Now the conversation turns very clearly to Search Engine Marketing (SEM). There are many facets to SEM. Two of the biggest are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay Per Click (PPC).
So first you must determine what key words your customers search for. Notice how I worded that. Not what you think they search for but what they actually do search for. Many business owners are so focused on what they are selling that they don’t take time to realize what their customers are buying. For example, a hair stylist might think she is selling “professionally styled hair” while her ideal customer might be searching for “good haircut” at a “good price”.
There are several good free tools that will help you determine other related keywords. We really like and recommend the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. When I visit this site and type in “good haircut” and then add one more word so that I don’t get jobs in Australia or Alaska: “Denver”. The tool returns 34 possible other words I should look at. Some are obvious like “beauty salon haircut” and “best haircut Denver” but there are a few very nice surprises there as well, like “prom haircut” and “wedding haircut” that would probably be very customers.
The beauty of this tool is that you can also see what the competition is for a certain keyword. If you find some that have lots of searches but little competition, you have just found a niche that you can capitalize on.
Work with your website designer to optimize your site and then you are ready to with SEO and PPC. We’ll deal with both of these with the next question.