet to be #1.
Pro: We Guarantee Improved Results
A good search engine marketing firm should be able to guarantee that they will improve the performance of your site in the search engines- you shouldn’t be worse off than when they started. Really good companies should be able to improve your conversions, not just your traffic and rankings. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Don’t be surprised if, after a search engine marketer works on your site, your traffic figures decrease. Don’t worry- traffic doesn’t pay your bills; in fact it actually costs you bandwidth. The quality of the traffic you continue to receive should be improved- more sales or conversions in relation to the number of visitors.
The ideal situation is achieved when you narrow your search visitors to people who are interested in your site and they are easily able to find the information they want. This is more likely to occur when you stop focusing on unqualified but high traffic keyword phrases and start focusing on terms that really relate to your site.
Go with Your Instincts
Don’t let a search marketer change your pages for the worse-slapping keywords on the page here and there may improve your rankings but decrease sales. Optimization techniques should complement and improve your site and good SEO copywriting will improve the focus of the page without losing the marketing edge.
plan to do to your site to drive more traffic, you may have a mess to clean up later.
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Desktop Search Is the New Search Engine Battlefield
Yesterday, in a teleconference planned for the same day as the Chicago Search Engine Strategies conference, Microsoft announced their new Toolbar Suite, a Desktop Search tool which is loosely based on the Look Out technology purchased by Microsoft last year. After Google, AOL, Copernic and others had capitalized on the absense of a useful Microsoft file searching tool in the Windows Operating System, Microsoft intertwined their new search tool suite with MSN, introducing the tool to both Windows users and fans of the MSN network.
MSN Desktop Search/Toolbar Suite – Microsoft has finally released a beta of their Desktop Search software. It is integrated with their Browser Toolbar set and is now labeled MSN Toolbar Suite Beta.
AOL Desktop Search – America Online on last month confirmed that it is testing a new search engine that scans for files on a PC’s hard drive, mirroring a similar product unveiled this week by Google. AOL’s desktop search was not developed in-house but is powered by a third-party’s technology, according to a source familiar with the plans. While the source would not reveal AOL’s desktop search partner, this person said it was not Google. The desktop search tool is currently being offered as a feature within a test version of a standalone Web browser that AOL is developing, the source said.
AOL spokeswoman Anne Bentley confirmed that the desktop search tool is being tested alongside the AOL Browser but declined to elaborate further. She said the AOL Browser will launch as early as November. Apparently AOL’s desktop search solution will be powered by Copernic, which pretty much assures that an agreement is in place between the two companies. This is a boost for the AOL Desktop since Copernic has been in desktop search for years. But with Mamma acquiring Copernic (or wanting to) what does this mean for the AOL/Copernic Desktop?
Ask Jeeves Desktop Search – Ask Jeeves introduced a beta desktop search application today, the Ask Jeeves Desktop Search. Upon installation of the small (750K) application, Ask Jeeves Desktop Search creates an index of the information stored on a person’s computer. This process enables users to search by file name, as well as by file content. The application currently supports a wide range of file types, including Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), simple text files, Microsoft Outlook email messages, and image, music, and video files. Ask Jeeves Desktop Search constantly monitors the computer (with minimal impact on system resources) for new and deleted files and email messages
Google Desktop Search – After months of speculation, Google’s Desktop Search was released to a crowd of pleased Google users. Google Desktop comes as a 450 KB download file and installs locally on the system. It places a system tray icon, which runs consecutively in the background indexing files on the system. The background-running crawlers monitor the files and internet/chat sessions and keep the index up-to-date by indexing the system when the system is not busy. The processes were eating up quiet some system memory on my personal test system at around 15 megs, but then with the current processing powers and system memory… Most users out there will not find it to be much. Google itself recommend at least 128 MB RAM and a 400 MHz+ system processor. So, if you have a decent computer, running Google Desktop background client won’t tax your system much. Most of the crawling is done when the system is idle.
Yahoo x1 Powered Desktop Search – Yahoo! will be releasing their version of the desktop search tool in January. Unlike Google, they have preferred to stay away from the browser to show the results. The interesting bit is that they are not doing it by reinventing the wheel. They are licensing the technology from a startup known as X1 Technologies.
Toolbar Alternative – Speaking of toolbars, for those site owners who do not have the technology to develop their own toolbars, Effective Brand is offering its customized toolbar development solution for any site owner or web user who wants to make their own toolbar with custom search functionality and RSS aggregation.
