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Posts Tagged ‘Harbour Light Strategic Marketing’

Ask CJ-How important is S.E.O. for my business?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Back in the day in order to be competitive in business you needed to have a quality product or service and great customer service. You built a reputation on these two criteria and, combined with good leadership and a healthy economy, you might have yourself a successful business. Of course, there is more to it than that, but my point is: Things were simpler in the past.

Today we live in a highly competitive business culture where things change in an instant, and rival products and companies are created seemingly overnight. If we continue to solely rely on the quality and service that we offer, we may not remain a viable entity. In order to remain competitive we need to regularly assess our business model and all of the drivers that affect our success.

One of those drivers is the business’s website. A company’s website has become the public face of the business and is often the potential customer’s first introduction to it. Business owners often tell me that their website is either driving in new business or that they are losing business to Internet competition. Not only do you need a quality website, but you also need to know how to get people who are searching for your product or service to find you. That is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play.

We hear the term SEO more and more these days as businesses strive to make their website rank high on search engine sites. The goal of SEO is to improve the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines through organic (unpaid) search results.

Who wouldn’t like to see their business appear on the first page of Google search results—especially since searchers often don’t go to page two? The question for many of us is: How do they do it? What difference can it make? And, do I need to hire a professional?

I spoke with Jeff Whiteman, a SEO strategist, at Harbour Light Strategic Marketing in Portsmouth to get some clarity on a topic that can seem impenetrable to some of us. When designing or redesigning a website, what you say and where you say it matters. What keywords should you include so that search engines position your website higher in search results than that of your competitor? Jeff pointed out that it is an incremental process; a site’s SEO requires regular tweaking to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms created by search engines.  The company put forth many “on page” and “off page” efforts to help ensure a successful campaign.

I did some digging of my own and learned that in 2010, Google made over 500 algorithm changes. This certainly is a testament to the need to approach SEO as an ongoing process, not a one-time fix. Google and other search engines are focused on providing search results that are relevant based on the keywords the searcher uses, the searcher’s past search history, and the past history of what sites previous searchers using the same keyword phrase found relevant—and these are just a few of the variables that search engines use when creating their algorithms.

You can learn how to optimize your website yourself, or you can follow the path of least resistance—and the path of least aggravation, as well—and hire a professional. When it comes to finding a professional, Jeff recommends asking for references and to be skeptical of any “over the top” guarantees.

If you choose to do it yourself there are some basic tenets to keep in mind. First, content is important. Build a content-rich site that links both internally to other pages within your site and externally to other reputable websites. Make sure that your keywords are throughout the site but don’t “stuff” the site with those keywords or try other means of circumventing the search engine algorithms. Search engines will sniff out those deceptive practices and you could find yourself banned by a search engine.

Jeff said SEO isn’t rocket science, but it certainly does require a concerted and thoughtful effort. Like all successful business practices, it needs to be done correctly, then evaluated and tweaked on a regular basis. “Everything we do is tracked and measurable, this tracking is what allows us to make any necessary changes needed to increase conversion rate.  Showing up in a search result is one thing, but getting a visitor to “click through” is well . . . that’s for another article.”

For more on SEO, check out sites like searchenginewatch.com and searchengineland.com.

Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. She can be reached at Christine.Davis@dred.state.nh.us

Ms. Davis lives in Exeter with her two daughters.  When not performing her work or parenting duties she can be found volunteering with her girls for the Chamber Children’s Fund, “hitting the gym,” or spending time with friends and family.