Vertical search engines, directories, PPC, paid inclusion, Oh My! A list of the ways that search engines can effect your online publishing business.
Earlier this week we talked about the 5 Different Types of Search Engines & How They Make Money. Now that you know a little more about search engines, maybe you’re interested in how search engines can help build your business. Maybe you want to start a directory, or a sponsored search engine within your site? Or maybe you want to boost traffic by paying to be included.
Build a Vertical Search Engine – A vertical search engine can be stand-alone (like Business.com) or can be integrated into your site (like PureContemporarySearch.com). The results from this type of search engine come from sites that are hand-selected by the publisher.
Vertical Search Engine Tools:
- Google Custom Search is an easy tool you can use to start a basic vertical search engine.
- SearchBlox is a paid solution (with a limited free option) to building a vertical search engine with more customizable filters and themes.
- Rollyo is a very easy-to-use vertical search engine creator. It’s free to use but has very limited customization options. You can embed the search into your site, but results are shown on the Rollyo site in their own format. Rollyo is still in beta. Perhaps in a later version they will add customization features and let a user truly brand their engine.
Start a Pay-Per-Click Campaign – Many publishers use PPC as a way to drive traffic to their sites. The catch is that they’re spending a lot of money doing it, and some of them aren’t doing it right.
- Become an expert – Hiring a PPC firm to do your bidding for you might cost you as much for the service as it will for the leads. Become a PPC expert (or train someone) to save on costs and get the most out of your money.
- Don’t spend money on terms you rank on – Don’t bid on your name and other terms that will show up easily when someone Googles you. Organic listings get more traffic than paid listings, so why pay for something you already own?
- Point to a free product – Don’t direct your PPC campaign to anything but a free product. Sending visitors to your home page doesn’t offer them a reason to stay or engage. Give them a free report (in exchange for their email) and you have yourself a potential customer.
Submit your site to Crawlers – Most search engines allow you to submit your site to be indexed and pinged. Crawlers may take 7 – 30 days to index your site, so make sure you re-submit as soon as you’ve added new features. It’s not guaranteed to speed up the process of re-crawling but it doesn’t hurt. If you’re looking to update search engines every time you post a blog, use a “ping” service like Ping-o-Matic to automatically inform multiple search engines at once.
Search Engine Submitting Tools:
- Add your URL to Google
- Submit your Sitemap to Google using Google Webmaster Tools
- List your business in Google Maps
- Suggest a site to the Open Directory
- Submit your site to MSN Live Search
- Submit your site to Alexa
- Submit your site, products, media and more to Yahoo!
- Ping search engines with Ping-o-Matic
Pay for Inclusion – Also known as PFI (Pay for Inclusion) or PPI (Pay Per Inclusion), some directories and search engines will give you an immediate boost of exposure if you’re willing to drop a couple hundred dollars to be listed. This is only necessary if you are launching a new site or otherwise need to be crawled immediately. Many sites like AskJeeves and AltaVista have recently discontinued their paid-inclusion offerings.
Where to Pay for Inclusion:
- Yahoo! offers a variety of paid inclusion options like Yahoo! Search Submit ($49), Product Submit ($0.15-$1 per click), and Directory Submit ($299 per year). Yahoo! has more or less bought out the most popular paid-inclusion vendors like AllTheWeb and Inktomi.
Get Paid for Inclusion – Start your own PFI business and create a vertical search engine or directory that publishers and retailers pay to be a part of. If you’re a wedding magazine, you might have a vertical search engine that lists both helpful articles and wedding retailers. Wedding retailers might pay you $50-$300 a year to be included in your search engine where both your users and your retailers are getting what they’re looking for.
Start a Directory – A great way to both start a search engine AND get found by search engines is to create a directory. An easy starting point could be a job directory that is user-generated by hiring companies. They might pay for inclusion or you might decide to make it free and ad-sponsored.
- Caspio is a popular solution for publishers that use databases frequently on their sites, from newspapers with custom sex-offender directories to plug-and-play recipe directories. Some of their customers include: The New York Times Company, IDG, Hearst Corporation, United Business Media and Ziff Davis.
- Job-a-Matic is free job board software for your website. The company has over 5,000 job listings in their database that will show up beneath the listings your users pay to put on your site. Web Analytics Demystified uses this software for their job board. Similar sites include JobThread and JobCoin.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to get involved with search engines. But… where to start? If you’re all ready involved in PPC, you might start by analyzing your campaigns with the tips above in mind. Then you might look at your business to see where vertical search or a directory might fit. If all else fails, you can still use search engines as the biggest driver of traffic by researching your keywords and optimizing your content.