What is SEO?

By James Atkinson, LLB and Sarah Jamieson

Online buyers and sellers usually meet and transact when searchers, seeking a solution to a need, go online for information, connection, or purchase.

To connect effectively with prospects and to make sales from those connections you must employ certain technical measures in your web sites so all parties: prospects, search engines and social networks know what your website is about.

The key to success with the search engines, social networks, and prospects is actually very simple. The one thing that always motivates all three parties is relevant search results.

Relevance is simple: give the audience what they are looking for.

Because the internet is now widely used to research solutions to unmet needs and information, marketers have a great opportunity to connect with prospects early in the buying process. Thus, the online seller must be at all the places where online prospects are searching.

This process begins the moment prospects realize they have an unmet need or desire. Then they go through various stages until the need is satisfied, they make a purchase, or they stop searching.

Internet marketers can accomplish something that offline marketers can’t – easily and inexpensively reach and influence prospects at all stages of the search continuum. (I explain the search continuum in another article.)

This allows you to influence prospects’ decision-making by educating them about the market and how best their needs can be met. Influence also occurs through online PR systems which are actually a part of the wider social network.

In addition, online marketers can easily test and track every step of the process so as to improve marketing and profit results. Offline testing is very expensive. The earlier in the buying cycle you can connect with prospects to start building a relationship, the better.

At the beginning of their search, prospects are ‘actively’ seeking and are thus more open to new information about how their needs can be met.

This is when they will be most receptive to relationship-building. Online marketers have the ability to zero in by keyword and present the most relevant information that prospects are looking for.

With your knowledge of the search continuum you can walk prospects through the information they most want to know and do it in an ordered sequence.

With highly relevant content laser-targeted to meet the needs of prospects and searchers, a good online marketer can STOP searchers seeking information from others and effectively take prospects off the market.

If you think about this – it’s an amazing concept!

As an online merchant you can present relationship-building articles and other content, or if the prospect is further along in the buying cycle, you can easily present product information and sales copy.

Your survey and keyword research (See: Steps 1 and 3 in internet marketing resources) provides the information you need to give to your market - by segment at the keyword level. Your objective thereafter is to discover the steps and persuasion points in your market’s buying cycle.

What this means is that you provide targeted information utilizing keywords that are likely to be searched on. Then, you use your market’s search continuum to weave your knowledge into a marketing strategy, web site structure, content, and sales process. This targeting makes your persuasion efforts highly effective.

Virtually all traffic comes from search engines (free and paid listings) or a social network. Without question, search engines and social networks deliver internet traffic and sales! The bottom line is that if you’re not currently:

  • Well-positioned in the organic search results for relevant keywords

  • Using PPC (with a high AdWords Quality Score),

  • Influencing perceptions through the online PR networks, and
  • Driving market domination and sales from the social networks …

… then you’re missing the key planks of internet marketing and losing huge amounts of traffic and sales!

It’s absolutely critical to get your message in front of prospects - at the places that they go to search for information, connection, or purchase.

If you’re serious about marketing online, you need to use these traffic sources to position your message in front of prospects.

What is SEO? > SEO Basics.