Effective Search Engine Marketing

When it comes to online marketing, SEO is a common strategy our customers bring up to find and attract new clients. So what’s a good way to get started?

SEO is more than keywords and phrases. It’s a compilation of a well thought out marketing plan. To get started with SEO you should ask yourself a couple of questions. Who is my target audience? Where is my key market, local, regional, national? What kind of competition is there for this audience in this market?

These questions are the foundation of a good SEO strategy. SEO is a long term process of refinement that will hopefully position you effectively in the search engines. As an example I’ll walk you through the thought process we took when developing our own SEO strategy.

Who is our target audience? Well the general answer is anyone who wants a website, application, or hosting. The issue with this answer is that it is too general to target. We find that the majority of our revenue comes from websites though so we narrowed it down to this. It’s not that the other parts of our business are not important; we just can’t afford to spread ourselves too thin and cover all of them. Spreading your SEO focus across a variety of different topics is the main reason companies have a hard time running a successful SEO campaign. So we have narrowed it down to just focusing on people looking for websites at this point.

Where is our target market? Though we would love to be number one in the nation for web development in google, it’s just not realistic. There are tens of thousands of web development companies in the world and attempting to compete with all of them will render our strategy useless. We typically work with local companies and we understand our local market much better so we decided to focus on local. Some larger companies or very specified companies in a small niche may be able to effectively target a much larger market. This takes into account the next important question as well, what kind of competition are we against.

When determining where to focus your SEO strategy, take a look at what kind of competition you have. If you are national expert in a small niche, by all means focus on a larger area, otherwise it is going to be extremely hard to compete.

So by answering these questions we can move onto the next portion and that is implementing our strategy. We work primarily in the sister cities of Houghton and Hancock of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. So our keywords go something along these lines. Web design and development in Houghton MI, Hancock MI. This means that any time someone searches for anything along the lines of web design or web development in our area we will be relevant.

This brings me to my next point. Though some of this may seem obvious, and keywords are important how do I implement it effectively? You may be very aware of who your target audience is and your keywords may be appropriately chosen, but you haven’t seen any results.

There are two strategies we will typically take when implementing these ideas. The first one is placing your keywords correctly into the html of the pages as well as placing them throughout the context of the website. The other, especially more recent, is a lot more important in my opinion. That is having an effective content marketing strategy as well.

There are a lot of variables involved in the search engine algorithm and one of them is having relevant and useful content updated regularly. By implementing a blog or some other content marketing activity you make your website much more relevant to potential customers and clients.

It also helps establish your understanding of your business as well as provides a mutual benefit to anybody visiting your website. They may not buy today or tomorrow, but chances are if they are a regular visitor to your blog when they are in need of your services guess who they will contact first. This strategy not only helps you in the search engines, but also in attracting an interested audience and driving traffic to your site. You can use this content marketing by combining it with social media as well. It represents a call to action to come to your website wherever you post it. These are typical ideas pushed by marketing guru Seth Godin. In fact I was a regular reader of Seth’s blog and after reading his blog for a while ended up buying a couple of his books. This was all due to me running into one of his blog posts on Facebook one day even though I had never heard of him.

This was sort of a long winded post regarding SEO, but I wanted to make sure that I expressed the importance of SEO being more than a magic tool to finding new customers. It must be a part of a larger marketing strategy that is well thought out and correctly implemented.

There are also a lot of other things that go into SEO and Google has created a video to help explain the more technical parts of it and some other factors. I have posted it below. Take a look, it does a great job explaining the key parts of SEO and what to consider.

Viral Video

How do you make a video go viral? This question is answered by Youtube’s head of trends in this video. Video can also be a great way to drive more traffic to your blog or website.

First Impressions

What’s the first thing you do when you are need of a service? If you’re like me and a large percentage of the globe, you search for it on Google.

The internet has completely evolved the way that consumers find businesses. Websites are the new storefront; If a possible client doesn’t like what they see, they likely won’t even give you a chance. The design and structure of your website may have nothing to do with the quality of your services, but in the minds of online visitors it is almost everything.

What would you think if someone came to you to apply for a job dressed like a vagabond? They might be the best worker in the world, but you would probably write them off immediately. It’s the same idea with a website. Your website is the first impression a potential client will get of your business. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll simply hit the back button and resume their search.

When I visit a company website, the first thing I take into account is my reaction to the look and feel. Whether true or not, in my mind, a great website corresponds to a great company. A website should draw a visitor to explore more. That doesn’t necessarily mean crazy and flashy graphics. You simply need to find something that will encourage the visitor to stay away from the back button.

Another thing I always try to stress is personality. Companies are a collection of people not just a name or a service. Adding some personality to your site can make your visitors more inclined to work with you.

So as you go to update your website or create your first one, take this into account. If someone visits your website will they hit back or move forward to discover more?