Think Like a Search Engine

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You want to provide the highest-quality product and/or service to your customers. Maintaining a high level of quality keeps your customers happy, increases your retention rates, and turns your clients into evangelists as they tell everyone about their excellent experience with your company. The same goes for the search engines. Their “product” is search results.

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing (and all other search engines) have their own unique algorithms for ranking websites within their index and search results. Going forward, we’ll refer to the website listings that are contained within a search engine’s index and displayed within the search results as organic listings. The search engines go to great lengths to try to provide the best organic results possible—ones that closely match the user’s search query. The search engines also display advertisements on the search results page. It’s the goal of the engines to display ads whose content is as relevant as possible to the user’s search query.

If a search engine consistently serves users with irrelevant, poor-quality results, users will go elsewhere for their querying needs. All of the major search engines (including Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) quite simply want to deliver the best possible user experience to searchers. Each search engine wants to make the information that appears on its search engine results pages (SERPs) as useful, relevant, and informative as possible, no matter what the query. This is why the search engines are depending on you to help sustain their success and provide the best user experience possible.

The search engines are depending on you, the advertiser, to keep their profit margins healthy, because the majority of their revenue is generated from advertising. According to a Google Investor Relations Financial Table, in 2008 Google generated more than $21 billion in revenue. Approximately 97 percent of Google’s revenue is from advertising, most of which comes from the text and display ads we are covering in this book.

Text ads within search results undergo a thorough approval process before they are even considered for placement. However, the search engines can only approve or disapprove these ads. It is the advertiser’s responsibility to target keywords that are relevant to their products, compose PPC ads that are well written and keyword-centric, and once a user clicks on these advertisements, to provide a high-quality post-click experience on their website.

As a result, you want to help the search engine provide the best user experience possible. We’re all in this together. Think about it: If people don’t trust a certain search engine to provide great results, they’ll stop using it. And this means your audience is going to shrink, and your business along with it. However, as long as the search engines continue to enhance their organic listings and advertisers strive to create high-quality advertisements, then everybody wins.

This is where the search engines are coming from. They need to provide a highquality product, and they need you to help them achieve this goal. And in turn, they will help you achieve your goals. The best part (aside from growing your business and being wildly successful!) is that the search engines reward you for providing high-quality advertisements
and a great user experience with better ad positions at more-favorable prices.

Going back to our original analogy, search results are the “product” that search engines provide. You can almost view yourself as having a vendor relationship with the search engines. You provide a critical piece of their revenue puzzle: the advertisements that generate their revenue. They want to keep you happy, and you want to keep them happy.