If you build it, they will come...
or maybe not when it comes to websites.
Getting your site found on the Internet can be a huge boost to your business, but how exactly do you make this happen?
As a web designer, I do search engine optimization (SEO) and I get asked this question all the time. There are two front runner choices.
- Attempt to optimize one or more of your website pages to rank high for a desired keyword phrase. Successful SEO allows your website to rank high on it's own (this is called an "organic listing".)
- Use Google Adwords PPC (pay-per-click). Granted, there are other search engines you could also advertise on, but since Google makes up 70% of the search engine market, they may be all you need or at very least, the first one to start with.
It's not my intention to go into a detailed explanation of how to go about executing either of those two choices. I should also mention that in addition to doing SEO for my clients, I am a participant in the Google Engage Program. In other words, I have been trained by Google to manage Adword campaigns for clients and have been doing so for many years.
Back to the question of this post... should you attempt to get your website optimized for organic high ranks or go the Adwords Campaign route?
If you are trying to rank high on an easy phrase, SEO for sure is the way to go. An easy phrase might be unique words that aren't found on many sites (assuming people are searching for those words), or maybe you're in a small town or one without much competition and the searcher includes the town name in the search phrase. Those tend to be pretty easy to win at.
I'm certainly not saying that tougher phrases should be avoided, just know that there's no guarantee of success no matter who does it or what they tell you. Often success will take multiple attempts and since search engines tend to visit your site about every six weeks, it can take a while before they index your newly optimized page. If it takes several attempts to get it right, It could be months before this method works.
There is a thought that organic listings are better because they are free. Then you do your home work and find that dedicated SEO companies can charge in the thousands per page with slow results.
I do SEO all the time and am quite good at it, but I make sure my clients have realistic expectations and unlike just about any SEO firm you might find, I don't charge unless I am successful.
Let's address this one point right up front, it will cost you every single time someone clicks on your ad, regardless of what happens after that. How much? Well that depends on what words you're bidding on and how much the competition is driving up the price. My experience on average you are probably looking at $1-$3 per click. Adwords gives you the ability to set a limit on how much the bid can be and what the monthly budget is. However both of these limits will effect how high your ad will rank and how often they will show.
Now for the really good part; you can rank #1 for any search phrase you want by this afternoon. That's right!
Adwords also give you the ability to limit your ads to only show within certain geographic locations. This way you are not wasting clicks out of your service area.
When I manage these campaigns for my clients, I create the ads, help you select the keywords to bid on and setup and monitor the campaigns. There is no doubt that this is the easiest way to achieve results and they work.
Okay, so what's the bottom line? Here's what I would recommend. As I said for easy phrases, go SEO all the way - why not.
If you're not in a hurry and are willing to take the risk of marginal results, SEO is still a desired choice. However I might suggest that even if you decide to use SEO, you could temporarily setup Adwords campaigns in order to get immediate results and to help discover which keyword phrases people are actually using to find you. Once you discover the words people search for, you won't be wasting your efforts on ranking for phrases not used.
What do I do for my site?
I guess this answer may reveal a lot. Although I have used Adwords many times, I rely on SEO. Here, give it a shot; google "web design st cloud, mn"