Profiting on the Internet
More than 300,000 potential leads are looking for your business online this month. If they go to Google, can they find you? What about Yahoo! or MSN? If they don't find you, they will find your competitors.
More than 3 million searches were performed this past year in residential, commercial and custom glass. Your customers want to know more about your business. They want to hire you, buy from you, and send their family and friends to you. First, they need to find you.
You might already have a Web site. Maybe you're doing well online and believe you don't need any advice. However, there is always room for improvement. For others, you haven't even started yet, and you need someone to walk you through the process. Either way, read on for valuable suggestions on how to build a profitable presence online.
Statistics show about 90 million adults in the United States are actively looking for local businesses online every month. They mostly search on Google and Yahoo!, with a small percentage also using MSN and Ask.com. They type in a word or phrase in the search box, hoping to find the Web sites of a few local companies.
Based on the listing-advertisements-displayed on the search engine results page, the consumer clicks on a listing and is taken to the select site.
Most businesses succeed with a mix of organic site optimization and pay-per-click advertising.
Organic optimization takes time to develop but has the best long-term results. Displayed down the left/middle of the search results page, these listings are determined by automated search engine algorithms that look at numerous factors on your site.
A few of the items you'll want to pay close attention to include:
- Page titles and meta tags
- Text-based navigation
- Site map
- URL structure
- Redirects, cloaking and mirroring (duplicating pages on your site)
- Code errors and broken links
- Content and search terms within the content
- Links from other sites pointing to yours
According to Google engineers, the site's automated programs look for more than 100 factors to determine if and where it will rank in the results.
So, is all this trouble worth it? Numerous studies point to the preference of organic listings by consumers, and the traffic created from them costs nothing. That makes them invaluable for your online marketing strategy.
Sponsored, or pay-per-click, ads also are a valuable online marketing strategy. Most often displayed at the top and right-hand side of the search results page, a pay-per-click ad includes a brief title and description that you create. The ad should be descriptive of your business and also entice "the right" customers to click.
The foundation of pay-per-click marketing is made up of:
- Search term selection
- Quality ad copy
- Landing page
- Testing ad effectiveness
The cost of these ads is determined by an auction-style bid system; the more you bid, the higher your ad will be placed on the page. Because you'll likely pay between $2 and $5 every time someone clicks on the ad, its important to understand who is clicking through, how much your budget can afford per click, and how many ads are clicked to acquire a new customer, or cost per acquisition.
Of course, none of this will work without an effective Web site, designed to drive visitors to one or more calls-to-action (i.e., buy now, contact us, etc.). Knowing what works and what doesn't requires usability testing and analysis.
Usability, in its true form, includes focus groups, user studies, and lengthy functional analysis. For the purposes of quantifying the effectiveness of your site, install an analytics tool across your site and track what potential customers do while visiting.
Even a free tool like Google Analytics allows an in-depth look of how visitors find your site, and what pages, products and services they viewed. It delivers visit and sales funnel analysis to determine the elements of your site that work best to drive sales.
However you slice it, your local and national competitors are marketing online and getting better at it. Some would rather deny these facts, but your customers are online as well. In fact, as much as two-thirds of your audience looks to the Internet to find local listings.