Search Engine Submission Budget for Small Business

March 25th, 2008

search engine submission budgetMy experience suggests that, as a new site owner you may need to be cautious with regards to search engine submission companies. Once a published e-mail address is on your website, you can very likely be bombarded with sales e-mails like: “Get your website listed on hundreds of search engines for only $49.00!”- Seriously, run very fast, and don’t respond to those messages- you’ll get 10x the amount of spam in your inbox if you sign up with them. And the promises of such offers are exaggerated. It is not as easy and fast as they claim!

A more legit search engine submission program is where a service provider (typically a search marketing firm) offers to manually get you listed in the top search engines and main business/vertical directories applicable to your business. Some search marketing firms will also suggest a cost-per-click program as well to complement it, which is a very fast way to show up on the engines. For both initiatives – the budget may range from a few hundred dollars to thousand of dollars – depending on how aggressive you want to be in the local, national or global online market place. A firm that is well trained in search marketing will recommend the correct mix for you.

Tip for you: Reputable search marketing firms won’t be begging you for their business and spamming your in-box! You’ll probably have to contact them as they are in high demand.

Alternatively, if you have a limited budget and some extra time on your hands, you can do it yourself and get listed on the search engines on a small budget. Go ahead – test the waters!

Search Engine Submission Budget and Program for Small Business
The following is a program that incorporates four areas to focus on that I recommend any business to start out with if you have a limited budget. Factor in at least $550 to start with. Once you realize the benefits of traffic/leads to your site, you may decide to spend more time and money on other in-house or outsourced search engine marketing areas.

1) Submit to the Freebie Search Engines
Free search engine submissions are out there and you should take advantage of the ones that are applicable to your business and demographics/location. The big search engines may crawl your site at one point (sooner or even later), but you can speed up the process in some situations. Look at links at the bottom of the search engines that may read “submit site”- I also recommend that you go to Google Webmasters area and submit a Sitemap to Google and to Yahoo Submit for a URL list. Read more about “Why Use Google Sitemaps“.

If you have a physical office or store location, sign up for Google local and you can show up on Google maps. It’s free too! Some search engines need a manual request and will not automatically list you. Free search engine submissions can include DMOZ(http://www.dmoz.org/). (Note: This listing can be hard to get on- you may have to resubmit a few months later- sometimes I think the editor has a subjective reason to refrain from adding your site. It is worth your time, though, because it is a good directory.)

Tip for you: Did you also know that some of the smaller search engines actually pull in results from the bigger search engines like Google?

2) Submit to the Freebie Directories
There is a slew of directories out there that may be applicable to your business. Hunt for general business directories, local directories and vertical directories. A directory is basically a portal site or a database with listings of businesses that can also show up in the search engine results pages. Some directories will have a two-to three-tier program with the first tier being a free directory listing. Ultimately you will be solicited to pay for the premium listing. If you are unsure whether it’s a good directory, sign up for the free level and wait to see from your web analytics if they bring you traffic and leads and question if the paid listing would get you more business or not. Don’t feel pressured to upgrade though. Stick with the free listing until you’re convinced on the paid one would add value to your business.

Tip for you: in Google/Yahoo/MSN search for “business directory” + “your city” and you’ll get some ideas. Another thing you can do is a reverse look up of your competitors site and see what directories they show up on by typing in Google “link: http://www.competitorsurlhere.com/ ” and you can fast track your directory submissions.

3) Pay for Selected Directories

Any site owner (small, mid-sized, non profit, personal) should consider paying for a few search directories. I would recommend any small business to sign up to the following directories:

Tip for you: Sometimes if you submit to one of the BOTW directories above, they will send you a coupon code via email or their newsletter. If you need to sign up for both directories, use the coupon code for the second one!

4) Pay For and Set up a Mini Cost-per-Click Advertising Program
I am totally into -instant gratification- (and yes I am a female, not a male!) and this would be my first choice if I had just published a brand-new site. There are some search engine marketers that favor organic tactics (numbers 1-3 above) over a cost-per-click (CPC)program, but I truly believe that you can learn from CPC advertising for advanced website and search engine optimization in the future (that is another topic in itself!).

I recommend that you leverage a mini CPC program, and then you can decide to take it to another level and learn advanced CPC strategies or hand over to a professional CPC managers/ search engine marketing firm.

Here are some recommendations for your mini CPC program. Keep in mind that CPC programs can get quite complicated (believe me, I’ve managed complex accounts with multiple campaigns with hundreds of keywords and budgets of a few thousand dollars per month), don’t deviate too much or you’ll be scared away and wonder where your money went – learn slowly first!

Let’s just assume that you want to start with a $5-per-day budget

  • Open up a Google Adwords account – There’s no minimum spending requirement-the amount you pay for AdWords is up to you. You can, for instance, set a daily budget of $5 and a maximum cost of 10 cents for each click on your ad.
  • Set up one or two campaigns and avoid guesswork – Google provides keyword traffic and cost estimates so you can make informed decisions about choosing keywords and maximizing your budget. Use it.
  • Choose your geo-targeting properly or your budget will be wasted. If you own a pizza restaurant in Vancouver, only choose Vancouver. Don’t waste it on people in Toronto!
  • Choose only a small list of keywords and include your business name! If your site isn’t showing up on the search results yet, bidding on your business name is most likely only going to cost you 8 cents per click, which is cheaper than a decent business card!
  • Craft up two to three ads under each campaign – Google will start to serve the best ad that has click troughs.
  • Use phrase-match option only when you start out. It is the best way to drive qualified traffic to your site without a huge budget. I would only recommend broad match if you have a large budget and know what you are doing.

Keep in mind that the above are only some guidelines if you only had $550 to start with for the first month and to keep your Cost-per-Click program going it would be $150 per month.

Once you ‘ve gone through the process of setting up a basic search engine submission program, consider taking one of two routes:

  1. Learn more and push the limits of search engine marketing – this is just the tip of it.
  2. Hire a firm or a search engine marketer. They can get results faster and you can feel more relaxed if you open up a larger budget.

If you want to share similar experiences on this topic, I encourage you to leave a comment!

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