Move Up in the Google World
How to satisfy your number one customer
In the offline world, people can drive by your business, see your sign and decide to check out what you have to offer. The online environment is different. People do not drive by Web sites—search engines do.
By far, Google is the number one search engine, handling 65 percent of searches. This means that Google is your number one customer, and if Google cannot find you, no one else will.
“Some businesses think that just building a Web site is all that is necessary for an effective online presence,” says Josh Dahmes, president of Risdall Online Marketing Group, a locally owned company that helps clients increase their online visibility. “While there is something to be said for completing a Web site, that effort is meaningless if you are trying to attract new customers and your site does not show up in the first three pages of Google results.”
After all, more than 60 percent of people do not go past the first page of search results and more than 90 percent don’t go past page three; they end up refining their search instead.
So how does one move up in the Google world of search rankings? There are several steps that you can take through search engine optimization, or SEO. First, focus on the content of your Web site. Most small businesses run into content problems, often putting only a brochure up on their Web site. More content than that is necessary. When writing content for your Web site, remember to have a balance between writing for search results and writing for your customers.
Second, Dahmes recommends thinking about how your target audience would be looking for you. “Consider the search terms that they would use to find your site as well as the terms that they would use to find items once on your site,” he says. “It’s important to ensure that your Web site content is tailored to the needs of your users.”
Next, make sure that other Web pages are linking to yours. There are large numbers of business directories that can be submitted to for free. Getting a link in the Yahoo! Directory is still very powerful. Getting links through online press releases, social media engagements, and creating and submitting articles of your own proves very successful at generating incoming links to your Web site as well.
Finally, Dahmes says that it is important to track Web site statistics with an analytics package. “Analytics software such as Google Analytics can show you where visitors are coming from, what pages they are viewing and if they are converting,” he says. “At the end of the day, while traffic is important, it is the conversions that really matter. Sales, leads, registrations, memberships, etc., is the real goal. Eyeballs are great. Customers are better.”
These four steps focus on organic search, which accounts for more than 80 percent of search engine traffic. Moving up in search results through organic efforts is a process that can take from three to 12 months, depending on the level of competition and the amount of changes made to the Web site.
Need to make a faster impact? Try paid search, also known as sponsored search or pay-per-click, which provides instantaneous results, but accounts for less than 20 percent of search engine traffic. Paid search results show up as sponsored links in Google.
“Paid search makes sense for every company,” says Dahmes. “It’s perfect for campaigns that have a specific start and stop date, allows for geographic targeting on a very detailed level, offers complete budget control and is fully measurable.”
Whether your company uses organic or paid search efforts, or a combination, engaging in search marketing is necessary because people get a first impression of your company based on its Google presence, especially if you are nowhere to be found.
The Risdall Online Marketing Group team has been helping clients optimize their online visibility since 1997, prior to the birth of Google in 1998 and before pay-per-click (PPC) programs were available. The primary goals of ROMG are to optimize client Web sites to improve visibility, increase traffic and help convert that traffic into the desired response.
Does it work? Do a Google search on “advertising agency” and see what comes up in the top five listings. To learn more, visit www.risdall.com or follow Josh on Twitter (@jdahmes).
For more information on DCTC marketing and sales courses, please contact me at email@example.com, or visit www.dctc.edu. To maximize your educational ROI, visit www.dctc.edu/business-industry/roi.cfm.