Search Questions - What is best Pay per click or Organic Search Engine Optimization?

This is a quick rant on a topic that I fell compelled to put some comments down and make a statement regarding. The debate on how best to approach search for best business results continues to rage on. Last week I attended the Mountain Travel Symposium in Whistler British Columbia and was intrigued at some of the speakers and a follow up article this week in a news letter I recieved today - Site Pro Search.

The are several sides to the issue that merit discussion in my humble opinion. The first one was an expert running a pair of work shops, telling everyone that the next Monday if they did not have an active pay per click campaign on the major search engines - Google, Yahoo and MSN were the ones he referenced - they needed to do it first thing. I bit my tongue. While I agree it is good to begin to understand the lay of the land this should not be one's first step into the search landscape. He happens to be a principal for a company that offers a service of managing pay per click campaigns. So he may be a little bias. It is a widely known fact that over the last 12 months pay per click return on investment has gone down in many corners especially business to consumer side. There is a lot of dumb unsophisticated money chasing traffic and driving more and more terms costs too high and past an effective use of marketing dollars in terms of maximizing ROI.

That being said I know there are areas and in travel and B to B where companies still are generating good return on investment. It is not so easy and one should take the time first to better understand the process and use professionals or hire someone who has done this effectively in the past and recently.

I have initiated and managed pay per click campaigns and will again in the future, but in most instances it is not where I start. I would especially not use the lion's share of one's resources - time and money on this segment of the market opportunity. One topic that was ignored is looking at your own internal search results to see what words and keyword strings your existing customers and visitors are using to find items/services and buying products or services. If you do not have a good search functionality get one first. Then do some research on terms and word strings with sizable traffic that apply to your business. See what the costs of these words are, the number of competitors playing in this arena and try to best understand where market opportunity exists. We have done this to help us buy the right products, build inventory, create internal promotions and make optimization and paid campaigns decisions for clients. Watch your customers behavior and actions and listen to them in your planning.

First and foremost you MUST make your site search engine friendly. Once done this investment will pay returns greater than any other expenditure over and over again. It also will require research on the competitive landscape, some white board work on various terms and phrases that relate to your business and services. Then write compelling copy that ties to the terms and phrases you are attempting to improve your search results.

I will not attempt to go into this in detail here, but remember what the meaning of words are as it relates to your business. How would you and others(customers and prospects) begin to search for these products and services? Ask yourself this for every market segment, product line and service you offer. Is it related to your url string? Is it in your title page? What is the frequency, without trying to spam the search engines, they exist in the copy?

Another important part of an effective strategy is an effective link strategy internally and with the rest of a relavant internet. Do you know where you can utilize free relevant links?? Notice the word relevant I keep mentioning. The bots that drive search algorithyms are designed to understand the meaning of words within context and relavancy. They are smarter than most of us so there is often danger in trying to trick them. Some have done this and then been simply removed. A very costly mistake. There is much to learn and it is an ongoing organic process. Make sure to have a reliable and credible professional/expert lead you in this process. As Mr Kawasaki said at the MTS conference last week, " beware the Bozo's. Some are obvious, but the dangerous one's are those that appear to be successful, have all the looks and appearances of success but are really Bozo's."

A couple of interesting sources that I go to regularly include the following:
- - here is an interesting link to an article by Danny Sullivan on a raging debate regarding how Google is treating paid links.
- It is also wise to check in with Matt Cutts Blog - he is the man at Google and drives much of this debate and what is happening in this space.
- Then again in a world where Google is probably the browser most are using to look at the web, visit their blogs, discussion groups and use the free tools they continue to provide.

The observation of Google as a browser was presented to the audience by Phillip Wolfe from PhocusWright in his work shop. I found it intriguing and the reason that he used is that it is how we look at the web. I would agree with him in this regard and it helps us step back and think about how we should approach our next round of marketing.

This session, which to me was worth the trip all by itself, also covered the social networking landscape, web 2.0 and introduced to the audience that if are a marketer and you do not think you are a very good web/internet marketer, then you are not a very good marketer in today's world. Next question why do students, youth and college students go to the My Space or Face book account before checking email? Spam baby... No one can spam them in these permission based communities.

Send me your thoughts and comments and let's get it going. Look for next post shortly. Enjoy the spring time and go outside and have fun.

Siewierski Consulting announces new Boulder Weekly Web Project

Siewierski Consulting is pleased to announce a new project that our team will be leading and overseeing. Boulder Weekly, located in Boulder, Colorado, an alternative weekly newspaper mainstay in Boulder for close to 15 years has selected Siewierski Consulting to review their current web presence and and lead the company to an online rebirth, site relaunch and integration of all assets into a vibrant online community complimenting the existing weekly.

More details on the exact timing and nature of this new effort will be released over the coming months. Viewers and customers will see the launch of a blog for daily updates and commentary, a weekly email anouncing local specials, unique offers, feature highlights and more.

A new design targeting social networking, reader feedback and interactive elements will be part of a summer site relaunch. Currently delivering close to 400,000 page views monthly, the online version of the Boulder Weekly is another medium to reach the alffluent and highly educated Boulder market.

New Site Launch for

Retail Concepts in Houston Texas quietly, announced the launch of their first pure play e-commerce site - . This new effort and site targets the 13 - 25 action sports board and lifestyle market. Heavily dominated by young males this site will focus on the lifestyle and boardsports of snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, water skiing and the accompanying culture.

To promote the upcoming launch, targeted for May 2007, they have started with a promotion titled the "Great Rebel Schwag Giveaway". They are giving away gear to registrants for their My Space friends list and email list each week up till launch. To help promote this new effort and site they have launched a site on My Space declaring - "Join the rebelution" and encouraging this audience to join in the fun. Comments are flowing into their site as are new friends like Burton, Billabong girls, Spy Optics, Transworld Skateboarding, Wakeboading Magazine and a rapidly growing list of notables in this space.

This weeks first giveaway is an Adio Shaun White Skate Shoe. Make sure to join and win some free gear.

Check this site and effort out. It will worth following how they use the new medium to launch their first pure play brands with out an accompanying store. Retail Concepts currently operates two online e-commerce sites - Sun and Ski Sports at and Ski Chalet at . This summer they will relaunch the Ski Stop site at to be a fully functioning e-commerce site to compliment the brick and mortar presence of each.