Let’s face it, when you want to know something you Google it, right? And you always click on the most relevant-looking result in the top three, right? Well it’s no coincidence that those results are there – Google has algorithms to ensure you get the most relevant results based on your search. This section will explain how to harness the power of the Google search, and how to put yourself on the map.
Number 1 In Google: How will your business make it? Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
I need to come clean on this one and explain that I am somewhat of an expert when it comes to search engine optimisation.
Here’s the thing.
My first business was an Internet based business, a virtual school in fact. What started out as the thesis for a Masters I was studying, in the subject area of Open and Distance Education, became a fully fledged online business.
The business was known as Audiocourses.com (it no longer exists on that domain). Audiocourses.com offered a variety of courses to students that wanted to learn about music technology and sound engineering, you know, making records. Over a period of eight years the school enrolled students from every corner of the World and had a membership base of over 30,000 members at its most active point.
I can still remember when I built the first website and what was required for it to succeed. Internet traffic, and lots of it, was the vital component.
The thing is with ecommerce, of any kind in almost all industries, is that conversion rates are dreadfully low.
The term conversion rate is a measure, or rather a ratio, between the number of visits to an online shop and the corresponding number of purchases made. Plainly put, if 100 people visit your online shop and 5 of those 100 buy something from you, your store has a 5% conversion rate.
Let me tell you that if you do have a conversion rate of 5% you should continue to push hard on that channel because you are doing excellently. The fact of the matter is that the average ecommerce conversion rate is just a mere 1.33%. So for every 100 visitors about 1.5 will make a purchase!
Your business may not have an online shop, although the reason I am informing you about conversion rates is that your website must have a point to it. In digital marketing we generally call this a “goal”. For you this may be that the customer calls your telephone number, fills in an online form to send you an email, downloads a free guide, etc. The point is, your website has a primary purpose, and generally this should be lead generation. For Falmouth Boat Hire the goal was very clearly aimed at encouraging the customer to make (and pay) for a booking through our online booking system. The secondary purpose of Falmouth Boat Hire’s website was to provide information about the product for sale, the boat hire. However, all of those features were of course all about persuading the user to book a boat, plain and simple.
With a goal, a desired outcome, I could therefore work out my conversion rate. If a customer booked a boat through the online booking system, I would have an xyz conversion rate for bookings. If a user called the phone I would have an abc conversion rate for phone calls. The point here is there exists measurability, and without it, you are in the dark, so this should most definitely be on your checklist.
So then if conversion rates matter, and they really really do, it stands to reason that most websites need a LOT of traffic to obtain a goal (successful Call To Action).
Google loves content
So back to my first business Audiocourses.com. I discovered very quickly that the key to rising up through the ranks of Google was to become an authority in my niche. Google needed to see my website as the best place to go for all things relating to “audio courses”. This tied in very nicely with the domain itself, being audiocourses.com I already had two very relevant keywords not only in my title but also all over the site and contained in web links pointing back to my site (incoming links). Incoming links are also another vital indicator of a website’s authority in Google’s eyes.
As well as incoming links, which I will talk about in more detail later, I realised that for every new article I posted it would become one more unique url (uniform resource locator – or web link if you like) in Google’s search engine results page. This is golden information. We are talking 2000/2001 here and even today in 2017 it amazes me that still the large majority of business websites do not do this. Why, is it lack of understanding? Too busy? Too lazy?
Make no mistake for every new article you post on your website, it really is another unique link in Google that potential customers can find your services for. What tends to happen is that website designers typically know very little about SEO, in fact some know absolutely nothing about it. Therefore, a website can be designed without a goal in mind. The website gets made to look pretty with lots of bells and whistles, and actually nothing happens, nobody sees it, plain useless. Do not let this be you. What you need to have is a content management system such as WordPress which allows you to publish regular content. This is the case if you are using SEO as a channel for traffic. SEO is not the only way, we will look at other channels too, but SEO is generally long lasting and no budget required other than time to write and publish of course, which is a cost too.
So I learnt early on how to play the Google game with SEO, or Content Marketing, and the more I published every day the more traffic I saw coming in. So in essence audiocourses.com become a publishing site, as well as being a school. This was an excellent lesson to learn and I have adopted that with the majority of my online ventures ever since.
Tip: Get a content management system like WordPress and publish content regularly.
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