Imagine you’ve just finished the next iteration of your website, the perfect representation of your business in bits and bytes.
One thing: How do you expect your future customers to find it?
This might seem like a silly question, but we see too many small business owners sitting back and expecting customers to magically stumble onto their websites. Sadly, even the most beautiful website in the world won’t draw customers if it’s not optimized for SEO (search engine optimization), utilizing PPC (pay-per-click advertising), or some combination of both.
The upside is that you can succeed in digital marketing by paying attention to a few key details. Here’s a primer.
There have been search engine optimization experts nearly as long as there have been search engines, with numerous blogs keeping track of every tiny tweak the 800-pound gorilla, Google, makes to its algorithm. But as an entrepreneur, you can start by mastering a few key things:
- On-page SEO: These are the things that you can add to your site to make it easier for search engines to find you:
- Use keywords in page titles and make sure the page URLs reflect those keyword-friendly titles. Include headings throughout the page that include additional keywords (and also make it easier for your customer to quickly understand the page).
- Write descriptive and keyword-heavy image captions, since the alt-text is one of the next places search engines look.
- Make sure your site includes a sitemap and user-friendly navigation.
- Make sure your site loads fast – this is increasingly a factor as more and more pageviews happen on mobile devices.
- Off-page SEO: These tactics take place outside the walls of your site, but can help a lot when potential customers are searching for you:
- Claim the name of your business in every listing service and social media site you can: Google Maps, Google My Business, Twitter and Facebook (even if you’re not planning to use them right away – make sure you have your name so no one else does). Don’t forget about some of the more obscure ones: Are you on Google+? (Any Google product will help). Bing Maps? (You never know).
- Encourage link building: Getting other sites to link back to yours has a huge impact on your SEO results. Each link is like a “vote” in the eyes of a search engine that your site contains authoritative, valuable information. Is your company doing something newsworthy that you could share with a local news site? Do you work with partners who would be willing to blog about you if you do the same for them?
All that said, the most certain and reliable way to build SEO is to consistently create content your customers want to find. That’s right, the humble blog. As search engines continuously get “smarter,” genuine and useful content will win the day. Unless you’re fluent in growth hacking, most SEO “tricks” aren’t worth your time as a small business owner.
If you use WordPress, the popular plugin Yoast can help make sure that your blog posts are optimized. But the most important thing is to write, and write consistently.
With PPC, we enter the world of paid advertising. As the name “Pay Per Click” implies, you pay the advertising company (usually a search engine like Google or social network like Facebook) each time a user clicks on your ad. The amount per click can range from pennies to close to $50 for the most competitive keywords – though most keywords have a cost per click of about $1-2.
The advantages of PPC are that you can start driving traffic to your website right away. With advanced targeting, you can choose to show your ads only to people who are likely to become customers. And for data nerds, there is plenty to dig into when analyzing keywords, conversion rates, A/B testing and more.
On the flip side, with PPC, the clicks stop when the money stops — where in the world of SEO, your best blog posts can drive traffic to your site for years to come.
Our philosophy is that a healthy customer acquisition strategy includes a mix of SEO, PPC and more.
A note on landing pages:
Let’s go back to that ideal website. Are the landing pages ready to convert? Whether the potential customers find your website through SEO, PPC, social media or some other way, it’s your job to make sure they know what to do when they get there.
It’s important for you to have a goal in mind when considering your landing pages. Are you hoping the customer will pick up the phone and call you? Provide their email so you can follow up? Read your blog to learn more about you? Make sure the goal is realistic and in line with how your customer wants to buy your category of products or services.
Then, look at your landing page with fresh eyes. Is it easy to scan? Do the headings, text, images and design help lead people to your goal?
McNary Marketing and Design can help.
Whether you’re a SEO and PPC newbie or are looking to level up, McNary Marketing and Design can help make sure you’re on the right track. Contact us to chat more about your business’ needs.