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Climbing the Beanstalk
November 3, 2004

Welcome to the November 3, 2004 edition of "Climbing The Beanstalk", the bi-weekly newsletter on search engines and search engine positioning from Beanstalk. In this edition we will explore the launch of the new MSN search, recent articles by Beanstalk staff, and tips on ways to test keyword phrases before you pay for search engine optimization services or perform the optimization yourself.

If you have any questions regarding any of the areas covered in this newsletter please don't hesitate to contact us.

The Launch Of The New MSN:
Something Old Or Something New?

As of the writing of this newsletter the new MSN search is available for preview. The launch of the new MSN search has been much anticipated and for good reason. Resent statistics show MSN responsible for 27.4% of all searches. While Google still comes in at over 40% and their IPO has given them plenty of money to play with, anyone in the Internet age must wonder at competing head-to-head with Microsoft. It rarely ends in the favor of the competition.

The new MSN search, said to be launching later this month, stands to be the most significant competitor that Google has had to face. With enormous budgets on both sides and resources available that would make Scotty from Star Trek envious, both sides are launching and testing new products such as Google's new Desktop Search and the rumored browser. MSN on the other side seems focused on launching the search engine, however the backing of Microsoft certainly gives them more brand identity off the starting block (or default search in your operating system as the case may be).

After running a number of searches on the new MSN preview however I came to a startling conclusion, it's very similar to the others. Of course any algorithm has it's differences but all in all I found the results to be essentially a mixture of Yahoo! and Google. Until it goes live we won't know for sure what they'll have up their sleeves but I wouldn't recommend losing sleep over your MSN rankings. Chances are they'll be very similar to what you see now.

Still worried? View the new MSN search in it's preview at http://techpreview.search.msn.com/ (link made inactive as it is now live and the preview redirects) and run some tests on your own keywords.

Recent Search Engine Positioning Articles
Beanstalk Search Engine Optimization has recently had two of it's articles picked up by WebProNews, ISEDB, and an assortment of other SEO resource sites. These are recommended reading for anyone interested in attaining high rankings.

10 Steps To A Well Optimized Site: Part One - Keyword Selection
This is part one of ten in this search engine positioning series. In part one we will outline how to choose the keyword phrases most likely to produce a high ROI for your search engine positioning efforts. Over this ten part series we will go through ten essential elements and steps to optimizing a ... <more>

10 Steps To A Well Optimized Site: Part Two - Content Creation
Content is the key to search engine rankings. While there are numerous factors involved with the search engine algorithms, content remains a constant in stable rankings for a number of important reasons ... <more>

SEO & PPC

When most people think of PPC engines they think of Overture and Google. They think of expensive click-through campaigns that have to be monitored and then ... well, many people stop thinking about them right about there.

Without getting too much into PPC management, etc. it is important to note that a great additional use for PPC engines is in the testing of keyword phrases. The first step of any search engine positioning campaign is keyword selection (see article above). Once you've chosen what you believe to be the ideal keywords you're in the precarious situation of having to then either put in enormous amounts of work to optimize your website or spend money on a search engine positioning firm. In either case you need to know that the keyword phrases you are about to target will produces the highest ROI for your business.

For those of you who have read our articles you'll recall that there are "phrases that sell" (as discussed in our "Keyword Selection" article). Let's assume that what you have as options are a series of generic phrases or, a slightly better scenario, a bunch of "phrases that sell" and you can't decide which are the best.

Now is when you turn to the PPC engines. While Overture and Google AdWords are great for their volume, for those on a limited budget you may want to use some of the smaller (and generally less expensive per click) PPC engines. A couple of them can be found on our website at /info/ppc.htm.

What you can now do is choose a few of your selected phrases and bid on them. Generally you can start an account with about $50. Get your site in the number 2 or 3 position (#1 if it's not much of a jump in price) and monitor your click-throughs, sales, and stats. If you have the budget for it ClickTracks can give you even more information right down to which keyword phrase is delivering the most people to your shopping cart or "thank you" page. It runs at about $495 but is a fantastic tool for a variety of reasons that could take up entire articles unto itself.

Assuming that you won't be spending $500 on a program you'll have to just test your keyword phrases a few at a time but do test them all. If you think you have the perfect one but haven't finished testing try to be patient. You may forgo a great keyword phrase if you take the first one that promised to produce a decent ROI.

With this testing you'll have a better (not 100% perfect but certainly far better) idea of how your keywords will produce for you in the real world. You may even learn a bit about your site and how visitors navigate it. This is another task for ClickTracks but you can get a good handle on the basics with the stats package provided by your hosting company (if they don't supply stats then you may want to consider a new host as this is included with even the cheapest hosting packages out there).

Thank You

Thank you very much for subscribing to "Climbing The Beanstalk", the bi-weekly search engine positioning newsletter. If you have any questions about the areas covered or if there are any areas of search engine positioning that you would like to see covered in future articles/newsletter please don't hesitate to contact us. We want to write what you want to know.

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