I hate paying for things that I could be getting for free. I’ve even been known to cut my own hair, much to my kids chagrin. And so it’s only fitting that I devote a vast amount of my workday and passions to the ever exciting, ever evolving, ever challenging game of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Wow. I really do need to get a life.

A short tutorial to the various methods of leading traffic to your website:

Plan A)

Paid Traffic Techniques

This is exactly what it sounds like. You will pay Google by bidding on the keywords you would like to “rank for” in a search, and whomever pays the higher price will end up closest to the top of the grayed in area’s along the very top of a Google search or down the right sidebar. The more competitive, or searched for keyword, the more you are going to pay to be placed up towards the top of the search engine. It’s called a whole slew of things, so you might recognize it as SEM (Search Engine Marketing), PPC (Pay per click), Paid Search, etc. Whatever, it’s all the same thing.

This is not a terrible strategy, and it has its’ place for short term visibility, absolutely. But it should never be your sole strategy; not if you’re planning on being around for a while. I sometimes encourage adding PPC later on, on an as needed basis, after plan B, which we will get to, has been implemented. Alternately, it can be used to jump start a new business and website until the organic techniques have started to kick in. PPC can be a good addition to an online strategy for sure, but paid ads alone are only as good as the time which you are paying for them. They’re

not going to sustain your presence on page 1 if nothing else is implemented. In other words if you are relying solely on paid ads and have not laid an integrated marketing foundation, the minute you stop paying for your ads, you can say adieu to your search engine visibility, and hello to page 12…you’re presence will dry up faster than Solange and Beyonce shut down the rumors of the Jay Z –Solange fight.

No, what makes much more sense is

Plan B)

Organic Traffic Techniques

A joint study conducted by Group M out of the UK and Nielsen reports that other than commercial searches, 94% of total search engine clicks go to organic results, with just 6% of click share left for paid search ads.

Most search queries are not commercial (people looking to buy something) or transactional in nature. Most search queries are informational or navigational. It’s difficult to find exact figures on what percentage of search queries are commercial – partly because deriving intent from a search query alone is always something of a guessing game. However, one survey found that about 25% (1 in 4) of search queries are navigational, i.e. people who want to find a specific website, or service, while 68% (over 2/3) are informational, i.e. people who just want general information on a topic. That only leaves 7% of searches with commercial intent, i.e. people who want to buy something.

Here’s a picture of what most search queries look like by playing with Google Insights for Search. For example, in the last 90 days, the top 10 search terms in the US were:

  1. Facebook

  2. Google

  3. You

  4. Youtube

  5. Craigslist

  6. Weather

  7. Yahoo

  8. News

  9. Gmail

  10. Amazon

Here you can see that the top 6 are clearly navigational. (“you” is very likely people who just don’t finish typing “youtube” because the instant results load first). 6, 7, 8 are very broad informational queries. The only queries that could potentially be considered commercial are amazon and craigslist.

The crafty and consistent techniques you are going to implement on a regular basis- the on site keyword research and placement, the addition of fresh content, on-site linking, meta , alt and title tagging as well as the off site work of creating social media buzz, blog commenting, strategic linking, local search and map placements, bookmarking and directory placements will all, if implemented correctly get you and
keep you where you want to be on the search engines. For free.

Is it tricky? Heck yeah.

Is it

a guarantee? Heck no.

But will it work ? Yes sir. You just can’t get lazy.

Online marketing, like all marketing, is an integrated effort, there is no doubt. Guns must be loaded on many fronts, and often times strategy begins with throwing a lot against the wall to see what will stick. Your market research begins here. You find out who your audience is so that then you can narrow down where your efforts should lie.

No one technique, no magic bullet will keep you front and center in peoples minds other than consistent efforts, doing quality, over the top work, and branding. It sounds exhausting, I know, but once you’re there on page one it’s a wonderful pay off.




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