June 26, 2009

Your Marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google: BFF?

Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization

You have finally launched a beautiful customer-centric website. Now what?

As traffic flows move from brick-and-mortar storefronts to online locations, it is vital that you stake your claim online. And, as in real estate, there are still three keys: location, location, location.

If you build it, they will come no longer works. With well over 110 million individual websites competing for people’s attention, you need a plan, and some help, to be consistently found by the audience you most care about. One path to success is Search Engine Optimization, a collection of techniques that agencies can implement to give your website, and your marketing, the tools to succeed.

The Web and Google
The web touches almost every demographic. Even 35% of the population aged 65+ is active on the web, with 70% of 50- to 64-year-olds active on the web (AARP, June 2008).

And the web isn’t important only for companies with a national footprint. For finding local products and services, the web is now the leading information source. Search engines just this year edged out print directories as the preferred source for finding local businesses (TMP Directional Marketing, October 2008).

And the number-one place anyone finds anything on the web? Managing close to 70% of all web search requests, Google is the closest thing to a monopoly you will find in any major ad channel. Consequently, shoring up your site’s relationship with Google will put you on the path to search success.

Gone are the days of secret programming tricks to boost search performance. Google, the great equalizer, has thankfully put most of these tricks out to pasture. Sure, link farms do occasionally crop up, and Google is still working out contextual-based search results for video and image content, but the remainder of the search results can be boiled down to a few basic site development techniques and, most important, the use of targeted, relevant content.

Google indexes your site by having automated content indexing programs, or spiders, search and sort web content.

If spiders can’t see your site content for whatever reason, then your site isn’t spiderable. Not good. Since Google controls 70% of search traffic, your products and services will, by default, simply not be available in 70% of those web searches.

Clean Design
You should be thinking about clean site design, judicious use of Flash, HTML-based text, and proper tags. All of this will enable Google’s spiders to effectively index your site. Consider this the bare minimum required for your site to play on the web.

When you’re ready to move beyond bare minimums, though, an agency would enable you to start on things like keyword-rich text, fresh, audience-focused content and inbound links.

Even with proper indexing, only 17% of searchers visit the second page of search results (Jupiter Research, April 2008). First page? The great majority only look at what is referred to as Google’s Golden Triangle (Eyetools, 2006), an eye-opening study showing that 50% of searchers do not look beyond Google’s sixth search result, basically right above the fold. Meaning, if you’re not in approximately the top six, you’re missing 50% of your potential audience.

Fresh Content
Fortunately, a good marketing agency can craft an effective program to boost your exposure in search results through proven marketing techniques.

Keyword-rich text not only benefits your readers, since you are speaking to their actual concerns in terms they use, but Google will more closely tie your content to those terms in search results.

Through in-bound links and fresh content, including blogs, news feeds, press rooms, videos and image galleries, Google will not only view your site as vital, but visitors will see a reason to return. A stagnant website is like a stagnant swamp. Would you really have any reason to return?

The Team Approach
As in business, maintaining preferable search engine market share requires planning, proper execution and perseverance. Through the expertise of a full-service agency, your piece of web property will be ready to grow and prosper. Like having a traditional Main Street storefront location, these techniques can help ensure you traffic along the digital highway that is Google.