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Don Cranford Web Marketing: Issue 5
By Don Cranford

We’ve all used search engines like Google and Yahoo. Maybe you're looking for a plumber, researching information on your next car, or finding an activity to do with your family over the weekend. Search engines have become the primary means for finding information on the internet. People are using search engines in place of traditional means for finding businesses and products at an increasing rate. Rarely do they turn to the big yellow book for information these days.

As the number of websites increases daily, it is becoming more and more difficult to be found online. Often times, searches return thousands or even tens of thousands of results. Are they all relevant? Of course not! But when your site doesn't show up on the top page of the results, it most likely won't get seen at all. What good is having a website if no one sees it?

This process of getting seen, in the right place at the right time, is called “Search Engine Marketing.”

According to Wikipedia, search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of internet marketing with a proven return on investment. It seeks to promote websites by increasing their visibility in the search engine results pages. The term “search engine marketing” originated to cover the spectrum of activities involved in performing search engine optimization (SEO), managing paid listings at the search engines, submitting sites to directories, and developing online marketing strategies for businesses, organizations, and individuals. In 2006, North American advertisers spent $9.4 billion on search engine marketing, a 62% increase over the prior year and a 750% increase over 2002. Thus, it's not surprising that search engine marketing is growing faster than traditional advertising.

Remember first that we’ve spent the last few issues reviewing the importance of setting your goals, understanding your audience, focusing your content, using graphic elements, and including a call to action. If you’ve already done this much, you’re well on your way to succeeding in the internet market. Your next step will be to look at search engine optimization (SEO).

Your goal: getting to the top or getting qualified traffic?

Often, a business owner’s goal is to get to the top of the search results page for a given search term or phrase (a.k.a., keyword or keyword phrase). Ultimately, though, the goal should be getting qualified traffic. But does being successful require spending a lot of money? Not necessarily. We recognize that your budget is limited and must be used to help you reach people for your particular mission area. Though each search engine functions a bit differently, we have some suggestions that will allow you to promote your website without having to invest a lot of money. This month, we'll give a brief overview of the search engine optimization process and then dig deeper in coming months. Here are a few of the areas that we'll cover.

1. Know your goals and your audience

SEO starts with setting your business and website goals, and understanding who you are trying to reach (i.e., your audience). We've discussed this in previous articles and can't emphasize it enough: your goals and audience provide the foundation for any search engine optimization effort.

2. Understand how search engines work

Search engines use very complex algorithms and are ever-changing, but there are basic truths that are important to keep in mind and are easily understandable. You need to start with understanding the search engine's own goals and how they rank pages as well as what they penalize pages for. Do not use any "dirty tricks," such as adding keywords that don't relate to your website content, because those can get you penalized or even banned from the search engine.

3. Choosing keywords and phrases

Good search engine optimization always includes identifying the main keywords and keyword phrases that people will use to search for you or your services and products. The process starts with putting yourself in the place of your audience and deciding what keywords or phrases they would use to find you. This might include your business name, location such as your city, your products and services, etc.

4. Using keywords

After choosing your keywords, it is crucial to know how to use them on your webpage. You'll want to put them strategically in your page title, headers and subheaders, link text, as well as in your content.

5. Getting links

One of the most often overlooked, yet important factors in search engine optimization is what other websites link to your pages. Search engines use this like a voting system. Each quality website that links to your page gives you a 'vote' in the search engine's eyes. This improves your ranking on search engine results pages.

6. Tracking your results

One of the most often forgotten pieces to any endeavor is tracking your results. If you aren't gathering feedback on how you are doing, you won't be able to make any mid-course adjustments or corrections. It is like singing. If you can't hear yourself sing, it will be very hard to be a good singer. You’ll never know if you are in pitch or not. Likewise with your website, if you are not tracking your results, you'll never know if you are focusing your efforts in the right place or if you need to tweak your approach.

Getting there

Search engine optimization is a process and it takes time. We’ll explore this deeper in the coming issues to help your organization achieve online success.

If you’d like more suggestions on how to optimize your web presence, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Donald Cranford has been in Marketing, Product Development and Product Management in the technology industry since 1993. He founded Katalyst Solutions in 2004 to assist churches, non-profits and small businesses in succeeding online.

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“Don Cranford and Katalyst Solutions are excellent collaborators. They bring a wealth of knowledge and are a pleasure to work with. Katalyst Solutions are truly experts.”
– Dorothy Banzon
Owner/Designer
D Banzon Design

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