Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Help People Find Your Web Site for Pup's Sake!

The last time I checked, the purpose of your business web site was to make money. Either through direct online sales (eCommerce) or new business acquisition, your web site is your ultimate sales tool.

Web sites do not sustain themselves, however. If you don't give some TLC on a regular basis, it won't sustain your business either.

Allow me to clarify this hardened fact with a soft and cuddly example:

Imagine your dog just had puppies - if you don't have a dog, indulge me. A litter of beautiful golden retriever pups that are just the cutest things you've ever seen. The little girl puppy with the white mark on her paw is one of a kind!

Reality check: You've got a full house and an empty wallet, so you understandably need to sell some of them to good homes. How do you do that?

Not a trick question. You tell people! More specifically, you tell people you think will be interested in buying puppies or who may know people that will be interested in buying puppies. You create fliers with contact info and puppy pics. You update your Facebook status to say "Puppies for sale!" In short, you help people in the puppy-buying market find your puppies.

Marketing concepts are no different online. You still have to help the right audiences find your business to make sales, period.

Now to tie it all together: Having a web site does your business no good if nobody knows about it or - here's the kicker - people can't search for and find your web site.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, helps your target audiences find you online. Why is that important? Think of how you look for a specific service or product (like a puppy) - you Google it. Heck, most people do.

Pew Internet & American Life Project report 81 percent of people research a product online that they are considering purchasing. Bottom line: If they can't Google you (70+ percent of online searches), they won't buy your puppies.

By helping the people that want your product find it, whether it's a puppy or not, you're bringing pre-qualified traffic to your doorstep.

Some basic SEO steps:
  • Identify the situation - your goals, messages, target audience(s)
  • Develop keywords/key phrases - if you think you have these already, match them against your messages and audiences. Do they make the most sense? Can you compete for them??
  • Perform a web site audit - review your site to measure the current level of optimization based on your messages, audiences and keywords/key phrases
  • Take action - develop optimized content, create attractive and relevant source codes, and make your site more dynamic by starting a blog, newsletter, etc.
  • Engage public relations - take your optimized web site and business to new audiences in a credible and compelling manner - marry SEO & PR
Check out SEO Chat for quick web site optimization Q&A's, or SEO Pro Book for a helpful, easy to read, and decently priced how-to/intro SEO book.

Good luck selling your puppies!