Friday, April 6, 2007

Google and Yahoo Marketing Tips for Your Mortgage Web Site


Just about every phone call or email we receive focuses on one topic - How do I get more visitors to my web site from Google and Yahoo? There are literally hundreds of steps you must do, each perfectly, to obtain a high ranking. In this article we are going to share a few tips on how you can receive more visitors and monitor the visitors you already have.


Should I pay someone to submit my site to the Google search engine? To all search engines?

In a word... no. It is a waste of your money.

All the major search engines have gone to the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model, except Google. While Google has a free submission at http://www.google.com/addurl.html there is considerable evidence that self-submitting your site does little good. Google seems to readily index those sites that are found as links on existing indexed sites. In effect Google is saying that if a site we have already indexed considers your site good enough to link to, we will index your site. If you have to submit your own site, it is not as high of a priority.


How can I tell if I am included in the Google directory?

Simply go to Google.com and type in your name, ie MortgagePromote.com and the www version, (i.e. www.MortgagePromote.com). Your site will show if it has been indexed. Type both versions to make sure you are indexed both for the www and without the www. Google also has a list of why your pages may not be listed, including: pages that are dynamically generated, if you use doorway pages or if your site uses frames. Read more at http://www.google.com/webmasters/2.html


How can I tell if I am included in the Yahoo directory?

Simply go to Yahoo.com and type in both versions of your name, (i.e. www.MortgagePromote.com and MortgagePromote.com). Additionally, Yahoo will show how many results there are for your site. In our case, Yahoo states there are 332 references to MortgagePromote.com (Results 1 - 10 of about 332 for MortgagePromote.com).


I keep hearing I should do PPC advertising with Overture. Just what is Overture?

Overture is the PPC source that returns results in Yahoo, and many other places. By advertising in Overture as a PPC alternative, your ads are displayed to Yahoo. You can sign up for Overture at www.MortgagePromote.com/overture


I think my PPC bill is too high. Are my competitors clicking on my ads to drive my costs up?

The PPC bids for many mortgage related keywords range from $1-10 per click. If you assume you are bidding a $3/click keyword and have just five clicks a day that are fraud, it will cost you $5,500 per year in bad clicks.

The major PPC companies (Overture and Google) have sophisticated click-fraud software. This software looks at the IP address (each user has a unique IP address, just like a license plate of a car) of the person clicking, and how many times the PPC link was clicked on by that IP address and how long the interval was between clicks. In example, if someone visited saw your PPC ad in the morning and clicked on it, then an hour later clicked on it again, it would be considered a valid visit. On the other hand, if there are 30 clicks in 90 seconds all from the same IP address, the click-fraud software should remove those clicks from your billing.


Additionally you can perform your own analysis. Simply access your site logs and look for high repetition of clicks. Also you can look for other possible signs such as average duration on your site on the number of pages viewed per visited. In example if you find that a typical visitor spends 2.5 minutes and visits three pages (both are averages for successful sites), and then find a substantial number of five second, only one page viewed visitors, there may be a problem.

Another way to help fight click-fraud is to install cookies. Discuss this option with your web master.


I already spend money at the Google and Overture PPC programs, what other PPC options should I consider?

There are lesser PPC search engines such as FindWhat.com and 7Search.com. It has been our experience that results from these two options have been substantially less impressive than Google or Overture. After these four PPC search engines, there are very few financially viable options.


How do I get ranked higher in Google?

Inbound linking to your mortgage site can dramatically increase your Google ranking. In short, the more sites that link to you, the higher you generally will be ranked. Google likes to see links from other sites to your sites. Furthermore, Google really likes to see links from "well-respected" sites to your site. In example, a link from a free hosting of Geocities.com or from your teenagers site to your site is not very impressive. But a link from FreddieMac.com or ConsumerReports.org will be worth more than a 500 links from poor to average sites.


How do I get links to my site from other sites?

You ask for links. You find sites that may have a reason to link to you, such as a title or escrow company, or even a trade organization, and offer to exchange links. Ideally if you exchange links, you want your link on their main page and your reciprocal link should be on a page buried deep in your site. You want traffic coming to you, but you don't want your traffic leaving.

When you get a link please note that a link to your site that says something highly descriptive such as "Kansas Home Loans" or "Boise Mortgages" has far greater impact than a link to you that says your company name. The reason why is that Google not only looks at the link to your site, but it considers what the links says. In effect a link with the phrase "home loan" is much better than a link that says "Big John's Brokerage".

Before you go wild on this strategy, please note that Google has implemented penalties for using Spam-like linking techniques such as using a link farm, web rings or blogs. Google will de-list your site if you attempt to use methods that are inconsistent with their terms of service. If you are wondering how Google will find out if you are doing something wrong, rest assured that your competitors will turn you into the Google abuse department so Google technicians can physically visit your site to see if you should be removed.

On Google's site they state, "Google's order of results is automatically determined by more than 100 factors, including our PageRank algorithm."

If you start with the topics listed in this article it should help you begin to get your site found more often in Google and Yahoo.

Rod Aries and Robert Farris are co-founders of MortgagePromote.com, a leading Internet marketing provider to corporate mortgage clients.

For online mortgage leads please visit our mortgage leads page.

Originally published January 2005.

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