English: a chart to describe the search engine...
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Search engine rankings

Search engines have changed small business, by gathering important data about the products and services people are trying to buy.  In the previous fifty years this important data was only available to large corporations who could afford to spend millions on surveys and focus groups.  Small business owners were completely left out. Today, Google has made all of this data available – for free!

What to sell

Think of the internet as a shopping mall and your business as a small shoe shop.  Your shop must have a large sign advertising what you sell.  But before you hang up your sign and open for business make sure you are selling something people are searching for (e.g. as of January 2012 Google reports 43,200 customers searched for “black men’s dress shoes” per year).  If Google reports that not one person has searched for “tan dress shoes”, you may want to consider not advertising them and maybe even drop them from your inventory.  In fact you might find you can do a great business only selling black dress shoes if you can capture 10% of the 43,200 people searching for them.  43,200 x .10 = 4,320 and 4,320 x $50 = $216,000.  Not a bad little shop to own.  Why this matters to you?  The data for YOUR business is right at your fingertips.  Start selling what people are searching for.

Small business advertising online

After your business identifies what to sell, the next step is connecting your business to customers trying to purchase those goods and services. In my previous example I used a sign above the shop as a metaphor for internet advertising.  In the real world two advertising methods exist.  1) Paid search (you pay for ads to pop up on the sidebar of an internet search; 2) Organic search (you create meaningful content on your website that Google recognizes as relevant – awarding you with an organic search listing).  Both methods are important.  Organic search is a superior method of attracting customers.  An interesting note: A study* found that customers are 32% more likely to click on your organic search listing or your paid search listing if BOTH ads are visible at the same time.  Does your business use trade shows, radio ads and other forms of “offline” advertising?  You should know that the first thing your prospect will do when they get back to the office is search for your business online. Your brand should show up immediately, which in 2012 is a cornerstone of credibility and online reputation.  Contact Aristotle Development today to start selling products and services online.

*iCrossing Study