A prominent criminal defense attorney in Indianapolis shared the story with me of how he started his business. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from IU’s law school and had just finished his term in the military. Despite his credentials, he still struggled with the normal problems small businesses face, including marketing to and attracting clients.
While attending a conference, he met a very successful lawyer who owned a family law office. He asked this successful attorney his secret. The attorney responded “it’s simple: I took a full page color advertisement in the phone book.” My client was shocked and exclaimed, “How can I possibly afford that?!”, to which the attorney answered, “How can you afford NOT to?”
In the 1980′s, the phone book was the primary source for finding businesses and their information. For a VERY premium fee, a business could pay for a larger ad that stuck out to consumers and hopefully yielded more calls. From the Roll of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance published in 1981: “Specifically, a full-page ad in the Suburban Maryland Yellow Pages costs about $42,000 a year. Reaching the entire Washington D.C. area with 1 full-page ad would cost over $100,000 annually (1).”
For my client, investing in a phone book advertisement was a bet that could result in the success or failure of his business. Fortunately, his business surged. Even after the major decline of phone book use, my client still receives approximately 3 calls a day just from his current half page Yellow Pages ad.
Today, the phone book of our time is the internet (specifically, the search engines). For a niche company, Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) can result in an increase of 30 visitors a month to 17,000 visitors a month in less than a year (2). Only 10 websites can be on the first page of search engine results, and there is no way to ‘buy’ your way to the top. However, there are strategies for getting Google to notice you: That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of constructing your website code and copy in such a way that search engines value them and, as a result, rank your pages highly for your search terms. If all goes well, your website will be listed on the first page of the search engine’s free listings, also called “natural” or “organic” listings. You cannot pay for these listings.
Pay per click (PPC) ads are the paid or sponsored text listings you typically see on right hand side of the search results. You can control the ad copy and also hyperlink it to a URL within your website. You will have more control of your rankings, but will have to pay for every click you receive. If you stop your budget, you stop your clicks.
SEO and PPC do not have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, having the top
organic and paid listing results in a higher click through rate for each. While pay-per-click is a valuable tool to the internet marketer, we will focus on SEO.
Why you should consider an SEO campaign for your business:
- Search Marketing is a 10 billion dollar industry: Indianapolis’ own SlingshotSEO was ranked #58 on INC magazines top 500 list with a 3000+% 3-year growth rate (enterprise sized businesses like hhgregg should check them out)
- Over 60% of all first time visits to a website occur because of a search. Is your website receiving those visitors or are your competitors stealing them from right under your nose?
- Search visitors are pre-qualified leads. These visitors are actively seeking out your services. Unlike Internet search, TV and newspaper ads are unwanted interruptions.
- The potential return on investment is great. SEO costs much less than a traditional advertisement and can have a HUGE impact on your bottom line. From 6-12 months of regular SEO, you can see long term traffic results and increased sales. Then it’s only a matter of retaining your rankings.
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(1) KLEIN, BENJAMIN, and KEITH B. LEFFLER, (1981), “The Role of Market Forces in Assuring
Contractual Performance,” Journal of Political Economy 89, 615-641.
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