Much of our time these days is around building websites for clients that ‘GET FOUND’.
In many respects, it’s never been more difficult. Competition is high for all sectors and keywords with millions of sites found. Any success comes from a complex art of on-site and off-site strategies. And when you talk to the ‘experts’, few agree on what works best. There is no single magic fix. Just hard work. However with Google sending most sites 60-70% of their traffic, the need for business to appear on Page one of Google is dire.
Typically, 60-70% of traffic to most websites comes via GOOGLE
The good news though is that there are more ways to be found online today. Optimising your own website for SEO and building up links, which is the ‘traditional’ way is but one strategy. The fact is, when deciding where to place your business on the search page Google not only looks at your website, but many other places too, plus their own advertising outlet..
Here’s six ‘channels’ Google provides you to appear on a search page. Smart businesses will use all six.
1. Google AdWords
The obvious choice. Googles ‘pay per click’. Here, you’re paying to buy your position.
Many companies ignore this as they want to ‘save money’ and mistakenly believe that organic (your website) search is all they need. Many SEO gurus make a good living out of helping customers get a high organic search result and discourage clients from using AdWords. The reason is two-fold. Firstly, they can’t get as much margin out of it. Secondly, the belief that paying for Google Ads is wasteful. Organic search is somehow ‘enough’.
AdWords is critical. Here’s my video case study from an SEO colleague in Brisbane. His talk covers Yellow vs Google, however what’s important is to note the high proportion of leads coming via AdWords, even though he also lists high for organic, being leads from his website. I’ve similar examples here in NZ too with traffic coming via Adwords being 30-40% of the total! And contrary to popular belief, this is usually new traffic. Research says that AdWords traffic takes few clicks away from your organic or direct traffic. It adds to it…
Most forget that your Adwords promotions can also appear within Youtube, gMail and as AdSense ads across hundreds of related websites.
Think Local Newsprint Display Ads
Adwords is also very powerful and flexible compared with the other options below. Think of it as a display ad, not just a branding exercise or bringing in traffic. i.e. When you run a promotional ad in the local newspaper for a new product line or special offer.
What’s not realised by most people, is you can now do the same with Google AdWords, since it can now be targeted and ‘delivered’ electronically to local areas (Google announcement and example). This is possible since Google ‘knows’ where you are via your ISP details and/or IP address. For those on mobile, built-in GPS or the cell tower ID helps determine your location.
This reduces the costs and makes it even more effective for local promotions. Unlike print, results are immediate and measurable. Unlike print, you can modify the ad every day, fine tuning the message, budget and outcome. It can also be used in a guerrilla marketing campaign too, effectively stealing leads from your competitors. This video shows some ideas and tricks from SEO super-guru Bruce Clay last year in an informal pub talk on ‘Where SEO fits’.
2. Website SEO (Organic)
Your website is important, but it needs to be marketed, both online and offline. Many expect that their new website will somehow ‘magically’ attract traffic, simply because it looks nice and Google will kindly index it, sending you hundreds of leads each week/month. This never happens now. Your website must be promoted, requiring effort and a monthly budget.
Many expect that their website will ‘magically’ attract traffic
The cheapest method simply involves regular updates of fresh content. Google ‘likes’ websites that have fresh, interesting, relevant content. I’ve seen beautiful looking websites from multi-nationals that are little more than a static brochure with no content changed in the last 12 months. Google will regard these businesses as ‘dead’ and seldom display them, meaning little traffic – Regardless of what the site originally cost or how pretty it looks.
Site content also needs to be displayed on your site in a manner that the Googlebot prefers, tending to things like site structure, friendly urls, H1, H2 tags, use of keywords throughout the articles, meta descriptions, an xml sitemap, etc. Be aware some website platforms are bad at this and may also create a lot of ‘noise’ in the Google index. Migrating your website to the WordPress CMS platform will fix this.
Off-site SEO is important too. This is backlinks (link building) from other reputable sites that boost your authority and page ranking. Sometimes just writing articles or making comments on related industry sites is all that’s needed. However it’s a long term process.
3. Google Maps
Google did a major upgrade in mid 2010 to integrate local search and its maps into the search page. Now, when someone does a location-based search, Google attempts to find those businesses within their area and presents the results, along with a map. It’s like a mini webpage high up on page one with your key business details like address, phone numbers, services etc. You don’t even need to have a website to appear here, although it helps…
There are many tricks to be shown high on the page, since just ‘claiming’ your listing does nothing in terms of where you are placed in a search result. But this effort aside, it’s essentially a free service from Google. Great for ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses who need a fast-track to the top of page one.
4. Third Party Directories
You’ll often see links to directories on Google. Finda, Zenbu, NZSearch, Hotfrog, Yellow and a dozen others. Too often they link to general categories, which aren’t that useful. But sometimes will actually display your website directly if your descriptions and details are a good match for the search phase. These lesser directories, even those that have low traffic, actually act as citations to boost your Google maps placement, which is good.
5. Facebook Pages
Even though Facebook is often perceived as the enemy of Google, Facebook business pages now often show up in a Google search. Facebook is also the perfect forum to engage with customers who have purchased your product or services. It’s referral capabilities are impressive. There’s ample tools that help interlink your Website with Facebook, assisting traffic and customer engagement.
6. Youtube & LinkedIn
Last but not least, listings seen in Google often display Youtube and LinkedIn listings. These ‘social’ channels are another source of information about you and further raise your online profile and credibility. It’s foolish to ignore them.