“Build it and they will come” is not a mantra that will grow your business. Having awesome products or services is one thing, but how do your potential customers know that you exist in the first place, let alone your products?
Now you might be saying, “What do you mean, they don’t know about my business? I have established a business website that has answers every question my potential customers might have. My website even gets decent web traffic. Doesn’t that mean potential customers know about me?”
Not necessarily. Does your website generate sales? Is your web traffic coming from potential customers who are looking for the exact product or service you provide and eager to do business with you? Or are these people who already know your business name from a networking event or referral?
You might have a newsletter going out to a list of your potential customers with your website linked in it. Yes, that drives some traffic to your website, but doesn’t necessarily lead to sales. Since you already have the contact details for these potential customers, they are already in the loop about your business. However they got on your mailing list, they may not be actively considering your products anymore.
You might also have your website linked in your email signature, your social media profiles, your press releases, etc. so the people in your online network (and possibly their immediate friends) may know about your business. Once again, that doesn’t necessarily mean the people who know about you are looking for the services you offer.
In other words, linking all your contacts to your website is a good start, but you are missing the main part of your target market altogether. You are not reaching potential customers who are looking for exactly the service you offer, and want to buy from you now. How do you tell these people about your business if they have never heard of you before?
It sounds like an impossible problem, but these potential customers have something in common that you can use to reach them. When they need something, they search for it on Google (or another search engine). If your website appears prominently on Google search results, there’s a good chance you will be able to connect with the customers who are looking for you.
Organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Why doesn’t Google simply list your website in its search results according to the products and services you offer? The reason is simple: there are thousands of other businesses that offer the same services and Google has to choose the best matches for the searcher. Google chooses search results based on website quality and relevance, among other things. So how does Google know if your website is relevant to what the searcher is looking for?
This is where SEO comes into play. Search Engine Optimization is a way to tell search engines what your website is about. You may have many competitors who have a similar (sometimes better) websites to showcase their products. SEO is a constant process and includes adding new and relevant content that people want to find. When people find the content they are looking for, Google has ways to determine this and gives your website a higher ranking. If you focus on SEO, you just might bypass a lot of your competition and go straight to the top of the search results. This means that you would attract a larger portion of your target market to your website and could lead to increased sales.
Ideally, every business would have an in-house team to manage their SEO, but that’s not a plausible option for many small-to-medium businesses. All those added costs of recruiting, retaining and managing a new team, monitoring the new process… right? In such cases it makes much sense to outsource it to the professionals.
Paid Search – SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
Another way to reach your target market is by using paid search. These are the small ads that appear on the side of the Google search results. They’re paid advertisements that Google features based on the search query entered. Many people may think that it’s all about bidding high so that your ads appear, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Just like the organic search results (the regular results you see), Google also has an algorithm for deciding which ads to show in the paid results section. It takes many factors into account such as ad quality, relevance to the search query, quality of the landing page and many other things. In other words, it’s not just about your ad budget, but your Search Advertising insights.
If you select the right terms, know how to target them with the right ads and how to connect them with the right landing pages, you could driving a lot of potential customers to your website.
What sets SEM apart from SEO is its ability to offer a Return on Investment much sooner – immediately even! Paid advertising also gives you a more control over the results. On the other hand, SEO is about increasing leads in the long run rather than boosting next month’s sales. However, if you work on your SEO consistently, your website will gain visibility among your target market in the longer term. Search engine marketing and search engine optimization work hand in hand and one can help the results of the other in a successful campaign.
This is just the tip of the iceberg; there are many more aspects to SEO and SEM, and we can talk about them all day. Are you ready to stop reading and start doing it? Contact us today and ask how we can help you reach your target market!