Search Engine Marketing: The Key to your Success.
In an online retail environment, it is vital to be able to reach your customers effectively via search engines in order to raise the profile of your pages, your products, and your advertisements for searches in the results that are generated. In order to obtain a search engine presence of this kind, you need to focus on three main areas of “Search Engine Marketing”:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – In other words, the techniques for optimising a site or a web page to ensure that it appears in the first natural results generated by search engines for certain keywords.
- PPC (Pay per Click) advertising – In other words, text advertisements for which you pay per click, and which appear on search engine results pages. Google manages these via AdWords.
- Google Shopping Ads – These enable you to link to the products in your e-commerce website directly via Google to ensure that they appear directly on the results pages of Google searches, together with pictures and prices, so that web users can complete their purchases with just a few clicks.
Note that, in Luxembourg, Google is by far the most widespread search engine with a market share that exceeds 90%. As a Luxembourg-based service provider, you must prioritise your focus on this search engine in order to promote your site. Nevertheless, this high penetration rate also means that Google is a more competitive platform in terms of advertising space because more businesses are interested in it. For this reason, it is possible that you may also find worthwhile promotional opportunities via the Bing search engine, particularly if you are targeting the American market. Generally speaking, the principles of Search Engine Marketing on Google also apply to Bing.
Effective optimisation of your website from inception is essential, in order to ensure that search engines can find it! This is not something to take into consideration only once the site has been launched; instead, it must be prioritised from the outset of your project. SEO can be a somewhat technical, complex subject, and it genuinely is a continuous process. Over the long term, it is therefore advised that you make use of the services of a specialist digital agency or train your employees on the topic. There is an essential list of simple elements to consider on the various pages of your site, and which will have a significant impact on your performance:
- Page Title: Use your target keyword in the title of your page. This is one of the first items taken into account by Google in order to evaluate what a page is about. Ensure that your page title is not duplicated on other pages of the site so that the search engine can distinguish them effectively. Note that your page title will also appear on the search results page and must, therefore, attract users’ attention.
- Meta Description: The meta description of a page is not directly visible on the page: instead, it is the short, introductory paragraph that can be viewed via search engines. You must, therefore, ensure that your meta-description encourages users to click on the result.
- The structure of your page URLs: ensure that they contain your target keywords and that they follow a logical structure, which will help Google to understand the different themes used in your site.
- “Header” tags: Structure your page with “headers” that are relevant to your target keyword.
- Body text: To ensure that your page is optimised effectively, ensure that you use your keyword in the main body of text, aiming for a minimum of 250 words. Search engines favour pages with “rich” content. Be careful to avoid copying content from third-party websites or pasting it into multiple pages on your site in order to avoid SEO penalisation.
- ALT tags for your images: ensure that you complete ALT tags for your images in order to indicate what they are about. This is particularly important for product images on your e-commerce website.
PPC (Google AdWords):
Google AdWords (as well as the PPC platforms of other search engines) are an excellent way to generate highly qualified traffic for keywords of your choice. You can pay to ensure that your advertisements appear at the top of search engine results via an auction system. Once again, it is recommended that you make use of the services of professionals to ensure that your ads are optimised as effectively as possible so as to generate a good return on investment. Just like SEO, PPC advertising requires constant attention and effort to optimise it over the long term. Nevertheless, the following advice should help you to start promoting your website:
- Optimise your landing pages: Google AdWords prioritises high-quality advertisements that point to relevant, optimised web pages. These pages could, for example, be your product pages. The good news is that the optimisation work described in the part of this document that covers SEO is the same as for AdWords. If you follow this advice, therefore, you will kill two birds with one stone.
- Use negative keywords to reduce your expenditure and increase your return on investment: If your products are found with relevant keywords, you can use your budget more effectively. However, if you are found with keywords that do not generate traffic from qualified buyers, you will be wasting money. Ensure, therefore, that you regularly update the list of keywords for which you do not want to show your advertisements.
- Track all your activity: One of the essential elements of a successful online campaign is the implementation of accurate tracking to enable you to know exactly which advertisements and keywords are the source of your sales and other goals. Without this tracking, you will be working blindly and you will have very little information to help you optimise your activities.
- Use Ad Extensions to increase the click rate of your advertisements: Ad Extensions by AdWords enable you to add extra elements to your ads, such as links to different pages of your site. You can use them to offer richer advertisements that will achieve higher click rates.
If your aim is to sell your products online, Google Shopping will help you to present your products directly in Google’s search result pages. These advertisements contain:
- A picture of the product;
- The product’s name;
- The price.
Users can click directly on this type of advertisement and complete their purchases very quickly. These advertisements are therefore particularly useful to reach people who are using Google to search for a highly specific product. As a seller, this technology is extremely interesting because it allows you to show your products before a user even arrives at your website.
SEM is fundamental to your success online. Whether you are looking to sell products directly via an e-commerce website, or whether your aim is simply to raise your profile and highlight the services that you offer, SEM is essential so that you can be found when your customers are looking for you. SEO forms part of a long-term strategy and requires continuous optimisation. PPC and Google Shopping allow you to achieve more direct results, but they also require long-term attention in order to identify new opportunities.
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