The Bad News
Did you know that … 90% of people use Google as their number one go-to search tool when looking for a solution to their needs? And did you know that 99% of this traffic only click on the links on the first page of a Google search? Scary stuff, if your business web presence or blog is not ranked on those top 10 magic listings. Worse, did you know that it can take six to twelve months for Google’s robots to recognise a new website before it could appear on the hallowed first page?
Those businesses that rank high on Google’s organic searches have put in the proverbial ‘hard yards’. They, or their marketing company, have an allocated budget and specific goals.
1 Google Adwords
One work-around solution is to pay for four-line adverts to appear on the right-hand-side of organic searches. This is called ‘Google Adwords’. It’s actually free to set up, and you only pay if potential clients click on your advertisement, which takes them directly to your website. The good thing is that you can control where and when these ‘Adwords’ appear.
For example, for my wedding video business, I can realistically travel around the top of the South Island. So my target market is most likely Nelsonians, Coasters or maybe Marlboroughians. For this ad campaign, my Adwords only appear on Google searches if the internet surfer is located in those regions.
The simple way to pay for Adwords is on a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) basis. Each click on your advert costs you whatever amount you bid on. For instance, my wedding video campaign adverts are set to a meagre 30 cents per click. If a competitor is only willing to pay 20 cents per click, then I pay 21 cents to beat him.
The disadvantage of using Google Adwords is that these leads are more difficult to convert than those who click a hyperlink on the organic searches (i.e. the main Google search results). Nevertheless, it’s a great way to drive traffic to your site over the first year of business.
2 Search Engine Optimisation
The main way to rank higher in Google is to play the SEO game, which is a lot more complex. This involves embedding specific keywords into your webpages, and abiding by Google’s rules.
Good web designers will work with you, helping you choose which keywords best represent your business. A keyword is the phrase your prospects type into a search engine such as Google or Yahoo. You can test this now. Type into Google’s search field my chosen phrase ‘learn photography nelson’, and see if my Hot Pixels Photography site is listed. For your business, you can look for what search phrases your competitors are using.
One of Google’s ‘rules’ relates to Search Phrase Density (SPD) … the percentage of times this phrase appears on your website, compared to the total number of words. This SPD is a factor which determines whether a webpage is relevant to a specified phrase being searched. On my Hot Pixels webpages, I have embedded that phrase ‘learn photography nelson’ into the meta tags, body copy, alt tags and image captions. This will help my site rankings on Google.
However, if you have used your search phrases too often, Google will then wisen up, and label your pages as spam, that is, junk. The recommended SPD is between 3% and 5%.
Another thing: Search Engines love fresh content. So, if you have lazily copied and pasted text from the Internet onto your website, Google will penalise this as ‘duplicated content.’ Google will also penalise spelling mistakes and typos, causing your pages to rank lower in the listings … a good reason to employ a web designer who can spell. (Wait, that could be an oxymoron!) You must get someone else to proof read everything that represents your business, if you wish to look professional. Another warning: don’t bother trying to trick Google’s robots by hiding the search phrases on your webpages. They can see white text on a white background.
3 G-Mail marketing
In recent years, progressive businesses have invested time into email marketing. On-line services such as MailChimp and Aweber are affordable ways to create and maintain an email list. Using these services, you can design attractive, content-rich emails to keep your target audience in touch; tell them about the latest offers; entice them with free stuff; run competitions, and the like.
Unfortunately, Google’s algorithm regarding personal emails has changed during 2014. Those professional-looking, full-colour emails are no longer being opened by all your customers. If you send an email with logos, photos, graphics and more than two hyperlinks, Google’s nanny filters will tag this as a commercial message. If your younger clients own a free G-Mail address, then the message may be redirected into their ‘Promotional’ inbox, not their ‘Primary’ inbox, and thus be ignored.
4 Mobile devices
Rewind to 2014. 40% of emails were now being opened on a mobile device. And approximately one third of Internet purchases were made via a mobile device, such as a smart phone, tablet or ipod? This requires responsive web design, so your site displays properly on your customer’s technological device of choice. If you get your nephew to code a website for you using fancy Flash animations, it may not display on a cell-phone.
Remember, not everyone has installed the latest up-to-date browsers or operating systems on their device. And, when your customers surf the Net on a smart phone, the content will take longer to download because it’s traveling through wi-fi or over a cellular network.
The Good News
An experienced web designer will not only create an aesthetically-pleasing website for your organisation. They will also look under the bonnet to check that your webpages load efficiently. Did you know that the optimum loading time is now a fleeting five seconds … any longer, and most folks will point their mice toward your competitor’s website.
5 Web Analytics
Once you’ve mastered SEO, you can then track all that new traffic hitting on your website. Web analytics tools will analyse and graphically display detailed information about those ’ invisible clients’- demographic data such as their language and nationality; the time and date they visited; which web browser they used; how long did they stay? These revealing statistics will motivate the conscientious business owner to improve their web content, the efficiency of their web design, or merely just tweak minor features such as the colour of their call-to-action buttons.
In conclusion, while there is a lot to learn about SEO, it’s not really rocket science. It just takes a while to tweak things … refine keywords … test ad campaigns … experiment with different headlines or opt-in forms. Perhaps it’s time to consult a professional who has done their homework. We can coach you along to ensure that your business stands out from the crowd.
If this article has inspired you to think more about design; more about your business branding, why not give Ray a ring? You’ll get expert advice for your business and learn some valuable stuff.
© 2021 Ray Salisbury / Nelson, New Zealand / www.lighthousecreative.co.nz