When you have a question or want to try and find something that you need, how many times do you turn to your nearest connected device and do a search on Google?
If you are one of these people, then it’s not surprising given there are 3.5 billion searches performed every day on Google.
As a business owner, being present when people are actively looking for your product can allow you to tap into a gold mine. There is no better time to be relevant and of interest to potential customers than at the very moment that they are actively looking for a solution. The next question is how to be present in the search results?
What is search?
When people talk about ‘Search’ they are referring to using Google, Bing or other search engines to market themselves. The aim is to have your website appear in the search results at the point in time that people are actively searching for information or products that you are able to provide. Google call these ‘micro moments’ in the sale cycle. Being in the top positions on page one of the list of results is the key to success.
Search (marketing) is a broad term that covers:
- Paid search or Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising where you pay, or more accurately bid, to place ads on the search engine when people search for your target keyword
- Organic search (or natural search) is when you appear in the search results without payment and just on the merits of how relevant your content is to the searcher. How relevant your content is, is determined by the rules set by the actual search engines themselves ie. Google).
Just about everything gets indexed by the search engines. Text, images, videos and Google offer a whole heap of additional value with other things like local search and shopping. Showing up as much as possible when people are searching is the key to search marketing success.
ORGANIC OR NATURAL SEARCH RESULTS
What matters with Search marketing – The main thing to understand
Search is one of the most powerful forms of marketing that you can have in place as part of your marketing and acquisition activities. It’s powerful because at the very moment of need or inquiry, you can show up in the list of ‘potential’ websites and bring yourself to the ‘searcher’s’ attention.
This is where understanding what words people use to search for your product or service is absolutely key and fundamental to a good search marketing approach.
The words that people use to search with are called your ‘keywords’ or ‘keyword phrases’. You can have broad terms that are generally about your topic or you can be very specific.
Generally, the more specific you are, the more success you will have.
This is what we call keyword intent. Think about the following.
If you were thinking about buying a new TV, for example, what would you search for? You might search for any one or all of the following:
What kind of TV do I need? What’s the current technologies and which brand is reputable?
If this is your first thought, then you might search for reviews, comparisons and the types of TV’s that are available. At this stage you don’t know what kind of TV you want. So you need to understand the options and also the pros and cons of each of these. You want to understand which TV will best suit you.
Who sells the type of TV that I want?
Once you know the type of TV you’re after you will then want to know who and where to get it from. The search queries will likely become much more precise and narrow eg. Models or manufacturers.
The search queries will be quite different to the ones above.
How much, delivery, warranty?
Once you’ve found a store or place to purchase from, you then hone in on the best deal, the return and warranty policies, if it’s in stock, where you can collect it from or the delivery costs.
Showing up in the search results for each of these different types of search queries is the way to make sure you’re being helpful, getting noticed and increasing the odds that someone will choose to purchase from you.
So to make organic search effective you must:
- Have content on your website that matches with the search queries that people are using, particularly the intent of their search. Google will only show results that they assess as being the best match for the users search query. They won’t show your page with a dozen or so TV’s when the person is asking for ‘reviews’ or latest tv technology.
- Your website must be what Google considers to be a ‘good user experience’. They will take things like; are you mobile ready, the speed of your site and how long others stay on your website or bounce off it ( more on this later).
- How does Google determine what to show and what not to show on the coveted first page of the search results?
Google determine what to show based on a mathematical algorithm that assesses things such as:
- Keywords and how closely they match the search query
- How much the page deals with the topic of the search query
- Images, links in and out of the page, they like users to be able to continue to ‘find’ the information they need
- Length of the page, Google do prefer longer content of more substance
- Volume of traffic, particularly if there are other pages just as ‘relevant’ as yours.
- Mobile readiness
- Engagement with the content eg. Time on page
To rank in the organic search results does take time and to be quite honest, depending on your competition, you may never to be able to rank as number one on the first page. If there is a lot of competition, and they have more traffic and interaction than your page, then it will be difficult.