Does Your Site Need a Custom Search Engine Toolbar?
Today’s surfers aren’t always too comfortable installing software on their computers. Especially free software that they don’t necessarily understand. With all the horror stories of viruses, spyware, and adware that make the front page these days, it’s no wonder. So is there any way an Internet marketer can introduce a custom toolbar to their customers and prospects? Something they will actually download and use?
Whether marketing to a consumer niche, or to other marketers, toolbars have the potential to keep you and your audience connected. They’re a great way of extending relationship marketing to the customer’s desktop. After all, some of the net’s biggest players like Google and Yahoo offer them. Is there a way they can be effective for you too?
Lots of screenshots will help create comfort and familiarity with the toolbar, and clearly show the benefits the visitor can expect to receive. Perhaps even more powerful for software in particular is a screen-capture video. Can you show exactly how the toolbar is installed, and more importantly, how it’s used? There’s probably nothing so powerful for your customers as seeing your software installed and running on your own computer.
One toolbar development service which offers free and customized search toolbar creation is Effective Brand.
Effective Brand has a complete web-based toolbar generator. Moreover, they host the toolbar for you on their website with a custom page dedicated to it. The initial toolbar generator is a 4-step procedure where user gets to pick up a logo, a search string, custom buttons, and basic toolbar details. And the system generates the toolbar and the custom page.
What is the best thing about this toolbar generator? The ability to make changes without worrying about client end version. Whenever a user opens the browser, the toolbar is updated with the latest settings and updates from the server. Thus, one time installation is required on the client side.
Another nice feature of this toolbar maker is an optional RSS aggregator. You can specify the RSS feed link and update interval. And that feed is updated on the toolbar with links to the latest posts! Another great way to market your site. Another implementation of this RSS aggregator is news alert using which you can deliver messages to the clients using the toolbar from the Effective Brand Backend.
Don’t forget to include testimonials from other users of your toolbar and your other products if you have them. Audio and written details describing the installation and use of your software will go a long way towards helping your customers overcome any misgivings they may have.
Vivisimo Launches New Clusty Search Engine
Clusty offers several different categories of search; initial search categories include News, Web, Images, and Gossip (Gossip? No, not ‘blogs; news stuff like Rolling Stone.) A Customize! tab gives you the option to add eBay, Slashdot, or Blogs search tabs — why not just list all that stuff by default? You can also create your own search tabs (which didn’t work in Opera but worked okay in Mozilla); you’re given a list of available search engines and you can check which ones you want to include in your custom tab. Nice to see resources like Gigablast and Librarian’s Index to the Internet included here.
I did a Web search for roses. Sponsored results are at the top, while regular results are underneath. Clustered topics are on the left — in this case the topics included flowers, pictures, reviews, and antiques. In the case where the query is relevant (in this case it is) there’s also a list of shopping topics. Each search result has an option to group into a cluster, open the result in a new page, or preview the result in a window underneath the listing.
The news search has topic clusters at the top of the page, but it’s not clear that they’re related to your search results. (there are still a list of clustered topics on the left of the page.) Beneath the clustered news stories are ungrouped stories.
I find Clusty pretty good. A little slow, but pretty good. I don’t like the ‘blog search aspect. For me, most of the usefulness of ‘blog search or RSS feed search is that you can get the results in order of publication. You’re not getting that that I can see in a Clusty search, which makes it less than useful. I’d also like to see more unusual sources ala Vivisimo, like the ClusterMed offering.
Tara Calishain is writer and editor at ResearchBuzz and author of the new book Web Search Garage
“A great search experience is about more than just offering users relevant and comprehensive Web search results. It’s also about creating an experience where we can quickly and easily provide users the answers they are seeking, whether it’s the best Italian restaurant in their neighborhood or the nearest museums while traveling,” said Jeff Weiner, senior vice president of Yahoo! Search and Marketplace. “This beta launch marks just the beginning of what we are capable of achieving with local and will continue to leverage our world-class search technology and content to provide the most valuable category-specific search solutions for our users.”
“As part of Yahoo!’s commitment to providing the best search experience on the Web, consumers now have a more powerful way to find local information,” said Paul Levine, general manager, Yahoo! Local. “Building on the debut of our innovative SmartView(TM) maps feature earlier this year, the beta release of Yahoo! Local reinforces our commitment to improving the way people find local content online.”
