There is a lot of talk these days about Search Engine Optimization – techniques used to get your site higher rankings in the natural or organic results of search engine for search phrases related to your business. It’s again become a hot topic in talk about online marketing, as people are looking for more cost effective ways of promoting their websites and to make best use of existing resources. It’s time to make sure that your web site is doing the best it can in organic search results (as opposed to Pay Per Click Advertising, like AdWords).
Many people still think that Search Engine Optimization doesn’t really work or involves using tricks to get your site higher rankings, but we can show examples of how Search Engine Optimization, using good old fashioned hard work, has brought about real results for our own sites and those of our clients:
- A start-up accountancy firm grows it’s client base significantly in the first year, and build on that year after year, by using its website to attract clients from around the world who are looking to do business in Ireland.
- A luxury self catering accommodation business gets bookings from guests around the world through its website, with out paying for expensive newspaper or magazine advertising.
- A whale watching operator becomes prominent nationally and internationally as his website comes up top for searches for “whale watching ireland” and very high for just “whale watching”. Media researchers finding the site easily have featured the business on TV, radio and newspapers.
- A start-up Wedding Cake business starts getting orders via Google Searches within a couple days of the site going live and since then gets a steady stream of enquiries – and orders – through the site.
I note these cases, not just to “show off” what I can do, but to provide real examples where businesses have thrived as a result of Search Engine Optimization, without also paying a lot of additional money for Pay Per Click, paid listings or other online advertising. I do think that other online advertising does have its place, but that organic search results should be a priority.
The best part is that Search Engine Optimization is just an extension of the marketing, public relations and networking that you should be doing for your business:
- Define your target market and learning what they are looking for – Target Keyphrase Research
- Provide information about your business/products/services/industry/region that is helpful/interesting to your target market – Optimizing the content on your web site.
- Build relationships with businesses that offer products/services complimentary to yours – Link & Website Popularity Campaigns.
- Learn about and engage with clients and prospects; and find new channels to provide information and sell your goods and services – Social Media Networking
Higher ranking on search engines, through these Search Engine Optimization techniques, will bring better results for your business:
- Reach a wider, national and international audience in a cost effective manner. Many small businesses fail to realise that there are good prospects further afield; especially if you are located outside a commercial centre.
- Reduce the cost of advertising and PR – online and offline.
- Solidify your brand’s position in your marketplace. A higher position in search engine rankings will also give the impression of a higher position in your industry (to prospects, suppliers, media and others in your industry). Just be sure to have a top rate website to back that up.
Search Engine Optimization – Q&A
If Search Engine Optimization is so effective, why aren’t all sites optimized?
I’m always surprised why all web developers don’t use best practices so that their sites get better results in Search Engines, but I have seen a few reasons why some don’t:
- They feel that Search Engine Optimization should be a separate service and don’t provide it.
- They charge it as a separate service at an additional cost, which is fair as it does take additional time and expertise, and clients choose not to take it on.
- They don’t have the time, expertise, etc.
As more sites use Search Engine Optimization all sites will then be equal, so why should we bother?
The fact that more sites are using Search Engine Optimization should show you that it’s more important than ever for you to get started with your site.
- As I noted above, there will always be people that are better at this than others, so it’s important that you choose an web developer that is experienced in “SEO” or hire a specialist to work with your current web developer.
- There are some factors which impact on your search results that are harder to ‘manipulate’ like the age of your site (another reason why it’s important to consider SEO sooner rather than later).
- Some people just don’t have the time, or budget, to put towards additional search engine optimization.
Search Engine Optimization will cost too much and I won’t be able to afford it.
As I said above, Search Engine Optimization does take time and expertise, so you should expect to pay for a premium service, but you should consider this within your entire business plan.
- If SEO will save you money for other advertising and increase enquiries and sales it should take a priority in your spending.
- In the long term good SEO will cost less than ongoing Pay Per Click advertising campaigns.
- Hiring a professional web developer that uses basic SEO techniques in the development of your site your shouldn’t cost more than a web developer that doesn’t. The additional cost should come from additional services such as target keyphrase research, site/link popularity campaigns, social networking campaigns, etc. which take additional time. While these services are important, getting the site developed in a search engine friendly way is most important and will save you having to go back and redevelop later.
- Doing all of these things will help to bring about best possible results for your site on search engines. If you are in a highly competitive area and/or targeting a wide client base you may need to do all of these things to get good results, but if you are in a less competitive business with only local clientele you may need less SEO work. This is why it is important to engage an experienced Search Engine Optimization Specialist who can prioritise the actions that you need to take and work with you on the budget and how best to use it to get best results for your business.
You can find more questions and answers related to Search Engine Optimization in my previous post Choosing a Web Development Firm.
Read more about my own Search Engine Optimization Strategy from the O’Mahony Donnelly E-Business website.