Are You Targeting The Wrong Keywords?Written by Kalena Jordan
A colleague asked me recently to name most critical element of any search engine optimization campaign. I didnít hesitate to respond "keyword selection".
Like it or not, keywords and phrases you select to describe your site within your META tags and body text can make or break your listings in search engines. Itís a sad fact that most companies are targeting wrong keywords and losing traffic as a result.
Even sites that have excellent rankings will not benefit if those rankings are for unsuitable keywords. Let me give you an example:
A few months ago, we had an Australian client who wanted us to implement an optimization campaign to improve their search engine rankings, but without jeopardising existing rankings they had achieved for two particular search phrases: "Internet solutions Australia" and "online banking solutions".
Can you guess what products and services this company sells? The search phrases donít really give much away do they? In fact, this company is a distributor of web site design software that is specifically tailored for banks. Now ask yourself this: if you were a bank looking for this companyís products, would you have typed in either of phrases above to find their site? I doubt it. You would type in something more logical like "web site design software" or "web sites for banks" right?
This company was clearly targeting wrong keywords and phrases. Their top ten rankings for these phrases were irrelevant, because nobody was searching for these phrases in relation to products this company was offering. The phrases they had chosen are what I call "jargonized", that is, they are filled with industry jargon and buzz words. Take "Internet solutions" as an example. Such jargon has found its way into our language with onset of digital age and is bandied around boardrooms and marketing departments everywhere. However definition of this phrase is very broad and could be used to describe anything from a dial-up connection to a web site itself. Itís not a logical choice for searchers and is therefore useless as a key phrase to target.
LOOKs Can Be DeceivingWritten by Kalena Jordan
You may have heard that Looksmart Ltd have made some changes to their business model lately. In fact, Looksmart have made profit-driven decision to move Looksmart.com from a Paid Submission based directory to a Pay Per Click based directory. The first warning shot was fired on April 3rd, with an email to existing Looksmart customers announcing impending launch of Small Business Listings: "Based on feedback from customers like you, we've merged and enhanced benefits of our 'Submit' and 'Site Promote' products into one product called Small Business Listings." Hmm... we thought, smells like pay per click. Discussion boards and forums worldwide were rife with rumours, complaints and concerns. Feedback? What feedback? Nobody put their hand up to say they had asked for a PPC model. Next came machine gun fire in form of an email sent to existing Looksmart customers on April 12th: "LookSmart has launched Small Business Listings, our first pay-per-click product for small businesses. This new, improved product replaces both Submit and Site Promote... Your account has already been updated and is ready for you to log in. We've waived $49 per listing set-up fee. We'll give you $300 in free clicks per listing. Each month for next 20 months you'll receive a $15 credit per listing in your account - starting today." [I should take a moment to point out that currently, these changes apply to Looksmart.com only, not regional directory versions]. Meanwhile, new customers were asked to pay a $49 "set-up" fee and an initial account deposit of at least $150 towards future clicks. Existing Express Submit customers who paid $199 or $299 one-time submission fee discovered they were only entitled to a maximum of 100 clicks per month instead of unlimited number of clicks they were receiving under old model. Ouch. What's more, Looksmart demanded that these customers log-in and "activate" their accounts by July 11th (by entering their credit card details) in order to receive their "free" clicks. All types of conflicting assumptions and questions began appearing on forums and discussion boards. "What happens if I don't activate my account?", "Will existing listings stay same if you do nothing?", "Will my site be dropped if I don't activate", "What happens to my Looksmart listings on MSN?". So confusing and misleading was announcement from Looksmart that some people thought they were getting a huge bargain while others believed they were getting ripped off big time. To make matters worse, Terms of Service and FAQ's for new Small Business Listings on Looksmart site seemed to show conflicting information that changed each day we looked. But it took a couple of days for true deception to sink in. Once people began to log in and activate their accounts, it wasn't long before they started receiving "Listing Traffic Interruption" emails from Looksmart announcing their sites had already received 100 "free" clicks allocated as part of new deal and would consequently receive no more traffic for that month, unless they increased their monthly budget (in other words, agree to pay $0.15 per click for all additional visitors that month). One of my colleagues received this email within 8 hours of activating his account, which meant that he was previously receiving more than 300 clicks per DAY, let alone oh so generous 100 clicks per month that Looksmart were offering him as part of new deal. He worked out that he would need to add an additional $1,300 to his account each month, just to maintain level of traffic Looksmart were providing him under old system! Upgrade? I think not! Here are some interesting tid-bits I've discovered about new model: - Unlike regular Pay Per Click models such as Overture.com, Looksmart are not giving customers control over their bid amounts and also providing no way to regularly update their listing description without paying $49 each time for privilege.
- Sites previously receiving an unlimited number of clicks per year via old system are now restricted to 1,200 clicks per year, unless they fork over more money. - The new system has a $15 per month minimum spend requirement. This means that if a listing fails to generate $15 worth of click revenue for LookSmart in a particular month, site will still be billed for that entire amount