With hundreds or thousands of competitors, how can a business attract new customers online and get its product upfront in online search engines? Gaining a listing in the first page or two of a search engine’s results is often considered the “Holy Grail” of e-commerce.
So, how do you get to the front of search results? There are two approaches to ensuring that links to your company’s website appear high on a search engine page: “natural search” and “paid search.”
To rank highly in natural search, the content on your company’s website should include the keywords a consumer might type to search for what you offer. These keywords should also be included in the links to your website from other websites.
For example, if you own an online jewelry store, you may want your company’s website to show up when a consumer searches for the words “diamond earrings.”
There are various strategies to improving your company’s rank in natural search. Most are legitimate, but there are some vendors that don’t comply with the rules and regulations that the search engines have in place to ensure honest marketing.
If you decide to work with a third-party to implement a natural-search strategy, be sure to check references, look at other companies they’ve worked with, and make sure they are forthright about their policies on working within search engine service agreements.
For paid searches, companies get to the top of search listings the old fashioned way–they buy their way there! Search companies, for example, allows businesses to suggest keywords that relate to their products and services, to create a description and even to choose a geographic area that they want to reach.
The company’s listing appears high in the results of search engines like Yahoo! and MSN, and the merchant is charged a fee each time a visitor clicks on the listing to get more information.
The most popular search engine, Google, has a cost-per-click pricing plan based on keywords called Adwords. Here, business listings (called Sponsored Links) with short descriptions appear next to the list of related search results, attracting attention and clicks.
Business owners should explore a variety of search engines to see which kind of program works best for their products or services.