We know it’s important to rank highly in search engines if we want people/strangers to find our website. However, getting on page 1 of Google can take a lot of effort and investment, especially for popular keywords. But do you need to be on page 1? And how do you decide how much of your marketing budget needs to be allocated to search engine optimisation (SEO), that dark art which helps you reach the top spot?

Here are our answers.

Do we need to be on page 1?
You need to be on page 1 if people who are in need of a product/service like yours invariably look for that product or service by searching online using the names of the product/service AND if they are unlikely to spend much time investigating different options. In fact, only 15% of people search beyond page 1 of Google, so page 2 and beyond really won’t drive in enough visitors.* Something worth considering if prospects are searching for a product/service you offer via search engines.

How do you find out how customers found you?

Talk to your customers – ask them, “How did you find us? Think about the industry you operate in – what do people tend to do when they find themselves in need of a product/service like yours? Do they ask around their colleagues and associates? Do they look in trade journals? Do they go to industry exhibitions? Do they use online or offline directories? How important is online searching in this process?

Many businesses use Google to shortlist a number of potential suppliers, before contacting them to bid or quote for work. If you’re not on Google page 1, you won’t make the shortlist and won’t be in the running for the contract. From our experience, this is especially true in B2B markets, where the PA shortlists from Google searches, gives the list to the decision maker to vet, and then that list is used as basis for invitations to tender etc.

So, some basic research into how your customers found out about you is essential.

How much money do we need to invest in SEO?

Before you can decide this, first see how you are currently ranking. Look at your website analytics (if you don’t already have something, add Google Analytics today) and see how many of your website visitors came direct (they type your website address into their browser) compared to via “organic search” (which just means the unpaid search results, rather than Adwords etc.) Are these proportions representative of your industry and of your prospective customers?

Your market research and your website analytics should match – e.g. your research tells you that search engines are less important than other ways of finding products/services like yours and your website analytics show a high number of visitors reaching your website direct. If this is the case then you don’t need to spend vast amounts of time and money on SEO. Make sure you have the basics of SEO covered and that you rank highly for your company name and any other brand names you own, and spend the money elsewhere.

However, there may be a mismatch– e.g. your research tells you that an online search is the most important way customers find products/services like yours, but your website analytics tell you that only 40% of visitors reach your site via search engines. If this is the case then you may need to improve your website from an SEO perspective.

By Rosalind Conkie, Marketing and PR Manager, KMS Marketing, with contributions from Geoff Roy, Natural Search Expert, KMS Marketing.

Contact us at KMS Marketing to help you assess how important SEO is to your company’s success.

If your business does need to make improvements to its SEO, then we offer a range of SEO services to audit, improve and boost your SEO. Click here for more details.

*Source: http://www.quora.com/How-many-Google-searchers-go-to-page-two-of-their-search-results

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