There are two myths that prevent many online companies from pursuing Search Engine Optimization. One is that a successful company with good sales and a solid customer base will not benefit from this strategy. The other is that if you buy a domain, build a site and sit back, then your customers will appear. Neither is true.
The Web is as infinite as the universe, with an overload of information competing for the visitor’s attention. Users now surf with tunnel vision, blocking out the banners, pop ups and advertisements seemingly produced just to annoy.
This means that those companies who are serious about making their online business a success have to turn to methods that will not only attract the visitors, but also ensure that their website is being fully utilised as a marketing tool.
So why is Search Engine Optimization so important? The aim of SEO is to achieve a high listing on search engines. If carried out properly, SEO can make a website more ‘visible’ to search engine users, increasing the traffic and ultimately resulting in a higher ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI) than any other method of acquiring sales leads.
It is perhaps the most beneficial and profitable form of advertising available, strengthening a company’s online presence in a number of ways, such as promoting their brand and product and broadcasting the corporation’s message to a larger target audience and by generating higher sales and tracking the ROI. It achieves a smaller financial outlay than any other form of advertising.
In an offline world, a website that is not marketed would be similar to a shop tucked way in a deserted back street, with no signage, blacked out windows and a padlock on the door. Without promoting itself, it would stand little chance of attracting customers.
How do Search Engines hold the power? Internet Search Engines have become the “Yellow Pages” of the digital age. They are the magnets that can pull out the right ‘needle’ from the virtual ‘haystack’ and place it at your finger tips.
With the sheer volume of information available online and the speed at which it can be delivered, it is, for example, now cheaper and faster to search the Web for a hotel telephone number, rather than call a Directory Enquiries service.
Search Engines cater to a technologically conversant generation, who are constantly sourcing and researching, purchasing and promoting, as part of their everyday lives. This makes them a very powerful and influential tool of the Internet.
When starting a search online, the user enters key words and phrases applicable to the search and then relies on the Search Engines to return a list of sites which are considered relevant and of a required quality. At this stage, the user is not biased and is unlikely to discount a company because its name or product is unknown. The user is now a potential customer.
If the user can find what he is looking for, is given the information he needs to make a judgement call and then given clear instructions on how to contact the company, then that user immediately become a good sales prospect.
This change in attitude means that, for the first time, companies of all sizes and profit margins can compete for the same client base. Even the smallest business can achieve success online if it produces a good quality site with relevant content and then employs SEO techniques.
So a family run bakery, producing cookies for a local market, might believe that selling on a global scale is only for the bigger players. They would of course agree that they cannot afford to lose sales’ leads obtained from web searches, but be under the impression that it is too competitive a market to break into and that it would be too tough for them to gain a top Search Engine ranking. This is, of course, not the case.
In the democratic world of the Internet, all websites, regardless of their content or credibility, are automatically given a place on the Web. Whether a site receives a good placement, however, depends on the marketing strategy used. It is this precise placement which is the make or break factor which dictates the success of a website.
Low ranking and you will pass under the user’s radar – as effective as a neon sign without the plug! Climb to the top of the Google tree, be ranked alongside the leaders in your industry and you will, by the power of association, gain instant credibility. While anyone can pay to advertise on a website, to gain a high ranking through a Search Engine, you must first earn it.
Online companies should also make sure that they are listed on those trade publication’s websites which are relevant to their industry. Often there is no charge to be listed on these online buyers’ guides. Links to other related websites should also be obtained. The concept of the Web is based around networking, to increase the flow of traffic. Without links, the Web would be nothing more than a static telephone directory.
So to answer the question, does Search Engine Optimization equal Return for Investment? Yes, it does.
To make sure that your company stands out above the rest, you must be pro-active and promote your website. When done correctly, SEO can help a website achieve the visibility and presence equivalent to that of a High Street storefront the week before Christmas, with your target audience standing in front of the window, money in hand.
Now what business would say no to that!