Search engine optimization, in simple terms, is an Internet marketing strategy that strives to improve rankings and visibility for a company. It is successful when a website is ranked high on a search engine’s first page.

Businesses benefit tremendously from having their websites appear first on a popular search engine such as Google or Yahoo. When this happens, it not only increases user convenience, but also builds a good reputation or image for the company. If you own a business and want to gain more customers, utilizing organic SEO practices is an intelligent decision that will confer an extra layer of legitimacy on your enterprise and improve user experience.

With all of the advantages of SEO, however, some people have taken unnatural approaches to getting their sites ranked high. In 1997, search engine designers noticed that webmasters were attempting to artificially influence the rankings by engaging in a practice known as “keyword stuffing.” This is when webpages are filled with excessive—and sometimes irrelevant—keywords in order to raise that site’s or page’s rankings for those search terms. During that time, very early search engines such as Altavista and Infoseek had to adjust their algorithms to prevent webmasters from abusing keyword stuffing or SEO manipulation.

What happens when a website is overstuffed with unnecessary keywords? For one thing, potential customers can easily see that the content of the website is not organic—or, in other words, natural—which can drive them away. We’re all familiar with spam, and that is how an overstuffed or manipulated website can appear. This is damaging because, despite a business having an excellent product or service, customers don’t want to visit a spammy website.

The alternative to this bad practice is organic search optimization, which is the process of delivering natural search engine placement.

One of the most important parts of organic search engine optimization is doing keyword research to see which terms are ranking the best. The goal is to target relevant keywords that will generate the most hits. Copywriting is another crucial part of SEO, as fresh and original content ranks higher and does not appear as spam, but rather as targeted information for a specific audience. Link building is also important, since having your link published on other websites is another good way to build traffic.

When it comes to generating leads, overstuffing keywords can dramatically lower your chances of SEO success and could even result in a penalty. Organic SEO is the way to go in order to gain customers and keep them, as well.

One of the most difficult things to do is revive a dead brand, but I have to give Yahoo credit for doing everything they can to make it happen. I recall the days that Yahoo was the champion of the search space and “the” place to go for online news. They were the success story coming in and pulling away the market share from AOL in the early days of the online revolution. Somewhere along the way, Google came in and with little advertising or fanfare blew away Yahoo into an afterthought.

Yahoo went through some very lean times and made a bold move in bringing Google royalty, Marissa Mayer, on board to turn the company around. Yahoo also added the purchase of Tumblr to stay current and find a way to stay with the pack in regards to innovation. But, have any of these changes and innovations actually helped increase market share or, more importantly, boost interest in their advertising product? Not in my eyes.

Rankings and advertising on Yahoo are seen as a secondary channel compared to Google. Google continues to be the place for people to go to find things, and I always view Google advertising as having more “proactive” consumers…people who do searches with the intent of making a purchase. Yahoo’s belief is you come in for the news with Katie Couric and you stay for ads – but will it work? Likely not, but hats off to Yahoo for trying; with big salaries like Mayer and Couric and billion dollar purchases like Tumblr, the reality is Yahoo has likely positioned itself for a horrific and epic fall.There will be a day someone will knock Google off its perch and gain the market share in the search space but that company won’t be Yahoo. Katie Couric Image

Will Yahoo! Adding Katie Couric revitalize their brand?

Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post

In recent months, Yahoo has endured major financial struggles and the company is currently undergoing restructuring efforts to streamline their business and return to profitability.  While many experts have offered their opinions on Yahoo’s recovery attempts, the brand has yet to see any substantial improvement.  Of course, re-inventing the business model of an international, multi-million dollar corporation is not a rapid process.

Although Yahoo understands that an enhanced focus on their core brands and features and the shedding of unnecessary offerings is now integral to their survival; there are challenges in doing so.  Yahoo must monetize its most popular features while limiting the scope of their business.  While it is certainly possible for the company to achieve this without losing its valuable user base, quality content will be a crucial element of the company’s future success.

Maximize Quality to Maximize Success
Yahoo’s top priority going forward should be delivering quality content while reducing expenditures on its lesser-known or utilized features.  By increasing their focus on quality, rather than quantity, Yahoo may very well be able to re-establish itself as a brand that only does a few things, but does them particularly well.  Yahoo’s initial rise to prominence in the 1990s was based on this strategy and revisiting it is likely to be a viable solution for renewed success.

Going Beyond Yahoo
Developing high-quality content and minimizing excessive functionality is a wise move for many other online businesses, as well.  Companies should consider targeted marketing campaigns geared toward specific audiences in order to better establish their identity as a brand and build a more efficient, smarter business.

The Microsoft-Yahoo Search Alliance that began in 2009 is coming to the end of its full roll-out in the UK, Ireland, and France. The Search Alliance started a few years ago with Microsoft’s Bing powering Yahoo search and transitioning the advertising activity on each search platform to Microsoft’s adCenter. The transition has been smooth, but has taken considerable time to manage all the moving parts of such a transition for large companies and the synchronization of behavior and function for all the current adCenter users.

Now users of Yahoo Search will begin seeing ads on the SERPs from the Microsoft adCenter during this coming week.  The two companies are recommending advertisers still operating on Yahoo’s ad platform in the three countries to begin using adCenter to manage their ad accounts and campaigns as Yahoo Search Marketing will become read-only status soon. The transition beings on April 18 and will run to the end of the month when 100% of Yahoo traffic will be open for advertising through adCenter. Marketers using these platforms should obviously be proactive in their transition, but also other marketers should take this opportunity to evaluate the platform for its features and potential usefulness to their marketing goals. This is especially true for these markets as well as Germany, Austria, and Switzerland where the transition will be occurring later this year.

