The world of retail has changed rapidly since the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991. Developed as a way to allow people to link to and access information on the Internet, the Web was intended to be used first and foremost as a way to organize the pool of human knowledge. But it soon developed another aspect: a method of advertising and selling goods.
Search engines soon sprang up due to the rising complexity of the web, quickly followed by people dedicated to gaming those search engines to increase their website’s standings. Through this process, however, search engine optimization (SEO) was developed as a method of building a website and external links to raise a site’s standings legitimately. Today any online retailer that wants to be successful needs to be concerned with SEO because without it few people will visit their site and their sales will suffer. Though SEO, in some fashion, is required for any retailer it’s not the end-all of online marketing and should be accompanied by a good mix of online advertising.
SEO and online advertising are analogous to the physical world practices of finding an appropriate location for a business and putting up billboards and flyers in high traffic locations. Just as most businesses in the physical world can’t be successful without employing both tactics, online retailers have to make use of SEO and advertising to become highly visible and attract business. Unlike the real world, however, SEO and online advertising can be used to directly affect each other. Some SEO tactics benefit things like email marketing campaigns, while advertising deals on specific items is one action that can attract links which will, in turn, aid SEO.
What SEO Does and How to Get Started
SEO is a way of increasing the chances that a website will be ranked highly by the major search engines (Google and Bing). The algorithms controlling each search engine’s rankings are highly complex and entirely secret, so there are no hard facts about exactly how much any one action will affect rankings, but there are some general guidelines that can help ensure higher rankings. Because of the way Google’s algorithm works, your website should be built from the ground up to provide an excellent customer experience.
Google tries to match people with the best possible result for their query, so making sure your website caters to searchers will cause Google to regard you more highly. Have deep, valuable content in the form of a regularly updated blog to show both Google and searchers that you’re knowledgeable in your field. You can even incorporate snippets of your blog posts into your marketing newsletters, piquing the recipient’s interests and drawing them to your site. Monitoring your site and its traffic closely will give you a good idea of the ways people find your site and the terms they use in search which you can use to inform your advertising campaigns.
Why You Should Include Advertising
Proper SEO tactics will make your website easy to use, helpful and engaging while increasing its visibility on search pages. So what’s left after that? Most of the top results on search engine results pages (SERPs) are pay per click (PPC) ads, so even if your site ranks at position 1 for “checkered tablecloths”, your biggest competitor’s ad could show up above your result. Further, PPC results can be seen almost immediately, so you can use PPC ads to test copy for your SEO content. PPC ads can also help you overcome negative press by offering a link to an explanatory page and, with the benefit of being above any organic results, will be one of the first links searchers see. Further, sending out advertisements and coupons for various products on ad networks and through email messages can raise interest in your website and could result in more links, increasing your SEO.
SEO and advertising are both beneficial apart, but together they form a nigh unstoppable juggernaut of visibility and user experience that can take you from a small time web store to a major player in online commerce.