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Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - November 2007

Welcome to the November edition of the monthly web search and marketing newsletter, featuring some of the current issues that can help business websites achieve more from the Internet.

In this issue we look at some new data on global search activity and the dominance of Google. We also look at some of the ways that you can build a strong link profile for your website, and finally we review some new functions made available in Google's Webmaster Tools and how they can be used to improve the performance of your website.

Read more about these stories below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subjects covered.

On to this month's edition...

Google tops global search market

Data published last month by Internet research company comScore reports that 61 billion searches were conducted worldwide in August this year and there was no surprise that Google dominated the share of this search market with 37.1 billion searches conducted through this engine (broken down into 31 billion main search actions and 5 billion going through YouTube).

The comScore survey shows that Yahoo! owned sites ranked second, with 8.5 billion searches, while Baidu.com - the Chinese language search engine - was placed third with more than 3.2 billion searches. Just outside the top 3 were Microsoft sites (2.2 billion searches), and Korea’s NHN Corporation, which owns Naver.com, ranked fifth with 2 billion searches worldwide.

The survey also reported on the number of unique searchers by region and the average number of searches conducted per person. The 61 billion searches were shown to be made by 754 million searchers, equating to just under 81 searchers per person, on average. The Asia-Pacific region takes the largest share here (with the large markets of China, Japan and India) with 258 million unique searchers conducting 20.3 billion searches. Europe comes second with 210 million searchers and 18 billion searches, followed by North America, with 206 million searchers and 16 billion searches. Latin America demonstrated the heaviest search activity per person, with more than 95 searches per searcher in August.

These fascinating results are from the first comprehensive study of worldwide search activity, based on data from comScore's qSearch 2.0 service, taking data from the top 50 worldwide Internet properties where search activity is observed. The figure of more than 750 million people aged 15 and older who conducted searchers in the month represented 95% of the worldwide Internet audience.

If you'd like to know more about these figures or the market share of the search engines in your principle markets, please contact us now for details.


Build a strong link profile for your website

Links are an essential but often overlooked factor when it comes to online marketing. Whether your website is just starting out, or even if it has some maturity, it's well worth regularly reviewing the state of your 'link health'. Having a strong profile of quality, relevant inbound links will do wonders for your visibility, helping you to rank well in search engine results as well as driving traffic directly to your site.

Some popular ways to build up the number of inbound links include:

Directory Submissions

There are still some prominent directories where you can submit your website link. Some of these, such as the Open Directory (DMOZ) and Yahoo Directory are also used by the main search engines, plus there are many industry-specific and business directories in the UK. Some leading directories request a reciprocal link or charge for a listing, either as a one-off fee or a recurring annual charge. However, there are many directories that still offer free listings, although as each submission is checked by a human editor, these submissions may take some weeks, or months, to be accepted.

Requests for Links from other websites

Find a relevant website, find the right contact and make your request. It's usually polite to send the link code out with your request. Some sites will link out to other relevant sites for free. However, most will want to charge and some will want a reciprocal link. If you are paying for your link, get some assurance about traffic to the other website first. Link building this way can be a very labour intensive method, so be prepared for the long haul.

Forums and Blogs

The key to using these channels successfully is relevance. Only post blog comments which relate to the overall theme of the blog. Otherwise, attempts to promote websites in this way can have negative effects. Similarly, forums will not appreciate obvious promotional comments which do not contribute to the discussion threads. But if you have something relevant and useful to say, a signature link may be all that's needed to send some traffic through.

RSS Feeds and Syndication

If you can write original, informative and readable copy on topical issues, then other websites and feeds may be interested in carrying your articles and content. As the author, links to your biography and/or your site are normally offered.

Press Releases

Press releases can be very successful in the online environment too. Well written copy can drive relevant traffic to your website for a specific promotion, or even counter negative publicity.

However, there are also some things that need to be avoided when developing a link building programme:

Indiscriminate links are not advisable - poor quality links, such as those bought from link farms, will do nothing to enhance your quality ranking with search engines or drive relevant traffic to your site. There is also some debate about the value of buying text links and whether Google can identify and penalise these.

Other points to remember:

Link building is an ongoing task since other websites will come and go and so do their links to your site. We can help you with link building campaigns and press release services, so please contact us now for more information.


Increase your site performance with Google Webmaster Tools

Most webmasters will be aware of the great range of free tools made available by Google to help increase website visibility, to find and resolve issues that might stop search engines and traffic reaching sites, and to monitor site performance in terms of traffic and popular content. This month, we focus on just two of the new features that Google has recently added to the range of tools available: Top Search Queries and SiteLinks.

Google Top Search Queries - Top Search Queries has been running for a while within the Webmaster Tools but this feature has recently been improved and updated by Google to include historical data. This tool enables webmasters to analyse the actual search queries used by Google searchers to find pages on a website over time.

This information is very valuable as you can use it to monitor whether new or existing site content is working for you and how search terms change daily, weekly, monthly or even 6 monthly (although please note that older data is not yet showing and will begin appearing over time). There is also a new column showing which reports on the percentage each query result or click represents out of the top 20 queries. This can help you see how well the result or click volume is distributed in the top 20 searches.

Top Search Queries data is updated constantly and you can export it in .csv format to manipulate the information in a spreadsheet program.

Google SiteLinks - If you have used Google lately, you will probably have seen SiteLinks in operation. It is the function that displays extra links into different pages of a site below the main search result link for some larger websites. The extra SiteLinks act like shortcuts to other relevant pages on the website.

While you are not able to tell Google which links appear in SiteLinks - it is an automated process that looks for relevance and fast navigation links - you can now tell Google if there are links you don't want to appear. For example, you might have a page appearing in SiteLinks that is out of date, although ideally you don’t want to stop Google showing as many links as it can. Links to pages can be blocked for up to 90 days.

Have a look at the webmaster tools - there's sure to be something that you can get started with straight away and if you’d like our help to set these features up for your site or to interpret the results, please contact us for advice.


Recent articles from The Marketing Workbench

The Marketing Workbench is our regular web marketing blog covering news and comment on Internet marketing events and trends. If you want to keep track of current stories you can visit this section of our website on a regular basis, or set up an RSS feed. These are just some of the items posted over the past month:


We hope you've found this month's issue useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.