So, you think you’ve got a killer online marketing strategy? You’re up-to-date on the latest in SEO, you’ve got PPC and Facebook advertising campaigns galore and you’re writing thoughtful and relevant blogs to promote your brand. That’s great! But if you’re still not seeing the results you want for your business, maybe it’s time to dig a little deeper into what categories of searches consumers are making and how their use of various search engines can affect the success of your online marketing strategy.
Advances in Medicine are common and Doctors always need to be aware of recent changes that benefit patients. Should they be “aware” of Social Media?
Software robots called ‘spiders’ browse through millions and millions of web sites and pages and index important words and where they find these words. The next step in the process is building the index…or spiderweb if you really want to go with the spider thing. I don’t, so we’ll stay on track.
You will hear a lot of talk about SEO on our blog because we’re online marketing aficionados. This stuff is not just our job — it is our passion. It is what we think about at night. It is the topic that occupies a piece of our minds day in, day out, like a continuously-running ticker tape — What will change next in the world of SEO? How can we adapt our practices to anticipate these changes? How can we adjust SEO strategies to generate the best results for our clients?
In all the flurry of SEO-related thoughts that fly through our brains, we sometimes forget to take a step back and consider SEO from the standpoint of a small business owner. Though well-versed in their respective industries — whether they be lawn and garden experts, health club owners, or attorneys — a small business owner will not know the ins and outs of SEO like we do.
It all starts with Search Engines. There are numerous search engines, hundreds in fact. The main four are: Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask. For any search engine, the person searching is the customer. Providing the customer with the most relevant results from the web is the search engines primary function. To achieve this end; search engines build an index of the web by crawling the entire world wide web. They do this to build a searchable index ready to provide results for searchers. The search engines need to be able to calculate the relevance and ranking to produce the most relevant and useful results from the index. Optimization of web pages, documents etc for ranking position has become known as Search Engine Optimization.
Crawling to Index
There are hundreds of millions of websites; how do the search engines get around to index them all? They have a method to crawl each and every website, page, pdf and image. Search engines get around the web using links. Bots, spiders, crawlers (or whatever) work their way around the web using the link structure. If you are imagining a spider web you are not far away. This is a really random spider web with stops all over the place and it does not have a true center. These interconnected links provide the opportunity for the search engines index the billions of documents.
The link structure interconnecting the web serves to bind it together in a way which allows the search engines to find every document/page (assuming they can be crawled). The next part of the process is to store the gathered information so they can be searched. To achieve this huge undertaking the search engines have huge data-centers at cities around the world. There are literally thousands of massive machines processing information at an incredible rate. The speed and quality of these machines combined with the depth of the indexing allows a complex algorithm to be used in returning results in a fraction of a second. So go ahead and try a search………….
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.
If you’re not using Google Authorship to help your website get more traffic from Google, maybe it’s time you took a closer look. Google Authorship made its debut at the end of 2011 and since then we’ve seen an increasing number of established bloggers and companies embracing its benefits. Let’s take a look at Authorship and how it can help your website SEO.
Stand out in Google Search
Google Authorship is visually appealing and it’s not hard to recognize an author who takes advantage of it. You can see how this works in the search result example below. When given the choice many people lean towards visual content. With Authorship, your Google+ profile image is displayed along with the links to your content. This is a great way to make yourself stand out in a sea of competitive search results.
Establish Google Authority
Google Authorship can also be an excellent tool for building a loyal following of readers. When you put your face out there for people to see, they begin to associate it with the topics you are known to discuss. This small visual element helps to establish you as authority in your field. By doing so, you are also building a sense of trust, which separates you from the millions of anonymous creators who are competing in the same search results. Once people become familiar with seeing your face in the search results they will be more inclined to click your links because you’re a face they can trust.
Increase Click Through Rate
You’ll notice that Google Authorship comes with a special author byline. Clicking on the authors name will take you directly to their Google Plus profile. Clicking on the More By link will take you to a mini search result focused on related content that the author has produced. These features give additional opportunities for people to click through and learn more about what you have to offer.
When a person clicks your link in the search results and then uses the back button to return to the results, Google assumes they would be interested in more of your content. The results will then be dynamically modified, showing links to even more content from an author and encouraging the visitor to immediately return back to your website.
Setting Up Google Authorship
The first step is to create a Google+ profile, if you don’t already have one. Make sure to select a great image for your profile pic and then Verify AuthorShip. Google does not guarantee your profile image will always be displayed in Web & News search results. It also might take some time before your image begins to appear. So, once you’re finished make sure that everything is setup correctly by using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool. This tool will give you a preview of how your new listings will eventually appear in the search results.
When I see search engine firms promise #1Rank in search results, I cringe. They are giving us all a bad name. Social search has made it difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee rank to any business. With search results so individualized, it is possible for two people to type in the same search term and come up with completely different results.
In the beginning, it was just about getting your information on the web. Then keywords were all the rage. Then we entered the world of content. And although content still reigns supreme, relevant content from your social connections is the new variable.
Google has made it possible to individualize search results. “Your Social Search experience is personal and the highlighted content that you see is unique to you and your social connections. Your social connections could include people in your Gmail, public friends on sites like Twitter or Flickr and public friends of these friends. Google is not just giving you the best results, but they are giving you the best search results for you.
What does this mean for business? It means social media, reviews, social bookmarking and commenting are all effecting search and are all becoming increasingly important. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses have to incorporate their prominence in their social media strategy.
In my opinion, it not only makes search better, but it makes businesses better. The quality of your web content has to be better, you don’t achieve prominence with bad content. The product or service a business provides has to be better, reviews influence purchase.
So next time somebody promises a #1 rank in search results, ask them, #1 for who? And remember in the end rank doesn’t matter, results do.
Entrepreneur Paul Allen recently predicted 400 Million Google + users by the end of this year, 2012. This is an astounding estimate considering the six-month old site had roughly 60M users as of December and if this proves true it would equal half the 800M users Facebook claims.