Anita Campbell, editor of Small Business Trends, has some interesting comments on what a Microsoft-Yahoo merger might mean to small businesses. Her main point is that a merger might add competition to the search engine marketing business, which is practically a Google monopoly right now.
I’m not sure I agree about the competition part, because the bidding process for search terms already assures competition, at least to some extent. But another point she makes is in no way open to question. To quote, “The Google search engine did more to level the playing field for small businesses to compete right alongside much larger, better-funded businesses, than any other recent innovation I can think of.”
She’s absolutely right. Which leads to the question: Are you taking full advantage of the power of search engine marketing? If you’re not, you probably should be. The fact of the matter is, search engine marketing really has changed the game, and in the process reduce marketing costs dramatically – from thousands for an ad in the old days of print media to hundreds for a sponsored link that’s far more targeted.
But despite all its advantages, search engine marketing isn’t for every company. For starters, there’s the issue of search engine optimization, or SEO. The most successful players in the search engine marketing game have optimized their sites so that search engines, and particularly Google, will place their company near the top of the list of results for the search terms they use. And SEO isn’t cheap. The cost of engaging an SEO firm can be several thousand dollars. And once that SEO firm has determined what you need to do, you may have to pay someone else to do it. For example, you may need to engage a copywriter to insert keywords into the text on your site in such a way that the sentences still make sense, or hire a programmer to insert new “metatags” (the words search engines use to determine what your site is about).
The other problem with SEO is that it doesn’t deliver instant results. It’s a process that can take months.
Still, in spite of the problems with SEO, you can’t afford to ignore this new marketing machine. For starters, read these short and very informative AllBusiness articles on the basics of search engine marketing and SEO.