Businesses need to work hard to be seen and heard among their competitors – and in digital marketing, competition is especially intense.
Those websites that show up on the first page of your Google search are employing a range of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tactics to be there, namely Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Google AdWords. The more popular the search term, the harder they have worked to be there.
Search Engine Optimisation
SEO is important because it’s critical in driving ‘organic’ traffic and sales to your site (i.e. traffic that comes purely through people discovering your site through search and clicking on your link rather than via an advert). It does this by improving the chances of your website being ranked in the top ten by Google’s ranking algorithms (which they regularly change, probably as a helpful way of keeping us digital marketing folks all employed).
When people type a search term into Google, the site searches for the most relevant content it can find and orders the results based on what it thinks you are looking for. It does this using 200+ ranking factors which relate to:
- Keyword usage in your content and in your site’s headings and metadata
- Site structure and speed
- Amount of time people have spent on your site
- Number and quality of inbound links
If your site is currently battling to make the front page of search results it will be due to a combination of the above factors. The good news is it can be fixed. The not so great news – it can take a little time for your site to make its way back up the rankings. When we work on a client’s SEO performance, we use a range of online tools to test your site performance and determine where the biggest problems sit, as well as what keywords you should be focused on. Some of these are addressed through ‘online’ SEO improvements within the website such as design, layout, titles, and keyword use in metadata and content. ‘Offline’ SEO activities are also important to building your site’s visibility and focus on building the number of high-quality inbound links. This is usually by getting content published on other websites through directory submissions, article submissions, and posting in forums. This is the hardest area of SEO because it takes time to create the content, plus much of it relies on building relationships with sites or paying to have your content published through sponsored articles/placements.
With the exception of the paid placements, SEO is a free way to boost your organic traffic. Google features your page high in the rankings because of the quality and relevance of your site’s content relevant to the search terms.
While your site is busy climbing the rankings through SEO, one way to drastically improve your chances of your site showing up on the front page of Google search results is by advertising through Google AdWords.
Also termed ‘Cost per Click’ (CPC) advertising, this service allows you to pay for your website listing to show up based on parameters you set. You determine how much you are willing to spend ‘per click’, the keywords you want your site to appear for, and for who based on their location. It’s important to understand your keywords – how many others are competing on the same terms, search volumes and ad structure – to make sure you are getting the best value from your spend.
What should I focus on first?
This is not an ‘either-or’ scenario – we always recommend you focus on both. But in small to medium businesses, we know it’s not always possible to do everything at once. Here are a few considerations if you want to decide which to tackle first.
If you would like to talk through your site’s current SEO performance and/or AdWords campaigns, drop us an email or give us a call!