SEO & the Art of Getting Found

Search engine optimization is vitally important … for some businesses. Not, however, for all businesses. This may sound heretical, especially in light of hundreds of marketers all touting that if your web site isn’t search engine optimized, your business will be bankrupt within a year.

The fact is, search engine optimization is a web site marketing tool – and as such, it is a tool that some businesses find useful, and others do not.

The key to determining whether search engine optimization would be beneficial for your business lies in answering these three simple questions:

* How do we get our clients now?

* How do we want to get our clients in the future?

* How do we want people to find us on the web?

Here’s how these three questions work:

How do we get our clients now?

This question explores your current business model. If you get even a portion of your current clients from the web, then you should definitely develop a sound web marketing strategy.

How do we want to get our clients in the future?

This question expands on the first one by looking ahead. For instance, you may get all your current clients from referrals, but in the future you want to get a portion of your clients from the web. In that case, you need a web marketing strategy, which may or may not include search engine optimization.

Alternatively, you may get all your current clients from referrals, and you have no intention of ever changing that business model. In that case, a web marketing strategy (including search engine optimization) isn’t necessary for your web site. You aren’t looking for people to find you on the web. Your web site is there for other reasons, but lead generation isn’t one of them.

How do we want people to find us on the web?

The final question addresses the art of getting found on the web – whether or not your business chooses to employ a web marketing strategy. When it comes to potential customers using search engines, there are three ways to get found on the web:

Branded search results. If you are not looking to generate leads from your web site, then your web site will be found by people who are specifically looking for you (branded searches). That is, they have heard about you or met with you or been referred to you in some fashion, and they are looking for your web site to confirm their interest in your company.

Organic search results. Many times, however, you want to be found by people who don’t specifically know your company – they just know what product or service they want. For example, if you are selling shoes online, you want to come up in Google when people type in „shoes.“ Organic search results depend on search engine optimization: your site needs to be optimized so that Google selects your web site to come up for a given search term.

Sponsored search results. As a third alternative, you can come up in the sponsored search results. This is where you pay a fee so that your advertisement appears alongside the organic search results when a person types in a given search term. Google’s Adwords programs are one of the most common pay-per-click opportunities available. There are many reasons why you may choose to drive business through sponsored search results: for instance, you may be in a highly competitive business, have very specialized products or services, or have a small web site where search engine optimization isn’t sufficient to drive significant organic search results.

The bottom line is this: only a small percentage of the people using the Internet would make good customers for your specific business. Therefore, you need to focus on getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time. By studying your business model and the web marketing tools and strategies open to you, you will be able to do exactly that.