Internet search engines are changing our lives in unprecedented ways. In 2005, Google announced the release of a new product, Google Gulp, a drink which could optimise a person’s use of their search engine through allegedly stimulating mental neurotransmitters. When this brain boosting beverage turned out to be a simple hoax, however, intended as part of the company’s viral marketing campaign, millions of people fell into disappointment. The ostensible beverage deception not only demonstrated the powerful thirst for effective marketing that is common to all companies, even gigantic super-businesses like Google, it also showed just how much influence internet search engines like Google and Bing command in today’s world.
One of the most important and overlooked effects of this continuing growth of the internet search engine is its relevance for small businesses. Traditionally, such businesses have been content to rely on listings in regional newspapers or the Yellow Pages to make themselves known to the local community rather than opting for more modern styles of advertising like online marketing or customer focused websites, both ‘increasingly vital tool[s] for any business pursuing an online growth strategy’, according to Fountain Partnership, a Norwich SEO agency. But the business landscape is changing. Phil Browne, the organiser of this year’s Local Business Week, an annual campaign providing advice and guidance for small business owners, said that everyone he’s listened to was ‘entirely in agreement that [small enterprises] should have a website. No matter which medium you choose to market yourself through, most customers are likely to check you out online, so not having that digital presence means business opportunities are slipping away.’ Not only that, however. Having a website for a business allows companies to reach markets previously unthought of for small enterprises, with a web presence providing access to consumers at a national and even international level. Despite these substantial benefits that creating a website for your business can confer, statistics from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) show that only one in four small businesses have a website and, of those, only a third use their websites for sales.
While creating an online presence for a business is a fundamental step forwards, that’s not all there is to it. When using an internet search engine to find a service or product, consumers consistently visit those sites that appear at the very top of their results page: one survey recently suggested that websites which occupy the first place in a Google search receive 33% of all web traffic from that search. In order to ensure that your business has a website that is not only present, but popular, it’s essential that search engines rank it high enough on their results pages so that consumers’ attentions are caught.
But how do we do this? The solution often lies in the use of a digital marketing company company or alternatively creating a position in-house. Using a variety of techniques, from changing the syntax and layout of the words on a webpage to simply making it more search engine friendly, SEO providers work to upgrade their clients’ websites in order to maximise the number of visitors each site receives from search engines. Fountain Partnership, for instance, has been providing help for Google-challenged business owners since 2009. One of their clients, Ben Boon, director of Solar East Anglia Ltd., said that SEO was ‘the best form of advertising I have done, sales have more than doubled and so have the number of enquiries.’ His comments are echoed by many other users of SEO. Martin Chapman, the director of Quintessential Finance Group and another client of Fountain’s, reported that optimising his website for search engine browsing transformed his company’s fortunes from loss to profit right from the first month. It just goes to show that small business owners don’t need to go to such lengths as Google in promoting themselves and formulating fictitious beverages, delicious as that prospect might seem. Often, the best way to curry favour with that search engine giant and its many users is simply to craft a website that is search engine friendly and ensures that it is first past the post when it comes to attracting consumer attention, a business which SEO agencies are more than happy to lend a helping hand with.
This article was written by Riccardo Monni, a freelance content creator.