Search engine marketing is essential — naturally, as there are millions of sites, all competing for attention. Unless you’re a celebrity, with a literary fan club, you’re going to have to be selective and canny to get your site to the top of the rankings, but PoetryMagic’s performance shows that it can be done.

Natural Search Engines

Selective search engine marketing gets you a good position on the few search engines and directories that really count, i.e. Google, Yahoo and MSN. You can do the job yourself, or employ a (generally expensive) search engine optimization company, but the needs are the same. Your site has to give visitors relevant and attractively-presented information. And the pages have to be individually built so as to be to be search-engine friendly. For the last that means choosing popular keywords with acceptable levels of competition, and then crafting the pages around those keywords, paying attention to titles, page descriptions, meta tags, word counts, keyword densities, link names and a host of other matters.

Software and services exist to help, though you will find the information you need, or most of it, on free Internet sites. Once built properly, you simply submit your site pages to the search engines, though you may need to keep tweaking them to beat the competition.

Pay Per Click Engines

Search engine marketing with the natural search engines takes time — months, sometimes years — and needs excellent content. Many e-marketers therefore use the pay-per-click engines, of which Google (Adwords) and Overture are the best known, though many more exist, with lower charges. Marketers agree a monthly budget, which buys a certain number of clickthroughs at a certain charge per click. The last, called ‘bids’, may cost just a few cents but can climb into several dollars/click. Companies use sophisticated software to manage campaigns costing thousands of dollars monthly, and you can see why. If their clickthroughs cost 50 cents/click and the conversion rate is 1%, then it’s costing them $50 dollars to get each customer. Site optimization, good sales copy and repeat orders become very important.

You will probably not want to make pay-per-click engines the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, though Google Ads now start at 5 cents, and some p.p.c. engines are even cheaper. A limited campaign with the smaller p.p.c. engines may be worth trying.

Other Approaches

Many other ways of search engine marketing exist.

Banner ads — 468 x 60 pixel images or pop-up pages — invite viewers to click through to the site advertised. Do an Internet search to learn more, but be advised that the approach is not so popular now, and the companies concerned generally cater for larger clients.

You can also make a little money by showing banner ads on your site — the banner ad networks cater for both, indeed bring them together — but the networks will probably demand upwards of 25,000 page views/month.

Perhaps your site is offering some special feature — a directory or free service — that would interest other sites? By offering the feature as an add-on you’ll be getting your service noticed on other sites. In turn, they will offer it to third parties, and interest will grow.

What about a classified ads board, something for visitors to place items wanted and for sale? The software is no more than $25, and some hosting companies provide it free. More popular have been bulletin boards where issues of common interest can be debated. The software is again cheap or free, and many poetry sites use them. They do need a moderator, however, and can be time-consuming to run.

Web rings link sites of a similar nature. Traffic at one site is passed on to another through a code snippet, which usually placed at the foot of the page.

Cool site awards increase site exposure, but you’ll need nowadays to make the first move. Do an Internet search.

Finally, don’t forget offline advertising. A box advert listing your site in a few poetry magazines can work wonders.

A very brief survey of the business. As you’ll soon find with Internet searches, search engine marketing is immensely complicated now, and rather costly in time and money to learn by trial and error. We’re sorry to keep plugging this product, but if you really are serious about promoting your poetry on the Internet, and getting some money back, then Ecommerce Digest’s Guide will be worth the investment.