Person with a metal detector looking for valuables on a beach.

The world of search engines

The world of search engines

Search engines are designed to locate, sort, store and rank large amounts of information on the web. Algorithms created by the search engine designers are used to provide the most relevant and popular data first. Each search engine has its own set of algorithms and therefore returns different results. Once you get your web site operational you should consider few things, which will help your page to be on the top of the search results. Crawling, indexing and storing of relevant information are all common terms in the world of search engines and all are of influence how your site will be ranked.

Who is looking for you?

Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s look who are the main search engines. Who should you primarily focus on? It will come as no surprise, that Google is the dominant force in this market. It gets over 3.5 billion searches per day and leaves the competitors far behind. However, it was not the first to enter the market. This was an engine that was called Archie and it dates back to 1990. It indexed certain FTP archives that enabled people to find specific files. Later came MSN, Ask, Yahoo! and eventually Google in 1998 (officially this was called Backrub and dates back to 1995). With Google at the top, the other important engines are Baidu, Bing, Yahoo! Here is how the cake is divided:

Search engines popularity shown in a pie chart

What is SEO?

Just to be clear here, we are talking about organic search which is a normal search query into the search engine. There is a whole science with strategies and tips on how to get your page higher in search results, this is where we start talking about search engine optimization.

All activities related to increasing traffic to your site as a result of organic search in search engines, is the science of search engine optimization or simply SEO. This is sometimes seen as a bit of a cat and mouse game, since search engines change their algorithms now and then to make their search results more relevant. However, there are factors that don’t change and thus are still relevant. With almost 75% market share, Google is the dominant player. Thus most SEO tactics and strategies people undertake are focussed on getting higher in Google. Performing well in search engines will boost website traffic significantly. Therefore, it pays to invest in SEO.

Searching is a way of life

Often the first page to visit online is a search engine. It’s the number one activity on internet, searching for information. Browsing through search results has become part of our daily online routine, we probably don’t even think about it. But have you ever wondered how do they do it? It’s a true miracle how accurate search engines bring up search results. In a nutshell, search engines gather information from websites. This process is called crawling and is performed by their “crawler”. Next, it builds a list of relevant websites based on a certain algorithm. This algorithm matches all this data with your search query and the list is shown in your browser.

Find and be found

Optimization for your website is done in a variety of ways. Roughly SEO is divided into on-page SEO and off page SEO. 

On-page SEO

These are all the activities that you undertake on your own website to improve your search engine ranking. Think about placing keywords in your text and page, entering metadata in the description and page title. Structure your page in such a way that it makes it easy for search engines to crawl through. You can consider optimizing images on your page, link building through your website and blogging. But most important, you must publish quality and relevant content. You must become the authority in your niche, sharing knowledge and innovation with the reader. Search engines will notice this and start showing you on the top of their search results.

Off-page SEO

When on-page SEO is everything that happens on your site, off-page SEO is everything that happens outside your website. The goal is to become the authority on the topic. This is what your website is about. You can establish this by providing relevant and up to date information to your target audience. But how do you know if you are the authority? Backlinks! These are your URL links placed on other sites for their audience to read. Once your website is seen as the place where valuable data can be found, you will be noticed by other websites. These sites will use your content to inform their own audience and refer back to you by placing a link! These “backlinks” are one of the factors based on which search engines use to rank you higher and thus improve SEO. 

Stick to the rules

Sometimes people try to “trick” search engines by manipulating the system. Using too many keywords (keyword stuffing) or setting up fake links to their website that are supposed to be link building, are often done to accomplish this. Although this may sometimes work, search engines expect it and will soon figure it out that someone is trying to manipulate it. When it finds out, it will blacklist the site and ignore it completely. Trying to trick search engines is also called “black hat SEO”.  Google gives clear guidelines as to how to get higher in search rankings without abusing the system. This is called “white hat SEO”. Needless to say, it is always better to make a site that follows a white hat strategy, so do it!

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Shine with online marketing

The world of online marketing

Almost everything we do nowadays involves taking some kind of action online. Internet has become so integrated into our lives, that we cannot live without it. This online revolution has been good for consumers, since this development has brought a lot of innovations that make life a lot easier. But for a business trying to utilize the power of online marketing, it’s a different ball game. In this article, you will learn about some easy to implement strategies that will work for almost any business. Let’s see how the power of online marketing can be of great help to you! 

