Once you’ve decided to start marketing your business online, you’ll first want to get a firm grasp of how your potential customers use the Internet.  In particular, you’ll need to learn what exactly they use the Internet for.

It would certainly be great for your company if every person who logged on was doing so because they had their credit cards in hand, and were looking to buy precisely the kinds of products and services you offer.  But of course this isn’t the case.

Rather, most people use the Internet to get information.  That search for information often takes the form of trying to answer questions that these individuals have been unable to find answers for elsewhere.

So how do people tend to go about finding answers to their questions?  As you might guess, these days most Internet users tend to rely upon search engines like Google, Bing (Microsoft’s new search engine) and Yahoo.  While most Internet users will have heard of (and probably used) at least one of these three search engines, there are also hundreds of other search engines available.  However, those other search engines generate far less traffic than the big three (Google alone garners over 2/3 of the Internet search traffic), so we’ll focus our attention on the big ones.

As you probably know, a person uses a search engine like Google by typing a word or phrase into the search box, this is a user query.  This specific word or phrase is the key to your business success, because the word or phrase indicates exactly what that person is looking for.

Let’s say, for example, that the individual is interested in losing weight.  If they type the phrase “weight loss” into Google, the search results page will provide two things, paid and organic search results.  Go ahead and Google “weight loss.”

Notice the pink box at the top of the page, and the narrow column that runs down the right side of the page.  These are paid search results – companies have paid Google to have their text (and links to their company websites) displayed whenever someone searches on the term “weight loss”.  Not surprisingly, you can see that these companies appear to be selling weight loss and diet products and services.

The majority of the page displays “organic” search results.  This means that the Google search engine determined these web pages to be most naturally (or “organically”) related to the phrase “weight loss”.  The phrase “weight loss” is what we refer to as a “keyword term”.  You can see the importance of the keyword term by the fact that the phrase “weight loss” is highlighted throughout both the organic search results and the paid search results.

In order to maximize your business opportunities, you’ll need to research and identify the terms and phrases that potential customers will use when they look for the kinds of products and services you’re selling.

After identifying those keywords, you could certainly launch a paid advertising campaign. This would be an easy way of driving lots of relevant traffic to your website, right?  Unfortunately, because of the level of competition for the attention of prospective customers, it’s very easy for beginning advertisers (and even some advertisers with more experience) to end up spending a lot of money but have very little to show for it.

Finding a business online can be like searching for a needle in a haystack, so watch out and consult with a professional before spending with no return!

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