- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On August 10, 2012
Search is popular online. Research shows consumers spend about 21% of their total time online searching (source: Go-Gulf) with Google’s search engine alone having the highest number of visitors of any website on the Internet, with 153,441,000 unique visitors per month in the US alone (source: Go-Gulf).
And search influences spending with research showing that 70-80% of consumers use search engines to support their buying decisions (source: Hubspot).
Search engines are clearly an important part of any marketing program today but how does a local business go about making sure it is found by potential customers when they are searching online?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of increasing the ranking of your website, or blog, on search engines – and hence the chance that consumers will find you.
If your website appears on the first page of Google, after a search result is displayed, it will be found by a large proportion of the people searching on that term. But if your website does not rank on the first page of search results few if any, will find it.
SEO is a process that moves your website up the search results, and hopefully onto page one, for certain search terms that are relevant to your business.
Factors Determining Search Ranking
There are broadly two factors, which search engines use to decide where your website will appear in the search results:
When search engines are ranking your website, they check to see how relevant your website is to the search terms the consumer typed into the search engine . The search engine will then display the most relevant websites for that search.
Search engines also look at the “importance” of your site to determine where to display it on the search results. Importance is largely determined by the links that come into your site. If your site has many links coming in, especially if they are from important and trustworthy sites, then it will rank highly in the search results.
Determining Your Keywords
The kickoff point for any SEO effort is determining which keywords you want to show up for on search engines. This is a critical step in the SEO process.
You need to select keywords that your potential customers will use when searching for a business like yours. To achieve this you need to think like your customer not like yourself. Customers often use different words to describe your business than you do. You truly have to get into your customers shoes for this exercise.
It’s best to approach keyword generation from several angles. A sound approach is to generate a long list of keywords first then whittle down the long list to those that seem most appropriate. Some methods you can use to generate your first keyword list:
- Brainstorm keywords based on your current knowledge of your business and market – better is doing this brainstorming with your team
- Check your current website analytics software to see what keywords consumers currently use to find you
- Speak to your customers and ask them what words they type into search engines to find firms like yours
- Study your competitors websites and see what keywords they are using
- Use Google’s free keyword tool for suggestions