seo chapter 4

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing

     Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a marketing strategy offered by popular search engines which allows website owners to buy high rankings in search engine results (inorganic search results). These listings are contextual; meaning that they are relevant to the search query executed. Most search engines offer a CPC model. Google Adwords has recently incorporated the CPM model into their highly popular SEM service. Google Adwords and Yahoo! Search Marketing are the most prominent players in the SEM industry. Recently there has been smaller companies with less popular search engines who offer SEM service.

Cost per visitor model

     Zango.com operated by metricsdirect.com implements the CPV (Cost per Visitor) model. This model is a hybrid between popup windows and search engine marketing. Zango.com allows users free access to games, downloads and entertainment in exchange for installing their software on the user’s computer. When a user performs a search in a search engine, the software pops up a window with a contextual website. The number of popups are limited to 20 per day. This is very similar to the SEM services run by popular search engine. The difference is in the activity of the user. When a search engine displays paid search results, the user gets to select which link to click after reading the description. This liberty is not available in the CPV model.

Malpractices in SEM Industry

     Malicious practices prevalent in the SEM industry are:

  1. Bid Jamming
    Bid jamming is an approach to PPC SEM campaigns, whereby competitors are forced to pay their maximum bid amount for each click. Most SEM models allow the user to bid a maximum allowable amount for each click, but charge 1 penny (US$ 0.01) over the bid amount paid by the listing underneath the said listing. This liberty is manipulated by users to bid an amount which is 1 penny less than their competitor’s bid amount. This will cost the competitor the maximum allowable CPC.
  2. Click Fraud
    Click fraud can be termed as a technique employed by content publishers and competitors to exhaust the user’s SEM funds.

How does the content publisher benefit by click fraud?

Most SEM models have an affiliate program so that they can generate more revenue. Google Adwords is one such SEM service. Google allows website publishers to subscribe to their Adsense service. This allows Google to publish contextual CPC/CPM ads on the publisher’s website. The publisher gets paid by Google for every click made from the website. Google charges a commission for providing the infrastructure. Unethical publishers use this opportunity to click ads on their website to increase their revenue. Though Google has software programs to detect this kind of behavior, it cannot be completely avoided. Assume that an ad is published on 100 web pages, each belonging to a different website. If 50 publishers click on this ad with a CPC of US$ 0.25, the advertiser incurs a loss of US$ 12.5. It is difficult for Google to justify whether one single click is a valid or fraud click.

How does the competitor benefit by click fraud?

The competitor tries to deplete the advertiser’s funds by resorting to click fraud and bid jamming. The competitor benefits by gaining a higher rank in the paid listing for a lower CPC.

Google and Yahoo Search Marketing

     Google supplies paid listings to Google search, Lycos, HotBot, AOL Search, Netscape Search, iWon, Teoma, AskJeeves and publishers who have subscribed to Adsense program. Yahoo Search Marketing supplies paid listings to Yahoo! Search, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, MSN Search and their affiliate publisher network. Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing span almost all popular search engines. It is advisable for advertisers to use Google and Yahoo Search Marketing service over smaller companies providing similar services. The reason being these SEM services are less prone to click fraud as they have software to detect and identify this behavior.

All SEM services are based on the principle of maximizing the company’s profit. Ranking of an ad is decided by the total amount paid by the advertiser. Hence ranking of a paid listing is directly related to (# of clicks x CPC).

Google Adwords provide all necessary tools for an automated campaign management. Main features included:

  1. Keyword tool similar to wordtracker.com.
  2. Targeted campaign control. One can specify that the ad should be served to visitors from certain geographical locations speaking specific languages
  3. Variable CPC for different keywords
  4. Ad monitor. Google staff will monitor that every ad served follows acceptable guidelines
  5. Forecast tools to estimate budget
  6. Multiple ad campaigns can be setup each serving multiple ads. Each ad can have its independent keyword list.
  7. Reports to monitor ad campaigns
  8. Tool to select publishers where the ads should be published

More information about Google Adwords is available at https://adwords.google.com/select/main?cmd=Login. Yahoo! Search marketing offers sponsored search very similar to Google Adwords. More information about Yahoo! Search marketing is available at http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/srch/index.php. Yahoo! Search marketing also provides a suite of other marketing services.

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