We were meeting with a client today and the subject was SEO and keyword research for a lot of the meeting. During the meeting, I realized, again, that many businesses still don’t understand how to properly rank their business in the search engines. Most guess and dabble and completely miss the mark. Actually, I’ve known this for a long time but today was just another episode in a long line of meetings that cemented my belief. So, I thought I would write about it and try to help point you in the right direction if you decide to market your own website.
On a side note, I noticed today that Nielsen reported that 44% of small businesses STILL do not have a website. That is an impressive number. Actually, that number has greatly improved over recent years but that is still not the biggest kicker. Out of all the small businesses that have websites, half of them spend less than 10% of their advertising budget online. Now, that is more than appalling.
What this means to me is that there are a lot of people out there that are either afraid of online advertising or they simply don’t know how to go about it – that’s normally where we come in but it’s possible for you to do the basics.
I’m definitely not saying that I know everything – because I absolutely don’t – but, I know that marketing on the internet can be very affordable – and can be – the most effective means of advertising available. No other medium – that I’m aware of – will empower you to pay only per targeted customer sent to you (PPC), or get yourself positioned in front of every potential customer that searches for what you do – for free. (SEO/Search Engine Optimization/Marketing)
Start with research
So, back to my meeting today. What we discussed was the vast array of word combinations that people can potentially use when searching for you online. My initial question of course was “So what do you think people type in to find you”? Of course, that question made my point once the client stopped to think about it. There are endless combinations. (Ex. Lawyer, Attorney, Law Firm or Car Dealer, Auto Dealer or Automotive Sales) Once you start adding in locations, specialties, mixing and matching words, etc. you’ll quickly find that you have a huge list of possible combinations to target. Hopefully, you’re starting to get my point that this can quickly become very complex. You simply can’t guess.
So, where do you start? There are many services out there – pay and free – that will allow you to do this research. Google provides one of the more popular services for free but there are many more that will accomplish the job. We subscribe to several services that help us “mine” this information for you and it returns total search volume for terms, information on how competitive the phrases are, etc. so based on this information we’re able to narrow down our lists and start to build a game plan. It’s usually very eye-opening. Honestly, I believe this simple, first step is where most people go wrong.
Now, there are obviously more elements to the equation that are very important like where to put the keywords on your page, properly programming your site, properly creating links to your site, within your own content, and maintaining the right balance and combinations of keywords within your content, etc. Again, this is where we can come in and it can pay big dividends to let a professional do the job for you. Sometimes you can do things that end up hurting your rankings if you’re not aware of what can hurt you. This is not meant to scare you – just make sure that you do your research and cover the basics. Don’t try to trick the search engines by stuffing your content with keywords, trying to hide keywords on your page or in your code. These are considered black hat SEO tricks and they’re not tolerated by the search engines. It’s never worth the gamble.
What you need to come away with here is that you must learn how to be found and do the proper research. You can’t guess when marketing online. You may think that you know how your customers and clients will find you but in the end, they’re in control. Do some research and you just might be surprised with the results. You just might double the revenue that comes through your online marketing next year too if you put the right foot forward.
Sanctuary Marketing Group is available to conduct affordable keyword research and competitive analysis. Please contact us today to discuss how we can help you succeed online.
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