Online Marketing Primer for Architects & Engineers (Tue Tip Guest Post)
Today’s Tip is a guest post by Andy Durban, who manages Inspired Builder Marketing Solutions in Greensboro, North Carolina. Inspired has been providing marketing services to the building industry of North Carolina for nearly ten years. Andy has been involved in marketing and media since the late 80s and currently specializes in online marketing strategies. The back link referenced in this article belongs to Inspired client Cirrus Construction.
There are still a few industries that benefit from a yellow page ad, if you are reading this blog you’re probably not in one. The internet search has been in popular use for quite some time and that’s not going to change anytime soon. No doubt you have been exposed to the hype surrounding social media, but no one is ‘Facebooking’ Architect, they ‘Google’ Architect. You may have great website which in itself has value but if doesn’t rank well then it will only be available to those already aware of your business. There are businesses looking for you and they use Google (and sometimes Yahoo or even Bing). And as you know from searching yourself they rarely go beyond the first ten results.
Every business with a website at some point has asked the question “how do we increase our rankings?” Let’s start with a somewhat simplistic view of the process. The search engine’s job is to find the most qualified results for your search and they normally do a pretty good job. The way the search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) do this is somewhat simple. Let’s use Widget manufacturers to demonstrate. Widget manufacturer ‘A’ has 100 employees; they have a full marketing staff including a copy writer, a technical writer, a PR writer, a webmaster and a team of engineers. Widget manufacturer ‘B’ works out of his garage and has himself a part time helper and sometimes his wife. Why does manufacturer A have an advantage?
Google (and the others) use two basic parameters to determine rankings, ‘content’ and ‘back linking’. A back link is a hyperlink on one site pointing to another. Metal Building Greensboro is a valuable back link to a local commercial builder. Google sees this as vote of confidence of that site and gives the builder ‘brownie points’. Content is simply the number of times key words are used legitimately on a website. Those key words will be found in the URL, the page file name, the page’s title tag, page copy, and alt attributes (used to identify images and graphics). Widget manufacturer A is adding keyphrase rich content to their site at very high rate, articles, case studies, news, instructions, FAQs, etc., even the engineers are helping by blogging technical information. Some of that content will warrant back links from other websites like the Widget Manufactures Association, Widget Digest and the Widget Buyers Guide. Widget manufacturer B is exhausted at the end of the day and barely has time respond to his email. His website is the same as it was five years ago. Widget manufacturer A will likely rank top 5 in the top three search engines while Widget manufacturer B will not likely appear even on the first few pages and as stated searchers rarely check beyond the first page (ten results per page).
I have had clients express concerns about too much content on their websites– people don’t have time to read anymore! Well I agree to an extent: the website on its surface is a brochure. When we design a brochure for a client we do keep it brief and to the point. Your website is a brochure but potentially so much more; embedded links provide the opportunity for further investigation on a particular subject. So you are serving different personality types by providing more information. A marketing Director visiting the site may browse critical bullet points, while an engineer wants to gain as much information as possible before making a decision.
It’s that simple but of course not that easy; it takes effort. First, know what are your most valuable search terms. Then make a concerted effort to impact your website in a significant way on a daily basis with the intent of serving your client base. Eventually your site will rank top ten for your most valuable search terms. Once you get to this point, an analysis of your site’s stats will reveal opportunities that you never considered before. There’s gold in those ranking!
Comments or questions about your online marketing efforts? Share with Andy and me in the comments section, below.
Photo (c) How Can I Recycle This via CC.