There are many different ways to promote a website on the web; it can be through any of the following activities:
(Please appreciate that this is somewhat simplified!)
Every website and business will have a different set of requirements based on their products, services and audiences. There isn’t usually a one-size-fits-all solution.
Firstly, let’s agree what we mean by SEO. Here at DC, we consider it to be tweaking or significantly changing your website content including page titles (and if need be, the URL including the domain) as well as the areas within the website code that house such key words and phrases. We alter and improve these to ensure the website is in the best format and position for the search engines (such as Google and Bing) to find and index the pages within the website. This is what we deem the optimisation of the website for search engines.
You must be practical and realistic about what can be achieved. Much depends on the amount of competition out there. If you are one of ten thousand UK businesses doing the same thing, it will be much harder to gain a top position than if there were only two or three other sites out there with similar products and services.
Other aspects of SEO cross over into search engine marketing (SEM), depending on which company you speak to.
We use the term SEM to cover the other aspects of search engine promotion that do not involve actual changes to your website or content within the site. This can consist of the following:
In essence this is being sensible about where your audience is likely to be searching and to ensure your site can be found via those routes. This can be incredibly time consuming but it is certainly worthwhile to do as all of the directory listings will have a link to the site.
Search engine submissions consist of putting your web pages directly under the noses of the search engines. There are things that can be done technically to aid this process, such as submitting specific files to the search engines in particular ways they like. It’s just a case of doing all the things that the search engines tell website publishers to do (and there’s lots of things they tell you to do!).
Other than the search engines and directories the next step would be to build more links by getting your content and links to your site on other places on the web. If you have a link to your site from a really well regarded website, this all helps the natural search engine rankings.
It is possible to create lots of written articles and submit these to other sites across the web; these in turn link back to your site. When long-term improvement in the rankings is desired, and invested in, this is typically a route to go down. Another would be online PR, getting as many articles, features, links and so on across news and magazine sites and blogs.
There really is no limit to the amount of time and effort that can be spent on trying to improve natural rankings in the search engines. But don’t get obsessed with being number 1 on Google: be sensible about where time, effort and money should be invested to gain maximum return.
Google and Bing are the main search engine advertisers we use here at DC. We manage these for ourselves and for clients. As with the natural SEO and SEM, you should be sensible about where budget should be spent.
In essence you decide which keywords and phrases you want to pay money to have your advert appear alongside. Someone types in a word or phrase and up pops your ad at the top or the right-hand side of the search engine.
If you run a website selling swimming pool filters, you would try to be as specific as possible to only generate click-throughs that are really relevant (and likely to be interested). You would not decide to pay money for the word “pool”: it’s too vague. It could be typed in when someone is looking for a local pool, buying a pool table, for example. The key is being really targeted and only spending money on click-throughs from your desired audience.
As well as selecting the words and phrases that will trigger your advertisement appearing in the search engine, you can also select specific websites and types of site to show your advertisement. This is the Display Network and works much more like the other forms of banner and display advertising across the web.
Just like the text adverts that appear when someone types in a particular word or phrase, you can do the same thing with image or video advertisements. These can be made in all sorts of sizes and different-shaped buttons, banners and lozenges. These banners and buttons are shown on other websites and you only have to pay money when someone clicks through to your site from the advertisement (here I’m using Google’s advertising network Google AdSense as the example scenario.)
Another way to show image or video advertisements is to use Google’s Display Network. This is the way to have your ads on websites you have either selected by name or type (Google tells you which sites and types or site are best for your audience). The payment for these ads is determined by how many times your ad has been seen (we each view of the ad a ‘page impression’) so you pay per one thousand page impressions. You can set limits for budgets as you can with the search network.
This sort of display advertising is an ideal way to test the water. If online advertising proves beneficial, the next step would be to decide whether to cherry pick sites you wish to advertise on and see if they are part of an ad network OR to partner with a network or media buying agency that can place the ads for you. This can work out more expensive, but for those with the budget, it can save valuable time forging the relationships with the publishers.
At DC we enjoy working with clients who do all sorts of online advertising, from search campaigns on certain key words all the way to big budget integrated campaigns with video and re-targetting! It can get quite complex as there are so many ways to advertise and so many different types of advertisement. Take a look at some example work for banner advertising.
Whether you invest time in trying to climb the natural search engine rankings, or you decide to opt for advertising, there should be opportunities for all different types of business to increase awareness and presence on the web. Knowing who and where your audience is is the most important factor determining how far to go down each route.
Paying for expensive national (or even international) advertising is wasteful if your market is local or regional. Luckily there are solutions to target only people in specific areas or of a particular demographic and it is crucial to spend time planning and investigating the potential routes to the audience. It’s also just as important to analyse whether what you did was successful and have something to measure it against. You need to know if you should do more of it, or to try different things.
That’s the beauty of the web. You can change things pretty swiftly so you can react quickly when things go well; for example, put more budget against a search campaign that’s bringing you the enquiries or change your sales message if it’s getting you the wrong kind of customers.
There’s always something you can do to improve your online marketing and boost your presence on the web. We would love to tell you all about what we can do for your business and also what you can do for yourself if you have just a bit of time to do it. Give us a call or drop us a line to get started.