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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Web Marketing Is Search Engine Marketing

Your website also serves as a vehicle for attracting new customers via search. That is, your site needs to rank high in the search results when customers search for topics related to your business. For most sites, the majority of new visitors come directly from Google and other search engines, so the ability to rank highly in these search results is a critical component of your web marketing efforts.

To gain a higher position on search results pages, you have to optimize your site for Google and other search engines. This is called search engine optimization (SEO) and is a major factor in website design and content creation. That is, you have to design your site and create its content in ways that the search engines find attractive. The better optimized your site, the higher it will appear in those search results.

Why is it so important that Google's users see your site in the search results when they search for a related topic? It's simple: The higher your site is in the search results, the more it will be clicked. That's because most searchers only look at the first few sites on a search results page. In fact, to get any clicks at all, your site needs to be on the first page of those search results, and it's even better to be near the top of that first page.

The nice thing about search engine marketing is that it's relatively free; you don't have to (and in fact can't) pay for placement on most search engines' search results pages. Your placement on a search results page is entirely organic; the results you get are a direct result of how relevant your site's content is to the query being placed. The better your site matches the query, the higher it ranks in the search results—and the more visitors are sent to your site.

It's that simple—and that difficult. Because you can't buy your way to the top of the search results, you have to obtain your ranking via hard work, smarts, and skill. That's good news for smaller competitors because all the money of a big competitor is useless against a site that does better SEO. Of course, a big company can spend big bucks on SEO services, but a smaller company can get similar results by doing effective SEO in-house. This is one instance where a bigger budget doesn't guarantee better results.

Because most companies get so many visitors from the major search engines and because it's a relatively low-cost activity, search engine marketing is a major component of most web marketing plans. It's also an ongoing component; you have to constantly tinker with your site to maintain a high search ranking. That makes search engine marketing a bit time-consuming but well worth the effort.

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