Peter Boolkah (The Transition Guy): award-winning business coach, podcaster & speaker helping high-performing business owners get results.
Websites are the modern shop front. According to a 2022 Forbes article, it is estimated that globally there could be as many as 24 million online stores, without taking into consideration those companies offering services online. The technological revolution of the last 20 years in relation to intelligent computers has had the biggest impact on the way we live our lives. It has changed the way we do business. Even retailers occupying a physical space have an online presence.
Ensuring that your online shop front entices customers is much harder than having a physical shop front on the street. You do not have the foot traffic, for a start. You have millions of competitors all trying to entice online customers their way. It is imperative that your website stands out, and you may not realize that it is not necessarily all down to the design.
Your website does need to be easy to navigate and eye-catching. It also should reflect your brand values clearly. For example, if you had to go down three alleyways, around the back of a building and up a flight of stairs to reach a physical shop, you probably would give up and go to a more easily accessible shop. It is the same with a website.
The big question is how those customers find your shop or service in the first place. The internet contains approximately 4.77 billion pages, according to a research project conducted by Tilburg University in the Netherlands in May 2023. Getting your target audience to visit your website is not easy. Traditional social media advertising works to a point and can give a short, sharp influx of traffic.
However, as a business, it is important to know that organic search delivers 53% of all website traffic, according to a study by BrightEdge in 2019. A key component of attracting organic target customers comes down to search engine optimization (SEO). Ensuring that your website is search engine optimized means you will be much more likely to attract the customers you want. I know this because in 2022 I started on an SEO journey which was so successful I set up an SEO agency myself and hired the team that helped me.
What does SEO actually mean, and how does it work? SEO can be quite hard to grasp, and it is important to realize that although we can all have a go at SEO just like we can all have a go at social media, there are trained professionals who use software and research to deliver SEO to companies. It is always a good idea to seek professional help when it comes to SEO and getting results. That said, you must ensure you choose a reputable company. SEO makes your web page more visible on the internet. This is done through link popularity, content relevance and technical configuration, which work together to make your website come up more easily in searches.
A large part of SEO is content building. That means carrying out extensive research into keywords that your audience searches for on the internet.
At the agency I set up, we understand that business-to-business audience research consists of understanding the problems and questions faced by our target audience. You can take your customers’ problems and questions, research the related keywords and incorporate them into helpful content your customers are searching for. In this way, good website SEO can help grow your business. We took one particular client’s organic traffic from 1,400 visits from August 2021 to August 2022 to 14,000-plus in the period from August 2022 to July 2023. This has resulted in client conversions.
Once you have enticed customers to your page, you are building key customer data that can allow you to target more of your content to those customers.
Search engine optimization takes time to see results. It is unlikely that you will see the results before three months, and very often it can take up to 12 months, as I saw myself when I embarked on my SEO journey. This can create a reticence in business owners who are investing in SEO but not seeing an immediate return.
As mentioned, it is also important that you work with a reputable company or freelancer. Bad SEO can have a detrimental impact on your business. For example, a fellow business coach’s website was not ranking highly in Google searches at all for business coaching and related services. However, he was ranking highly in searches for rugby-related content. This was because he had shared a link in a blog article on his website which linked to rugby tickets for an international game. This poor SEO meant that thousands of rugby fans flocked to his website but few companies that required business coaching services did.
For all entrepreneurs, startups and businesses, it is imperative that you pay close attention to your virtual shop front. Keep abreast of all SEO trends because they are always changing, as is the nature of coding and the World Wide Web. For example, in 2024 it is expected that visual and voice search will feature heavily in search engines. Make sure that the images on your website are optimized for search engines like Google as well as for voice-activated apps.
Remember there are lots of SEO experts out there who can help and advise you on your content journey.