Thursday, October 06, 2005

Location, Location, Location on the Internet - by Steve Plunkett

In real estate, many factors contribute to having a good, great or horrible location.
These factors include traffic count: cars or pedestrians, visibility, proximity to competition, population density, terms and rental rates and transportation accessibility. These same factors apply to any website and every Internet marketing campaign. Internet marketing involves more than just building a website. It requires a little bit of promotion on your part to get people to that website.

Traffic Count: Cars or Pedestrians
In your brick and mortar location, do you get a lot of drive-by traffic or foot traffic? If you want foot traffic you pick a location in a retail center or a mall where you have lots of people. If you are a business that has businesses as customers, then foot traffic is not as important. Think of cars as B2B, (business to business), and pedestrians as B2C, (business to consumer). Your type of business does affect your location and how you define your Internet marketing strategy. B2C requires as much traffic as possible, whereas, B2B requires as much qualified traffic as possible.

If you sell a firewall that can be used by everybody on any type of computer connected to the Internet, you want to target foot traffic for anyone who has a computer connected to the Internet. If you sell a security platform that protects networks by sitting in front of the router to block malicious and unknown attacks, then your audience is a bit more specific, and the mall (i.e. general search terms) may not be the best location for your business. More specific search terms should be researched, and your “leasing cost” may be higher either way, depending on the “keyword” used and the location of the keyword purchased.

Are you found on the front page of search results when people search for your company name? Location, location, location. In real estate, it’s everything. On search engine results, it’s required. Research has shown that roughly 80 percent of Internet users do not go past the first three pages of search engine results and just below 20 percent do not go past the first page.

Proximity to Competition
It’s also important to understand how competitive your business channel is. Are you one of only 13 vendors that supply a really neat device, or are there 1,500 suppliers that could be viewed as competition by a potential customer that has not yet learned the difference?
Are you found where your competitors are found? If their location is the first page of the search results and your location is nowhere near them, (say, in the third or fourth page neighborhood), how can customers find you?

Population Density
A search for “Dallas” in Google will return more than 45 million results and in Yahoo! it will return more than a million. A highly populated area on the search results means increased competition, and it’s going to be harder to get your website seen. Pay-Per-Click advertising, listing your website in a search engine’s paid results area, costs more for “rent” in populated areas and more attractive areas. To “lease” the top Pay-Per-Click spot for the word “Dallas,” you will pay $0.92 cents every time someone clicks on your link. The current pricing on the top spot for “Dallas Real Estate” would cost $4.05.
So different locations have different pricing.

Terms and Rental Rates
Negotiating a good lease is great for your business. So is submitting to free search indexes and directories. A search index is like the white pages, everyone is listed by name, not by category. A search directory is like the larger segmented telephone book that usually has yellow colored pages inside it, separated by category. Google is a free search index and has a free directory via In commercial real estate, free rent is a great thing but usually lasts only for a limited time.

Yahoo! is a paid search directory with a yearly fee to be listed. Many people have differing opinions on whether or not this is a good idea, but Yahoo! isn’t likely to disappear within the next year. The top three most visited websites are Yahoo!, MSN and Google, in that order, so paying to be listed on Yahoo! is definitely a good idea. As with any location, the better the location, the higher the rent, and there are methods of paying more for better placement or a “better location.”

Transportation Accessibility
If you build it, they will come, does not apply to a website. Until you do something to promote your website, it is a “snowflake in a snowstorm.” Unless your company name is put in front of people, most people will not know you have a website or web address.
You must list your website much like you would list an available residential property for sale or lease with a professional realtor. Print it on your business card, your stationary and possibly even the sign in front of your business. This is like a “for sale by owner” sign in your yard - until someone drives by, they don’t know you have a website.

You also may decide to enlist the duties of a search engine marketing professional to list your website. Like realtors who know how the real estate market works, they deal with the ever changing landscape of search engines on a daily basis and know the ropes of what the search engines like and do not like in order to assist you to the top of the search engines, the most profitable location.

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