Why Your Website Is Not A Field Of Dreams
While there are many ways to get people to come to your site – run lots of TV commercials, get featured in the Washington Post, have Dr. Oz tout your product – the most likely way to get traffic is by showing up on a search results page.
Two Main Types Of Search
Also called “free”, ”organic” or “natural” search because you don’t pay to appear in these search results. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing your website so search engines like Google can find and display your website in search results, connecting customers with you.
Paid search means you advertise within a search engine or a partner site by paying either each time your ad is clicked (pay-per-click – PPC) or less commonly, when your ad is displayed (cost-per-impression – CPM). Paid search is indicated with “Ad” on the left side (pictured below).
How To Improve Your Organic Search Results
Consistently upload great, share-worthy content.
More than anything else, Google and the other search engines care that you have fresh content that people really love.
How does Google judge if it’s great content?
- Users are sharing the links to your site. They are sharing it on social media, they are texting it to their friends, they are emailing it to their parents.
- Bloggers in your industry are including links back to your site
- Well-known, influential sites (Washingtonpost.com ) are referencing your site
- You are getting great reviews on your Google+ page
- People keep coming back to your site to check for more
Use search phrases (keywords) your would-be clients/customers are using.
How do you figure out what search phrases would-be clients are using?
- Use Google Analytics and Google Search console. Review each to discover the keywords people used to find your website. If you don’t see important keywords – the products or services you offer – that are meaningful to your business, you might need to optimize your website to improve search rankings. If you don’t have Google Analytics and Google Search Console, get it now. It’s free!
- Find out what search terms your top competitors are ranking for. (NOTE: this will probably involve a consultant/agency using special software to find this out.)
- Find out how much search traffic there is for the search keywords you think you would like to rank for. You may think some phrase you use all the time is what customers use – but then find out only 10 people a month, in the entire country – are searching on that phrase. NOTE: you can find this info out for free but a good search consultant would be your best bet.
Your content is relevant to the search results.
Let’s use the example of the search “Emergency Dentist Manassas, open now, cracked tooth” Some of the factors that go into this are:
- The URL of your page. A good one would be: SmithDentistry.com/Emergency-Dentist-Open-Weekends
- The headline at the top of the page: We Offer Emergency Same Day Appointments and on Weekends
- Content in the page would include keywords such as: how the dentists will work late to accommodate emergencies, open on weekends, can fix cracked teeth, loose fillings, etc.
- Your Title Tags reflect and summarize the content of your page
- Your Meta Descriptions work with the Title Tag, encouraging search engine users to click through to your website
Your site is mobile-friendly.
- Over 50% of searches are on mobile now.
- Google penalizes sites in mobile search rankings if it is not mobile-friendly.
Fast loading speed.
- Speed matters, especially on mobile. Google will penalize sites that load slowly.
- What’s worse – people won’t hang around to wait for your site to come up.
- Test your site to find out: http://www.webpagetest.org
Organic Search Is Great for the Long Term
Your site should definitely be optimized for organic (free) search and you should upload compelling content whenever you can. Doing this, however, will not immediately lead to lots of traffic. And even long term, it might only lead to modest gains if you are in a very competitive industry. That’s why you may need paid search.
What Is Paid Search
Paid Search ads appear at the top of a search results page, marked with the little box that says “Ad” next to it (see graphic above). Whoever bids the most for the search phrase (keyword) gets to appear at the top. Google is the Big Player. Bing is second.
It also includes remarketing. You know how when you visit a site looking for black shoes and then an ad for those exact same black shoes “stalks” you around the web? That’s remarketing. People that go to your site – but don’t convert (call you up/fill out a form) will be stalked until they do or see the add for at least X many times (you decide on the number).
Top Mistakes When Creating a Paid Search Campaign
- Doing it yourself. You are busy running a business. Unless you have time to truly learn how Google AdWords works and monitor your campaigns, do not do this on your own.
- Not having a good landing page. A landing page is the page the user goes to when they click on the ad. Often the ad only goes to the home page. It should instead be a page with a clear call to action and compelling reason to sign up/call/buy.
- Ignoring mobile users. Your landing page should have a big-ass button that allows users to call you. The page should look fantastic on all phones. Check your site on your phone; don’t assume your website designer tested to ensure your pages look good on mobile.
- Not doing A/B testing. See what works, see what doesn’t, and make improvements.
- ROI – not figuring out how much you pay to get a new customer/client. Unless you know this amount, it’s hard to determine how much you should be paying for each lead, and if your current strategies are working for you.
- Not understanding what makes your company unique. Why should someone buy your service/product instead of your competitors’? Get clear on that first. It is not the job of your search company to figure it out.
Businesses that do well with Paid Search:
- Sell to consumers (B2C) with a clear product or service
- Have a clear brand, know what sets you apart
- Differ from their competitors – show what makes you special
- Have services/products that people want and are searching for
- Services people need in emergencies (Dentists, Plumbers, Electricians)
Business that struggle with Paid Search:
- Sell to businesses (B2B) services/products that are bought by other businesses and require committees to approve buying them. (large software systems, commercial loans)
- Services that people find from word of mouth not search (Realtors, Financial Advisors, Doctors)
- Services/products that have no branding or clear advantage in a competitive industry
Other things to keep in mind:
- If you are a non-profit, not affiliated with a school, you could get $10,000 of free Google search ads/month
- If you are a service/restaurant – consider Yelp, Google+ and Angie’s List
- Your time is valuable – don’t spend 20 hours trying to do something that will take a specialist 1 hour