SEO - Search Engine Optimization Services
The Searchlight Interactive Search Engine Optimization Process (four phases to SEO success). (Why is SEO important? Read Making the case for SEO)
- Competitive analysis and market evaluation
a. Clearly define goals and objectives
b. Keyword research
c. Competitive analysis
d. Current search engine rankings (if site exists)
e. Known & potential audiences (growth areas)
SEO site analysis and optimization
a. Structure/code health
b. Overall and page-level content
c. Navigation methodology and location
d. Search Engine index status
e. Inbound link quality and quantity
f. Page content, organization, hierarchy, design
Track, report, improve organic ranking (and repeat until stable, high rankings are achieved)
As of January 24, 2008, the Bureau of Census calculated a total U.S. population of more than 303 million. At the same time, there are an estimated 211 million Internet users in the U.S. Another way of putting it:
Approximately 69% of the U.S. population uses the Internet.
(source: Internet World Stats, 2007)
Gen Y represents the second largest segment of the U.S. population (behind the baby boomers). As Gen Yers enter the work force and replace the boomers, the percentage of the population using the Internet will continue to grow. Consider that most of Gen Y have never known life without the Internet, and, as the chart below indicates, they spend the majority of their time online (even more than watching TV or talking on the phone).
(source: 2006 Market Directions survey)
How potential customers find you on the Web
For most businesses, their web site should be a key tool to increase awareness, build brand and deliver potential customers. And when you boil it all down, there are truly only a few ways people learn about your website.
- Word of mouth (or word of "mouse" - referrals, discussions, recommendations)
- Paid advertising (online and offline)
- By using search engines (Google, Yahoo, AOL/MSN etc.) to search for topics related to your services or products or drilling down through online directories
- Links to your site pages from other sites
- Earned or paid media (mention directly on news sites or by information/news aggregators)
With time, money and the right talent, you can use some or all of the above to help build your brand and drive traffic to your website.
How "findable" is your business?
Generally, the foundation to a strong online presence is high rankings among the search engine results pages (SERPs). What do we mean? Go to Google, Yahoo or any other search engine, and see how you rank for some obvious phrases:
- type in your exact business name (you should be at the top of the results list)
- type in your core products or services, one at a time (e.g., if you sell Toshiba flat screen televisions, or rent Italian villas, or run a national model rocketry association, type in those words and variations of those words)
How do you rank? Do you see your site in the top 10, 20, 30 results? Are you there for all of your key products or services?
- If your target audience is only regional or local, make sure to include geographic detail in your searches (e.g., Charleston South Carolina marketing, or Washington DC web design, etc.) How do you rank for geo-specific searches?
Search engine significance
For business to consumer - B2C companies, it is worth noting that consumers most often look for local products or services when making a purchase. A recent survey (below) indicates that consumers predominantly use the Internet (search engines, online yellow pages, consumer review websites) to find a local business from which to buy.
(source: A WebVisible/Nielsen NetRatings survey, September 2007)
For business to business - B2B companies, the importance of the Internet in influencing purchase decisions is even higher.
85% of business buyers use the Internet during the purchase process
Even more telling, 63% of business buyers report starting their processes with either a general or B2B-specific search engine (see below).
(source: Enquiro Search Solutions, 2007)
Much like the steady growth in overall Internet use in the U.S., the number of annual searches online has experienced double digit percentage growth during the last few years.
"The double-digit increase [55%]* in online search activity marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Internet consumer behavior," said Ken Cassar, senior director of analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings. "Online search is the primary tool most people rely on to do everyday research."
*Referring to growth in total searches, Dec 2004 vs. 2005 (U.S.)
(Source: Nielsen//NetRatings MegaView Search, February 2006)
Low ranking equals lost opportunity/customers
There have been many more studies during the last five years that prove the significance of search engines as a source for information on the web. Search engines are the portals from which people find information. Google dominates the market (with around 62% of the searches) and Yahoo generally accounts for half of the search volume of Google. So ranking high in the search engine results for appropriate key phrases can drive significant traffic to your website. Further search engine user studies show a phenomenal difference in click-through rates according to how they rank on the search engine results pages.
90% of Search Engine Users Don't Look Past the First 30 Results.
In general, if you are not among the top 30 search engine results, there is very little chance that search engines will ever deliver traffic to your site (see chart below).
(source: iProspect search engine user behavior study, April 2006)
The higher a site ranks in the results, the more likely they will receive traffic for that search word/phrase...it's that simple. Ranking in the top 10 is significantly better than 20-30, and ranking in the top 3 is significantly better than 7-10, etc.
Influencing search engine rankings
So how do the search engines determine which sites are near the top of the results? Well, they use different algorithms to ascertain ranking and those algorithms take into account many factors. In fact, in 2006, Google stated that their algorithm considered more than 100 factors in determining ranking. Content, page coding and structure, link quality and quantity, and many other factors influence your rankings.
Searchlight Interactive can help most companies earn strong rankings and build their brand online.
- Make your site "findable" among the search engine results pages for keywords/phrases in your market
- Build brand/awareness
- Avoid or minimalize the need for paid advertising (saving you money in the long run)
Contact us to see how we can help grow your business online.
Note: you may have found us by searching for Internet Marketing Charleston SC on a search engine.