Traditional versus online marketing

All the online tools you use to promote your product or service to generate traffic, leads and eventually sales, is online marketing. Online marketing is a broad term and it includes content marketing, email and newsletter, social media, paid media, affiliate marketing and much more. For now, we will focus on content marketing. Unlike traditional marketing, which takes a more local approach and places the emphasis on selling, content marketing leans towards a more personalized approach, trying to establish a relationship with its audience, no matter where they are located throughout the world.

Start doing content marketing

Regardless the size of your business, content marketing can be one of the most powerful digital marketing strategies. The idea behind content marketing is to help the audience. Here, valuable and relevant content is created in an article that focusses on solving a problem the target audience has. A good article gives the solution that solves this problem. 

Building the connection

Content marketing creates a connection between you and the audience. This makes content marketing a two-way interaction. With your knowledge and expertise, you provide solutions for the challenges your audience is struggling with. This becomes a win-win situation for both parties. You, as a content writer, are looking for this audience and the audience is looking for someone who can help. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful information to your audience and customers to help them solve their issues.

The power of online marketing: establish authority!

Now that you have solved their problem with useful information, you can be sure they will return to your website in the future. A form of trust has been created and this sets the basis for a long-term relationship. Your role in this relationship is that you are the authority and your audience is the follower. They became your followers because they see you as the expert. This powerful connection can now be used to transform these leads into sales.

Content marketing displayed in a diagram

Versatility of content marketing

There are many highly performing types of content marketing, such as infographics, tutorials, video, blogging, podcasts, case studies etc. Let’s have an overview on the most popular types here:

Infographics

Infographics are strong eye-catching visual elements that provide useful information about a topic, often to simplify complex information. Often a playful setup is chosen to bring the message across like a puzzle, quiz, mathematical formula etc. In general, infographics are fun and easy to share on social media.

Videos

Videos are very powerful instruments and perfect for grabbing the attention of your audience. With all the smartphones enabling you to record video, it requires a very small investment to create. You have probably noticed the use of video has increased significantly over last few years, especially on social media adds.  That’s why it’s vital you find a way to appeal to your target audience’s attention and engage them quickly.

Case studies

Case studies are based on real life researches where a cause of a problem is described and a solution is given. Often case studies are written about a client who you have worked for. Because the target audience reading your case study may be familiar with a similar issue, they can identify themselves in the situation easily. So presenting a feasible solution, creates trust, thus a loyal audience. Now is a good time to conclude with a call-to-action so the audience can act whilst they are still excited. Case studies usually take up a lot of time to create, but it’s a perfect way to promote yourself.

Blogs

Blogging is extremely popular and requires a very small investment. Therefore, blogs are perfect for any small business. Consider them as a “light” version of content marketing because they tell the story without giving too much detail. On a rainy afternoon, just make yourself a cup of tea and start writing an article about your niche. Creating a good layout for your blog with clearly defined headers and paragraphs that includes keywords you are aiming for, can give it a very high SEO value.

What about SEO?

Getting found in search engines (SEO) can also be seen as online marketing. But this is such a broad field of expertise that I would like to consider it something that stands on its own. See my other article here where I talk about search engines.

Make it sharable!

By applying content marketing in your daily business routine, you are aiming for maximum exposure, the snowball effect. The more your content is being shared, the bigger the snowball becomes. Because it is shared easily by others, it can reach out to the far corners of the internet. Here it can be picked up by everyone including bloggers, influencers and search engines. Imagine the potential traffic it can generate back to your website! This characteristic is probably its biggest benefit, especially when it goes viral. So start publishing your articles, and don’t forget to include social share icons before you uploaded them!

Mouse Pointing At Social Media Sharing Buttons

Insert links and create back links!

A good practice is to place links in articles that link to other pages and posts on your website. These internal links transform your website into a small Wikipedia. Yes, Google likes links, and there is a reason why Wikipedia performs well in search engines. Indeed, links! It becomes even more powerful when your content is being shared on other websites. Now that they picked up your content by placing it in their article, it will link back to your website. These are called back links and search engines love them!

Start doing it!

As a passionate entrepreneur, starting this process should not be difficult. You are a source of valuable knowledge that can help many people! Start sharing this and become the authority in your branch. By achieving this status, traffic to your website will explode and your online business will do too!

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