Just because you have a website it doesn’t automatically mean that people will come and visit it especially if they can’t find you.
The main way that people find you online is still via the search engines. Without a website you don’t exist. Without a search strategy you exist, but you are invisible.
Google isn’t the only search engine. There are others such as Yahoo and Bing but Google is the one that really matters. In fact Google has become so powerful that it is now a verb and is synonymous with searching for information on the Internet.
Nor is Google the only way people search for what they want online. People also search on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social sites, but being on these sites will make you more visible on Google.
The principles in this article apply to all search engines but the main aim is to pay particular attention to improving your visibility in Google.
Search Engine Marketing and how Google Works
Google is the biggest search engine in the world. It does two things:
- It crawls the Internet looking for web pages. It then indexes them in a vast catalogue. In the old days businesses had to manually submit their sites to the search engines but now it all happens automatically. Google will find your pages via incoming links from websites that are already indexed. This is one of the reasons why you want other sites to link back to yours.
- It also decides which are the best pages to send its users who are searching for specific information. It decides both the best match for the search engine query and the ones that have the best rank. Getting your sites ranked highly is the hard part and this is what Search Engine Marketing (SEM) will do for you.
The decision making algorithm that decides which pages are the best ones to send the search engines users to is based on two things: relevance and authority.
The relevance of a page to the search query is simply based on keywords used to perform the search. For example somebody might be looking for a dentist. But since there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of pages that match that keyword, Google then ranks them in order of authority using its PageRank algorithm.
To put it simply, the more links there are from other websites to your website, the more authority your website has.
However, not all links are equal: an incoming link from a website that itself as a lot of incoming links carries more weight that an incoming link from one that has few or none.
How Search Engine Marketing Works
Online marketing is all about making your site easy for customers to find. Search engine marketing is about making your site easy to on Google and other search engines by increasing the position of your search engine results pages (SERPS). This is done using three methods:
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) which is basically making your site more attractive to Google.
- Paid advertisements (e.g. Google Adwords)
- Attracting in-bound links such as article marketing.
The good news is that the first of these methods, SEO, is not only free but it is also the most effective. If you can increase your natural or organic search engine rankings (i.e. without paying for them, people are more likely to click on your links.
Like so much in the online marketing world, one of the best ways to encourage links to your website is to create great content. Blogs in particular really help push up your search engine rankings.
Why Search Engine Marketing Works So Well For Business
How many times have you looked for something on Google in the last 7 days? How many other people out there are searching right now for the products or services that you provide? How many of them will find your website?
Most people don’t get past page one of the search engine results delivered by Google so getting a high placement on this page is critical to driving search engine traffic to your site.
It is true that you can pay to be on page one of Google search but Google still selects the results it thinks will be most appropriate to the person searching for a specific product or service. This is important to Google as it needs to maintain its credibility and deliver the most relevant results possible so that the users finds what they are looking for very quickly.
For example, if you have just launched your website for your interior design business and no one is linking to it yet, Google assigns a low authority to your web pages. If you start to blog, each post is a new page for the Google to index. Home improvement bloggers may find you and start linking to your posts. This will increase your authority and your position on Google. Then if a home interiors magazine such as House Beautiful decides to link to your site you authority will skyrocket because this site is a high ranking website with lots of incoming links.
Google is of course, a global site but your business doesn’t have to be global to benefit from it. People can choose to restrict their search results to their own country for a start.
But what if you are really local and only want to serve your local community? What, if for example, you were a plumber who wants to focus on local work in your own town and the surrounding area?
The traditional marketing approach would be to advertise in the local newspaper and perhaps print flyers.
But a plumber is the sort of service you only really need when you need it. It is not an impulse purchase. This means that you have to do repeat advertising every week in the local paper as well as distribute thousands of flyers in order to get your phone number in front of your potential customers when they need you. That works out very expensive.
Instead, if you have a website, people can Google you, the first port of call for many of us when we need to find a product or service.
