Have you ever been in this scenario? Perhaps you’re a brand new company that just made a website, and you’re struggling to come up on Google. Or maybe you’re a well-established brand in a competitive market, and can’t seem to break into the top page of search results. No matter where you fall in that spectrum, it can be both frustrating and potentially detrimental to your business. After all, customers need to be able to find you in order to generate leads or sales. Don’t panic–there are things you can do, both in the short and long term, to help ensure your business is found when people search.
#1 Thing NOT to Do
Keep Googling yourself to see where you rank or how you come up. Why? That’s another subject explained here.
The Science of Organic Ranking
Search engine optimization, machine learning, algorithms, rank brain, schema, meta data… If you’ve tried to dabble in the world of organic rankings, you’ve probably run across a boatload of industry jargon. And you’re probably more confused than ever regarding what it actually takes these days to find favor with search engines such as Google.
Google is still the king of search, bringing in more search volume than any other search engine, so naturally it tends to be the one marketers are most concerned about. Google uses a (mostly) secret and proprietary formula called an algorithm to determine what results it shows whenever a user searches for something. The algorithm is constantly changing day to day as it gathers data about how people interact with those results, with major algorithm updates happening a few times a year. Without getting into too much nerdery here, the key takeaway is that SEO is a moving target. What got you to page one of search results a few years ago is not the same today. And what gets you there today may not be good enough tomorrow. Google gives some broad tips and hints about best practices for websites in order to get found, but where you rank will also depend largely on a lot of other factors–many of which you can’t control.
The Long Game
Plan to learn and do as much SEO yourself as you do your own auto mechanics or dental work. Being knowledgeable and doing some groundwork yourself is great. The rest is a very niche industry and skill set. Here’s what you need to know. Search engine optimization (also known as SEO) is most effective as a long-term strategy. Progress rarely happens overnight, or even over a few weeks or months. In fact, pages ranking in the top 10 organic search results are 2+ years old on average (make that 3 years old for the coveted #1 position). This is why you often won’t see immediate results from your SEO work, but over time you should see a cumulative effect by way of increasing organic traffic. For many of our clients a monthly plan to keep building on SEO improvements such as high-quality content generation and meta data optimization can be very effective in helping to grow organic traffic.
Pay to Play: The Fast-Track to Getting Found
But what if you don’t have time to wait for results? If your business needs to find online traffic quickly, paying for online ads on Google, Bing, Facebook, etc. should be a part of your marketing mix. Doing paid ads on Google provides the opportunity to show up on page 1 of search results (often above the organic results) in a short time frame. It also allows you to target very specifically and choose your own budget.
I’m doing Okay Organically, Why Would I Pay for Ads?
Because they work! Did you know that according to Google 40% of all clicks on Google search result pages go to the top three ad placements? Just take a look at Amazon as a great example. Even though Amazon performs amazingly well from an organic standpoint, they still round out the list of top spenders on Google Ads, year after year. They know that if you’re not running ads, you’re losing clicks and customers to someone else who is.
Google has also done a lot over the last few years to improve the ad experience, both for advertisers and for Google users. For the advertiser, targeting options have never been better! You can quickly find people who are looking for what you offer right now, who are searching for answers, who fit your demographics/psychographics, who are reading about things related to what you do, and more. They’ve also given ads the best placement on most search result pages, helping ensure people see your ads. From a user standpoint, Google has required advertisers to provide high relevance (no more clicking on an ad and going to a totally unrelated landing page). Google wants the ads to be useful to the user, and as a result quality has gone up significantly over the last 3-5 years. Lots of people click on ads every day, stealing away plenty of traffic from organic search results.
Nothing is Free
Remember too that although you don’t directly pay for clicks from organic traffic, it’s certainly not a “free” traffic source at the end of the day. Ranking well organically rarely happens by accident; it’s typically the result of lots of behind-the-scenes work on crafting useful, interesting, or entertaining content that people are searching for. All that content takes time and resources to create, but the long-term benefits can be far reaching in terms of consistently driving traffic to your website.
If you’re struggling to get found and drive traffic to your site, or just need help figuring out where to get started, contact us today.