The key things to make sure you have checked off are:
- Get your website SEO hygiene in order. By hygiene, we mean all of the things that Google will mark you down for, ie. a non-mobile ready site, slow speeds, high bounce rate and low time spent on page as mentioned above.
- Focus on creating a great resource or page of content to match the keywords you are trying to rank for. A great experience or content that is for the user not Google is always the best approach.
- On your page, make sure you have the following things on the page, and ensure that they feature the keyword.
a. Page description (in the code)
b. H1 Tags
c. Page title
d. First 100 words that talk about your topic and include your keyword.
- Niche down so that you are targeting most relevant words, instead of trying to rank for the most obvious (broad) and popular of search terms. This will give you the unique advantage of being able to be the perfect fit for those looking for exactly what you have to offer.
If you are in a highly competitive field, ranking naturally may be difficult, so you might also consider a paid search campaign. You would also consider a paid search campaign if you are in hurry to see results or you have a promotion or offer that is time sensitive.
Paid search is when you pay to have your ad appear when a person uses the particular keyword you want to appear for. You must ‘bid’ for the keyword so that means that you may or not appear depending on how much you bid for the right to ‘appear.
Paid results appear at the top of the page and come with sophisticated targeting and retargeting options and is a great way to get noticed if you’re not having any luck with organic search listings.
However, it’s not true that by simply throwing money at a paid search campaign you will appear. Your ad still needs to be relevant and within the guidelines that Google have laid down. Google actually give your ads a relevancy score. If you are perceived as being less relevant to a ‘searcher’, Google will charge you more or prioritise a more relevant ad ahead of yours.
The elements of a paid search campaign that you will need to think about are:
- The keywords/phrases that you are targeting
- How much you will need to bid on each one of the keywords
- Your ad copy and how effective it is at driving someone to click through
- How much competition there is for your particular keywords.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it will give you a great start.
Paid search is a great way to get a page one listing and attention that may not be possible (just yet or in the short term) with organic search.
USING PAID AND ORGANIC TOGETHER
Using the two search tactics together can yield very strong results. Consider the following.
- Paid search – produces results very quickly and with strategic and refined targeting can be also cost effective.
- Organic search takes a long time so while you build out your organic search presence, the paid search will produce an effective acquisition funnel.
- There is research that indicates that having paid search listings on a page will reduce the organic listing click throughs by about 30%. This means that having a paid listing on a page with a high ranking organic listing will increase your likelihood of receiving a click through (ie. Two listings on the first page in the top results). However, this only applies to the top ranking results. If your organic listing is further down the page, ads do not necessarily increase your likelihood of a click through. Reference Search Engine Land
- Paid search can fill in the gaps where you have not been able to rank organically.
THINGS TO ROCKET YOUR SEARCH RESULTS
Some additional things to think about to rocket your ‘discover-ability’ with search are:
- If you’re a local business make sure that you are verified by Google and able to appear on their map. Ensure that you have optimised for the location that you do business at.
- You can boost your likelihood of appearing on a page on either organic search results or on the local listings map if you’ve got some customer reviews. So get yourself a Google plus account and encourage people to give you a review.
- If you’re selling a physical thing – be on Google shop. If you combine this with some paid promotion you can appear on page one with a prominent image and shop listing.
- Do some YouTube videos. YouTube is a Google owned property and trusts it as an authoritative site. The videos of YouTube are indexed and if you linked back to your website it will add some link juice to help with the ranking of your organic listings.
- Focus on quality content – no quick bounces.
- Use social media to boost your search results, a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook or Pinterest will help you appear in the search results as well as boosting your traffic. You may find this guide on Social media channels and how to work out which one best suits your business useful.
A few footnotes:
Recently there have been a few developments which indicate the following tactics are no longer valuable SEO tactics.
- Keywords in your domain name (link). There is evidence that Google are starting to see this as a spam tactic and will likely cause a careful review of your content.
- Authoritative and numerous amounts of inbound links. This is a hotly debated topic and something to keep across. Google have indicated that they are starting decrease the importance of this factor.