If you’re looking for product information, comparison shopping or in need of recommendations before you make that next big ticket purchase, where do you turn?
I generally pull out my mobile phone, enter several keywords and let my Google app do the work, and I’m not alone. Everyday billions of people use search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask and Aol) to find information. Around this time last year, 16.6 billion searches were made in the U.S alone (Comscore).
Your customers are searching for products and services and it’s quite likely if you aren’t on the first few pages of their preferred search engine — you won’t be found. This is a huge dilemma – and could be the main culprit behind a lack of sales and overall online business growth.
Does your website actually exist?
Let’s merge business and philosophy for a brief moment.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? According to the popular science magazine, Scientific American, “Sound is vibration, transmitted to our senses through the mechanism of the ear … The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will produce vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.”
The same philosophical musing could in fact apply to business. If you launch a website and no one is around to see it, does it actually exist? Furthermore, intuitively if there is not a ‘website’ to ‘see’, there will be no ‘purchases.’ Sounds simple enough, right?
But the point is clear – if any significant percentage of your business relies on online sales, your first priority is to drive targeted traffic to your site and capture qualified audience share. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play. Sure you can pay for eyeballs, via pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or other search engine marketing tactics, but don’t ignore one of the best ways to build your presence online.
Get Found: Why SEO is Essential
One of the most overlooked areas for new online businesses owners is search engine optimization (SEO). Once you’ve launched your new startup, invested in an e-commerce website and back-office administration you’re ready to take your first order. Many fledgling entrepreneurs assume that customers will magically find them amongst the one million and counting unique URLs that exist on the World Wide Web. Not so. But with the use of SEO and search engine marketing (SEM); you’re on your way to a more profitable online business.
SEO will organically maximize your site’s visibility in search engines for users that enter specific keywords or key phrases. Among some of the benefits of SEO are increased targeted and organic site traffic, maximized online presence and reach, listing ahead of competitors and a stronger ROI.
If you haven’t yet explored the benefits of SEO, here is a list of recommended action steps. Whether you decide to go at it yourself or hire a search engine optimization consultant, these tools will help you assess where you’re at and where you need to be.
- Start monitoring site analytics. If you operate an e-commerce business, you should be using a web analytics solution to gain insights into your traffic and marketing effectiveness. Google analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are free web-based tools to help even the most novice users navigate analytics with ease.
- Get an instant website report. Get a free website analysis and find out where you stand when it comes to your overall score, competition, Google page rank and more.
- Get familiar with SEO basics. Even if you intend to outsource your SEO efforts, it’s important to know the basics. This comprehensive free beginners guide to SEO, does an excellent job of outlining them.
- Utilize free SEO tools. If you decide to handle your SEO activities in-house or contract a webmaster, here is an excellent resource list for do-it-yourself SEO, including browser extensions and web-based tools.
- Review industry resources, blogs and guides. Here are some of the top SEO blogs worth reading to help you make better business decisions when it comes to developing a stronger web presence: SEOmoz Blog, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Journal, Get Elastic, and SEOBook.
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