Grow a Predictable Business that you can Rely on with Search Engine Marketing.
Remember when you thought running your own business would give you freedom? You probably also thought you’d make a lot more money. For a lot of business owners, the reality is that you work harder than ever and you’re no better off than when you worked for a wage.
Every week you make plans for growing your business but you’re too busy running the business and fighting fires to build it. Another week passes and you still haven’t updated your social media, added to your website or any of the other things that have joined the ever-growing list. That’s normal for millions of small business owners.
Feast or famine drives marketing for the majority of businesses.
Once you are on that treadmill, it’s hard to get off. If you want your business to be predictable and, eventually, more successful – read on!
Fortunately, if you can put in a bit of work now, you can create a business that is consistent, predictable measurable, and therefore, scalable.
This article will tell about how search engine marketing can help you to control and predict your business growth. When you can control your website traffic you can predict how many customers you will have and how much they will spend and that creates a predictable forecasted turnover.
Sounds great! So how do I start?
Well, the place to start is with search engine marketing (SEM).
Let’s take a step back for a minute because Search Engine Marketing is about making calculations. You don’t need to be good at maths but think back to when you were a kid. Did you work out how many cars you had to clean (or other chores) to earn a certain amount of money?
Flashback to the Dark Ages.
As a young teen, I delivered leaflets for the local shops for £1 per thousand – yes it was a very long time ago! I was saving for a Chopper bike for about £35. At the rate of 4,000 leaflets per week, it was going to take me about 9 weeks. I recruited a few friends and made a profit of 25p per thousand so got my Chopper a bit quicker. The point was that I had a predictable business with measurable data so I knew how to scale it.
15 -20 years ago when I had blinds, shutters and curtains business, most of my customers came from leaflet drops.
Average order value = £1,700.
Target = £40,000 per month
34 customers per month at 82% conversion rate meant that I had to see 42 customers per month.
Approximately 1 in 100 people responded to leaflets back then and 9 in 10 made an appointment after speaking.
That meant that if I delivered 5,000 leaflets every month, I was likely to hit my target.
I use this example because it is easy to see the data and over time, a regular pattern emerged that I could use to scale my business. If I wanted to take on a salesperson and double my turnover, I knew I could do that by doubling my leaflet deliveries.
This is in simple terms and used because you can envisage this quite simply.
Here in the Digital Age.
How would I apply this in Search Engine Marketing?
The same principles apply but instead of delivering leaflets to all homes knowing that at all times, a small percentage of homeowners are in the market for your services, you are measuring visits to your website from people who are in the market for your products and services.
We know they are in the market because they have typed a search query that shows their intent.
The question I have to ask is, ‘how many website visitors do I need to make those 42 appointments’?
With Google Analytics, I can look back at a month when I had 42 appointments and see how many people visited my website and replicate that.
Let’s put aside that some of those appointments may be walk-ins, referrals or repeat business and focus on website traffic.
If you already have Google Analytics installed on your website, you can look back at history and relate website traffic to turnover. Find a month where you hit your financial target and look at the website traffic for that month.
Real-Life Case Study.
We can look at history for a client of ours in the double glazing industry. In April 2020 they had 665 visitors compared to 3,569. Although we were in lockdown during that time, the number was fairly typical before the customer started to optimise for search engines. It gives us a fair benchmark though because the difference in traffic equates to a difference of approximately £185,000 in sales. April was a record month in the industry and the challenge was always to make sure that when the boom receded as it has done, the company would still be able to maintain sales at that level with a combination of SEO and paid search. As long as we keep traffic over 100 visitors per day, we should be able to maintain that level of business.
There are other factors to consider. All traffic is not equal. You also need to make sure that the visitors are engaged, that they click buttons and do not bounce away to look at a competitors site.
We always knew the bubble would burst at some point and it started in May with a drop of 1,446 visitors in May compared to April. For me as the marketer, this was good news because I could see a more realistic view of traffic and make adjustments. Now the question was – how would I get those 1,446 visitors back. Search Engine Optimisation is continuous work but we needed those visitors back immediately. The answer came in Paid Search.
Even if you have the best product or service in the world, or if there is an unnatural boom after a pandemic. You are still dependant on your customers finding you when they search for your products and services. If they don’t find you, then they won’t buy from you! It really doesn’t matter how good or special your products or services are if no one knows about them.
Back to Search Engine Marketing.
What is Search Engine Marketing?
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of gaining traffic on your website via search engines. Potential customers use Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines to search for products and services on the web using keywords.
The advantage of successful search engine marketing is that your business can appear in front of the prospective searcher at the time that they are actively looking for products and services that you provide.
With search engine marketing, everyone who searches is at some stage of the buying cycle. Clever search engine marketing means that you use keywords that enable you to meet those prospective customers at the right time. More about that later.
Right now, let’s look at the difference between the two elements of search engine marketing – paid and organic.
Paid Search vs Organic Search.
When you pay for people to find your site, that’s known as ‘paid search’. “PPC” means ‘Pay per Click’ – every time someone clicks on an advert from their search result, you pay a fee.
The other way is by ranking in the search results – this is referred to as “Organic results”. It is also referred to as ‘natural results’ but there really is very little that is natural about search engine optimisation.
SEO largely depends on relevant content on the page and how trustworthy your site is. This can happen almost accidentally if there is a lot of content on your website and the site has been active for a long time. If you’ve never actively worked on your website with SEO in mind and you get clicks from search engines, you can say that your ranking is natural.
Most sites that rank highly in the organic results are the product of skilled SEO tactics.
Both are part of search engine marketing but SEO takes much longer and is not as predictable as Paid Search. Using only SEO means that competitors could outrank you or take market share away from you because they’re prepared and you are not.
What are Search Engines?
Search engines are essentially computers looking for text on websites. They go through every word on every page of every website they index and establish whether or not it’s relevant to what somebody types into their search box. The websites which include lots of the words people searched for are ranked higher in search results than those which don’t have any of these words. That’s basically how it works in layman’s terms.
Search engines are the best way available to people to find things online. When a person types a word or phrase into Google or Yahoo or Bing they’re looking for something. If your product meets that need then someone is likely to buy it from them if your website comes up in their list of results (and assuming your website looks good). That’s search engine marketing (or SEM for short) in a nutshell. The idea behind it is that if you write content that correctly answers people’s queries search engines will show your website.
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