Your website is like a billboard in the desert. It doesn’t matter how good it is, if no one sees it, it’s absolutely worthless.
The most common way people find websites in Australia is via Google search engine. Therefore you can expect a large proportion of your website traffic to come from Google.
So you need a search engine marketing strategy to ensure your prospects and customers see a listing for your website when they’re using Google to find information about the types of products or services you sell. There are two ways to do this:
1. Search engine optimisation (SEO)
Wikipedia defines SEO as “the process of improving the visibility of a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid search results.” When people search on Google they generally enter two- or three-word key phrases, such as “buy laptop computer”. Google delivers search results based on what it considers are “relevant” web pages.
There are three important elements of SEO:
i). “On-page” factors are directly related to the content and structure of the website. Placing relevant key phrases in strategic positions on the web page – such as the title tag, meta description, headlines, and sprinkled throughout the text – helps the search engines know what your web page is about.
ii). Having a search engine-friendly site. Search engines catalogue the web using programs called spiders (or bots) which automatically index content. You must ensure the coding of your site allows the Google bot access to all your content.
iii). Inbound links. Google used the number of inbound links to a web page as an indication of its authority. The more inbound links a page has, the greater authority it has. All things being equal, Web pages with greater authority rank higher in the search listings. Google also gives more weight to links from better quality sites.
Inbound links is the most important factor. And it’s also the hardest work.
2. Google AdWords
AdWords is the alternative to SEO for getting your site listed on the first page of Google.
Google show small text ads on the top and right hand side (and sometimes the bottom) of their search results. The ads shown are determined by the key phrase the searcher enters.
For example, if a person searched for “pool cleaners in Sydney”, ads for pool cleaners servicing Sydney would appear alongside the free listings. When a searcher clicks on an ad they are taken to the advertiser’s web page. Advertisers pay only for “click-throughs” i.e. when a searcher clicks on their ad to visit their website. Hence the name “pay-per-click”.
Geographical targeting technology means your ad only appears in the regions you select. So it’s easy to target customers within, say, 20 kilometres of your business.
The fee for each click-through is determined by a bidding system. Generally speaking, to get your ad higher up the listings you must bid more. Obviously, the more people bidding on a particular key phrase, the higher the bids will be. Advertisers control their costs by setting a maximum budget.
The importance of search engine visibility
These days the web is a key information resource for most consumers and business buyers. As Ken Cassar, chief analyst at Nielsen//NetRatings observed, “Web users are conducting more searches not because they can’t find what they’re looking for, but because search as a utility has become deeply ingrained into people’s everyday lives.”
So not having a strategy for making your website visible on Google is one of the biggest mistakes you can make online. If your site doesn’t appear in the first two pages of search results (and preferably the first page) when customers are researching products and services to buy, it opens the door for your competition to steal your business.
Google bring qualified traffic to your site. That’s because people who find your site via Google are actively looking for information on your products and services. SEO and AdWords enable you to build brand awareness throughout the buying cycle – from initial research to purchase. And high search engine rankings create a good impression of your brand.
Things to do
- Create a search engine marketing strategy for your website.
- Use the free Google Keyword Tool to research the key phrases customers use to search for your products and services.
- Develop strategies to get more inbound links for your site.
This post is part 8 of the series Your Website Sucks!