To a start up online marketer today internet search should be at the core of start up digital strategy.
How your company’s website is the hub of your digital world. It’s more than just your shop window to a huge and growing global market: a well-designed and implemented website is a place where you can interact with your customers, a virtual meeting place where you can do real business, with real people, in real time. The commercial potential is, quite simply, unparalleled.
But if plan to realize even a fraction of that potential then people need to be able to find your site on search engines, as more than 80 per cent of internet users find new websites is by typing a query into one of the major search engines.
Your customers are on search engine
The chances of a potential customer stumbling across your site while randomly browsing the web are practically negligible. That means your visitors have to learn about your site from somewhere else: by word of mouth, through conventional advertising and branding channels, by following a link from another website or, the current most likely scenario, by clicking on a link in a search engine results page.
Just think about the way you use the internet. Where do you go when you’re looking for information, products or services online? Do you start typing random URLs into the address bar of your favorite browser and hope for the best – or do you head over to the home page of your favorite search engine and type in a query?
In fact, if you type something that’s not a URL into the address bar of today’s most popular browsers, you’re automatically redirected to your default search engine, using the text you entered as your search string. While it’s true that for a few class-leading online brands (such as Amazon.com for books, or eBay.com for online auctions) consumers are likely to know the URL they’re looking for and access the site directly, for practically everything else people use search engines.
Rise of search engines
Can you even remember an internet before search – before Yahoo!, MSN, Ask and AltaVista – before Google?
Today, of course, it feels as though search engines have been with us forever. But Google – the market leader in search by a country mile – was only established in late 1998. In 10 short years the search company has become a leading global brand to rival the biggest and the best out there.
Google’s incredible growth, and the unprecedented rise of search in general, is testament to the practically ubiquitous appeal of online search, both to a constantly growing pool of internet users and as a marketing vehicle for businesses large and small.
To the user, search engines offer a window to the web – a convenient way for them to sift through the literally billions of pages out there to find valuable, relevant information on what they’re interested in at any given time.
A huge opportunity awaits start-up marketers
For start-up marketers, search engines offer a unique opportunity to get their products or services in front of online prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for them. It is, perhaps, one of the ultimate forms of targeted, pre-qualified marketing.
The fact that the internet search industry is still in its infancy, and that it’s growing and evolving so quickly, makes the whole area of search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search advertising an incredibly exciting and challenging one. Because things are changing constantly, you’re always shooting at a moving target and have to tweak your aim accordingly.
SEO and how to get noticed
SEO is a fluid and dynamic environment, and nobody has all the right answers, because the nature of the questions keeps changing.
That said, there are a number of widely accepted legitimate strategies (and some less ethical ones that we’ll touch on later) that, if you implement them diligently and consistently, will help your site rise to a more prominent position in search engines. Equally there are plenty of SEO myths out there that won’t help your search rankings but will waste your valuable time.
Simple: it’s because search engines give website owners a prime opportunity to put their products, services or brands in front of a vast and ever-growing market of prospective customers at the precise time those customers are looking for them. That’s a pretty evocative marketing proposition – especially when you consider the volumes involved.
SEO is not rocket science. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. There’s a difference! There’s a small set of basic rules that apply to any web page or web site, whether you’re a small business or a start-up.
Your site has to be crawlable, your content has to be good – and I’d include things like page titles, keyword use, etc., under the umbrella of ‘content’ – and you need quality, relevant inbound links. That applies to everyone.