New Benefits of Yahoo! Local
Available today, the Yahoo! Local beta provides users with improved:
— Precision: When looking for local information, consumers have indicated that precision is paramount. Yahoo! is the first to develop a local service from the ground up with precision in mind. Users can now pinpoint businesses and services around an address or zip code – letting the user define their exact location. Yahoo! Local also features unique narrowing tools that allow users to quickly refine local searches – by distance, rating, category, and more.
— Usefulness: With SmartView, a new visual search tool, consumers can use a dynamic map to see where businesses or points of interest are located in relation to each other. For example, one can find a day spa to visit, and plot nearby ATM machines and restaurants on the same map. For some categories such as hotels and restaurants, consumers can even take the next step by making reservations directly through Yahoo! Local.
— Community Voice: Users can now rate and review almost every business in the country – from dry cleaners and dentists to florists and fine dining establishments. Consumers can also use the “email a friend” feature to share their favorite businesses or services with others who are in – or are planning to visit – their neighborhood.
— Personalization: Yahoo! Local provides users the opportunity to save their most frequently used locations or view most recently used locations and quickly and easily access that information each time they do a new search.
The search engine war between Google and MSN is generating some nasty tactics reminiscent of the Microsoft vs. Netscape battle of the mid ’90’s. Those who remember that battle will recall the almost surgical methods used by Microsoft to all but destroy Netscape. Today, Netscape is a shell of its former self, kept in a dull corner of the Time Warner empire and denied the attention or funding it needs to reemerge as a viable entity in the browser market. Many will also remember the tactics used by Microsoft to destroy Netscape generated years of anti-trust litigation and almost led to the break-up of the world’s richest corporation and largest software maker. At the end of the day of course, Microsoft got off with a wrist slap and the knowledge that the US Government will not kill a goose that lays golden eggs (and whose products run much of the national infrastructure). Microsoft is obviously feeling free to resort to some its old tricks and the search engine wars are about to go mainstream, possibly becoming public entertainment. Remember the film, Pirates of Silicone Valley? This script promises to be even more interesting.
According to yesterday’s New York Times, Microsoft has officially turned its great eye on Google and is specifically targeting Google and its employees. Microsoft recruiters are said to be calling Google staff at home, telling them that MSN’s new search tool will bury Google and that they had better defect north to Redmond Washington as soon as possible before their jobs and soon to be stock options are worthless. Executives from both companies were seen watching each other like hawks at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. Wherever a Google representative went, a MSN exec was steps behind, and vica versa. Meanwhile, back in the United States, Microsoft employees are examining Google patents looking for potential weaknesses to exploit. Microsoft is obviously playing for keeps and appears to be preparing to head off the inevitable legal battles that will stem from the introduction of Microsoft’s new operating system, Longhorn, currently in development and scheduled for release early next year.
Longhorn and Search
Longhorn is the code-name for the new operating system from Microsoft. When it is released early next year, Longhorn is expected to change the way we relate to searching for information by integrating the function of search directly into the operating system itself. According to the hype, systems running Longhorn will treat any information ever viewed by machine-specific users as a searchable document. For example, if you receive an email regarding Blue Widgets, research Blue Widgets and write a review of Blue Widget products, you would have three documents consisting of 1 email, 1 website, and 1 Word doc. Two of the three information sources are stored on your hard-drive and one is stored on the web. All three are likely to be found through Longhorn’s search function. By changing the parameters of search technology, Microsoft is laying heavy money on the safe bet that users will quickly become dependent on Longhorn’s search tool. This is basically the same tactic used against Netscape when Internet Explorer was bundled into Windows95(v2.0) in 1996.
“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” Sam Levenson (1911 – 1980)
Lessons for Google
Netscape was floored by the sudden switch of alliance in browser users and failed to adapt quickly enough. After being purchased at the height of the chúng tôi bubble by AOL, Netscape released it’s infamous (and doomed) version 6.0 which was full of bugs and did not even approach the versatility of Internet Explorer. The rest is pretty much history for Netscape and opportunity for Microsoft. IE now holds over 92% of the browser market with Netscape scraping less than 4%. The same phenomena may happen with Google, especially after the the recent Florida algorithm update in November and the recent Austin update seen in late January. While Google watchers continue to speculate on the what’s, where’s and whys of Google’s recent update, we all agree on at least one basic thing, Google is trying to create a better search tool in order to compete with MSN and Yahoo. Unfortunately for Google, the effect of the recent updates is highly reminiscent of Netscape v6.0, an obvious attempt to build a better mouse-trap that produced a product inferior to its predecessor.
“If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience.” George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)
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