Q: Why do our marketing efforts work so well with Google organic searches versus search engines like Yahoo! or MSN? And, we are a very popular site that is listed on the Alexa Top 100 Sites list. [Alexa operates a Web site that provides information on Web traffic to other Web sites.] So, why is our Google PageRank [Google's importance scoring system] only at three? And, even with this low page rank, we still get the top five positions for every in-demand keyword in our industry. Does this make sense?
- Dan Kogan, CEO, eModa.com, Philadelphia
A: As for the first question, your marketing efforts might be working well on the others, too -- you just might not be noticing.
Many webmasters find that Google sends them the bulk of their traffic. So if you're not getting much traffic from the others, that's pretty normal. To really know, use Web analytics to find the most popular terms people are using to reach you via Google. Then check to see if you're ranking well for those terms on the others. If so, no problem! If not, then perhaps there are other pages within your site that you can punch up that might help. Ultimately, you have to understand that results on the different search engines are never the same. They all use slightly different "recipes" to rank pages. You might only do well on one of them regardless of your efforts -- and if that's Google, you've got the right one!
As for the second question, Alexa has nothing to do with Google. Saying you're a popular site there is like saying you won a Golden Globe but don't understand why you didn't win a Nobel Prize. They're completely different awards, if you will.
People obsess over Google PageRank scores more than they should. You say you're ranking well for top terms, and that's all that matters. From what you say, since you're aware of PageRank scores and sound like you have an artificially low one, I'd guess you're selling paid links. Google has recently dropped the PageRank scores of sites doing this. In some cases, it's done worse and deranked or banned Web sites.
- eM+C eExpert Danny Sullivan
Q: We have a challenging problem. We need to redesign our site to meet the needs of two distinct customer groups using one URL. One part of the site must not have any contact info except for a blind "contact us" page, so that we don't lose potential contacts, while the other needs to display all of our capabilities not utilized by the other customer group. Help!
- Tammy Spurgeon, creative services manager, Paramount Apparel International,
A: A few companies in varying industries need to address two or more disparate audiences. Take health insurance, for example. Most health insurance Web sites have a homepage where they need to address the needs of members, prospective members, benefits administrators and doctors.
An effective way to accomplish this is to have a menu that allows visitors to identify themselves and subsequently lead them to the most appropriate content. Take, for example, sites such as www.vsp.com, www.bcbsmi.com and www.humana.com, each of which have multiple audiences.
Although this extra measure can take the user through an additional step to gather information, it provides the most effective way to identify and route customer groups so they are able to gather the information that's most applicable to their groups.
- eM+C eExpert Stephanie Reindel
Q: Given that social marketing is all the rage, how do you introduce it to an older demographic that doesn't have MySpace or Facebook pages?
- Julie Swatek, founder and president, ScrapYourTrip.com, Orlando, Fla.
A: The demographic shift in social media is happening quickly, so if you plan to sit on the sidelines, you might miss an opportunity. If you want to social market to this group, there are two approaches:
1. Exploit the long tail. Not all of Facebook is young. In fact, 13 percent of Facebook users in the U.S. and 34 percent of Canadian users are over 30. Both have just more than 3 million members that fall into this age range. So don't completely ignore this social network.
In addition, while Facebook has about 25 million members in the U.S., and only a paltry 125,000 of them put the word "scrapbooking" in their profiles as an interest, it's still 125,000 people! They weren't prompted with a check box. There is a blank text area for your interests, and 125,000 people thought enough about scrapbooking to use it in describing themselves to their friends.
2. Socialize an existing site. More and more companies are turning to traditional, topic-based Web sites to reach out to their audiences and encourage social networking-type interactions. These sites are changing quickly. While in the past they were simply "read-only" Web sites, their members are creating public profiles as part of participating. Find the "communities of interests" that have been socialized with member profiles, discussions, blogging, posting, tagging; these are the new places to market.
Add member profile features and user-generated content to an existing "read-only" site. Let your audience participate by voting, discussing and tagging. You can create a Facebook application to capture participation into your site by Facebook members.
The key is to do it now. Social networking is here, and it comes in a lot of different flavors. If your favorite flavor isn't there, it's coming very soon.
- eM+C eExpert David Carter