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Is a High Search Engine Ranking Important for YOU?

In the process of designing a website for clients the question inevitibly arises "How do I get a good search engine ranking?". This is a very good point and the answer is not as clear cut as you may think.

A high search engine ranking means that your website will appear on the first page of a search engine, when someone searches for the subject of your website. For example if you were a babysitter, then you would want to appear on the first page of results whenever someone typed in "babysitter" into their favourite website. If you sold CDs you would want to be on the first page of any search engine results whenever someone typed in "CD".

Many search engines and marketing tools say that you need to be on the first 3 pages of search engine results, but I say that is incorrect, you need to be on the first page. My reasoning is this: how often have you gone past the first page when you have been looking for something in a search engine? 10% of the time? Almost never? I'm the same. If you or I don't go past the first page, prospective customers won't either.

There are a lot of companies that make a lot of money out of selling products that increase your search engine ranking. Before you start to spend your hard earned cash - take a moment to read this article and determine if you and your business actually needs a high ranking in a search engine.

When someone asks me "How do I get a good search engine ranking?" my advice is to think of:

  • What you wish to achieve with this site

  • Your customer Demographic

  • What other marketing plans you have.

Lets go through these points one by one:

  • What you wish to achieve with this site

    Ask yourself:

    • What is my product/service

    • Will people be searching for my product, my service or myself via a search engine?

    • Is a web presence all I want/need?

    The key answer you are looking for is the answer to question number 2. Will people, who have never or only vagely heard about me be searching for my product or service? If the answer is no, then a high search engine ranking won't do much for you.

    If you just want a "web presence" (pretty much having a website cause you think its a good idea, but it is quite a passive part of your marketing. i.e. You have one cause your customers expect to have one) the search engine ranking will mean nothing to you. The aim of the site ("web presence") is achieved - your company is present on a website!

    Many companies just want/need a web presence. The web is a great place to put their catalogues and brochures, so that a customer does not have to keep receiving mailings of the latest catalogue. The customer can simply log on to the web and then download up to date information on your company. This sort of website is great for general information about yourself and your company with the understanding that if a customer wanted more specific information then they would call you. In this case a high search engine ranking is not important, beacuse your customer already know that you have a website and already know its URL.

    If, however you have an online product, such as an e-book, and want to sell it online, then yes, you will need a high search engine ranking in addition to your other marketing efforts. A high ranking will allow you to get new customers who have never heard of you before, but are interested in what your book has to say.

  • Your Customer Demographic

    Ask yourself:

    • Where do I get customers from now?

    • What sort of customer are they i.e. Do my customers use the Web for MY service?

    • If you want to use the site as a main marketing tool then maybe a search engine ranking is important. If you believe that a customer may be searching for "babysitters" on the web, and you have a babysitter then YES - you need a good search engine ranking.

    By thinking about your customer demographic and how they come to your business you can determine if a high search ranking is needed. For example if you are a word of mouth business then having a website for your business is fairly useless unless you are only seeking a "web presence".

    If your customers will come to your site as the result of some other media advertising you are doing (TV, Radio, Newspaper etc) then a high search ranking is not important.

    If you have the sort of business where your customers will be searching on the web for you, but dont know who you are then yes, a high search engine ranking is important. For example, if you sell DVDs then people dont really care who they buy from, if the price is right - they will be just searching for DVD in their favourite search engine and if your are in the front page, they will click on you and probably buy. So in this case it is worth seeking a high ranking.

  • What other marketing plans you have.

    Ask yourself:

    • How else do I market?

    • What is my main form of getting customers?

    • If you are advertising through other media, such as TV, Radio, Newpaper, Flyers etc then it is necessary to think about if you will be needing customers to come from your website. If your website is printed on all your literature than a high search engine ranking is not important. If your customers see your product and want it - they will visit your website for more info.

    A high search engine ranking is only important if people will be searching for your product or service on a search engine. If you don't think that your prospective customer's will be using the web to find your product then a high search engine ranking is not required.

Conclusion

When it all comes down to it, you are a busy business owner. You don't want to be expending effort on something that will not reap you any benefits. For most small to medium businesses you will find that a high search engine ranking is not important as most of their customers come from other media. Most small to medium businesses need a web presence but in most cases it is not worth the effort to get a high search engine ranking.

A high search engine ranking is only important if you expect to get customers who have never heard of you before searching for your product or service. Most small businesses do not fit this description.

Andy White has build approximately 224 websites in the last 12 months, specialising in small to medium business websites. He also runs a growing website entitled www.hitsmetotears.com which is designed to be a one stop shop for your website marketing needs. He is based in Adelaide, Australia.


andy@hitsmetotears.com

Andy White