Search-engine marketing continues to grow

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NEW YORK - Marketers have taken notice that in 2002 just 9 percent of marketing budgets were allocated to search and that that number increased 750 percent by 2006.

Search is indeed different than most other kinds of advertising as it is non-disturbing. It provides users with information and advertisements only after they enter their search query into a box.

"The less irritating the ads are the better," said Yosi N. Heber, president of Oxford Hill Partners LLC. "Search instantly solves people's problems and is very needs-based."

Search engine marketing, from a business perspective, helps acquire new customers, is measurable, has a proven return on investment, is low risk and makes the sales force more efficient.

"All of this leads to incremental revenue and profits," Mr. Heber said.

Search can be broken into two pieces, paid and organic. In paid search, marketers bid on keywords. The more you bid, the higher you appear in the sponsored links. In natural search it has to do with the way you optimize your Web site to appear higher on the search results.

For organic search, marketers must remember to include keyword-rich content and keyword-rich headlines, subheads and links. This makes a site more crawler friendly.

Marketers like Godiva established new consumer targets powered by search-engine marketing.

The company purchased keywords like business gift giving and appeared at the top pf the paid search results. When consumers clicked on a Godiva link, they were relocated to a custom page that focused solely on business gift giving and even had a promotional volume-discount box, meaning those who bought en mass would get a good deal.

In addition, Lunesta Sleep Aid gave consumers a trial of their new product.

"People love free sample incentives," Mr. Heber said.

When users search for sleep, Lunesta is the No. 1 result out of paid ads. Once the user clicks on Lunesta's link, they are re-directed to a customized page focusing on a free trial offer from Lunesta.

"SEM can also be used to create new customer lead-generation programs," Mr. Heber said.

The Entertainment Book did just that. When users search for school fundraising, the company is the first on the paid-search results and, when the link is clicked, consumers are redirected to a landing page.

The page lists reasons why the user should consider the Entertainment Book for its fundraising efforts and then has the consumer fill out a form that is forwarded to a sales person who follows up.

Mr. Heber went over ways that optimizing a news release can generate a high Google listing. He said speaking at conferences and creating podcasts is a good way to get journalists to write about you and bloggers to blog about you, also improving your ranking.

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