Search and Social Media

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Viable Business Models on the Web

On public search engines and online communities, we will spread the word.

Marketing is all about exposure and getting exposure has traditionally been very very expensive. But today, at least on the web, the most effective mechanisms for getting exposure are practically free.

Google and Other Public Search Engines

According to a research study conducted by Millward Brown Optimor in 2008, Google is now the most recognizable brand name in the world and is the most popular website on the internet today. With over 450 million visits per day, Google has become the “first-access gateway” to the web for 34% of all users world wide and is now, arguably, the most significant tool for marketing electronic goods and services online.

Nothing on the Internet even comes close to providing the level of exposure that Google and other search engines can provide. But as in most things on the web, there are caveats. For one thing, your site needs to compete for ranking on search engines against thousands - if not millions - of other sites. Being the third link down on the 8th page of a Google search result is practically worthless, where as making it to the top ten on the first page is worth big bucks.

Search engines, including Google, rank their results based on secret formulae that no one quite knows. However there are things you can do to increase your competitiveness when it comes to search result ranking. These “things” are called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and can be as simple as having descriptive headlines or as complex as building XML Site-maps. The good news is that Cranium Content Publisher automatically takes care of the complicated stuff and all you have to do is follow a set of simple writing guidelines to make sure your content is optimized for Google.

Another important caveat has to do with a technical barrier to content exposure. In order for your site to come up on a search results page, the search engine needs to “read” and store keywords from your pages so it can match them up with a search term when a use performs a search. This process is called “indexing” the website.

Most “for-pay” websites typically require a login before allowing a user to view the content. This requirement for authentication - also called a Paywall - is necessary to ensure non-paid users don’t have access to your for-pay content. But the paywall also prevents search engine crawlers from “indexing” your site. Moreover, most search engines such as Google, don’t like to send users to sites that require a login before showing content to the user.

The Cranium solution for these issues is called Search-Preview and provides several capabilities to overcome the “Paywall” issue. You can select to have search engines index the full text of your articles using a programmatic “hole” in the paywall or alternatively have search engines index a preview or abstract of your content pages.

What a user would see if he/she were to click on your link from the search engine depends on our preference. The system can detect if a user is accessing your site from a search engine result and can display a preview of the “for-pay” content along with various offers to subscribe or log in. Alternatively, you may opt to follow the Google First Click Free model where the system allows users coming from a search engine to access the full text of a for-pay article without paying, for a total of 5 times per day.

Communities and Social Media

Some call it a new phenomenon and others think of it as a new face of an old design. Marketing through communities and social media is simply the process of building a “buzz” within a market where people talk about your products (hopefully in a good way) and pass on information in a peer to peer fashion. Online communities and Social Media sites simply facilitate this process and multiply the “buzz” effect simply by the sheer volume of connections they provide users. A mention of your content by a single Facebook, Tweeter or LinkedIn user will expose your website to all of that user’s “Friends, Followers or Links” and all of their “Friends, Followers or Links”.

That amount of exposure is invaluable and the Cranium Publishing solutions have the built-in features to facilitate them right out of the box.