As a web developer I am constantly being asked by my clients whether or not they should advertise on the internet. Should they buy high priced web real estate in order to notify their customers of their products and services? In my experience, the answer is no…but it is not a definite no. Some small business advertising works but the majority does not.
For small businesses, advertising on the internet literally makes no sense unless it is done properly. Most advertising on the internet is either in the form of pop-ups or banners. Pop-ups are basically blocked by all web browsers today and banners often fail to grab the attention of their potential customers. Where they should concentrate their efforts is on optimizing their website for search engines.
What is search engine optimization? Essentially it is streamlining your website for optimal viewing as well as optimal indexing by search engine robots. There are two parts to a web page…what you see on the screen and what goes on behind the screen.
Allow me a quick aside, a small business with about 10 employees wants to start their own website and begin what is called an “internet marketing scheme”. The ideas of grabbing business that is available on the internet begins to churn in their minds. They sign up for a service like Homestead which allows them to build their own website in a matter of hours. After some guidance they believe to have what they consider a fully functional website. The problem is that their website is not and probably won’t be optimized for the available search engines.
Too often, after a small business makes their website on one of these DIY services they do not take care of the behind the scenes mechanics. Either because they are unaware of the essential mechanics of a website or lack of knowledge, they create something that is basically blank to search engines.
Remember, this is broken down to make it much easier to understand…Web pages are comprised of two important parts…the words people see on the screen and a multitude of other important bits that search engines look for which are not visible to a reader. Every so often a search engine robot will crawl your site in order to “index” your web pages. They read over both what is on the screen and what is going on behind the scenes. In order for your web page to be indexed properly it must contain all important parts. The better the mechanics the more importance a search engine will place on your web page.
So why is this important? The more importance a small business places on SEO for their website the less they will have to advertise in order to gain more business. Search engines place a great deal of importance on a well built website. Why? They do not want to direct their users to websites that simply don’t work well. If the creator of the website did not place a lot of importance on the function of a website, why should the search engines?
For example, say I want to find a reputable auto mechanic in my area and I use Google to do my search. Before I typed my keywords into Google, some time in the past Google has already gone through all available websites that pertain to auto repair and indexed them in order of importance. The websites that Google believes to be most important will be placed on the first page of the search results… do realize that advertisements do not have any effect on your website placement.
All search engines index web pages at no cost and they do so frequently in order to find fresh material. A good comparison would be Google to a librarian…they are constantly looking for material that pertains to the search. A librarian would not guide someone to a book that is not written well and that does not pertain to the given subject.
Now enough bantering on my part, why should small businesses place importance on SEO? Simple…it is the most cost effective solution to gain more business on the internet. Unlike advertisements that expire after a certain amount of time, small business SEO is done once and left alone. Don’t get me wrong, every now and then it is a good idea to add fresh material but a well built web page stands will stand the test of time. While other small businesses scramble to buy advertising space in order to get noticed, your small business web page will rank high on major search engines and your business will consistently grow.
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