Web Marketing

What is Web Marketing?  What is SEO?  Let's talk about that a bit right now.

SEO officially stands for Search Engine Optimization.  That means moving your website higher and higher in the organic search results of major search engines like Google.  SEO is different than paid search.  Both methods, SEO and Paid Search, attempt to get your site on the first page of search results so that someone will find your site when they are looking for related information or services.

The SEO industry has not been without criticism over the past several years.  A few years ago when this practice was new, many SEO specialists took advantage of customers by promising to get their site to the "first page" or to "#1 on Google."  They would then charge tons of money but provide zero results.  Partially the reason for the inability to show results is that Google has many factors that determine how high up in search results your site appears.  In fact, there are about 200 independent factors that determines a site's ranking.  Google and other search engines keep these factors a well guarded secret so that site owners can't manipulate the search results.  In fact, there are some dirty tricks that site owners play to manipulate their search results, and when they are "caught" they are banned from appearing at all in Google's search results.  

Additionally, the lack of visibility of web traffic to and throughout a site traditionally meant that measuring an SEO specialist's results was difficult at best.  While legacy "hit counters" could indicate if your site was getting more hits than before, the way that hits are counted can oftentimes be misleading.  For example, simply including two additional images in a single web page may cause your hit counter to increase by two even though your site had only one true visit.  The poor and ineffective tools for measuring and tracking web visits created both confusion and false results.

An additional criticism is that increasing traffic to your site doesn't actually do anything to increase net income or profits.  Just by getting a million new users to your site does not impact your bottom line.

A final criticism is lack of conversion.  Driving traffic to your site doesn't really do much good unless that traffic is "converting."  Conversion describes the act of a web visitor doing what you want them to do.  A conversion can be defined as virtually anything.  As an example, if you are selling products online, a conversion to you will likely be a purchase.  If you are a services based business, a conversion for you is probably when the web visitor fills out a web form to contact you.  

Since humans can't manipulate Google's search results, promising to do so borders on voodoo.  So, what does an honest company do that wants to improve their visibility on the web?  Fortunately, there are in fact things we can do.

Recent developments that enable success
Fortunately, today, there are absolutely steps that site owners can take to maximize their site's ranking and placement in organic search results.  All without employing the "black hat" techniques that can get you banned.  Here are some of the recent developments that enable seo success.

Learning how to talk to the googlebot
Part of the problem in the past was that we didn't understand the googlebot (the engine that scans your site for inclusion in search results).  However, Google has published and made available Webmaster Guidelines that tell us a bit about how to build a site that will be properly read and understood by the googlebot.  This knowledge helps us prepare the content and html code in such a way that makes it easy for the googlebot to understand your site.  Once googlebot understands your site, it can include it in relevant search results. 

Site map tools
Google has also released a site mapping tool that provides the googlebot even more detailed information about your site and its content.  Remember, the better that the googlebot understands your site, its purpose, it understands your company and its purpose, and can more accurately present it when web surfers are looking for stuff you do.

Google has released a product called Google Analytics.  It provides extremely detailed information about your web traffic.  It shows where your traffic comes from, how they found your site, what browsers they use, how many pages they click on, how long they are on your site, the order in which they navigate your site, how many visitors are unique, what networks they come from, what country, state, and city they are in, and so much more.  This information is critical for understanding how users get to your site and what they do once they are there.  It helps us with conversion.  It helps us see when a user clicks out of your site.  Do they get all the way to the end of the conversion funnel, and bounce on the last step?  Why?  Let's rebuild that last page to help with their conversion.  Understand? 

Intent and conversion
Since the goolgebot understands our site, it shows our site to people when they are looking for related information.  That means that we get traffic that intends to find us.  That helps with our conversion, and thus our bottom line.  Your conversion success, often described as your conversion rate, is a factor of two things.  Intent -- did the person arrive to your site because they were looking for something you provide, and your site's ability to enable a visitor to easily convert at the price they want with confidence.  

For example, I am looking to buy a T-Shirt online.  Let's say Google is smart enough to show me your site because it knows I intend to buy a T-Shirt and you just happen to sell T-Shirts.  Great, step 1 is done...getting a user to your site.  But step 2 is the hard part, step 2 is conversion.  If your store is too hard to use, I bounce out of your site to find another.  If your site doesn't include pictures for me to see the T-Shirts, I bounce.  If your site doesn't have an Add To Cart button that is big and easy to see, I bounce.  If I get a funny feeling because your site doesn't look professional and thus I can't trust your company's ability to deliver a T-Shirt and not steal my credit card information, I'll bounce.  If your site doesn't have SSL security, I bounce.  I could go on and on, but the point is this.  Once you get someone to your site, it has to be easy for them to convert.  And while conversion is not traditionally part of the SEO project, it is part of the project as we see it, and as we are engaged to help.

SEO is an extremely specialized discipline.  It requires keeping current on the googlebot's algorithms, checking and rechecking site ranking, monitoring content, tracking analytics, watching conversion rate, and more.  It takes a lot of work, and a lot of specialized knowledge.  Thus, we engage a trusted partner for all of our SEO and web marketing projects.  She lives, eats, and sleeps SEO.  Everything will run through us, but her and her team of experts will handle the all of the details and execution.  So, if you need help with this, we can help coordinate the entire web marketing and seo project.

I will leave you with a story
I wanted to buy a play set for our children for our backyard.  I did a quick web search.  I was taken to a beautiful website.  It let me see all of their play sets with full color photos.  I saw kids playing on them with big smiles on their faces.  I then read about why the wood that this company uses is the best.  You see, kids won't get splinters and the wood doesn't need annual staining.  I also read how their play sets were designed so that parents could play too.  To top it off, I was able to design my own play set using their web tools, and then click it to view a 3D rendering of the play set.  I could zoom in, and zoom out, fly up and down, all around my play set.  Well, obviously, there was no other play set I could choose.  So, I looked for pricing.  It wasn't there.  I was so bummed, because I really didn't want to talk to a sales person just to get pricing.  They encouraged me to fill out a form, and they promised to mail me a full color catalog with prices and an informational DVD.  Well, two days later as promised, I received my package.  I immediately popped in the DVD and saw the kids playing and laughing and dancing and prancing, interviews with the children who loved their play sets, and interviews with parents who loved how safe the play sets were.  After the short video, I was absolutely convinced that no other play set could possibly be good enough for my kids.  They had me.  I knew I was getting sucked in by their marketing genius, but I didn't care.  They had exactly what I was looking for.  I was lured all the way from a Google web search.  Even though I was aware the entire time of their plot to get my money, I was ok with it.  I was in awe of how masterfully their marketing department planned out every detail and the entire experience.  Well, to finish the story, I opened the price catalog and the prices were out of my budget.  Like, way out of my budget.  However, with an additional web search, I was able to find that this company made play sets under a different brand name that was sold through Sams Club for a fraction of the cost.  And we bought it.  And yes, it is everything that we hoped it would be and more.  Our kids love it, and we do too.  That is exactly how web marketing can bring random customers to your site, and how bringing the right person to your site leads to a conversion. 

Web Marketing