Have you been wondering how to get your website to show up on search engines (like Google, Yahoo, and Bing) when customers try to find you online?

Do you have a website, but aren’t sure of how to make sure the people can find it without entering a link in their browser?

Are you planning to put your business online, and want to know how to develop the best plan for improving your search engine rankings?

Simplify Your Online Marketing

Marketing your website online can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be so difficult that you need to pay another company to do it for you. You know your business better than anyone and, even if you are going to outsource some of your marketing efforts, you can make the best choices by having a basic understanding of online marketing best practices.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

The best practices to drive customers to your website include search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) methods. SEO and SEM methods improve the likelihood that your website will show up on the first page of internet search websites when a user entires relevant keywords and key phrases.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is a broad term used to describe various techniques to achieve the objective of getting found on search engines. In other words, SEO techniques help improve the likelihood that people who are searching for you, your business, your website, or topics that are relevant to your business, will find you by entering keywords and phrases into search engines.

Wikipedia defines search engine optimization (SEO) as “the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural,” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”), search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.”

If you have ever tried to find something on the Internet, you probably know that you can change the key words and phrases that you enter to improve the results of your search. You can get more specific, or less specific, enter a location, or even change settings in the search engine to narrow the results.

Wikipedia defines search engine marketing (SEM) as “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) through optimization (both on-page and off-page) as well as through advertising (paid placements, contextual advertising, and paid inclusions).”

If you think about how you would like Internet users to be able to find your website using a search engine, you can come up with sets of keywords or keyword phrases that users would be most likely to enter and discover your business online.

Improving your Search Engine Rankings

Once you have your ideal sets of keywords and phrases, you will want to to use different SEO techniques on your website to increase the chance that searches with those parameters so that your business website will rank higher in an Internet search. Studies have shown that users are searching don’t often look past the first page of results. SEO and SEM techniques that you choose to implement should be aimed at getting your website pages in the top ten results of a user’s Internet search.

If you are trying to rank number one on a very broad search term, you’re going to have some trouble. Ranking higher on more specific keywords and phrases could also improve your ranking on broad ones.

The best results come from optimizing your individual web pages and their content in a very particular way. Unless you want to give an outsourced company access to edit your website and content to make changes, I suggest that you make these changes yourself. If you don’t consider yourself to be tech-savvy, it is wise to have an understanding of your options so that you can direct your website administrator or developers to make the improvements that you desire.

Should I Outsource SEO?

There are some companies that specialize in providing businesses with SEO services, but you should be very careful about who you pay, and how much you pay, and look cautiously and judiciously at what services they offer. Some SEO techniques are better implemented by you, the business owner, to save time and money. Some services provided by SEO companies do not yield significant results in exchange for the amount of money you give them.

Search engine companies, like Google, that use search algorithms to improve the the quality and relevance of Internet searches, are becoming more and more discriminating about what pages they will allow to rank high. Just because you post really good articles, or have all the right keywords on a page, doesn’t mean that customers will find you using an Internet search. Your goal is to not only get users to find you, but to click on a link to your website and spend time viewing a variety of pages on your domain that provide them with useful and relevant information.

Get the Best Return on Your Marketing Investment

It is important to consider that SEO is an ongoing effort and that a one-time, single strategy effort will not yield the best return on investment (ROI). If you want to to get found on the Internet, there is more to be done than just submitting your website to search engines and putting specific keywords on every page of your site. In fact, some techniques that might recommended can be so over-utilized as to have a detrimental effect on your search rankings.

Think very carefully about the return on investment you want to achieve. Like most businesses, you don’t have an unlimited marketing budget, and may find that a combination of outsourced services with internal effort are your best bet.

Your time is well-spent in determining the best ways to design the content of your website to be search-engine-friendly. The factors that influence where your website shows up in an Internet search are dependent on complicated search engine algorithms, but you don’t have to be a computer programmer to understand that providing relevant and useful content to current and potential customers can make all the difference in your profitability.

Where Can I Learn More About SEO and SEM?

Come back to this blog frequently, as I will continue to post more articles about Online Marketing Best Practices with links to other sources that will help you to educate yourself and improve your website’s search engine rankings. In the meantime, have a look at the links to my favorite sources (see the Blogroll in the sidebar). I’ll be adding more sites and additional categories in the future.

Please Ask Questions and Leave Comments

I invite you to ask questions about Online Marketing Best Practices to help me narrow the focus of my articles. I welcome comments and suggestions with the understanding that I moderate them for appropriateness in content, relevance to topic, and general internet etiquette. Please be respectful and kind!