The search engines are at the heart of the internet. They are the tool that you will use to find a product or service that you need and much more importantly they will enable people to find your web site and then buy your products.
The search engines respond to a request for information by searching through their indexes rather than the internet. It will display those that match the search term and show them in order that their algorithms have ranked them. The matches are also ranked and the most relevant are shown first. Also, the sites that have paid for their sites to be displayed are shown if the keywords match and they can afford the cost.
When doing this it is important to recognise that most people will not look beyond the first page of the results. Therefore, it IS important where your page appears in the search engine rankings. Also, most people will use Google so if there are scarce resources then they should be focused around Google.
The keywords that you have assigned to a web page will be used to match against the searches input by your customers. But, it is other things that are more important for determining the rankings of your page. The search engines will use things like the number of links to your page from other web sites, but the “quality” of the other sites is important as well. Please note that this is how they work today (October 2008) but this may be changed as the algorithms they use evolve.
The main methods for customers to find your site are:
- Entering what they are looking for in their favourite search engine.
- Linking to a web site from another site that they trust.
- Using a shopping comparison site such as kelkoo.com (see separate article on Comparison Sites).
- Word of mouth – a friend had a good experience on your site and has recommended you.
So, it is crucial that you are found in the search engines – it is the primary method for customers to find you. Less than 10% will use options 2 -3 for finding products they want.
One other thing not to forget is that you can add your products to the search engines as well as your web site. For example, by submitting your product pages to Google Base which will then list them in the search engine along with your pages increasing your visibility to prospective customers. Essential to help with your listings.