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Internet and SEO Can Help In Times of Recession
By Andrew Gerhart - October 05, 2001

Intro
Unfortunately the US economy is in a recession, but your business does not have to suffer from the economic slowdown. The Internet is a powerful tool in many aspects, and can be used to leverage your business, online and offline. Whether you utilize the Internet to sell your product or service, solely for advertising or marketing, or as an informational website, there are things that you can do on the Internet to help your online or offline business.

Online Window Shopping
It is no secret that the best way to reach your target market online is through search engine optimization. There are millions of Internet users worldwide and over 80% of them using the search engines to reach their website destinations. The same people that you see window shopping and buying your product in the "brick and mortar" store are the same people that are surfing the Internet at home and work. The same people that had in the past done all of their shopping at the store are now performing pre-shopping and shopping online. A study done by Yankelovich Partners and Scripps Networks reports that 66%, or twice as many as all adults, said Internet research has a "great deal or some influence" on their purchase decision.

How does this apply if your products aren't sold on your website?

I came across the website for DKNY, which currently does not sell any of their products on the website. Instead of losing potential sales due to the construction of their new website, the website directs you to a reseller of their product line, E Luxury. This is one effective way of offering the user the ability to browse or buy your products even if your website is not commerce enabled.

So the visitors are window-shopping online….what about online spending?

Spending Online
Your website is commerce enabled, you have all of your products online, but is online shopping going to bring in revenue? The Yahoo/AC Nielsen Internet Confidence Index reports that "43 percent of "light" Internet users said they will shop online this quarter, up from 29 percent in June." The Index projects that consumers will spend $16 billion online in the fourth quarter of this year, up from the projected spend in the last release of the Index of $9.9 billion for the third quarter.

Now that you know the users are spending their money online and looking for your product, you must find out how to capitalize on the situation. Your website should adhere to a small checklist before you begin any form of marketing, advertising, or promotion. Check your website for these things:

  • Product Information
  • Presentation of all products or services
  • Customer service or help
    • Human Click is a good tool for this
  • Usability
  • Nice design
  • Quick page downloads

NUA reports,"According to John Roth, chief executive of Nortel Networks, an estimated 2.5 billion hours were wasted online last year as people waited for pages to download." This ties into the usability of the website and finally to sales, as usability studies have shown that the average user will not wait more than 30 seconds for a page to download. If they don't stay, they don't buy!

Now your website is ready for when the traffic starts to flow, but how do you attract visitors to your site that are interested in your product that is cost-efficient?

Search engine optimization is the leader in online marketing when reaching your target market is the main concern. Through an effective optimization plan your website traffic can increase at levels of 100 - 600%.

If you are looking to hire a search engine optimization company, a thing to remember is that SEO will not always result in direct sales. Search engine optimization produces increases in targeted traffic to your website through top rankings in the search engines as well as visibility within the directories and other websites. The website will be the deciding factor in whether or not the user is converted into a sale. A few of the deciding factors are the bulleted listings above.

What are other ways that SEO can help my business keep growing?

Boost Sales In Offline Stores
If the consumers in your market don't tend to spend money online there are other ways that SEO can help your business grow and increase revenue. As mentioned above, many people are window-shopping on the Internet, and you can direct these visitors to your "brick and mortar" store through your website.

If we refer to DKNY again, on their temporary homepage they have a "store locator" option, which many websites tend to utilize. This is a great way for the user to find what store is located closest to them. Another option that would help attract visitors to your retail store or office is offering maps and directions that are easily printable.

If your business isn't global or nationwide, search engine optimization can refine your scope to target your area specifically. If DKNY only had a store in New York, the focus of their optimization campaign could be "designer clothing in New York", "DKNY New York", or "apparel stores in New York."

Cost Efficient Marketing and Advertising
If your website is an informational website that is not pushing a product or service with its' main focus being to promote the company, you can benefit from an optimization plan as well. Search engine optimization is another form of marketing and advertising your website and business. With the recession hitting, businesses have to watch their spending while at the same time an effective business has to promote and advertise constantly.

The cost of an effective print marketing campaign can cost anywhere from $50,000 - 100,000, and will only insure that you are reaching your audience for a certain period of time. The cost of an intense search engine optimization campaign is a fraction of this cost, and the effects can be seen long after the campaign is initiated.

Get Ready For Economic Expansion
Is your online business going to be ready for the increase in consumer spending that will happen when the US economy climbs out of the recession?

A successful optimization plan campaign can position your online business ahead of your competition and poise your company to reap the benefits of increased consumer spending. If you perform a search for "new CD's" on Google, you will find that two of the Internet giants Amazon and Ebay are buried underneath the first 3 pages of results. You may be saying," These two companies are so big and popular, why would they need SEO?" The reason is because the majority of people, like myself, do not think of either of these companies when they are thinking of where to buy a new CD. When this happens the user will go to a search engine and perform a search. If your website doesn't come up, you are missing out on business.

Conclusion
Whether you are attempting to increase revenue directly from your website, or merely trying to promote your business via the Internet, a successful optimization campaign can benefit you.