Basic building block of any Internet marketing campaign

For almost all sectors of commerce today, the Internet, or more specifically the World Wide Web, is now a key tool for business. In the field of marketing in particular it has become crucial.

The Web offers an abundance of opportunities for smart marketers: from branding to lead generation to customer acquisition and customer retention, a successful online marketing strategy is now a part of any successful business.

The range of tools available for companies looking to market themselves via the Web has grown in line with its perceived importance. Nowadays businesses are experimenting with a dizzying array of applications, among them blogs, podcasting, Webinars, social networks, mobile telephone web advertising, behavioural targeting and video applications.

In this series of blogs I want to cover some of these exciting online applications, try to assess their usefulness for UK small businesses and maybe throw in some news of the very latest developments in the ever expanding, ever changing online marketing world. But before I get stuck into the groovy stuff I want to talk about the basic building block of any Internet marketing campaign: Search Engine Marketing.

Think about your own use of the web for a second. When you fire up your browser in the morning where do you go to first? Perhaps you start with your favourite newspaper site, or your Facebook or MySpace account to check your messages. Maybe you’re a YouTube addict and start there, or could it be that you are currently involved in a bidding war with bigtimetom67 on eBay for a vital engine part for your aged but beloved lawnmower and that is your first point of call? Wherever you start your web experience, it is more than likely that at some point you’re going to be using a search engine.

Here is some research presented to the 2007 Search Engine Strategies conference in London:

  • 56% of West Europeans will go on the web at some point during a typical working day.
  • 81% of Internet users worldwide will visit a search engine when surfing the web.
  • On average searchers will spend 27 minutes on search engines each month and view 93 search pages, accounting for 3.4% of total time spent online.
  • Over 60% of search engine visitors use at least two different search engines.
  • 42% of users use a search engine as their point of entry to the Internet.
  • 81% of users find new websites by using search engines.

These stats provide a basic, but clear picture of how important the search engine is in the web world. When it comes to e-commerce it can be even more vital. Whether it be B2B or consumer, people increasingly start their buying process with a search on the web. And the business that can provide the information the searcher wants gets an immediate head-start on the competition.

UK surfers use a wide number of different search engines. But while there are over 100 different engines to choose from, only four or five, at present, really matter, and within that group there is one that dominates completely. Google accounts for an estimated 81% of all UK searches. Behind the behemoth come Yahoo!, at approximately 9%, then MSN at 4% and ASK at 2-3%.

Things may change in the future – Microsoft has recently between courting, if that’s the right word, Yahoo! and seeking a merger to challenge Google, while lots of venture capital is pouring into young, upstart challengers. The founders of Wikipedia, seeking to leverage the success of the online, user-generated encyclopaedia have launched a beta-site called Wiki-Seek. Many of the new engines are focusing on particular business sectors, such as Legal, Medical, Real Estate etc. whilst others are concentrating on the verticals of local search or video search.

However, at this moment in time it is clear that UK businesses need to concentrate on the giant from Mountain View, California. To deliver good business results via online search marketing you have to have a good presence on Google.

Alan Dobie

Anya Feeney

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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