A couple of days ago SEO guru Rand Fishkin made a presentation at the 2010 Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. Rand shared his slide-deck via a blog post.
For those regular followers of our Inbound Marketing Automation blog, you know that I have the greatest esteem for Rand and his gang at SEOmoz.org. In a world filled with secret, black-box algorithms and SEO “snakeoil” experts, Rand stands head and shoulders above the rest with a scientific approach that actually backs his opinions with statistical research. If you are even remotely interested in Search Engine Optimization you should follow his industry thought leadership via the SEOmoz blog. And if you are an aspiring SEO professional, taking out a PRO membership is the minimum price of entry.
OK, now let’s take a look at Rand’s slide-deck and focus on a couple of slides which will be very relevant and very interesting to our core audience: mid-size B2B companies.
The Search Market: Europe is surprisingly strong
We all expect North America and Asia to show strong search numbers, but Europe? The following graph shows how Europe leads the global market in # of searches:
Apparently Europe is outpacing North American by a wide margin. And that’s good news for all those B2B companies with prospects in Germany, France, the UK, and elsewhere. But to fully capture that opportunity, your company requires a multi-language site, and those can be challenging from an SEO standpoint. One bit of advice: don’t rely on your web-developer to automatically build you a site that is search engine friendly across multiple languages.
Search Engine Share of Market
Google is still the 800lb gorilla, and surprisingly Google’s dominance continues to grow:
When it comes to business search (prospects researching companies and solutions in the b2b space), anecdotal evidence at Gossamar suggests that Google’s dominance over the other primary search engines is even larger. From a practical perspective – for mid-sized B2B companies with limited SEO resources and budgets – this means that you can safely focus your search marketing strategy on Google, and let the rest of the search market take care of itself.
SEO versus PPC
We’ve known for a while that the majority of clicks on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) are to organic listings, versus paid listings. But these new 2009 numbers are sobering:
This result reinforces the need to emphasize SEO over PPC in your search marketing strategy. Not only is SEO a much more cost-effective strategy to drive qualified prospects to your site in the long run, it is also the preferred choice by most of the searchers. Don’t get me wrong, PPC does have its place in a comprehensive search marketing strategy, but its role should be to complement SEO, and not the other way around.
The value of getting top SERP Ranking
The following AOL search data is not new, but this is the best justification I’ve seen for the need to target those top SERP rankings:
Clearly, getting that #1 spot on Google for your primary keyword is extremely valuable. But for most mid-sized B2B companies with limited page and domain authority, this requires carefully targeting multi-phrase keywords that are:
- Highly relevant to your products and services
- Have sufficient search volume
- Your webpage(s) can successfully compete on
And that means keyword research must play a large role in your SEO strategy. Don’t leave your SEO up to web-developers or webmasters who see SEO primarily as a “technical exercise”. To get those valuable top rankings requires careful market research and segmentation: the domain of marketing.
The Search Demand Curve and the promising “Long-Tail”
Here at Gossamar we’ve covered the opportunities of the Long Tail in the Search Demand Curve. But it’s worth repeating via the following chart in Rand’s presentation:
Again, marketing-driven keyword research is crucial to your success.
Behold the mighty multi-phrase Keywords
B2B search is filled with multi-word keyword phrases from the chunky middle and long tail of the search curve. It makes sense. How else do you search for “injection molding machines” or “hosted call centers”?
Here’s an interesting chart on the higher conversion rates inherent in three and four-word keyword phrases:
The conclusion is this: Being more specific in your keyword targeting and on-page optimization will result in a huge increase in conversions.
Latest thinking on the Search Engine Algorithm
Since the beginning of time (internet time, that is) marketers have been trying to reverse engineer the secret search engine algorithms to improve their SERP (Search Engine Results Page) rankings. The following two charts from Rand’s presentation are loaded with insight. The first is the “best guess” rating by SEO pros of the relative importance of various SERP ranking factors. The second (and much more objective) chart is based on SEOmoz’s research into the actual correlations between rankings and ranking factors. Thankfully, there is some consistency between both models:
Clearly, the number of quality external links linking to your website is by far the most important single influence to improving your SERP rankings, constituting somewhere between 40-50% to your SEO power. In comparison, on-page factors (primarily keyword focus) only contribute 12-15%. As a result, some would argue that external link building should receive much more attention than on-page optimization. But that would be a mistake. The result would be a website that has some ability to draw SEO traffic, but has little or no keyword focus.
On a practical level, here at Gossamar we see this problem almost daily. Most mid-size B2B sites do not suffer from link scarcity, but from horrendously poor on-page optimization. The symptoms are often unfocused SEO traffic and high bounce rates.
So here’s my guidance: put emphasis on the on-page optimization first.
The Rest of the Presentation
Do check out the rest of Rand’s presentation. An excellent high-level overview of the Search Engine Landscape today. Well done, Rand!
Until next time – Axel