Search Engine Marketing

Assuming you have some basic knowledge about digital marketing, you would know there are many factors and channels that contribute to your business success. You can think of them as team players, where each contributes with a different move to help the team scores a goal (or a “conversion” in the digital marketing world).

There are 2 types of conversions; micro and macro… Sometimes the best way to describe something is by giving examples:

Micro Conversions

  • Facebook page like
  • A follow on LinkedIn or Twitter
  • Subscribing to e-newsletter
  • Downloading a product guide

Macro Conversions:

  • Filling an online lead capture form (B2B)
  • Buying a product online (Ecommerce)
  • Calling to enquire about the product/service (which is usually a miss-tracked macro conversion)*

On the last Macro conversion example, you must use a call tracking technology with multiple proxy numbers. Proxy numbers are temporary numbers that you can buy in bulk to track different traffic sources to your online properties. For example, when someone visits your website with a call tracking technology enabled, instead of the visitor seeing the default business phone number, he/she would see a unique number that tracks the source through which has come to your website.

Sorry for digression… Ok, so why it is important to understand and identify conversion types, i.e. Macro vs Micro, and measure them effectively?! Well this an FUQ (Frequently Un-asked Question) but I will explain here… As they say, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – or can’t improve it!

If you don’t define the different types of conversions, then you don’t know what to measure and how to make your online results better!

So, what are the types for conversion measurement tools?

  • Web Analytical Tools (such as Google Analytics)
  • Built in conversion tracking on Ad Platforms (Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook, etc.).
  • Custom tracking codes developed specifically for your website
  • Call tracking codes for phone conversions

The most simple method used by conversion tracking tools (to identify a conversion) is by using what it’s called a conversion pixel. This is a zero size image that gets injected into the HTML code of a web page on which a conversion would happen. When one visits that page, the image loads and is tracked as a conversion by the tracking tool for each load/visit.

So to go back to business, what are the benefits of macro-micro conversion tracking?

Let’s say you are running a B2B business (B2B is business-to-business), and your ultimate macro conversion is online form submissions from lead capture forms. What if you find that 80% of your customers buy your service/product only after subscribing to your weekly newsletter (which you are not measuring as a ‘micro’ conversion, or not measuring at all!). That may lead to changing your content priorities to put more focus on encouraging users to fill-in the newsletter subscription field, instead of trying too hard to ask them to call you or filling an online lead capture form (or adding the product to their shopping cart for ecommerce websites). Also, your CTA (Call to action) will change across the website to make the newsletter subscription more prominent and to have your messaging pointing to it. The same applies to the design of the website, and almost everything else that you have online will be influenced by this important finding!

Now, I hope you start appreciating the need for identifying all conversion types (macro and micro) and measure each one in aggregation (as a team) and in isolation to see how they perform together and independently to lead to your ultimate goals, whatever they might be!

Conversion types can be the most important factor in distributing your marketing budget, by gauging your willingness to spend for each conversion.

Let’s say you have a budget of 10,000 ($, Euro, or whatever the currency you use!), and using the story above, you may chose to allocate at least 80% of that to e-newsletter subscriptions (which is a micro conversion!) instead of killing your self to convince a visitor to contact you, while they would be be more likely to do so if they get kicked first by another player!

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As a consumer, how often do you use search engines for finding the right product?

Imagine you are looking to buy a new smartphone. You enter “smartphone” in the search box. Next, you see all the latest smartphone ads on top mobile websites and you start to compare and perhaps end up making your decision in just a few clicks.
search engine, social media, husam jandal, digital marketing, online marketing, content writing,
Image by pichado photography, Flickr CC
If nothing else, your purchasing decision is mainly governed by what you click and what you read on search results and that’s basically how search engine marketing dominates a consumer’s decision making.
Worst still, search engine marketing and online advertising are so closely connected and what you see on your search is exactly what the seller/advertiser is paying for “to rank high on search results.” I don’t want to get into a messy discussion on what all the online marketers do to rank high on search engines (say, Google). But the fact is in this digital age, “search” gets too much credit, and “displayed results” on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) plays an important role in brand recognition and sales.
In a recent research published by GroupM Search, titled “The Virtuous Circle – The Role of Search and Social Media in the Purchase Pathway,” more than 86% of consumers agreed that “search” was an integral part of their purchase pathway. In another research study, it was found that online reviews – user reviews and product reviews are second only to personal advice from a friend as the driver of purchase decisions of most consumers today.
While I wonder how fair it is to follow social media and read search engine results to make up my mind on a particular product, I somehow feel my purchasing decision is largely standing on the shoulders of search engine giants who are playing with the popular mentality of consumers and striving to appear in front of our faces!
We all know the drill – put the right ad in front of the right user at the right time but the question is – is it really the right way?
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Google Place Search

A localized search in Google, such as one that includes a geographic term like a city, now returns a different layout for displaying its results. This is thanks to Google’s new Place Search feature, a concept that changes the online marketing game for local businesses. Online specialists need to educate business owners and marketing professionals on the new Place Search feature and answer any questions they may have about how these changes affect their online marketing efforts.

