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High Rank and You Can Still Go Belly Up!

keeping perspective

10:26 pm on Aug 16, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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I have one client whose website pays for itself many times over every month, and they get 3 uniques a day from the Search Engines. Because that traffic is tightly targeted, it's all they need -- it's even all they can handle! In fact, I work to keep them OUT of the top for more generalized searches, so they don't end up wasting resources responding to idle curiosity.

I have another client with great rankings, big traffic -- and a terrible conversion rate. They'll be lucky to cover their site development costs within a year, the way it's going now. Profits may never come unless something more basic gets changed.

What's the difference? A solid business plan. No amount of top rankings will ever replace this need. Thinking that a few positions in the Ink results is a life and death matter is something people do, but how short-sighted!

I feel a site should put the bulk of their effort toward doing more for the traffic they DO have. Chasing after traffic they MIGHT have should be a secondary, but supporting, issue. Site traffic alone is not black ink.

More and more, I find myself in the role of an overall business consultant. Clients who will work WITH the website process -- continually adapting their business model to the rapidly shifting terrain -- such clients still seem to be rare. But that is the game, and it will continue to be the game. Only the speed of change will vary. It will get even faster.

Sometime in the near future, the entire search engine situation as we know it will be a short chapter in history. The site owner who plans for this now is going to be the winner -- it's coming faster than any of us may realize.

Until then, I certainly play the game as it is, and I enjoy it. It's the only game I know where the rules get made up fresh as it goes along. Changes at the SEs are prompted by huge market realities that are way beyond any concern for a few handfuls of pages.

I just try to ride the waves, and remember to take in the whole landscape. It will be there long after today's little waves are gone.

8:43 am on Aug 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Sept 21, 1999
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Very nice post Tedster.

>they get 3 uniques a day from the Search Engines.

That is nice work if you can get it.

I think one of the main problems in SEO is that people think that every tidbit or scrap of info directly applies to their site. It is hard to sort out which particular bit of information applies to an ecom site or an infotainment site.

As you said, it can vary wildly from site to site. Rankings are very important to entertainment or sites who's biz model is something other than product sales.

the entire search engine situation as we know it will be a short chapter in history. -Ted Aug 15, 2000

I've been saying this for almost two years. One woman even called SEW a tour of The Rise and Fall of Search Engine Promotion. That was a year and a half ago. I think we are farther along into the fall part than anyone realizes. With Inktomi now getting ready to sell results, Google playing gimmick games with links, Infoseek-Excite-Webcrawler all but dead - we have one foot in the grave.

The question becomes, how to live in a post Search Engine World?

10:08 am on Aug 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Some people might wonder how 3 uniques a day can possibly make for a profitable site. It's for a business to business service where just one client can mean a 5 or even 6 figure contract. Get 90 people a month, convert just one, and they're rolling very nicely. And of course, they drive people to the site through other means than the search engines. They use the site like an enhanced brochure, but one that doesn't need to be printed and wastefully stockpiled after a big print run.

More thoughts about the future: I spent some years in the direct mail/catalog industry, and I highly value the trade magazines from that sector. They give lots less hype and lots more facts, since direct marketing is such a data driven, real results business.

One recent article contrasted the "pure-play", web only business with websites that are integrated with other media. As the dot com morgues fill up with those pure-play sites, this article reports that many marketers now consider a website to be the MOST important part of an integrated campaign that uses several media. And just 18 months back the website was often an afterthought or a kind of trophy!

As an example, a major car manufacturer is currently using the web to break in a new model and prospect for early adopters -- they found 1900 in one week through a combination of direct mail that drove traffic to a special website. No search engines at all. In fact, the direct mail plus website combo seems to be the big knockout punch for LOTS of marketing efforts.

It seems to me that pure-play sites would do well to enhance their own marketing efforts with a few well chosen, demographically enhanced direct mail lists -- post office type snail mail.

Email lists in general just aren't ready for prime time right now, but direct mail is a very mature industry -- the precision targeting that can be achieved through database overlays is amazing. And response rates can be excellent if the mail piece is well done.

10:42 am on Aug 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

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All too true,
One client I'm promoting makes ten sales a week from their site. They are way, way in profit, and they've asked me to hold back on promotion. These guys are getting traffic of 6,000-7,000 a week though. It's a very low conversion rate, but they don't need a big conversion rate to get by. I mean they pay their yearly SE promotion budget three times over with one weeks sales.
This cash-cow web site is just another tool in their business plan, which also includes massive tabloid advertising coverage etc. etc.
More and more clients, we've noticed, are asking for complete media strategies. I feel we're going to have to move to try and fulfill their needs. How will we survive in a post SE world? Evolve, Adapt, Improve.
12:22 pm on Aug 17, 2000 (gmt 0)

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I think the "The Future of SEs" or something to that effect would make a good new topic or catagory. People could post their opinions and speculations. Enquiring minds want to know!