You’ve just launched your new website (or launched the redesign) and now you’re sitting back waiting for the orders to roll in. But wait a minute, something’s wrong… there don’t seem to be any. It’s as if your site doesn’t exist.
Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but unless you have either a well publicised site or many websites linking to yours, you’re going to have to rely on the search engines. And if your site doesn’t rank in the first three result pages, it’s more than likely you won’t be found at all.
So… you know what’s coming next; that’s right, you need a good dose of search engine marketing (SEM) to make sure your site gets listed on the search engines’ results pages. Do this and the traffic to your website will soon follow.
“Right”, I hear you say. “Let’s do some search engine marketing then…”
Well that’s certainly a good start! But first you have to work out your approach to maximise your returns. Let’s call this your search engine marketing strategy. In order to create an effective strategy you need to understand a bit more about how search engine marketing works. Currently, we can roughly-speaking separate search engine marketing into two different approaches:
- Organic: including search engine optimisation, links from other websites and offline marketing.
- Paid: including pay per click, paid submission and online advertising (banner ads).
So to help you further, I’ve listed below the advantages and disadvantages to each approach to SEM and outlined my recommendations.
- The majority of the work behind search engine optimisation (SEO) is a one-off activity, and so is usually charged out at a set upfront fee.
- The changes made to your website will probably still be relevant and driving traffic to your site a year from now.
- Credibility: most people (research indicates between 60 and 80 percent) will click on the organic results rather than the sponsored (paid) results.
- If you rank well in one of the major search engines (Google/Yahoo/MSN), you will most likely show up in the majority of the search engines worldwide.
- Changes must be made to your website’s code. Normally the changes are invisible to visitors. However, if you have invested heavily in a search engine-unfriendly site, the process can be time-consuming and costly; and occasionally significant changes may need to be made to your site’s copy, navigation or design. Of course ultimately, you’ll see returns if you commit to the necessary changes.
- Results (rankings and traffic) start slowly. You will normally see results within 3-4 months.
- There can be no guarantee. As the search engines themselves have the final say, you can’t predict how many rankings you’ll get for a particular search term or engine; nor can you predict how much traffic you’ll get to your site.
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising programs are fast to implement. It usually takes two to three weeks to set up and run. Google AdWords are up-and-running as soon as