It’s fascinating that even after all these years involved with search engine and internet marketing, there are still those who believe that being in the top 10 results on a search engine is the only result that matters when promoting a business online. And, more interestingly, that many company executives believe that typing in the company name (or, worse, the URL) into the search engine and ranking number one, proves that the budget spent on internet marketing is justified.
Let us consider the problems with the above misunderstanding, particularly for SMEs.
Firstly, if the only budget you are spending to market your business online is on search engine optimisation, you are missing a huge audience. Whilst many companies may not feel that there is the necessary time and resource to handle multiple social media accounts, this is a) where agencies come in and b) a misunderstanding of how social media operates – you do not need a vast social media presence to benefit.
Obviously, the search engines are a logical and essential place for you to have an online presence. However, it is vital to understand how people use the search engines before making the (wrong) assumption that all searchers looking for your company, products and services will type in your company name. Or your URL. If a potential customer knows your URL, and are a savvy Internet user, they are just as likely to type this directly into the location browser of the browser and bypass the search engines entirely.
What is far more likely is that the person looking for your products does not actually know you exist as a company, is unaware of your URL or company name, and therefore will only find your website if it is optimised for the specific terms being searched upon.
If you sell a product, particularly one that is in a competitive market, there is a strong possibility that your website visitors and sales come from word of mouth recommendations from the potential buyer’s social network, from comparison sites, or from links and reviews on other, well-trafficked websites.
Returning to the search engine optimisation issue, many websites do not actually rank for the terms that the average searcher is likely to use to find your product. Many websites are built by website designers, rather than by designers with search engine optimists’ assistance. Whilst Management may love the look of your website, if it does not work for either the search engines or your potential visitors, it will not work for you either.
Therefore, it is important to check that your site includes the terms most likely to be searched for, that these terms occur in all the places required by the search engines, and that the site is competitively optimised in order to rank above others selling similar products.
If the last is not feasible because you are a small fish in a big pond, then it is even more imperative that you use many of the other tools in the internet marketing toolbox to attract attention. eg social media.
To see how well your website is doing on Google, type your main product into the search box and check your ranking. Check your analytics to see how many visitors you are getting from the terms you had expected to be those bringing in most traffic. Think long and hard about where else you are marketing and whether it is driving the necessary traffic to your website. Perhaps 2012 may be the time for a change of tactics?