Consider SEO and SEM

We all use search engines to find things online. Popular search engines include Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo,, Swisscows, StartPage, and many others.

There are thousands of well-designed websites, but few are visible on search engines. Almost 90% of internet users today use search engines to find the information they need, and over 3.5 billion searches are done per day worldwide. Search engines have a great capacity to drive traffic to your site, yet many businesses are not registered with search engines, and few new entrepreneurs have the know-how to tap into this resource.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are key terms people use when discussing search engines as a marketing tool.

Search Engine Optimization: a method of getting your website pages to rank higher in search engines, or to appear at the top of the SERPs. Traffic to your website that comes through SEO is referred to as “organic search traffic.”

Search Engine Marketing: similar in concept to SEO, SEM uses paid advertising to increase your search rankings and ensure that your business’s products or services are visible in the search results. It is also known as pay-per-click (PPC).

Key components of successful search engine optimization for a website:

  • Start with a descriptive domain name: The domain name you choose is important because the name itself can help your website be more relevant to search engines. Pick a domain name that is easy for your clients to remember.
  • Submit to the top engines: Submit your website for review and indexing only to the top search engines where people are actually doing their searches such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. Be careful to read the submission guidelines for each search engine before submitting. For example, have a look at Google’s search engine guidelines. Check in with Google frequently as they sometimes have classes for the business owner on how to master optimization on their platform.
  • Make sure your business is included in common business listings online. Register for Google Places and other business listings. The more your business is visible on the internet, the higher your optimization will go.
  • Focus on your homepage: Your homepage is the single most important page on your site. Your homepage represents your business and its image. Make sure you focus on developing the content and the relevancy to search engines for this page.
  • Develop content-rich pages: Add content that includes keywords and phrases you are targeting. Many search engines consider the location of the keywords in your site along with their frequency to assess how relevant your site is to those keywords.
  • Keep an eye on your competition: Stay informed of your competition’s rankings. Top-ranked pages rank well for a reason – so see what you can do to be more competitive! Can you offer something they do not offer?
  • Add new content: Keep your website fresh and updated with new content. Your visitors will appreciate it, and the search engines will look favorably upon it.
  • Networking with others: Expand your “link popularity” by gaining more inbound links to your site. Get the word out and let other sites know about your site and how to link to it. The more links coming into your site, the more doorways you open for visitors to find you.
  • Title tags: Make sure the title tags across all the pages on your site are relevant to that particular page. Your domain name is not a good idea for a title tag. Make sure your title tag fits what your business does and matches content on your website.
  • Pay- Per-Click Advertising: Consider “pay-per-click” strategies to enhance your overall marketing strategy. Pay-per-click offers local search options to better reach a targeted audience and will allow you to choose a maximum dollar amount per day that you are willing to spend to fit your budget.
  • Review your activity logs: “Activity logs” or “server statistics” provide you with statistics on the number of visitors coming to your site, where the visitors come from and what keywords are used. Some web servers/hosts provide this information free. Google also offers this as a free service called Google Analytics.

Provide useful content

Don’t just sell! These days, it’s not enough to have a website that lists your products (and services) and provides a shopping cart for purchases. If you want your visitors to return, you’ll want to provide meaningful content and a mix of “Serve” and “Sell” based content.

Serve” based content is information that you are providing to address the needs of your user, follower, or customer. For example, a tax consultant site could publish tax tips and offer links to IRS forms. A catering service could offer blog posts on how to host a successful party.

Sell” based content is like the name suggests – it is meant to sell something to a user, follower, or customer.

On your website, this additional content could be in the form of a blog, a landing page (a specific web page you design as part of your online marketing to capture leads), or informative pages like “Top Ten” lists, “How To,” instructions, “Before and After” images, customer case studies/testimonials or a photo gallery of past projects, or a “Helpful Resources” page. You can update this content once a week, month, or quarter, whatever works for you, to keep visitors checking back.

The content can be used on both your website and social media channels as a means to bring visitors from your website to your social, and vice versa, to encourage cross-promotion.

Optimize your site for mobile viewing

The majority of internet browsing today is done on mobile devices. Most website builder platforms have templates that are built for desktop, tablet, and mobile views, so be sure to check each view to make sure that your website displays correctly. If you have advanced features, test them on mobile devices to make sure searching, scheduling, ordering, or purchasing can be done just as easily as with a desktop computer.

Utilize social media to drive website traffic

Include access to your social media accounts on your website. Place your social media icons with appropriate links into your navigation headers and footers. This shows you are active on social media and encourages your customers to engage with you beyond your website.

Below is an example of “serve” based content in a social media post form that directs a user back to the website. This example is from a bakery. This example is of the text-only; the full post would also include a compelling image:

Cake decorating for beginners! Learn how to make beautiful cakes for any occasion! Visit our website this week for simple and easy frosting techniques, our favorite pro tips and tricks, fun ideas, and a short list of tools to enhance your designs.Join us on Facebook Live this Wednesday as we create a beautiful ombré floral buttercream birthday cake. Link in bio.

Examples of a “sell” based content as a social media post from the same bakery, that would prompt a customer to inquire or visit the website for more information:

Learn everything you need to know about cake decorating! Take our Cake Decorating 101 course and learn simple frosting techniques, piping tips, fondant application and more!Online or in-person classes offered! Take just one or the whole series. Receive 20% off any item in the bakery with a class purchase! (Equipment & tools included!) . Transform your cake designs for all your upcoming occasions, get started today!Have questions? Feel free to comment below!
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