80% of the US population - an estimated 240 million people - are online at work or at home. Most have made some type of search request during the past month. This link will take you to a page where these figures are updated regularly, and this one will show you the relative popularity of each search engine (Google's is about 84%).
This reveals how useful search engines can be for directing traffic to a company's Web site. If you are not considering search engine optimization (sometimes called search engine marketing, or SEM) in your marketing mix, it is as if you are ignoring a major medium such as TV, radio or newspapers in the offline world.
USA Today reported that Corrugated Metals in Chicago netted "millions and millions of dollars in sales" after investing just $200/month for a top ranking in Google.
The article went on to interview a number of businesses, most reporting great successes in both paid Google advertising as well as free top rankings acquired through the process of search engine optimization. Another interesting quote from the article: "We get 3,000 hits monthly from Google without spending a dime," said ExperiencePlus Tours founder Rick Price. Price goes on to explain how he once spent $100,000 a year on catalogs, postage, and classifieds. According to USA Today, he now spends much of his marketing time updating his site to achieve a top ranking in Google. "We bust our butts to make Google like us," Price says.
How do these people do it? They fine-tune their Web pages to be Google-friendly and they build link popularity. One of my oldest clients used to fly expensive salespeople around the country to trade shows and potential clients. Now they get most of their business - millions of dollars annually - from their web site.
Online businesses should place the same importance on search engine optimization as brick and mortar businesses do on yellow pages directory listings, a post office address, and signage. In fact, as local search becomes more commonplace, brick and morter businesses can't afford to ignore SEO either.
Since most visitors do not return to a site faithfully, a steady stream of new traffic is essential for the health of any e-business. Every business must add new customers on a regular basis; however, in cyberspace, business relationships are even more transitory than in real communities.
Banner ads bring traffic, but their effectiveness has been steadily declining for years. Banner ads result in average click-through rates of less than 1%. Also, banner ads are relatively expensive, costing between $40 and $60 per one thousand "impressions." This means you pay every time someone sees your banner, whether or not they click on it to visit your site. Your $60 of banner ads may only result in six or seven site visits!
The beauty of visitors coming from the search engines are that they are all well-qualified prospects who are far more likely to make a purchase than someone clicking on a banner ad out of curiosity. If someone is actively searching for what you have, they are much more likely to be a serious buyer. Therefore, even if you generate fewer overall visitors from search engines than from your other advertising sources, you'll find a much greater percentage of those visitors will convert to actual sales.
Search engine positioning is simply the best and most cost effective way to become visible on the Internet. Without search engine optimization, your business is in the foothills. Let me help you reach the summit!