Just over a year ago I was speaking at a seminar for small business website Owner’s and part of my presentation covered subject of trying to make sense of website server logs. I talked about how Google was dominating referrals, how to make use of keywords in logs and importance of links.
At end of seminar a lady walked over and started to tell me about thousand of visitors her search engine marketing (SEM) company was driving to her website. She even had a copy of sites web log report for me to look at.
Short of time and trying to clear up after event I glanced over report, before handing it back praising her for her success. It was only on drive home that I thought there was something odd about it. The visitor numbers were certainly impressive, but average stay was counted in seconds and referrals consisted of Google and many other sites but few other search engines.
I’ve been reminded of this conversation several times recently while visiting clients and subject comes up of how effectively their search engine marketing company is helping them. Again visitor numbers are in thousands but web logs tell same story of very short visits, with few search engines but many linking sites as referrals. Far more worrying is website Owner's tales of struggling to convent even a fraction of these visitors into paying customers.
So what’s going on? Is this yet another example of unscrupulous SEM specialists ripping off website Owner's? Unfortunately issue is not that simple. Part of problem lies with Owner’s of website’s themselves: they’re paying good money for service and they want results. Currently most of them see success as a numbers game and don’t fully understand difference between focused visitors interested in their products and someone who stumbled on site for any number of reasons.
So if its numbers customers want there are plenty of SEM companies who will give them just that. They set-up or join multi-linked referral sites pointing to target website. Then they promote links they’ve made and sit back and wait for Google to rate site with its PageRank system.
And, up to now anyway it’s worked. When Google started, SEM specialists quickly discovered PageRank system can be manipulated to get results and they’ve been refining their techniques ever since.