If you build it, will they come?

Optimize your mousetrap to catch more mice!

Recently, a newer client asked my opinion of advertising in the commercial phone book. You know the pages by their color and their once ubiquitous and meaningful tag line… but, these days, people whose fingers used to do the walking are choosing to let their mice do the searching.

I asked him back, “Where do you go to find a [insert business category here]?”

You name the business, product or service that you need to find and a huge percentage of the people looking for it are looking for it first on the Internet. That means they’re using a search engine and, more and more, that means they’re using one search engine.

As an agency that focuses on complete brand marketing, VFC recognizes that getting visitors to an impressive web site is nearly as important as the site’s message. In fact, with competition growing on the Internet for all categories, search engine positioning is one of the most important pieces in the web development puzzle.

Uncomplicating Things
Search engine marketing has become its own science with many expert companies focusing on providing results to their clients, but there are things that you can do to effectively promote your own web site without assuming a huge marketing budget. Search engine optimization is not alchemy and, although the process is evolving all of the time, it’s something business owners can proactively participate in once they understand some of the nuances.

Organic Search Results
Organic Search Engine Results are listings that appear based purely on the relevance to the search terms entered into a search engine. Any site that is submitted to and successfully indexed by a Search Engine should have an organic result to some degree. The position of the organic result is based upon many factors (keyword popularity, site structure, directory inclusion, incoming and outgoing links, reviews and more). Enhancing the position of organic results is the ultimate intention of SEO or search engine optimization.

Once your site is built- or better yet, while it is being built- it can be optimized for best practices and best possible results with all of the major search engines and web indices. Through careful site optimization higher positions within search results can be realized, however there are no guarantees for first page results due to other factors such as keyword saturation and extreme competition of other sites within the same market.

Pay-Per-Click Results
Pay-per-click, or PPC, results are exactly what they sound like– you only pay when your link is clicked and your site is visited. Typically, the top 3-4 results on the page as well as “Sponsored Links” are PPC results. PPC advertisements appear when a user types keywords or terms that match the keywords associated with your campaign– the words you are paying for. Each keyword has a cost associated with it– the more popular the keyword the higher the cost per click. PPC campaigns can also be geographically specific focusing your dollars on your local target market.

A PPC campaign gives you a guaranteed result based upon the keywords that are chosen within your campaign. The position of the advertisement however, cannot be guaranteed due to competition with similar keywords. In those cases, your position may swap positions with other ads.

D.I.Y. Organic Enhancement
In this age of instant information dissemination, Internet users demand immediate, qualified results from their Search Engine. In many cases, users do not venture past the first page of results but, with careful site optimization, submission, linking, directory inclusion and promotion, increased Search Engine rankings can be a reality pushing you ahead of your competition and in front of the eyes of your core audience.

VFC’s standard SEO package includes optimizing a site’s text and meta content to best be accepted by the search engine spiders that troll the Internet. We then optimize site feeds and employ reciprocal links to validate your site as a good reference. Following a careful manual submission to all major search engines and category directories we monitor and report to continually further enhance Organic Search Results. Additional programs such as PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns and targeted Email Blasts can also be effective vehicles to further drive traffic to your site.

All of the above can be undertaken in house with enough time and an organized checklist. Repetition is also a key to achieving better results. After optimizing, be sure newly added pages adhere to your plan and supplement search engine results with social networking, blogs and email blast campaigns.

Results & Reporting
Once you optimize your site for best organic results, a Google Analytics account can measure visitor trending, demographics, click-thrus, keywords, referring sites and other valuable site statistics that can be reviewed and monitored daily. Google Analytics displays your site’s results in real time so that you can get a real metric on this effort as it evolves.

Optimization and submission labor and time and the time for search engines to process and review for inclusion may mean months, or even years, before your site is properly indexed in all major Search Engines and relevant directories with an organic campaign. It should also be noted that Organic Search Engine Results cannot be guaranteed due to factors such as keyword saturation and aggressive competition. However, developing a solid SEO framework within an optimized site that is submitted, verified and indexed in all major Search Engines with relevant and targeted content, sets the stage for increased click-thrus and qualified visitor hits..