Online marketing is a big challenge for businesses. Not because it is hard to do, but particularly because most companies lack the knowledge and proper guidance on where to start and how to do the research to find out what strategy is the best for them. Lots of my friends and people I work with frequently ask me about different online marketing practices and channels, specifically about Search Engine Optimisation – SEO, Social Media Marketing, PPC/ CPC (Pay Per Click/ Cost Per Click) Ads on search engines. All these channels are effective and powerful in their own ways. But the idea of effective marketing is to find which one (If at all) is the most effective (Both in terms of cost and return) for your business.

To start with, I suggest trying out the effectiveness of your online brand using numerous free methods. By free, I only mean they don’t involve a lot of monetary investment BUT they certainly need a lot of time investment to carefully plan and execute. Such methods should be something that can generate plenty of quality and relevant traffic for you (Remember relevance is important!). But it needs a lot of time investment and knowledge of tiny bits and bobs to effectively implement. One such method is called SEO – Search Engine Optimisation.

Now, you might ask what is SEO – Search Engine Optimisation?

SEO is a set of techniques to optimise your website and online presence for higher visibility and ranking on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. What that means is, when you effectively and correctly implement those techniques, there is a higher POSSIBILITY (note that I used the word ‘possibility’) that people might find you more when they search. It won’t be right to say that higher search engine rankings are guaranteed by following a certain set of practices. Pertinent to mention is that following good practices certainly improves your rankings, but to be at the top needs a lot more!

Say, for example, you are selling handmade hats on your web store, so if people Google for handmade hats, the websites with higher ranking will appear higher in the search results (SERP – Search Engine Results Page). These are also called Organic Search Results, as you cannot pay Google to turn up higher in the search results. You can of course, pay to appear at the top of the SERP as a sponsored advertisement, but that’s not your natural ranking. You sometimes might need to pay an incredible lot of money to appear at the top depending on how expensive the keywords you are bidding on are? (I will discuss this in more detail in a later write-up).

There could be hundreds or even thousands of online stores selling that particular product, but where are you in those search results? What is the possibility that people will find you and ultimately buy the product from you? What is the possibility that even if you are on the first page, people will click on your link and go to your website? ‘Possibility’ being the focus here, I will discuss and try to answer all those questions of how to increase the possibility of being found in due time.

For now, let’s go back to SERPs. If you are not on the first page, you are already losing on more than half of your potential customers. According to the research done by Search Engine Watch, more than 53% of Organic Search Clicks Go to First Link. We are only discussing page wise results, but the research indicates that sometimes the competition is so fierce that even being at the first or second place on the first page can make a huge difference. Apparently, majority of all the available traffic goes to top 5 places on the first SERP. So, the focus is not just the first page but also the top spot on the first page. Even after achieving the top spot, the focus has to be on retaining that top spot. Search Engines are evolving and changing at a pace, which makes it incredibly hard to keep up with and maintain your search engine rankings. Since Google came into being, it has made hundreds of tweaks and updates to its search algorithm some being pretty major. The most recent being the Hummingbird, Penguin 2.1 and Top Heavy updates.

There are hundreds of SEO consultants providing services and promising you guaranteed traffic and high rankings within days. Don’t fall for that!!! If things go wrong, it can cause more damage than any good to your online presence. SEO is gradual and a carefully planned process. There are no short cuts to achieving a good ranking. It’s about following the best practices and doing the right thing, not tricking your customers into believing something, which you cannot offer them. Giving them the best of everything you have to offer! Just offering something good is not great enough in an ever-changing competitive online market.

Now, the big question: How to do all this to achieve higher rankings and improve online presence? Well, you are at the right place then. In future articles, we will look into the practices of achieving higher rankings and establishing a strong online presence in a series of articles titled “How to achieve the top spot by learning your way to it?” In this series of articles, you will know and learn about approaching the challenge of achieving the top spot using ethical and industry accepted marketing practices. My aim is making it simple and keeping out the technical jargon, where possible and if I use it, make sure, to explain everything in simple terms so that you get the most out of it.

I hope you like this introduction of the basics. Any suggestions, advice, guidance or something you want to let me know are more than welcome.

If you are looking for a qualified and skilled SEO consultant for your online business. I am here to help. Request a free SEO Consultation here.

Please send me an email at qasidaadil[at]gmail[dot]com or leave a comment.

Thank you!