It is best for marketers operating in these markets to express to the SEO companies they are partnered with to evaluate the utility in this platform. For those using Yahoo Search and transitioning over, the adCenter blog issues several key recommendations:

  • During the transition, marketers will see clicks and impressions in their adCenter account increase and alongside a decrease in them with in the Yahoo Search Marketing account. As such, AdCenter recommends tracking both accounts so as not to lose out on potential clicks.
  • Traffic will increase once Yahoo Search comes to adCenter after April 18, and it is recommended to increase the budget made available in the account to the amount previously spent on the two platforms. This is straightforward advice and makes simple sense for marketers.
  • The companies recommend marketers to also increase their keyword bidding in order to prepare the expected competition increases form new advertisers that will be coming onto the platform. Similarly, they recommend bidding across match types and using negative keywords to aid in making your impressions relevant and consistent.
  • Small businesses have additional resources here that can help them transition.

For more information on paid search, how it can improve your business’ online presence, or how it can be utilized along with SEO to implement a coordinated internet marketing strategy, reach out to us here on our contact page.

Have you seen Google in the news?  Do you use Google’s services to get your news?  As Greg Sterling of Search Engine Land reports, a lot of people use Google across multiple verticals.

Yoo-hoo!  Remember Yahoo, a company that could’ve gotten friendly with Facebook to the point of making it a part of the family, a company who Microsoft wanted to get close to too?  Today, Yahoo is in the news, shifting the board of directors around in hopes to make forward momentum.

As Sterling’s article showcases, though regularly first or second (behind Google) in search statistics (Comscore’s December 2011 stats), Yahoo has made no significant improvement in recent years in a number of verticals: media, retail, travel, autos, finance, and health.

Yahoo plans to replace half of its board of directors.  Two new members have been appointed:  Maynard Webb and Alfred Amoroso; the brand intends to ‘search’ for more.  A New York Times article indicates both new appointees have dense, digital technological experience.  Webb is former chief exec of LiveOps, an online call center services provider.  From 1999 to 2006, Webb quarterbacked multiple departments for eBay.  Amoroso is a director of Rovi, serving as the company’s chief exec until last December.  Amoroso also has a past, as a top exec at I.B.M.’s Asian services business.

What’s interesting in the reflection of usage from the Sterling article (as he points out) is the exclusion of Facebook from the statistics.  How many people are using Facebook?  As another Times article suggests, some numbers (especially coming from Facebook) could be misleading.

Facebook proudly boasts about its 845 million monthly users and 483 “daily active users.”  Those numbers are impressive, and likely issued in lieu of its IPO.  However, those numbers are subjective, depending on what you consider to be an ‘active’ user.  For instance if you click on one of the Facebook icons below WebiMax SEO blog articles, you’re considered an active user.  Would you agree?  Would you if you were Facebook execs, wanting to accrue as many user numbers as possible to impress investors?

That’s likely the brand of pressure executives at Yahoo are up against.  Competing neck and neck in search with Microsoft, and making no immediate waves on the social or mobile scene (neither is Facebook at the moment) is not inspiring anyone to shout about Yahoo’s extraordinariness.  That’s the newly-appointed job of Webb and Amoroso (and to-be announced board members) – to make more people give Yahoo a ‘yoo-hoo,’ but, is it too late to shift the statistics?

A lot of major brands are making noise of late.  Facebook is expected to release its IPO.  Go Daddy changed company heads and its mind.  Google penalized itself.  Now, Yahoo has made a new pal, Scott Thompson, the president of PayPal, as its chief executive.

Will the move prove savvy for the Internet media company?  On the surface, the Yahoo brand does not appear shabby.  It hosts 700 million visitors per month; it’s a bastion of online sports, daily news, and finance info; and, financial gurus estimate the brand will report over $1 billion in net profit for 2011.  That’s not too bad.  However, when you’re up against online titans like the leading search engine, Google, and an intimidating social (and search?) platform in Facebook (outshining Yahoo in ads), you have to expect a lot.

According to comScore stats, Google sites accounted for over 65% of total, core search queries in the US in November of 2011 followed by Yahoo (about 16%).  Mr. Thompson was chosen for his “turnaround” reputation; he helped expand PayPal (took over in 2008) to 104 million users (from 50 million) and more than doubled the brand’s revenue ($1.8 to over $4 billion).

What are some plans in store for Yahoo?  No finite specifics voiced of yet, but analysts say Yahoo has spread itself too thin, investing resources in technology and original content creation, which is a stark contrast to Google, which does not invest in in-brand content creation.  However, analysts think Yahoo, and new pal Thompson, can leverage the brand’s popular email service and the user data collected, to attract advertisers.

It will be interesting to see how Yahoo proceeds in 2012.  Thompson believes Yahoo must cater to advertisers and users.  This seem like a good decision considering direct revenue stems from the former while the collective voice of the latter can make or break a brand.

Thompson remains optimistic, relaying Yahoo’s waning brand is “fixable,” despite his direct inexperience with online media and advertising.  Maybe Thompson and Yahoo’s opportunities will get a boost from external sources; Yahoo may get more than $10 billion for selling its stakes from Alibaba and Softbank.

Maybe Yahoo can make progress through the decadence of its competition.  As referenced, Facebook plans to go public early this year.  Will it be a mistake, influencing its 800-million-plus users to seek other platforms?  It has been understood Facebook’s face man, Mark Zuckerberg, isn’t hosting a happy visage about the IPO.  Additionally, while Google continues to serve as master in many ways, users have recently seen some quirks (how many Google SERP listings do we get? and Google+ turning SERPs into a McGoogle drivethru?), and of course ironies, related to the Chrome mishap.