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Billboard in the Jungle: SEO Essential for Sales and Marketing

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This is the first of a series of regular columns to be published on the 1st and 15th of every month by Scott Wilson and Jim Harris on how to grow your business online.

eCommerce exceeded $US1.2 trillion in 2013, according to a new report by eMarketer, and that's just for B2C transactions. The web is THE most important sales and marketing tool.

There are only three things that matter in retailing according to age old wisdom: location, location, location. This wisdom still holds true today -- only now it also refers to a company's location in Google ranking for keyword searches for its products and services.

Your rank in a Google organic search is critical in acquiring new leads and sales today. The #1 ranked result receives up to 36% of the click throughs while the top three items combined receive 58.4% of all traffic. Other studies put the combined traffic of the top three terms as high as 80%! By contrast, the eleventh item receives only two per cent of the clicks -- and for some searches that are millions of results!

With more than 3.3 billion Google searches a day it means that the spoils for the victor in any keyword query are disproportionately large -- underscoring the critical importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Many marketers believe that if "you build it, they will come": if they just build an attractive, informative web site, the customers will follow. But the philosophy is only true in Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams.

But today there are 30 trillion -- yes, that's TRILLION with a "T" -- web pages on the internet that Google indexes.

You build a beautiful website for your business and sit back and wait for customers to come to you. WRONG. This is like hiring a video production crew, writers, actors, directors and editors and creating a spectacular 30-second TV commercial but you never pay for any air time. It just sits on the shelf or you may show it to some people you already know.

For most companies web sites are actually just a billboard in the jungle.

Most web masters, ad agencies and graphic designers tell their clients they also do SEO. But it's a highly specialized skill. The SEO market is a bit like teenage sex: everyone talks about it; everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, everyone brags about it, but of those who are doing it, most are doing it badly.

SEO Weekly Blog Series Launch
We are excited to be launching a weekly blog of Online Secrets for Success on Huffington Post Canada! Each week we will bring you practical, proven strategies, tips and techniques for growing your company online.

Follow the strategies that we outline and you can turn your website into the greatest profit centre your business has ever had. Imagine how your business will grow if you are ranked # 1 on Google for your most profitable product or service. Imagine that your customers are your best salespeople because of the great things they say about you in their online social circles like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter or on review sites. This could all come true because this weekly series will be your guide to thinking differently about the internet and all that you can achieve.

These articles will give you actionable tactics that you can implement immediately to take your company or your career to the next level and beyond! Whether you are the owner or working in a small or large business, a consultant, politician, advocate, activist, celebrity, sports hero or other professional, this series will help you. No matter who you are or what you do, your digital footprint defines who you are in the minds of the public and your peers. Let's get started!

One restaurant chain, Jack Astor's, had its web site redesigned by an agency almost entirely in Flash. The site looked beautiful, but Google has great difficulty reading the Flash. All of a sudden the company's web traffic fell off a cliff. The only way you could actually find Jack Astor's was by directly typing in the company's name into a search engine.

So, the restaurant chain hired Scott's firm Rank Higher, which worked diligently to return Jack Astor's to Google prominence. Over a three year period the annual traffic grew by more than 25-fold from 186,000 to over 5,000,000 views (combined search and Google Places views).

During the same time the market cap of the publically traded stock increased by $35 million. According to George Kakaletris, Jack Astor's VP at the time, there were three things that lead to the stock growth and success, Scott's SEO work to bring new customers into the restaurants, implementing a staff training program and a focus on developing a great tasting and well priced menu.

Our next blog will appear on February 1. Click on the orange RSS feed above to get notices when our new column is posted.