The first step in tapping into the potential customers online is a website, as already mentioned.
However, the next step is actually being found online, which is the more difficult step, requiring a variety of online marketing techniques to help your site become visible for the people searching for the information it provides.
If you’ve ever done a search on Google, you’ll already know that there is a TONNE of different pages that show up for each search, and in many cases, the initial search you conduct is relatively useless, with too many poor quality results showing up.
Often, searches need to be refined with more keywords to help Google understand what you (or the searcher) is looking for. In fact, according to statistics back in late 2007, internet users who type two words for a search engine query account for 31.9 percent of searches worldwide. Three-word phrases are used for 27 percent of searches. A single word accounts for 15.2 percent of queries, and four words are used for 14.8 percent of searches. [Those numbers have changed since 2007 with 3-4 word searches the most common now, rather than 2 word.]
The challenge with achieving top rankings in Google for keyword phrases that are relevant to your business is the amount of competition from other websites AND the amount of spam (or junk) content that often shows up for legitimate searches but does not help anyone who visits and reviews that content.
There are 2 critical components that make up the majority of effective search functionality:
- Relevance – the degree to which the content of the documents returned in a search matched the user’s query intention and terms. The relevance of a document increases if the terms or phrase queried by the user occurs multiple times and shows up in the title of the work or in important headlines or sub headers.
- Popularity – the relative importance, measured via citation (the act of one work referencing another, as often occurs in academic and business documents) of a given document that matches the user’s query. The popularity of a given document increases with every other document that references it.
In order for your website to achieve high rankings for appropriate keyword phrases, you need your website’s “on-page” components (predominantly the text on the page/s) to be relevant to whatever the searcher is looking for.
In other words, searching for ‘apple iphone’ should NOT bring top search results up that are not about this product.
You wouldn’t expect to find a search listing discussing grizzly bears or australian rules football appearing on pages 1-3 of Google for that search term!
Google is all about providing RELEVANT pages to match the terms searched for.
Popularity refers to the value and number of links (“off-page”, ie, not on your site, external to your site, etc.) pointing at not just your site but specific pages within your site’s hierarchy. The more links pointing to a site/specific page, the more popular Google tends to deem that page, and the higher that page will rank for the keyword/s it has been optimised for.
Without getting complicated and technical, the art or science of improving the rankings of a website’s individual pages (and the site overall) in the search engines is called SEO (short for Search Engine Optimisation).
The most important takeaway from all of this discussion is simply this:
If your website has page/s that rank highly on Search Engines for popular AND relevant keyword search terms, you will get more visitors clicking on your listing within the results, which means more visitors finding your website and (hopefully, if the job has been done properly) more potential customers for your business.
High rankings on Google (the major search engine in Australia, with approx 90% market share) could almost be described as a license to print money for some businesses!
Back in the “old days,” businesses had to advertise and/or have sales people out there spreading the word about your company in order for potential clients to find you (+ obviously retail localities picking up walk-by traffic).
The Yellow Pages and TV/Radio advertising were 3 of the major players in the field back them, simply because they had exposure to such a large share of the public. That’s why YP & TV/Radio advertising is expensive – because it can get to large numbers of “eyeballs”…
These days, most people seeking information about products, services and companies that they are interested in, just “Google it.”
In fact, the term “Google It” has entered our language and shows up in dictionaries, etc. That’s how ubiquitous it has become.
These days, a 30 sec search on Google can find more useful, relevant, helpful information for a potential customer than they could have found in 1 hour using offline methods, even 5 years ago!
So, in order for your business to capture the attention of people online, your website NEEDS to have high rankings for keyword phrases that are relevant to the products/services you offer + the products/services the searcher is looking for.
That’s where SEO comes into the picture – it is a service that helps increase the online visibility of your website for relevant search terms, so that you show up frequently when a potential customer is looking for information.
What business WOULDN’T want 1,000s of visitors exploring their website each month, looking to research and/or purchase the products/services YOU sell?
In the next chapter, I’ll be discussing Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.