Many of the conversations I get into with people is about their online presence. SEO, Keywords, Google and so on. People are coming to the realisation that just having a website is one thing – however, it can be meaningless unless the website can be found. Likewise, a great URL may read great – but that’s if you know it exists.
Google, Google, Google
Yes, there are other search engines, but as Google currently claims about 75% of traffic, it’s where I usually start. Luckily for businesses, there are many tools Google provides – and these can play their part in getting you noticed; maps and business listings and surprisingly overlooked or not considered by some people, but don’t just stop there. The internet is awash with thousands of companies telling you what they will do for you on Google – and also awash with as many self help guides.
Not wanting to do myself out of business, however I do frown at some of the promises made; “we’ll have you on the first page of Google within two weeks” was one such claim I heard recently. This is something I’d never over promise on. There are some many factors with effect how you will rate on Google – one of which is the competition. How many other people are out there with the same keyword they prioritise or categorise themselves under?
This, sometimes, is why maps do help – but it really depends on your product. If you’re a localised business, you could find a niche of both the product/service name, and location. However – if you’re nationwide – then there’s more fighting required for the same space.
So, in short – don’t fear Google, but don’t treat it like a dark art and have someone pull the wool over your eyes. Understand it, treat it well, think logically and realistically, and you may be surprised. However, before you launch yourself into the SEO world – ask yourself what it would mean to you by being on the home page of Google. There’s a difference between being found, and being first – and that comes down to you and your business. It may seem like an obvious goal – and certainly is to smaller, less well known brands – but it isn’t always as obvious.
A sales tool, or a verification tool?
One of the first questions I ask of clients when talking about the online world is regarding why they feel they need to be online, and what their objective is. Understanding their product/service and sales lifecycle – and that of their customers, also helps. And this is key. After working in PLC land for many years, I know that the website I looked after then needed to rate well for being found – but that it was primarily a verification tool. People knew the company name (leader in their field) and their new business was through tender processes – often years in the making. First page on google? Not completely necessary. A good effective website that answered the potential questions of clients? This was the priority over chasing a no1 ranking.