If you’ve wondered how certain Web sites get prime position on search engines like Google and Yahoo!, your research has likely produced two investigative paths: paid placement and
In paid placement, advertisers and merchants pay the search engine company to give their links prime placement. “Sponsored search results” can be found in popular search engines at the very top and often along the side of search result pages. Paid placement is one (expensive!) way to drive traffic to your Web site. If your budget won’t tolerate sponsoring
Social media can include blogging, Facebook groups, MySpace pages, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, Squidoo lenses and other types of media that invite user participation in a community of interested users.
Social media is valuable in terms of its ability to improve search engine placement because many social media services include RSS feeds that inform users (and search engines) of newly published content. Additionally, sites like Facebook and MySpace enjoy high rankings in the search engines in the first place. It’s very easy to “piggyback” onto their already high search engine ranking with a page or group that publicizes a niche product, service or site.
Social media also builds customer and brand loyalty. The low-cost self-publishing tools mean that even small businesses that cater to niche audiences can compete effectively with the “big guys” in a shared market space. By focusing on niche terms, keywords, and tags that are likely to be used by their most sought-after customers, sites can improve their
One major advantage of social media is that interested prospects and consumers “self-identify.” With traditional advertising, businesses create an ad campaign and run it where they believe their users are most likely to congregate. With social media, businesses create a place for interested users to congregate and then tailor extremely specific marketing information to an already receptive audience. Social media tools can help users find the exact products and services they’re interested in at the moment they’re ready to search.
Further, social media offers a “test bed” for merchants, site owners and service providers by allowing them to offer unadvertised specials, coupons, and discount offers that are tailored to particular customers. Informational services and notifications are also easy to provide and are welcomed by existing customers.
Finally, social media puts merchants, service providers and vendors in the same space their customers are already in. Many younger consumers don’t watch television or listen to the radio. These customers will miss even the best, most thoughtful and engaging advertising campaigns. Social media provides a mechanism for businesses to reach out to potentially interested customers who simply don’t engage with traditional media.
Social media’s major advantages are that they can place timely, specific information in search engines and help customers, potential customers and site visitors find the precise information they’re looking for in a sea of search engine results.