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By Virginia Lawrence

If you are serious about search engine marketing for your Web site, you must attend one of the Search Engine Strategies conferences. These conferences are held several times per year. Upcoming conferences will be held in Munich, Boston, Chicago, London, and Toronto.

The August 2003 conference in San Jose offered the usual banquet of presentations by experts in the field of search engine marketing. Their presentations ranged from introductory talks for those just starting in Web marketing to high-level discussions among highly experienced Web marketers. It’s a great place to jump into the deep end of Web marketing and quickly learn to swim with the pros. So what’s the word?

Search Engine Optimization is Still Important

This isn’t new, but it’s not outmoded either. We must still optimize our Web site pages for our most important keywords. That is, if we want to attract Web searchers to a site when they search on a particular keyword, we must make that keyword the main focus for at least one page.

We Must Use Paid Inclusion Search Engines

This isn’t new either, but we must do paid inclusion by submitting our sites to the fee-charging databases that feed many of the most important search engines. Paying to get into a search engine does not ensure us a particular position in the site rankings. However, when we pair paid inclusion with site optimization, we can watch our sites rise in the ranks.

We Should Use Paid Placement Search Engines, or Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

We can bid on keywords in or, and we can purchase text ads from Google. In all cases, we are specifying that our site listing will appear when people search on our selected keywords. If we choose our keywords carefully, we will have an economical way to place our site listing high in the search rankings.

We Should Go Beyond Overture, FindWhat, and Google

We should be expanding our PPC programs beyond Overture, FindWhat, and Google. In particular, any e-commerce site should also consider advertising through,, ,,, and These programs all differ, and some will suit one site but not another. For example,,, and will accept the entire database from your online book store. This can be a very simple way to display your full range of products in high-traffic sites. will create a keyword-linked graphic ad for your site, and they will place that ad on This can be an inexpensive way to own your most important keyword on

Return on Investment (ROI) is King

All Web marketers should be carefully tracking the results of each paid placement or pay per click agreement. We should know exactly how many visitors are coming from each pay per click ad, plus the percentage of those visitors who are being converted to buyers. We want to know exactly which pay per click ads are the most valuable to us and which ads we should cancel.

There are many different ways to measure ROI online. One reasonable method is the GOTOAST service at GOTOAST is a monthly service used to manage our various pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. For $50 per month, we get online PPC management, plus a report on the number of sales per keyword per search engine. This is key. If we know the number of sales we achieve per keyword per search engine, we can optimize our keyword bidding to increase our sales while decreasing our costs per sale.

Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is a professional Web Designer and Online Marketing Consultant who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at or visit her Web site at



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