Peter Drucker is well-known for his study and writings on the subject of management. In his book The Practice of Management (1954), Drucker states that the purpose of a business is to create a customer (get someone to be a customer). To do so requires marketing.
Businesses have changed significantly since the 1950s, but the need to engage in effective marketing has not. As people spend more time online for work and pleasure, business owners recognize the importance of digital marketing to create and keep customers. Naturally, there are many factors to consider in developing successful digital marketing. Search engine optimization is at the top of the list.
Businesses want to be ranked highly in searches, because consumers typically view only the first few pages of search results. Ranking highly in Google searches is especially useful.
According to a Statista report on U.S. search engines in April 2017:
- Google handled 63.4% of all search queries
- Microsoft sites handled 22.8% of all search queries
- Yahoo sites handled 11.7% of all search queries
- Google handled over 93% of search queries from mobile devices
Of course, one can pay to appear on the first page of a Google search through the AdWords program. However, there are many opportunities to improve ranking organically. Among them:
- Relevant content. Google ranks websites according to the perceived relevance of the content, vis-à-vis the search keywords. To appear relevant, a site should:
- Be well-organized. A sitemap helps Google find all of a site’s pages.
- Include likely search terms.
- Have a sufficient volume of content. There is a relationship between ranking and the number of words on a page (more words is generally better).
- Use header tags appropriately. These help Google recognize the main themes on a page.
- Use meta data appropriately. These help Google and readers understand what a page is about.
- Fresh content. Google also values websites based on their perceived freshness. Content should be updated regularly. New content should be added regularly.
- Mobile-Friendliness. Google gives preferential ranking to websites that are optimized for mobile devices. Content should resize and reformat as appropriate when displayed on screens of various size.
- Performance. Google favors websites that load quickly. Images should be optimized for this reason.
- Security. Google favors websites that are secured by a Transport Layer Security (TLS) certificate. Such websites use encryption to keep data transmissions private. The S at the end of HTTPS in the URL indicates that a website is secure.
- Quality Backlinks. Google infers that backlinks (links from one website to another) reflect the relevance and usefulness of the target website. Thus, it gives higher rankings to those websites that have multiple backlinks from credible sources.
- Quality Social Media Signals. Like backlinks, there is a positive relationship between social media signals (likes, shares, et cetera) and ranking.
Businesses that use these techniques effectively will certainly be rewarded with improved rankings, making it easier for people to locate the businesses’ websites. This leads to improved traffic on the websites, at which point the business owners’ desire is to convert the traffic into customers. As Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” This is especially true on the Internet in the absence of live salespeople; digital marketing must do all the work.