Driving new customers to a company by the internet requires a three-pronged approach of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and affiliates. Of the three approaches, SEO can be the most cost effective means of generating a sustainable long-term flow of new customers for any business.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the art of creating content on the internet that, when indexed by search engines, will show up at or near the top of the results page for a given search keyword or phrase. To show up near the top of a results page the content needs to be rich in relevant keywords, readable by search engine robots and referred to by links from external websites.
There are two forms of content needed for an effective SEO strategy:
- Deep content pages on the company’s web site
- External websites with relevant content and links to one or more of the company’s pages
For example, deep content pages for a company selling plumbing supplies should include at least:
- “how-to” tips
- articles on trends in plumbing tastes and products
- the history of the company
- case studies of projects that the company and or their partners have worked on
- testimonials from customers
- links to manufacturer’s sites or other relevant content and articles on the web
Each content page or article should be rich in keywords such as plumbing manufacturer’s names, parts names and other plumbing related terms. These pages should be static HTML content that are no more than three links from the home page so that search engine robots can scan and index the content.
Simply posting a page of manufacturers logos or deploying a searchable parts database is not a good SEO strategy. Search engine robots cannot make sense of the logos and cannot query the database for each part in order to ascertain text and keywords for a company’s site. The search engines need plain text to read and index. Therefore, logos and other images need ALT text and catalogs pages need to be text accessible from direct links close to the highest levels of the site.
External sites for the same plumbing supply company might include a community forum website for do-it-yourself types, a trade referral site for plumbing contractors, a product review site for plumbing products, an archive site of plumbing manuals, etc. These sites could be produced by the plumbing supply company or may be existing sites on the web that personnel from the plumbing supply company frequently contribute to.
Additionally, external sites should include partners or other related pluming information sites that can post a link to the plumbing supply’s website from the external site. Examples of external sites might include trade association sites, sites of architects, designers, or manufacturers.
Think about the pages that you see near the top of your search queries. Typically they include a Wikipedia link, perhaps the one or two largest manufacturer, and then general article pages. The reason why Wikipedia pages show up so frequently is due to the sheer volume of deep content on so many topics. Each Wikipedia topic page is rich in keywords that match the search term and includes links to other related pages. There are many links into Wikipedia as well. All together this makes a Wikipedia page authoritative and highly relevant to search engines.
A company’s goal should be to make their website as relevant and authoritative as possible. Doing so will increase the number and quality of visitors to their site. Increased visitors will result in increased customers. Increased customers is the ultimate metric for a company’s SEO strategy.