Ok, so you’ve designed and built your website, and ensured it is ready for customers. It is intuitive, leads prospects through the process of finding what they are looking for quickly, delivers a targeted message and offer, and makes the conversion process simple and easy. Now what?
The average adult is the US spending over 13 hours per week on the internet, and almost 9 out of 10 people using search engines for shopping online. With your website in place, it’s time to start making your target market on the Internet aware that you exist and that they should visit your site. Most people will use the major search engines as a starting point for finding the products, services, information, and locations they are looking for. There are three parts to a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) that you can utilize to become visible to your target market. In the following example I searched for “carpet cleaners in Sacramento”.
1.) The section of the page numbered 1 represents the sponsored links by carpet cleaning vendors. This section, both across the top of and down the right side of the SERP enables vendors to bring awareness to their products and services by placing paid advertisements that appear whenever someone searches for a particular key word phrase, in this case “carpet cleaners in sacramento”. Advertisers pay each time a person clicks on the ad and lands on the advertiser’s website. This is called a “click thru”. On the major search engine, the cost of a “click thru” is based on a bid amount. The ad with the highest bid generally shows up first, though additional factors such as ad quality and relevance can sometimes come into play. This type of Internet Marketing is also knows as Pay Per Click (PPC). There are three primary benefits to initiating a PPC campaign immediately.
- They are easy to set up and you can quickly start an ad campaign
- Ad campaigns can begin to generate qualified prospects landing on your website immediately
- They enable you to test and prioritize your keywords, which enable you to continuously improve your campaigns, as well as provide you with insight you will use need for one of the other Internet Marketing technique we will discuss below.
2.) The section of the page numbered 2 represents the Google Local Business Center, or Google Maps. This part of the SERP was created to focus on small and medium sized business that target a specific local geographic area. Google LBC enables you to establish a profile of your business including location, categories of services offered, an extended description of your business, images and video, coupons and special offers. Google then uses this information to place you on the first SERP, next to a Google map, with a group of other companies offering similar products or services, all based on a geo-targeted keyword phrase. This is a free service offered by Google. One note, Google Maps do not always display for all keyword phrases and searches. To learn more, or set up your Google LBC profile, go to http://www.google.com/lbc.
3.) The section of the page numbered 3 represents the organic search rankings of a SERP. An organic search ranking represents the natural rankings or sequence in which companies appear when some searches for a keyword phrase. This is considered the most important location to be visible in. Typically, the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. The Internet Marketing technique to achieve a high ranking is knows as Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are both “on page” and “off page” techniques that if executed properly over a period of a few to several months, will begin to yield consistently high rankings in the search engines, bringing more qualified prospects to your website, enabling you to convert them into customers.
There are a few challenges with SEO—it is time consuming, somewhat technical, and requires a meticulous, consistent, ongoing, comprehensive effort to be successful. But the potential benefits are high. Additionally, the search engines do not make any money on organic search rankings, and periodically change their algorithms, impacting search rankings. This highlights the need to take a holistic approach, using all three parts of a SERP to provide your business with the broadest exposure and the greatest opportunity to be visible and attract more qualified prospects to your website.