Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pay Per Click or Search Engine Optimization? That Is The Question!

Since I work so closely with businesses that are just getting started online I come across this question quite often. Do I start a pay per click campaign or is search engine optimization the way to go? Often I respond with a very quick, “You need to do both!” I feel very strongly about ensuring a website is getting as much exposure as possible. Many years ago it was fairly easy to get strong positioning in the search engines – mainly Google. This has changed significantly and as a result new businesses find themselves struggling to get traffic if they do not plan effectively. Understanding the differences for both efforts is crucial so let’s go over some very specific details first:

What is Search Engine Optimization?

By definition search engine optimization is a process of overseeing a website to ensure its ability to attract traffic naturally by achieving strong positioning in the major search engines for specific keyword phrases that are related to your business.

Read more about what search engine optimization is by visiting sites like Search Engine Watch.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

By definition pay per click advertising is a marketing effort that enables a website to bid on keyword phrases related to one’s business which can appear in the search results pages of major search engines. Visitors can find your ads online with ease, once they click on your ad you pay for that click. The cost is based on the competitiveness of the keyword associated with others who are also bidding on the same terms.

Want to start your own pay per click campaign, it is easy to do with Google Adwords.

Now back to the question of whether or not to do one vs. the other. Natural traffic is free, while pay per click is paid traffic. All in all traffic is traffic and the more exposure you can achieve especially during the early phases of getting noticed in the search engines the better. It is important to have a strong online marketing strategy in place that will help to grow your business. Search engine optimization takes time as you earn your place in the search engines and gain respect and trust from engines such as Google.

While you are waiting to get noticed it makes sense to essentially push your site in front of visitors initially with a pay per click campaign. As your site gains more credibility and positioning improves over time your traffic will increase. If you are also managing a pay per click campaign the traffic increase can be quite extensive in addition to your site’s natural traffic from optimization efforts. It is in your best interest as a business owner to ensure your site is being found and a combined effort of pay per click advertising as well as search engine optimization can assist you with this goal.

As always research before you start an effort such as this, understand your market and what it takes to market your business. Should you decide to consult with experts make sure it is a company that understands the essentials in marketing your business online.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Top Ranking - How Important is it?

Today I had an experience with a client who was all about wanting top positioning in the search engines. Everyone wants to be number one but it is not always possible and with search engines such as Google making many updates to their search results it is very unlikely that any position will ever remain the same for extended periods of time. That said, one must think of other areas of concentration aside from just position or being above your competitor. More concentration must be paid to increased exposure, traffic and conversion – meaning sales or leads.

Now while I tried to explain this to the client he really did not want to hear it. He wanted guarantees and in this industry everyone knows that companies who give guarantees are typically just trying to take your money. Google has a section on their website which talks specifically of SEO firms to be wary of, visit Google Webmaster Tools for more information on this subject. Back to the client, the funny thing about it is that this particular client was no where to be found online and now he has over 25 top 10 placements and multiple pages indexed. In addition to the fact that his traffic tripled in just 9 months, and that I can say is improvement in one’s search results, numbers just simply do not lie.

The lesson to be learned here is as a new business try not to focus so much on where your competitors are appearing on the search engines and try to focus more on increasing your exposure online by increasing your traffic naturally over time, there are many ways to do this of which I will talk about at a later date. If you are as good as your competitors and your site is offering enough content to support this then eventually your site will climb the ranks as your competitors have (as long as you do not do anything sneaky) it just takes time.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Starting Your Online Business

I talk to so many people on a regular basis about their websites and what they can do to help themselves gain more exposure online. I tell them its simple, offer more content within your site and eventually it will happen for you, but it certainly will not happen overnight. There are other things that can be done as well but the most important thing to do is pay attention to the content within your site. One of my biggest challenges day in and day out is talking to business owners about expectations. Many people build a website thinking that once the site is launched traffic will come and people will begin to buy their products or services. Remember the saying, “Rome was not built in a day”?

When first getting started, just like with any business, it is important to earn credibility. You can’t just open your doors to the public and expect them to come into your store and buy any more than you can expect a search engine to place you on page one of their results so that traffic will stream to your site right away, that would be silly.

So as a small business owner what do you do? Make a plan and really think about the best way you can present your products and services within your website. Inform your prospects and guide them by creating a content rich website that will not only help them to understand what you offer but will also help the search engines understand who you are.

Take a peek at this article The Keys to Creating a Small Business Website, and get going! There is exposure to be had and revenue to be earned!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Marketing is Essential

My name is Melissa Cartagena, I am an Internet Marketer who is focused on educating small to mid-sized businesses on how to become successful online. Many people build a website thinking that once the site is launched traffic will come. Remember the saying, “Rome was not built in a day”? This statement could not be truer as new business owners enter the world of e-Business for the first time where expectations and realizations on the internet are very different than that of their own.

Currently I am focused on building and managing an Online Marketing Team with a very large privately owned web services company who consults and manages Pay per click and Search Engine Optimization campaigns for small to mid-sized businesses that are experiencing the challenges of advertising their website online.

My role is interesting because I have the opportunity to speak with many types of entrepreneurial spirits in many different vertical markets. It is rare that I work with just one market for an extended period of time which captivates my attention since it is constantly changing and evolving. Even though there are many types of markets typically the essential principles of marketing remain the same. Any company who takes their business online will find that marketing is essential as it relates to online exposure, and generating leads or sales to any one website.

With this blog I plan to discuss the options, as well as the challenges, associated with starting your own business and how to increase exposure in addition to continuing to drive the right kind of traffic which will ultimately drive the right kind of business a website needs to be successful online.

I hope you enjoy what you read and I hope you learn something new that will help you grow your business online.

Melissa Cartagena
President, Marketing is Essential