Often as firearms marketers, our clients are looking for the silver bullet, the one thing we can do to take sales to the next level. Just as often, I get this question from companies that haven’t done the basics yet. This series of articles is going to give you an overview of the online marketing landscape, where you can get started fast for the least money, and just how far you can take it.
This is like someone just starting out in the bodybuilding world taking tons of supplements and potions from day one. When you are getting started you don’t need all the fancy stuff. Just get lifting and when (if) you actually get to a point of diminishing returns, then you can start looking for the high testosterone marketing angles.
The CORE of the basics is SEO. Search Engine Optimization. – What is SEO? In the most simple of terms, you need to have the words and phrases that people would use in Google to find your business, actually on your web page. There are several other levels of SEO that reach beyond this, but at the core, this is where you need to start.
This series of articles is going to give you an overview of the online marketing landscape, where you can get started fast for the least money, and just how far you can take it.
But when we are as limited as we are with advertising opportunities, this kind of action must be taken. Its simple, fairly easy to do at a basic level and can reap huge rewards in the short and long term. The positives carry over into you getting more educated as a business owner and something we can never have enough of is knowledge.
So how do we get started? NOT hiring an SEO company for $100-$1000 a month is a great place to start.
Once again the bodybuilding analogy comes into play. If you are 40 pounds overweight and can’t climb a set of stairs without risking a heart attack, you don’t go hire an Olympic coach to start you off on your road to health. Start small. There will be a time to hire an expert, but it’s not now. And if you simply HAVE to outsource it, then you can start with a very basic website overhaul (the one I am going to cover below) and do it really well.
This is where your knowledge of your customer and knowledge of your product or service is going to be worth its weight in gold. You need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to figure out how they would search for your business on Google. What words and word combinations would they type in to find the product you sell.
Now, obviously, if you sell a totally unique product no one else makes, this job is going to be easier. Your branding should do the trick, a well as a nice name for the product. Typing that in should bring clients directly to your site. The Super Scuba Recce Sniper Ninja Laser Thingy (fake product name) is only made by you and sold by you. Game over.
But 99% of us in this market are selling something we get from someone else (MagPul mags, Crye chest rigs etc) or something we make that everyone else makes (AR floating front ends, stocks, stock adapters, mag pouches). So how do we get action on MagPul mags, which everyone sells, and sales traffic to our site if we are all using the same search terms?
We are going to break it down, go get a coffee (or a beer if appropriate) and read on:
Google ranks your site based on over 200 factors, and these factors change from time to time as Google tweaks the program that ranks sites. Good can changes it math around 500-600 times a year, on average. (no typo, 500-600). The last major update that had an impact on ranking was “Hummingbird” in 2013. From SearchEngineLand.com:
“Hummingbird” is the name of the new search platform that Google is using as of September 2013, the name comes from being “precise and fast” and is designed to better focus on the meaning behind the words. Read our Google Hummingbird FAQ here.
Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query — the whole sentence or conversation or meaning — is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few words.
Google Hummingbird is designed to apply the meaning technology to billions of pages from across the web, in addition to Knowledge Graph facts, which may bring back better results.
GOOD SEO companies will be able to take all these factors into account when working on your SEO. This kind of work also costs thousands of dollars, since it takes a small army of people to do this kind of work, especially backlinking (more later).
We can break down the system into five main streams, however:
- Keyword usage
- Site structure
- Site speed
- Time spent on site
- Number of inbound links
- Quality of inbound links
Keyword usage is what we covered above, its seeding your descriptions and site content with words and phrases that your customers would use to search for you on Google.
Site structure is how your website is ordered, how easy it is to navigate and how easy it is to crawl.
Site speed is how responsive your site is to requests, both from real users and the Google spider that crawls the site to map it.
Time spent on site is exactly what it sounds like. Its how much time people spend on your site is an indicator of how relevant the information on the site is, and therefore how relevant your site is. The more relevant, the higher your ranking.
The number of inbound links is the number of times that other sites link to your site. This is an indicator of your site being an authority on the topic the person is searching for. More inbound links mean other sites think of you as an expert, and so will Google. This is the hardest thing to build as a small business owner, as it takes time and tons of relevant content to generate these organically.
Quality of inbound links is how NOT FAKE the links are. Many SEO companies started having teams of geeks build fake links to fake sites or bribe site to link back to your site as part of their service and Google got wise to it. Your links have to organic and genuine, or they will HURT your ranking.
Stay tuned. We are going to tackle each one of these in individual articles over the next few weeks. We are going to cover how you can get started on your own, and where you can outsource (in affordable fashion) to move things along quicker.