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A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization

You’ve got a beautiful website and you’ve got a great business, so why don’t you show up in the Google rankings when people search for you? The answer to that question could fill up hundreds of books, and does actually. What I’m going to do in the paragraphs that follow is to give you a high-level overview of how the search engines work and some easy ways to make your website more appealing to them.

So why is it so important that you strengthen your website’s search engine placement? Well for starters a recent study by The Association of National Advertisers and Forrester Research suggests that over half of the major marketers polled said they’d be cutting their television ad budgets by 12%. The presumption is that this money will move to new media; code for “online”. Recently, major traditional consumer packaged goods manufacturers have also begun new online initiatives such as Kraft’s announcement that it will produce “webisodes” promoting the Tassimo coffee maker. Online is “the new black” of the advertising realm.

You’ve no doubt used one of the major search engines within the past few days (Google, Yahoo, MSN, AOL, etc.). These portals have become the default gateway to the Internet for millions of people and offer a simple way for people to locate information that is scattered around the world on countless websites. A search for a type of wine for instance might take you to a French website that provides information on how that wine is made and in what countries the grapes grow best. Additionally, the search results may provide several vendors from which you can order wine and have it shipped directly to your home. And there may even be other websites where that specific type of wine was discussed on message boards or in someone’s BLOG (a shortened form of the phrase Web Log which is an online diary of sorts).

When trying to reach customers online, you can simplistically think of the search engines as the Yellow Pages on steroids. If you owned a business in the past, chances are you had a yellow pages ad. A customer who used the yellow pages to find a product or service was actively seeking a solution to their problem. As an example, people only opened the yellow pages to look for a plumber when they already had a broken pipe. Someone looking through the yellow pages for a pizza restaurant was no doubt hungry, and therefore already committed to the idea of buying a pizza.

As a business owner, your job was to make your ad stand out so the customer called you rather than a competitor. The real benefit however was that these customers were already in the market, so if your ad could entice them to call, converting them to a customer was that much easier.

Read more about SEO in Part 2 of my post