Search Engine Optimisation is a hot topic at the moment: essentially, it can be understood as the art and science of getting a website to rank well in the “organic” or “natural” results pages of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. SEO is important for any enterprise or organisation aiming to increase online sales or make a website more visible on the web. SEO does, however, have a few limitations…
The Time Lag
Owing to the characteristics of search engine functioning and the titanic dimensions of the internet, it may take up to several months before SEO produces tangible and beneficial results for your website.
Search engine optimisation is a highly specialised field and, like most specialisations, is not a cheap endeavour to embark on.
(Dodgy) Black Hat Operators
There are, unfortunately, many SEO companies that are unscrupulous and do not hesitate to employ “black hat” techniques to obtain high rankings in the search engine results pages. As stated elsewhere on this site, “black hat” techniques refer to disreputable methods that swindle search engines. These techniques might result in a temporary rise in website search engine results, but because SEs are enormously keen to rid the net of these types of practices, they penalise sites that use black hat methods heavily, often banning the sites from the index of the search engine.
It is a demanding task to optimise a website for a diverse range of keywords. This would become a problem if you sell tens or hundreds of different products: i.e. whereas you may be able to rank very highly for some of your keywords, those keywords will only constitute/reflect a small fraction of your total inventory and, by extension, your market.
An additional route available to enterprises/companies wanting to promote their website on Google is to use the “Pay per Click” Advertising programme, known as Google Ad words. Google Ad Words lets a website immediately appear on the initial pages of Google results for keywords linked to your business’s products or services.
When using Ad Words, your listing will appear either on the right hand side of the results page, under the heading “sponsored links”, or at the very top of the results page, directly above the natural/organic results. The attractiveness of this marketing technique is that it is highly targeted. This means that your website will appear in a prominent place on the screens of consumers who are as far into the buying cycle as possible: this is to say that they are looking to buy a particular product or service.
Let’s compare this to more traditional forms of advertising like listings in the press. As an example, assume that you’ve placed an advert in a local newspaper on page 7, and the newspaper attracts readership of 100 000 people. It is safe to estimate that about 90% of the readership reads page 7. Of that 90%, fifteen thousand readers took note of your advert, but only 500 chose to remember the company name for future reference. Of the five hundred readers, only 10% recall your company name when they next require your product or service. Of these 500 readers 50 actually think of you next time they require your product or service. In summary, from a total of 100 000 readers you only managed to get 50 new clients. With the Ad Words service, it is only when a consumer is specifically looking for your product that your advertising will appear: your advert is then targeted at the individual who is looking for your product for immediate purchase. A major benefit of this is that marketing overheads are cut down as your advert will only generate revenue for Google if it is clicked on (and the link followed to your site). In other words, you potentially gain a customer every time your advert is seen. As an example, if a potential client is looking for property for sale in Hyde Park and your estate agency deals with that area, Ad Words will suggest that the SE user visit your site. The sales turnover is greatly increased and revenue spent on advertising is significantly decreased. The same holds true for every type of product that your business deals with, from kitchen appliances to consumable electronics to legal advice. Ad Words can greatly enhance your visibility on the net.
As an incentive to attract advertisers, Google have allowed the system to work on an auction basis: in other words, there is no minimum budget for Ad Words: if you would like to only spend R5-00 a day on advertising, then that’s fine. The process is as follows: you bid on your keywords and set the price you are willing to pay for each user who follows the Google link to your website. The average price per click is roughly R0.50 to R10-00, but the final cost will ultimately depend on the competitiveness of the market in which your company is located.
Your ranking in the sponsored links sections of the Google results pages depends on two factors: your bid price for your keywords and your click through rate (the number of times your listing has been shown divided by the number of times your advert is clicked). The higher your click through rate, Google reasons, the more relevant your product is to the advert you have bid on. This specificity is rewarded with being higher up in the listings.
Google Ad Words are used by a multitude of individuals and businesses promoting their websites, which in turn increases both traffic and sales.