When launching your small business startup, you likely know you need a strong web presence, but you’re lost on where to start. Have no fear, Turn The Page Online Marketing is here! We’ve prioritized the steps you need to take while establishing your business startup’s presence in the online marketing world.
Your business has a website and it looks great (or at least you think so). Customers say they like it as well. What is with this optimization thing? Why should I optimize my business website? It all starts with what you want your website to achieve. Local business websites generally fall into two categories:
The website that serves existing customers.
The first requires little or no optimization. Existng customers know the business, they probably already have the website address from a business card or email. Generally the lack of competition for the search phrase that is a business name means that a “search by name” will bring up the business website. A website that serves existing customers is both easy to maintain and unrewarding.
The website that serves existing customers and generates new customers.
This type of website is different. It takes understanding and consistent effort. To understand some of what it takes you can review the lesson content in our online marketing training. In January 2007 there 106,875,138 websites on the internet. In January 2011 there were 273,301,445 websites. That is 156% growth in just four years. This growth makes it more difficult than ever to get found online by people looking for your products or services. The need to optimize is greater than ever and optimization is getting more complex.
Optimizing your website is essential for driving new customers. When a search is conducted for anything online, it causes the search engine of choice to query the database of billions of web style documents. In truth it is similar to a standard database query just extremely more complex. From this query the search engines want to focus on three areas:
The search engines use these matrix to return results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query, The results are ranked in order of importance. It is all three components that the process of search engine optimization is designed to influence.
If you want to gain new customers search engine optimization is a critical component of any local business marketing plan.
Some of my fondest childhood memories involve playing hide and seek on late summer evenings. We would gather all of the neighborhood kids as the sun began to set and play a great game of hiding and searching for one another in the dark. My parents chose wisely when they bought a house that backed up to a city park; it set the stage for many amazing nights when several of us didn’t only play a fun game of hide and go seek, but created memories that we still look back upon with great nostalgia.
Although I happen to look back at my childhood with great fondness of the hide-and-go-seek game, there’s a reason that we eventually outgrow the game as we become adults, and especially business owners. The last thing that we want to be doing as a business owner is “hiding” from our clients – and not being able to be found when they begin “seeking” out our services.
Why Internet Marketing is Imperative to Business
Although it’s impossible to track the number of websites there are at any given point, so far in August of 2011, Netcraft has tracked 463,000,317 websites. Thousands of new domains are registered each day, not to mention blogs, Facebook users and the quickly-growing Google + user database. If anything is growing at a rate of lightening speed, it’s the online marketplace.
While this fast growth is exciting, and especially for Kansas City SEO experts like ourselves, it’s also a good indicator that businesses must adapt in order to be found. With millions of websites out there, it’s more important than ever to not only have a website, but make sure your site can be found. It’s one thing for people to know your website address, but to grow your business, you really need people to find your site via search engines.
Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines
“Optimizing” your website is a term that refers to actions you take to make Google, Yahoo, and Bing! (search engines) find your website. This is a full strategy that includes copy writing, business listings, blogging, press releases, user reviews and much more. Your site won’t be found if you don’t utilize these growing tools and tactics on your website. Your site may be used by people who’ve already given their loyalty and know how to find you, but it won’t be found by those looking for what you do via Google and online search.
It’s Worth the Time and Resources to Optimize your Website
Optimizing your site is a matter of education. Learn how to market your website so that it can be found on search engines. Or, hire a team to optimize your website for you if you don’t have extra time to learn it yourself. Either way, allocating your resources for Internet marketing is worth it. We know how the “cobbler’s kids don’t have shoes,” struggle goes, and we know that it’s hard to find time to work on your business when you’re pouring into your clients. But, I guarantee that just like those long nights of hide-and-go-seek in the dark brought me cherished memories and no regret, you’ll experience the same feeling when you pour your resources into online marketing and watch your business grow.
So for today’s Google Christmas, we’ve picked a controversial and often misunderstood subject – keywords. Did you ever have a Christmas where there was a particular item that you really, really wanted and you could hardly wait to open your presents on Christmas morning? Have you ever received nice gifts, but it just wasn’t what you had dreamed, wished, and hoped for? Do remember the disappointment? Well, that same disappointment is exactly what Google is trying to avoid when a user types in a search term and they don’t get the results they were looking to receive.
Remember that Google’s “customer” is the searcher. When you type in a search for “Betty’s Home Cooking Restaurant,” you don’t want to get results for “Bob’s Deep Fried Cooking” across the street. Years ago when people were first starting to learn about keywords, some devious people used a tactic where they would put in their competitor’s name in their keywords. They also started keyword stuffing (putting tons of keywords into this field). And for all those reasons, they were put on Santa’s naughty list…I mean Google stopped using the keyword field as part of its algorithm of results. Bing and Yahoo do still use keywords as a small part of their algorithm, but it does not play a significant role.
Why worry about keywords?
So why are we talking about three keywords? Good question. There are two reasons; first, keywords can be used as a strategy that helps you focus on the content of any single page on your website. Secondly, Google Analytics and Google Places both show you the keywords (or keyword phrases) that were entered by the searcher when they clicked on the link to your website. Let’s break these two items down separately.
Using keywords to create strategic content
Part of the way that Google determines how relevant your site is to the searcher is by looking at a combination of your page titles, your meta description and the content on your web page. One of the best ways to keep this all consistent is choose three keywords for your page (what is this page going to be about), and work the rest of your content around those three keywords strategy.
Google also provides some great tools for determining your keyword strategy in their external keyword search tool (free and available to anyone). This will help you determine the most highly searched terms on a monthly basis.
If you find that the keywords you have chosen for your page cannot be consolidated to three keywords, you may have too many different topics on your web page and we would recommend starting a new page to cover the different types of content.
Analyzing your keyword search results
In Google Analytics (and in Google Places) you have the ability to see the keywords that users entered when they clicked on the link to your site. You can use this information to better optimize your web pages.
For example, if you notice that customers are only coming to your website if they know your name, then you have some serious optimization work ahead of you. Ideally your top keywords should not be your company name, but rather the products or services that you are offering. Speaking of which, if any optimization company tells you that they can get you to the first page of Google and they do it by optimizing your company name – BEWARE! People who already know your company name should not be the audience you are primarily targeting. You need to reach NEW customers!
Thanks to Google Analytics (and Google Places) you have the ability to know exactly how people are searching for and finding your website. So don’t disappoint your potential customers on Christmas morning (or any other day of the year), target your customers through proper page keyword strategy and enjoy the results of your hard work and planning!