Since the internet is becoming more and more important all the time in regards to overall marketing plans for many companies, it's imperative that the company website be up to the task of attracting visitors and converting them into customers. There are many methods and techniques to do this and for that reason it's usually preferable to hire a company that focuses on online marketing or search engine optimization (SEO) to do this work.
The main reason for hiring a company specializing in this field is that is hard to find individuals who are trained in this field, even in countries like the U.S. and the U.K. where the market is more advanced than Thailand. Let's take a look at the fundamentals of SEO so you better understand what it can do for your website.
First, what can SEO do and what can't it do? It can't make you millions of baht overnight even though there are many online marketing gurus out there who are proclaiming just that. It can, if done conscientiously over a period of time, greatly strengthen your Google (and other search engine) rankings and make your site much more visible to people who are looking for your product or service.
If an SEO company tries to tell you it can do more than that or guarantees that they'll get you on the first page of Google in a specified time period be very careful. They may actually have the ability to do it but most SEO companies here in Thailand cannot, so make sure you check out their claims with references beforehand.
So, SEO can help increase your visibility and bring more people to your site. How is this done? The complete answer would fill many articles of this length but here it is in a nutshell. In the world of the internet the traditional role of advertising has been superceded by editorial content. The reason is that people go to the internet to find information, not to look at ads. So to get people's attention in this new medium you have to offer them what they are looking for – information.
And the information that you can provide them is information about your product or service. Not your company in particular but more in a general sense. Let's say you own a wine importing company here in Thailand. What would you create for content that could be used to attract people's attention?
Let's start with articles. You could write articles that talk about the different wines your company sells, the different wine regions, the types of grapes, etc. Next, you could make videos that show wine experts (presumably from your company) drinking and commenting on the wines and offering tips to people about the wine and possibly discussing food matches for the wine. You could make podcasts which are basically just audio recordings (so-called because people originally downloaded them to play on their iPods) and can be made very easily.
These three types of content can be than uploaded to many sites on the internet that allow you to do so free, e.g. YouTube. For example, we use YouTube for our clients but we also use about 45 other video sharing sites. We put articles on article directory sites, our blogs, news sites and others. There are a number of podcast sites that you can use also.
When you post this content onto these sites you can put links back to your own site which helps your search engine standings (Google and the others like to see lots of links going into your site for reasons I can't explain here) and also each of these posts functions like an ad for your company. People can get some good information from you and then if they're interested they can click to go to your site and potentially become a customer.
The whole process is a little more complicated than what I've just told you but not much. The process itself is rather simple but it takes time to understand how all the pieces go together. And there is no resource you can tap into that will tell you exactly how to do everything right. There are several reasons for this.
First, no one knows exactly what Google and the others are doing. How does Google decide which website to put in the number one spot and which one in the number 100 spot? No one knows for sure because Google isn't telling anyone – for obvious reasons. So there are a lot of educated guesses out there and some people are quite successful in helping their clients but no one has all the answers. That's why I told you to use caution when listening to some of the claims you might hear from SEO companies. No one knows it all and certainly won't for the foreseeable future.
And that brings us to point number two. One of the reasons that no one knows it all is that things are changing so quickly in this field that it's hard to keep a really good handle on things. When you're trying to piece things together and learn and connect all the dots it's really difficult when the dots keep moving. New things are happening all the time, new sites and new services launch all the time and no one knows for sure where it's all headed, although many people have definite opinions about it.
So that's why you can't go to one source that can tell you everything you need to know. It's not like traditional marketing that is taught in schools. There are no hard and fast rules and new developments keep popping up all the time. That's why most companies hire outside people to help them with their SEO needs. It's maybe not an ideal situation but if you're careful in the way you hire a company then you should see your website's performance improve.
One thing is certain, however. The role of the internet in marketing is growing daily so don't sit on the fence. Get the jump on your competitors and plan for the future now.
Tom Aikins is an SEO consultant and online marketing expert based in Bangkok who presents seminars on these subjects and also offers a complete online marketing training course on his website, http://www.seonorthamerica.com. You can ask questions of him by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.