As discussed last time, any effective Inbound Marketing campaign begins with ensuring that your web site is found. If it’s not found, your potential clients will never learn about your wonderful products and services … and instead will learn about your competitor’s! And your competitors all know this too, so it’s really important that you prioritise your efforts to attract more traffic and also think creatively.
Given the huge number of internet searches going on – in the region of 100 billion searches each month on Google – at first the challenge probably appears fairly daunting – how will my site ever get found amongst all these searches? Now try an experiment – do some searches on the types of product or service that your company provides, and see what’s found. Also, try typing in slightly different variants of the original search terms, and see if there’s a difference. makes you think, doesn’t it? Last of all, consider your own behaviour when searching on the internet – how often do you go to page two? Or beyond that?
To pay or not to pay, that is the question
As you might expect, there is always the option of throwing money at the problem, for example by investing in Google AdWords. Your site will almost certainly be visited more often, but it will cost you each time – and of course there are no guarantees that the visitors will spend any money with you. It’s worth checking out though
But surely there’s a better way, that doesn’t cost you each time someone visits your site? And the good news is – there is! It’s called Search Engine Optimisation, SEO for short, and done well can lead to much higher rankings (i.e. how near the top your site appears in the search results) and therefore far more visits. This is what we’re going to concentrate on in the remainder of this article.
Introduction to Search Engine Optimisation
Put simply, it’s about ensuring that your web site is of sufficient “quality” that it is found naturally or “organically” by the search engines. Remember that these search engines themselves rely on delivering good results (i.e. relevant to the search, so they have a vested interest in getting it right!
So what does “quality” mean in this context? For starters, it’s no longer enough to cram the content with “keywords” – in fact, the search engines wised up to this years ago and in fact penalise sites that take this approach! They now use ever more complex ranking algorithms – which for understandable reasons are not in the public domain – to deliver their results.
The key principle is “relevance” – how closely does the content of your site match what the user was looking for? Start with this principle, and stick with it, and you won’t go far wrong. The problem is, your competitors know this too!
So here are some pointers:
- think very carefully about what users looking for the types of product and service that you provide would type into a search engine (remember the experiment earlier?)
- make your web site easy to navigate
- if possible make it memorable
- ensure that the content is well-written and clear
- get some good advice from people with a successful track record
But don’t stand still!
As mentioned the search engines are becoming ever more complex themselves, and change their algorithms constantly (in some periods Google make more than a change a day!). So your web site must be constantly reviewed and the content regularly updated.
And there’s more …
But quality content on its own isn’t enough! If you can encourage inbound links – i.e. what you say on your site is sufficiently good that other sites refer to it – that will significantly boost your rankings. And then there’s the increasing prevalence of social media, which provides an additional opportunity to build your brand and perhaps engage in more personal dialogue with your potential clients!
As you can see, there’s a lot to it! Next time round we’ll look into some more do’s and don’ts of Search Engine Optimisation, and give you some more advice , before moving onto the next stage of an effective Inbound Marketing strategy – namely how to convert visitors to your site into leads!