Google Places Sample Search "Restaurants in dubai"This new kind of local search organizes information around specific locations making it easier for users to compare places and decide where to go. With the Place Search feature, a local Google search now returns a display that positions a localized map along the right-hand side above the pay-per-click ads (which scrolls down as the user scrolls down) and up to 7 local business listings taking up a fair portion of the “above fold” real estate, thus pushing organic listings down the page.

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This is a necessities for every organization, company, or institution in the region to have its own website. Be it a small mid cap firm or a big business house with an annual turnover in millions of dirhams, having a website is a must for everyone. Some of those who did not have one till now are either in denial, or under the process of building one.
But before building a functional website, the first step is to book a domain in one’s name. And, a company in the region would naturally want to have a domain denoting its geographical location. Most organizations in this region are therefore have started opting for local domain extension such as ‘.ae’, ‘.sa’, ‘.om’, ‘.qa’, etc. This is taken as a representative of the firm’s country.

These nationalized domain names and their localized extensions like .ae denoting United Arab Emirates are referred to as ccTLD standing for ‘country code top level domain.’

Advantages Of .ae Extension
There are a lot of advantages of opting for a local domain. Some of which include:

  1. The localized extensions of the domain names confer a more professional look to a business house and / or a company.
  2. It would also demonstrate the organization’s commitment to its target audiences.
  3. A company located in UAE would definitely target the local market. A local extensionwould maximize the online visibility of the company.

Thus .ae domain may serve as a good opportunity for a business man, a local company, and/or international institution to attract clientele in United Arab Emirates. Not only this, but registering for .ae extension would also seem more proximal to the residents of the UAE. Such domains would also attract the attention of the advertisers. For the advertisements of local products or services can find no better place than these websites.

Advantages Of .com Domain Name
This has been observed over and over again that anyone wanting to make a website on any topic would always seek a .com version of domain names.
And the only reason for this is that .com has become more popular, being the very first version of domain name. It is a common practice among internet users nowadays to suffix .com after every search they type in the address bar.

Maggie, a popular FMCG product was the first ever food item that could be cooked in less than 5 minutes. Its taste and ease to prepare naturally attracted consumers and it became extremely popular with in no time. Thereafter, a lot of companies launched such easy to cook noodles but no brand name could enable the users to distinguish it from Maggie. For the masses, all easy to cook noodles became MAGGIE.

Similarly, the .com domain name also gained a widespread popularity owing to its first impression among the internet friendly people. It was way later that they realized domain names can be very location specific.

.ae versus .com or .net
From a marketing and branding standpoint for a business, .ae domains would definitely be much better for companies and institutions based in the UAE. Here are some reasons for the same –

  • Size Matters: A golden rule in the world of internet is that size of a domain name does matter. The smaller the name, the better it is so it will be easy to be remember, easy to brand, and rules out the possibilities of typos, and so, on.
  • Enhanced Relativity To Local Businesses

Just like the related keywords enhance search engine rankings, similarly .ae domain could be able to help the consumer relate to the firm.

Recent News
As reported in the month of October, 2009, the registrations of .ae domains have observed a 30 percent hike. The telecom regulators reported that most of these registrations took place from Dubai.

In a recent discussion, the Telecommunication Regulation Authority officials told Emirates Business that the former believes this growth to have been caused by a new policy framework thereby putting an end to a sheer non-monopolistic environment prevalent amongst the registrars.

“In the period [August 2008 to August 2009], the number of new registrations increased by 30 per cent compared to the corresponding period the year before. There are more registrars [no monopoly] providing .ae domain name registration. Customers have the choice to select their registrar as competition leads to better service. The registration process brought online has also made it easier,” said TRA.
As a result, even the ccTLDs for Mid East countries also rose globally by 14 percent during 2009’s second quarter. And this growth is over 74.4 million extensions of various domain names.

Registrations Regulations For .ae Extensions
Registrations for the local domain names are only allowed at the second or third level at the unrestricted or restricted zones respectively. In the years 1995 to 2003, commercial entities used to use ‘’ extension which was thereon denigrated by UAEnic in the latter year. The authority preferred the use of second-level registrations for all sorts of commercial usage.

The existing domains with such extensions were however permitted to be retained at the sole discretion of the user.

It was five years later, in 2008, that the .ae extension got re-delegated to TRA. Following this, new policies were published by the .aeDA. The policy entailed that ‘’ extension was only introduced for the commercial companies operating at the local levels. Moreover, it also implied that this extension is related to the name of the business and is known to the clientele too.

Following is a list of extensions that denote the organizations who can get them registered –
.ae – All types of companies and business organizations – Companies already having a website under the said extension – Available only for the network providers – Can be registered by the ministers or the government only, and so on

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