Is Your Business Visible Online? These Search Engine Strategies (SES) Can Help
By Daniel Kosir | May 13, 2011
In a world of digital hyper-media, having a web presence is essential to success. Building an online strategy that is effective can be a daunting task, but help is on the way.
The Search Engine Strategies (SES) Conference and Expo is coming to Toronto June 13-15. The conference, now in its eighth year, is the leading Search and Social Marketing event, specializing in strategies that include Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-click (PPC).
In anticipation of the event, we spoke to Andrew Goodman, founder and president of Page Zero Media, an agency that serves mid- to large- sized clients in paid search and related online media campaigns.
Goodman, who has spoken at every North American SES conference since 2002, will be returning once again as a panellist. He has also published a book on search and social marketing called "Winning Results with Google AdWords."
He agreed to provide CanadaOne with some insight into how small businesses can manage an effective online presence.
Being Found Online
Because small businesses lack the same resources as their larger counterparts, Goodman suggests some good starting points in establishing an online presence through SEO strategy.
"The low-hanging fruit is things you can and should take care of yourself, wherever possible," says Goodman, adding that Google Places and other rich listings are a good place to start.
Citing full disclosure, Goodman recommended American Express OPEN, an initiative he has done some work on.
"American Express OPEN...is an initiative that includes a website that small business owners can look to for resources about online marketing (and other things). And they offer a product called SearchManager that offers an intuitive interface for those wanting to run paid search campaigns with modest budgets."
Another option to check out is Barrie-based gShift Labs, which Goodman says offers a dashboard that helps simplify the process of maintaining organic search visibility and other types of online reputation.
Social Network Butterfly
An easy way to generate attention towards your business online is through effective social media marketing. Besides garnering friends and followers, the use of social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook can serve to improve search engine ranking.
"If search engines are intended as a combination of information retrieval and reputation engines, they'll be trying to get better and better at capturing mentions, sharing, and other forms of reputation signals, to factor into their ranking formulas on any given search query," says Goodman.
This means that the more active your business is on social networking sites, and the more interested users become in what you are sharing, the greater the possibility of higher search engine ranking.
Goodman also stated that while what most small business owners are going to hear about these days revolves around Twitter and Facebook use, they should get their basic and rich listings, such as Google Places, optimized first.
Pulling Traffic from Search Engines
To attract traffic from search engines to your website, Goodman suggests taking a look at search results pages, which may give some clues about where your competitors show up.
"If a lot of local search results are served on your key search terms, you will need to consider how to be more visible there."
He suggests using plain but relevant ads that have cues to subtly differentiate themselves from others in order to stand out and attract people.
Goodman also stresses that SEO is part information retrieval, part reputation. Though it is important to label pages accurately, it also helps if someone reputable links to you or mentions you. Better quality means better reputation. "What you put in is roughly commensurate to what you get out...There are few shortcuts."
Pay-per-click (PPC) remains a very good method to incorporate into a SEO strategy. Putting the money forth for PPC advertising allows for a greater volume of qualified leads and the ability to track the lead generation program as your business develops.
"Waiting for people to stumble upon your company, versus actively marketing with a budget are two different ways of doing things. Neither is invalid, but if companies have thrown so many millions at yellow pages listings over the years, they must see the value of paying for enhanced and more predictable forms of visibility," Goodman says.
Considering Your Options
As it stands, Google AdWords is the clear market leader in terms of reach. But focusing on market share and doing what time allows should be considered when developing a SEO strategy.
In terms of paid programs, Goodman says that Microsoft adCenter is another route that can be taken, particularly now that they have an alliance with Yahoo.
Whatever path you choose, Goodman believes that quality and relevance are crucial. "Good sources should discover you if your marketing is coherent and respectful in general."
For information on the upcoming Search Engine Strategies Conference and Expo in Toronto this June, visit http://www.searchenginestrategies.com/toronto/.