One way of attracting customers and therefore optimising the number of clients that visit a website is building a strong online brand. Rob Frankel, described as the top branding expert on the planet, describes branding as not about getting your prospect to choose you over your competition; but about getting your prospect to see you as the only solution (Gerhart, 2002). A high ranking in a search engine means there is a higher chance that clients get to see the product a company is selling even if they do not buy it. In fact, twice as many consumers are likely to recognise a business ranked in the top 3 of a search engine result than those appearing in prominent banner space (Vertexera Inc.). Not only is online marketing a lot less expensive than offline marketing, it also exposes the product a company is selling to a huge market.
By using techniques like predictive heatmaps and keyword manipulation, a brand is bound to appear at the top of the search engine results. The main benefits of this are:
Another benefit of SEO is increased direct target traffic. By optimising a website by using certain keywords, the website targets certain customers only by ‘weeding out' online users not interested in the product. A website selling sports shoes only, for example, will have keywords like ‘sport shoes', therefore getting rid of untargeted clients like those looking for leather shoes, sandals, sneakers, loafers etc.
SEO services are often provided by companies that help websites optimise their websites for business. Unlike using banner ads, research shows that SEO costs a lot less yet increase the number of clients almost exponentially (Enge, Spencer, Fishkin, & Stricchiola, 2009). Research done by Vertexera Inc. has shown that banner ads cost between $2,500 and $35,000 while SEO costs about $1,000. However, as discussed in the previous section on branding, clients are more likely to notice results of a company on a search engine than banner ads. A gastric bypass surgeon who optimised his website for search engines had the number of clients he generated from his website increase from 2-3 per week to 50-70.
Banner ads are usually placed on websites and online advertising spaces for a certain period of time, with that period paid for by the company. Once that time is done, the advertisement is pulled down unless the company pays more to have it kept up. This means therefore that if a company depletes its marketing budget, the ad will no longer be available for clients to see. On the other hand, if a company maintains good SEO practices and makes sure its website's content remains relevant and up-to-date, the chances of having it appearing among the top 5 results for a search on any search engine could remain high for as long as possible.
Usability refers to the way one uses or experiences a website (Clay & Esparza, 2009). A good website is supposed to be usable to a large part of the online population, with clear links and a well-done layout. The following are ways in which a website can be tweaked to improve its usability.
Up until recently, most web developers and users never saw the link between search engine optimisation and usability. The goal of building any website is making sure it is simple to use for all users and it gets as much traffic as possible. Many scholars, however, argue about which is more important, improving usability or improving SEO. The truth is that a balance of both works best. In fact, if cleverly done, improving usability has the potential to go a long way in improving SEO. The first step is to find out what SEO and usability have in common then put them into balance. The key to creating a useful SEO is not just having keywords showing in your website but having keywords that are relevant to the content of the website.
The table below shows how improving website usability often improves the SEO of the website as well.
Researching to find out where clients are looking for the company.
Combines with keyword search.
Building a network of links coming from external web pages to increase the number of people that can find the company's website
Gives search engines the perception that the website is an expert website therefore increasing link equity.
Improving the usability of the site.
Helps search engine spiders find keywords of the site easily.
Writing clear pages on what the site is offering
Helps search engines determine what the site is about
Uploading the site to fast reliable servers to provide good site performance to users
Improves the speed at which search engine spiders access the website.
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