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Increasing profits for small businesses through search engine marketing

Dale Goetsch
Search Innovation
June 19, 2002

The Problem: Increase Profits

As a small business owner or manager, you have one principal goal: increase your profits. Whether you are a sole proprietor looking to increase your own income, or a corporate manager looking to increase shareholder equity, your bottom line is the bottom line. Whether you need to move more widgets or provide more services, ultimately you need to increase your income by expanding your revenue while decreasing your expenses. You need to reach new customers, and keep your current customers coming back for more.

How do you solve the problem: Communication

If you want people to purchase your goods and services, they need to know that you exist, and what you can do for them. You need to communicate information about your products and services to as many potential customers as possible. This requires more than just broadcasting your message. To be truly efficient, you need to tell your story to those who will actually want to do business with you. You need to focus your efforts.

How do you communicate: Advertising

There are several media available to you for getting your message across. The most basic is simple word-of-mouth. This costs you nothing, but you also have very little control over how your message is communicated. For a small, local business, this may work fine, but in the Internet age, where your customers probably don't come from a small neighborhood, this is not enough.

Traditional electronic media are available to you. Local radio and television spots can reach a great number of people in your community. The question here, however, is just who your message is reaching. These ads are focused on a rather broad demographic: sugary cereals on Saturday mornings, razors and fast cars on sports shows, and so on. If this is sufficiently focused for you, you may be in good shape, except that these spots can be fairly costly. A 30-second radio spot can cost $100 or more, depending on the market; a television ad can cost over $1000 for the same spot, with network spots going for much more. In addition, there are production costs, with professional actors, editing, and so forth. They are also pretty ethereal--when the ad is finished, it goes away.

Print advertising has the advantage that it doesn't disappear when the reader has finished looking at your ad. They can go back and look at it again. For local coverage, print advertising can be pretty inexpensive. A four-line classified ad in the local newspaper costs practically nothing. Even display ads can be fairly inexpensive, given that you will reach a large number of people. For national coverage, print can become quite expensive. The rate sheet for a respected national new magazine charges over $200,000 for a one-page color ad in their national edition!

In all these cases, you have to look at who is being targeted. In print ad, you are looking at everybody who reads the magazine or newspaper. Does everybody who reads that publication want to buy your product? If not, then this is probably not the most efficient use of your marketing dollar. Even with focused traditional electronic media, you may be reaching a broader segment of the population than you want to--you may not be interested in all women in the 18-49 group, for example.

What about the World Wide Web? We've all seen banner ads on websites. These may get your message to a more focused group, but there are problems that come with banner ads. Banner ads have become so ubiquitous that many people simply ignore them. Or worse, they have software that will actually remove them from web pages as they view the pages. Your message doesn't get to anybody that way.

Pop-up ads and their newer incarnation, the pop-under ad, are often not appreciated by users on the Web. Having several browsers opened on a user's desktop can be quite disconcerting for them.

What is the most cost-effective, focused way to communicate with your market: Your Web Site

You probably already have a website; otherwise you are probably looking seriously at creating a presence on the Web. Your website works for you 24/7; people can always come to your site to see what you have to offer. You reach people who want what you have, because they come looking for you. They want what you have, and they want to hear your story.

How do people reach your website: Search Engine Marketing

If you have a famous brand, people will have an easy time reaching your website. If, however, you aren't a Fortune 500 company, it may be a bit tougher. Search Engine Marketing may be just the thing for you. You want your website to have high visibility, with the goal of leading qualified traffic to you. How much more qualified could your prospects be than to have them actually looking for you?

Marketing via Search Engines may be the most cost-effective techniques available to you. Many Search Engines will list your site for free; others for a relatively small fee. Just because your site is listed on the popular Search Engines, however, doesn't mean you're home free. Have you ever done a search and seen that there were a million matches for your search terms? Have you ever tried to look at the one-millionth match? Usually people are interested in only the first page or two of results--typically the first thirty matches or so. If you happen to be number 31, you are out of luck.

How do I get on top: Search Engine Promotion

We know how to get you to the top of these lists of Search Engine returns, and to keep you there. While nobody can guarantee results, we can greatly improve your site's ranking on the major Search Engines. If anybody tells you that they can guarantee you a #1 ranking, don't believe them. There are no tricks to achieving a better ranking, but there is hard work, combined with experience, that will move you up into the coveted "top thirty" spots. We have that knowledge; we have that experience.

Search Engine Promotion: How we do it

We want you to achieve a sustainable high ranking in Search Engines that people actually use, and to do so at a price you can afford. Our Code of Ethics is your assurance that we will put all our efforts behind your site. The details are important to you, and they are important to us. We can work with you and your website developer to make sure your site ranks as highly as possible.

Working with your small to mid-sized website, we can:

  • Prepare an initial ranking report, to help you better understand how you are already positioned in the Search Engines
  • Work with you to select appropriate keywords to incorporate into your site.
  • Select an appropriate category for your inclusion in the human-edited directories.
  • Perform a thorough website review, to let you know which parts of your site could be made more Search Engine-friendly.
  • Make suggestions for additional content you may wish to include on your site.
  • Verify the usability of your site. Getting people to your site is important; keeping them there, helping them to find what they are looking for is vital.
  • Test the functionality of your site.
  • Perform an analysis and review of websites of your competitors. If you want to rank higher than them, you need to understand the strategies they are employing.
  • Provide a complete set of Search Engine optimization components for you to include in the pages on your website.
  • Provide detailed instructions for you or your website developer on how to implement the suggestions and components.
  • Submissions to the major free Search Engines and Directories.
  • Submissions to the major paid Search Engines and Directories.
  • Re-submit your site as necessary.
  • Provide a follow-up ranking report, to see how your site's ranking has increased through implementation of these recommendations.
  • Link popularity strategy campaign, to assure that other sites are pointing toward you.
    Ongoing traffic analysis to find out how site visitors are finding you.

We look forward to the opportunity to put our experience to work for you. Drop us a note at info@searchinnovation.com and see how we can help increase your ranking in the Search Engines and Directories.

About the author
Dale Goetsch is the Technical Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing (http://www.searchinnovation.com), a Search Engine Promotion company serving small businesses and non-profits. He has over twelve years experience in software development. Along with programming in Perl, JavaScript, ASP and VB, he is a technical writer and editor, with an emphasis on making technical subjects accessible to non-technical readers.

Copyright © 2002-2004 Search Innovation Marketing. http://www.searchinnovation.com All Rights Reserved.

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