To win new customers, you need to be highly visible in the search engine results pages. And for your small business to have an opportunity with those searching for information or a solution, you should incorporate search marketing strategies in your marketing plan.
Search marketing is the foundation for inbound marketing. People looking to make a purchase will start with a search. If they find content you’ve created that appeals to them, they will seek your business out. To have content visible in the search results, you need to combine your content marketing with search marketing strategies that get the attention of your target audience.
What is search marketing?
Search marketing is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on what happens when someone searches. The goal of search marketing is to help your website rank higher in search results for searches related to your business using various tactics listed below.
Included in the search marketing category are:
- Keyword research – Identifying the most relevant and valuable keywords for a website based on what people are actually search for and how often. This valuable insight helps you tailor your content creation efforts to what’s important to your target audience
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Improving your website content and structure to increase its visibility in the SERPs. Since most purchases begin with a search, being visible when people search for products or services related to your business will help you gain more leads.
- Link building – Acquiring inbound authoritative links to your website to improve your website’s visibility and rank in the SERPs. Search engines use inbound links to help determine the authority and relevance of a page.
- Search engine marketing (SEM) – Using paid advertising on search engines to reach potential customers. This can include paid search ads, display ads and shopping ads. Also included is PPC (Pay-Per-Click) where advertisers pay a fee each time someone clicks on an ad.
Incorporating some of these search marketing strategies helps more people discover your business when they are searching for the product or service you offer.
How to incorporate search marketing strategies into your marketing
Start with keyword research
Small businesses should include search marketing strategies into their overall marketing plan. For many small businesses, the best strategy is to implement an SEO content strategy, taking advantage of organic search.
This strategy consists of knowing what content your audience needs, then creating and optimizing that content for visibility. To gain valuable insight into what people are actually searching for and how often, you need to include keyword research. Then you can tailor your content creation efforts to what is important to your target audience.
Keep in mind that organic search takes some time to see results but is more effective than paid search in the long run. However, you do need to do regular maintenance and updates to your content optimization.
Further reading: How to do Keyword Research for SEO
Further reading: Create an Effective SEO Content Strategy
Optimize the website for search engines
Optimizing your website to create a positive user experience is fundamental. This includes making sure the website:
- Has a clean and easy-to-use structure
- Is mobile-friendly,
- Has high-quality and relevant content
In addition, you should learn the basics of on-page SEO. This will help to make sure that your website is properly indexed by search engines. You need to make your website easy for search engines to crawl and understand its content.
Further reading: How to Improve Website User Experience
Further reading: Mastering On-Page SEO for Improved Search Visibility
Use Pay-Per-Click Marketing
If your business needs to get immediate visibility in the search results, you can expedite the process by paying to get your website on the first page of the SERPs for specific keywords. Running paid campaigns on search engines such as Google and Bing can quickly increase website visibility and drive traffic.
Paid ads are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) when a user types a specific keyword into the search bar. As an advertiser, you bid on keywords that you believe your target audience will use when searching for a product or service.
This is a good strategy to drive targeted traffic to a website and generate leads quickly while you build up your organic reach. However, in some industries depending on how competitive it is, it is important to incorporate ongoing paid search campaigns as well. Since this strategy requires a budget for the ad clicks, you should determine how critical it is to your business to gain quick first page search results.
And make sure you use optimized landing pages for your ads. Sending people to your homepage that is not aligned with your ad can cost you more with few results.
Further reading: Landing Page Optimization Tips
Further reading: Why is Pay-Per-Click Marketing Important
Use local search marketing
Everything we spoke about above – organic search and paid advertising – can be taken to the local level. If your business primarily services customers in a geographic area, you can tailor your marketing activities to that market.
Start with local SEO. Local SEO extends organic SEO with a combination of online strategies to make your business more visible to those searching locally for products and services. These local SEO strategies include:
- Localized content on your website
- Google Business Profile listing
- Bing Places for Business
- Citations in business directories
- Online reviews
Further reading: Local SEO Strategies – How to be Found in a Crowded Market
Implement local paid ads
One of the benefits of paid advertising is the ability to focus your advertising on a local market. If you need to get in front of your audience quickly, you can implement:
- Google Ads – Tighten your service area and add relevant localized keywords to your ad content.
- Facebook Ads – Run ads that target a very specific local area.
- Local Search Ads – If your business is a home service business (for example, electricians, plumbers and roofers), you can also run a local search ad.
Paid ads aren’t for every business. If you think you may want to invest, work with someone who knows how to run ads properly. And also make sure you use landing pages for your ad campaigns as mentioned above.
Further reading: Local Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business
Encourage legitimate backlinks
If you generate great content, it encourages others to link to it. These incoming links, or backlinks, help the search engines determine the quality of the content. If no one links to your content, it signals that it may not be that great. If quality sites do link to your content, it does send a signal that the content is worthy.
Some of the easier ways to get links is to:
- Get listed in directories for your industry.
- Subscribe to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and find topics you can contribute to. Those writing the posts are willing to link back to their sources.
- Write unique guest posts where it makes sense. Make sure to get a link back to your website.
- Offer quality content links to people with blogs. When we are writing posts for our audiences, we do look for reputable supporting sources for our content.
Make sure you add your website links to your social media profiles. Although they are nofollow links, they still help drive traffic and social signals.
Building backlinks is a process and one that many small business owners won’t have the time or budget for. However, if you can write and promote your content, you can get backlinks naturally, which is what Google wants anyway.
Measure and optimize
Use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console to track the performance of your search marketing efforts. As with all marketing, you need to keep tabs on which strategies are working and which are not. Measuring results doesn’t need to be complicated.
- If you have goals and your activities are achieving those goals, then keep doing what you are doing.
- If the results are less than optimal and you are not achieving your ROI, then assess your campaign and make adjustments.
The biggest mistake many small businesses make is once they turn on a marketing effort, they don’t track and measure it regularly. That’s why we set up plans for 90 days and review them every two weeks. This keeps you visible on your efforts and can quickly determine what you need to do.
Make search marketing work for you
Search marketing is a long-term strategy. Small businesses should invest time and resources into determining what search marketing will work for them and include it as part of your marketing plan.
Keep in mind that search marketing is a constantly changing environment. Best practices that worked 2 years ago may not work now. You might want to invest in a resource that can help you stay current and ensure you keep your business visible in the search engine results.
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