Recently I met with a client who had no Internet experience.  He was a successful businessman having run a profitable family business for over 35 years but was only just getting round to building a website now.  He was old school and did not even use a computer so explaining SEO and SEM to him got me thinking that there are probably a lot of people out there for whom, Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing  is totally new.  So this article is for you!

Let’s start with a real estate analogy.  A website is a business address.  It’s where people go to find out about your company, learn about your products and services, and potentially spend their money with you.  Now building a website is just like building an office or store, you have to choose the sign-age, the paint, the carpets in the same way you choose where your logo goes on your website, what photos are on the homepage, what background colours etc.  So web design is exactly like a shop design.

Here’s where the big difference is and why SEO is important.  A physical shops location is fixed in a shopping centre, or mall, or stretch of street side shops.  A website floats around in cyberspace with the other billion+ websites.  Google, Bing and Yahoo are like the Brisbane equivalents of Queen St Mall, Indooroopilly Shoppingtown or the Fortitude Valley Markets – they are where your customers go first.

You might have the most amazingly designed shop front, best products and cheapest prices but if you’re located in the middle of the desert – you’re not going to get any customers!

This is where Search Engine Optimisation comes in, we get your website into the most popular shopping malls aka the first page of Google. But it doesn’t stop there.  Businesses inside shopping centres pay higher rents to be close to where all the traffic is: entrances, escalators, food courts – the more people walking by your shop, the more will walk into your shop.  The exact same principle applies in Search Engines.

The link at the top of the results in Google gets on average 35% of clicks, the second spot gets 17.5% and the third 12.5%.  It’s like having your business at the main entrance, or top of the escalator or next to the food court.  But these are competitive positions and take a lot of hard work and time to achieve – you cannot buy these locations – you have to earn them.  At Alpha Digital we have experience earning and holding number 1 spots in competitive spaces over many years.

But what if you want to be on page one right now!  Well this can be achieved too, using Search Engine Marketing (SEM).  SEM can put your business on page 1 in the sponsored links right at the top of the page and down the right hand side (see Search Engine Marketing). You get charged every time someone clicks on your website link.  But bear in mind these positions can be expensive and are considered less trustworthy.  Similar to the guys and girls selling you a Boystown lottery ticket when you walk in to a big shopping centre.  They get heaps of traffic but a lot of people just walk by avoiding eye contact.  However, managed correctly these ‘stall’ positions can be an excellent revenue stream in addition to your shop or website, exactly like when you see Vodafone on Level 1 and a Vodafone stall on Level 3.  If you’re not quite on page 1 of Google yet and want to be, Search Engine Marketing can make it happen.

I hope that helps anyone out there new to SEO and SEM.  At Alpha Digital we are happy to explain exactly what we do and why we are experts, in a language you can easily understand.

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