Friday, August 8, 2008

Search - Everyone's Doing IT

According to a new report by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Search (i.e. asking questions of Google and MSN and Yahoo) is second only to email in popularity with online adults. Specifically, the report says,
"the percentage of internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of just under one half (49%). With this increase, the number of those using a search engine on a typical day is pulling ever closer to the 60% of internet users who use email, arguably the internet’s all-time killer app, on a typical day."
If you are reading this blog, I'm sure this is not news to you. Who can live without Search? It's become a vital part of daily life. Whether we're job hunting, doing research, or Googling ourselves (I know you do it too), Search is ubiquitous.

What's interesting is how Search is changing the way we connect with others and market our organizations online. Instead of using OUTBOUND marketing techniques like sending out e-mail blasts, Search enables us to do INBOUND marketing and bring people hither!

For example, if you type "marketing for nonprofits" into Google right now, (Go ahead. Open a new browser and try it.) my blog comes up, as do links for Nancy Schwartz' blog - Getting Attention and Nedra Weinreich's blog - Spare Change. Now, if we're lucky (Nancy and Nedra and I), you will click on one or all of our links and read, comment, or hire us to provide marketing consulting for you! (Hint, hint.)

Note: I venture to guess that you've NEVER seen an advertisment or received literature in the mail from Nancy or Nedra (I know you've never seen one from me) but (and this is the cool part) we've managed to connect with you nonetheless. The point? Search engine marketing really works.

If you're interested in getting into Search, here are three great ways to get started. I'd be interested to hear other ideas re: what has and hasn't worked for you!

1. Publish new content often. This is THE MOST IMPORTANT tactic and the highest value activity you can pursue in if you want to be successful at search engine marketing. People want helpful information and frequent updating of your website or blog will increase your rankings in the search engines. Guaranteed.

2. Apply for a Google Adwords grant. Adwords are those links you see on the right hand side of your search results. Google has been giving these advertisements away for FREE to qualified nonprofits for some time now. The jury's still out on how successful Adwords are but since their FREE, I'd say give 'em a try.

3. Ask your friends to link to you! Links from other websites with good ranks and reputations will "rub off on you." In the game of Search, as in the game of life, who you know helps.


P.S. If you want to see how your website fares to date, here is a cool service which will "verify your website's placement within the top Internet search engines and directories."

P.P.S. HubSPOT has some done some great thinking on how small businesses, like nonprofits, can use search and other inbound marketing techniques to get more traffic. You can download their whitepaper for FREE. (Registration is necessary.)


Nedra Weinreich said...

Hi Jocelyn,

How did I not know about your blog before, and why did my ego feed not show me your post until today? Mysteries of the universe that won't be solved, I guess, but I'm glad I've discovered it! Thanks for the little plug in there too. :-)

To be honest, I never thought about a specific search engine optimization strategy. But doing exactly what you said -- posting often and cultivating links from others who write about similar topics -- works! It doesn't hurt that I've had the website since 1995 and lots of pre-blog links.

And you're right that I've never had to do any outbound marketing. Most of my clients come to me because they found me through a search.

Looking forward to following your blog!


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