|June 9, 2004
You Really Need To Be In The Search Engines?
Before you spend time and money on search engine optimization, you need to decide if
your small business really needs to be in the search engines. It all
boils down to answering one basic question: how do your customers usually
look for your products and services? In other words: will customers be looking for
you on a search engine?
If your business has a local clientele, it is probably not a very
effective idea to dedicate resources to getting top search engine rankings.
For example, if you own a restaurant, you may be better off by advertising in the weekend
section of the local paper; if you still want to take the online route, you may get better
results by submitting your restaurant site to a specialized online directory or city
To give you another example, if you own a car repair shop, you may obtain better results
by getting listed in the AAA directory, by mass mailing discount coupons, or by paying
referral fees to complimentary, non competing services (for example, a car-wash).
Most small businesses are in fact locally focused (they operate in just
one city or community). Usually, their web presence is limited to an "online-brochure":
five or six web pages with basic information about the business.
Most of the time, small local business owners just want a domain name that they can print
on a business card, so that prospective customers can go to their website if they feel
inclined to get more information.
These small businesses usually don't sell anything online, are not looking for customers
in other cities, and get most of their business deals through referrals, trade association
meetings, chambers of commerce contacts, or local advertising. To them, good search engine
rankings are not really important.
If your small business specializes in exporting, or deals extensively with international
markets, good search engine rankings are more important. A
search engine is probably the first place a foreign prospect will go to
look for businesses in your city and area of expertise. If this is your case, you may want
to dedicate a larger portion of your marketing budget to search engine optimization.
Finally, search engine placement is very important for small businesses
that offer online services like web design, web hosting, email marketing
and search engine optimization. These services may be effectively conducted through the
internet, between suppliers and customers located in different parts of the world, and
whose only contact is through a web page form or by email.
Good search engine rankings are also crucial for companies that sell
products online to a global audience. Credit cards and next-day shipping have made it
possible to sell all sorts of products to customers that previously were out of reach.
Search engine optimization may in fact be the most cost effective way to
reach a global prospect base.
We can't possibly go through each particular case in this article. The idea, however, is
to encourage you to think strategically about your customer acquisition strategy, and to
invest in those marketing vehicles that give you "the most bang for
Search engine optimization may very well be the latest trend in online marketing, but just
because "everybody is doing it" doesn't necessarily mean that it is what you and
your business need.
You can freely reprint this article provided that you include the following resource
Mario Sanchez is a Miami based freelance writer who focuses on Internet marketing and web
design topics. He publishes The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net ), a growing
collection of web design and Internet marketing articles, tips and resources. You
can freely reprint his weekly articles in your website, ezine, or ebook.
The SEO Book: (by
Aaron Wall) Author Aaron Wall takes you from A to Z on a journey to understand
the basics of Search Engine Optimization. No hype, just honest and effective advice.
This eBook comes with free updates for life. Highly recommended.
The Nitty Gritty of Search
Engine Optimization (by Jill Whalen) This special report in ebook form is
probably the most thorough guide on how to write for the search engines. Making sure
that your main keywords are well represented in your page copy without sacrificing
readibility is not always easy, but this special report shows you how to do it.
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