Make sure that the locations you serve are plainly displayed on your website. This will help Google to deliver the right results for the searches relating to your town and plumbers, or whatever business you are in.
Get Up To Speed with Search Engine Marketing
There are three things that you can do to get your SEM off to a great start:
- Optimise your website
- Create a Google Adwords campaign
- Social Media
Optimise your website
You can get a naturally high ranking for free, simply by making sure that your website is as optimised as possible for search engines. SEO (Search engine optimisation) had a bad name in the early days of the web because people were seen as abusing the system and trying to trick Google into giving you a high ranking.
Google is wise to that now and is a lot more sophisticated. They come down heavy on any website that attempts to cheat the system by hiding keywords invisibly on your website or any of the other blackhat methods.
It is counterproductive anyway because you don’t simply want traffic because you are top of the Google list. You want people to visit your website because what you have to offer is relevant to what people are searching for.
Google delivers the results that are the best match for its searchers and you will get visitors that are genuinely interested in buying from you. It is a win-win situation.
The first step is to make sure your website contains the right content and code for Google to know that your site is relevant to people searching for specific keywords.
Things to particularly pay attention to are:
- Page titles: Ensure that you give each page its own unique and descriptive title.
- Page descriptions: These show up in Google search results rather than on your site and it provides the potential visitor more information about your site.
- URL’s: make sure they include keywords (e.g. www.DiapersForPoodles.com). Blogs are great for this as the title of a blog post usually shows up in the URL.
- Website Content: Think about the headings you use in articles and the text you use as links. Choose something descriptive instead of simply the words ‘Click Here’, Have something like “To find out to lose a dress size in a week click here”. Also, don’t forget to tag your images with text. Google will be able to see this but not your visitors.
Create a Google Adwords Campaign
Google Adwords is an example of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. It is just as the name suggests: Each time someone clicks on one of your ads that show up on the ads section of the Google results page, you pay a small fee.
You may prefer to focus on boosting your natural search results for free with SEO but it is worth trying Adwords even if it is just for a short while, particularly when you are launching a new website and have no traffic or whenever you launch a new product or service that you want raise awareness of.
Once you have signed up for your Adwords account you can start creating your first campaign. Choose your ad text, the keywords you want to target (i.e. which search queries do you want Google to display you ad in response to?), and decide what your maximum bid is for those keywords.
You can choose how much you pay and set a daily budget. However you need to bear in mind that the whole system is a live auction, and someone may outbid you for a higher price, particular with very popular keywords. It is also possible that a keyword will suddenly become very popular and the cost per click (CPC) will go up.
You get a very limited number of words for your ad, so choose them carefully. You can also set up multiple variations of the same ad and test them against one another to see which one performs the best.
Use Social Media to Increase Search Engine Placements
A blog is one of the best ways of increasing your search engine results: you create more pages for Google to index and more content that people will want to link to.
Other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. LinkedIn and Google+ are all effective for promoting your website and boosting your search engine rankings.
Don’t underestimate the power of social media to help you to be found, not just on the social media sites themselves, but within Google. Having a presence on social sites helps people to find your business, even if they don’t use these sites themselves.
Calling In the Experts
Although they find the idea of having a high ranking profitable website to be very exciting, a lot of small businesses find the whole process of search engine marketing to be rather daunting, particularly the Adwords side of the business.
Others have attempted to do it themselves but found that it is very time-consuming and it was taking their focus and attention of running their normal, offline business.
To get quick and profitable results it is sometimes best to call in the experts who have a lot of experience and quickly set up profitable Internet marketing campaigns. These experts know how to optimise websites so that the search engines can easily discover the site and start to rank it while you concentrate on running your business.
We have a lot of experience helping local businesses like yours to make an impact online with a profitable and effective online marketing campaign.
If you are unsure which direction to take or would like to talk to the experts please contact us for a no-obligation chat and we will see how we can help your business.