Search Goes Global

SEO in Different LanguagesMost companies hitched their wagon to search engine optimization long ago. That’s not surprising, because high search rankings are one of the most effective ways to get in front of customers and prospects when they’re in the mood to research and buy.

But up until recently, SEO has generally existed in the world of English. By contrast, SEO campaigns in Spanish and other languages haven’t worked so well. Despite the fact that Spanish is among the most widely spoken of languages, many Spanish-language countries have been behind the curve in Internet connectivity. And you could say the same of other languages.

But that’s not the case today. As more people overseas have become connected, the amount of content in Spanish and other foreign languages has risen dramatically.

Looking back at a bit of history, in the early-1990s essentially all of the search engines were in English only; if you wanted to conduct a web search, you had no other choice. That started to change by the mid-1990s when ~75% of all Internet searches were being conducted in English.

Fast-forward to today. According to Internet World Stats, an information resource that chronicles web usage in more than 230 countries and world regions, searches in English now account for only ~25% of all searches conducted.

Time was … search spoke English only. But the dramatic growth of Hispanic and other non-English digital markets means that companies that take the time to invest in foreign-language content and SEO initiatives will find themselves in the strongest position going forward.

It’s yet another item for the marketing department’s to-do list. Fortunately, help is available … with companies like MSEO.com and SEO Matador providing turnkey programs for implementing SEO campaigns in multiple different languages.

What’s Happening with Web Search Behaviors?

Search EnginesMore than 460 million searches are performed every day on the Internet by U.S. consumers. A new report titled 2010 SERP Insights Study from Performics, an arm of Publicis Groupe, gives us interesting clues as to what’s happening in the world of web search these days.

The survey, fielded by Lancaster, PA-based ROI Research, queried 500 U.S. consumers who use a search engine at least once per week, found that people who search the Internet regularly are a persistent lot.

Nine out of ten respondents reported that they will modify their search and try again if they aren’t successful in their quest. Nearly as many will try an alternate search engine if they don’t succeed.

As for search engine preference, despite earnest efforts recently to knock Google down a notch or two, it remains fully ensconced on the top perch; three-fourths of the respondents in this survey identify Google as their primary search engine. Moreover, Google users are less likely to stray from their primary search engine and try elsewhere.

But interestingly, Google is the “search engine of choice” for seasoned searchers more than it is for newbies. The Performics study found that Google is the leading search engine for only ~57% of novice users, whereas Yahoo does much better among novices than regular users (~36% versus ~18% overall).

What about Bing? It’s continuing to look pretty weak across the board, with only ~7% preferring Bing.

The Performics 2010 study gives us a clear indication as to what searchers are typically seeking when they use search engines:

 Find a specific manufacturer or product web site: ~83%
 Gather information before making a purchase online: ~80%
 Find the best price for a product or service: ~78%
 Learn more about a product or service after seeing an ad elsewhere: ~78%
 Gather information before purchasing in-store or via a catalog: ~76%
 Find a location for purchasing a produce offline: ~74%
 Find coupons, specials, or sales: ~63%

As for what types of listings are more likely to attract clickthroughs, brand visibility on the search engine results page turns out to be more important than you might think. Here’s how respondents rated the likelihood to click on a search result:

 … If it includes the exact words searched for: ~88%
 … If it includes an image: ~53%
 … If the brand appears multiple times on the SERP: ~48%
 … If it includes a video: ~26%

The takeaway message here: Spend more energy on achieving multiple high SERP rankings than in creating catchy video content!

And what about paid or sponsored links – the program that’s contributing so much to Google’s sky-high stock price? As more searchers come to understand the difference between paid and “natural” search rankings … fewer are drawn to them. While over 90% of the respondents in this research study reported that they have ever clicked on paid sponsored listings, only about one in five of them do so on a frequent basis.

Interesting ROI Trends in Direct Marketing

What’s happening in the world of direct marketing these days, and where is the best ROI to be found?

Certainly, a lot of inboxes are positively groaning under the sheer quantity of e-mail volume, and many people have responded by beefing up their spam filtering. But the most recent economic impact study conducted by research firm Global Insight for the Direct Marketing Association reports that commercial e-mail marketing delivers the best bang for the promotional buck – more than $43 for every dollar spent on it.

By comparison, ROI from Google AdWords and other paid search advertising activities generates about $22 for every dollar spent.

According to the analysis, postal direct mail initiatives deliver lower returns on investment — with catalogs returning just a little over $7 per dollar spent and other forms of postal direct mail around $15.

Depite its stellar ROI numbers, it is true that e-mail marketing is actually showing a slight drop in ROI. And that is forecast to continue to decline in the upcoming years, at least partially because of the reasons noted above. Even so, e-mail is forecast to deliver an ROI of ~$38 for every dollar invested in 2013.

Of course, it’s important to recognize that search marketing is where much of the heavy action is these days. Internet search drives ~$244 billion in sales as compared against a related cost of ~$11 billion.

Commercial e-mail? It drives just ~$26 billion in sales … although the cost to drive those sales is a relative pittance at ~$600 million.

And over on the postal side of the ledger, no one should be surprised to learn that direct mail expenditures, while still large at ~$44 billion, are down ~16% in just the past year alone.

[But you can look on the bright side: Your promo piece is going to be noticed a lot easier among the smaller stack of daily snail mail that’s being delivered!]