Search engines key to MSME success – expert
Local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) will have greater chances at growth if they can leverage the commercial power of search engines, an expert in digital marketing says.
According to Glen Dimaandal, a leading authority in the field of search engine optimization (SEO) in the Philippines, a strong online presence is the fastest way to grow an enterprise’s customer base these days.
“As mobile devices dramatically improve internet penetration rates in the country, people have increasingly become more reliant on search engines like Google to tell them where to buy products and where to go for services,” he says.
Dimaandal emphasized that while there are various web-based promotional channels to choose from, search engines are still the best drivers of commercial activity online.
“Social media, banner ads and email are all useful for online promotions,” he continues. “However, search engines drive the most targeted visitors to websites where they can more easily be converted into paying customers.”
The power of search engines really shines, he says, when your website’s pages are found at the top of search results for keywords that pertain to your line of business.
“Imagine you sell products in a niche where there aren’t many household brands like bamboo furniture,” he says. “What would it do for your business if your website consistently pops up on Google’s top results for searches that describe your products?”
The Great Equalizer
The SEO expert refers to search engines as “the great equalizer” between large enterprises and MSMEs, revealing that the playing field is more even than ever thanks to the new norms in marketing that the Internet age has ushered in.
“Traditionally, the power of mass marketing and branding were wielded only by a small group of big players,” he explains. “The costs of TV, radio and print ads were usually too much for most MSMEs to sustain, putting them at a severe disadvantage in decades past.”
“With search engines, you can’t just throw money at your marketing campaign and expect it to work,” he continues. “Strategy, tactical knowledge of SEO and expertise in your niche mean much more than a large marketing budget.”
According to the Dimaandal, this is the exact reason why startup shopping sites have been eating away at the market share of more established brick-and-mortar retailers.
“Today’s fast-paced lifestyle pushes people to businesses that offer instant gratification and convenience,” Dimaandal adds. “Prominent visibility on search engines has helped the likes of Sephora, Poundit and Zalora become forces to be reckoned with in their respective spaces.”
Gaining Greater Search Visibility
To harness the commercial power of search engines, the SEO expert says your business first needs to have its own website.
“Having full control over every aspect of your website allows you to apply a wide array of SEO techniques,” he elaborates. “This gives you the best chance of ranking well for search terms that your target customers frequently search for.”
Dimaandal also advises business owners not to rely on Facebook pages alone to represent them online.
“Facebook pages are best used as extensions of your website outside of its own domain,” he laments. “You may run your page but Facebook will have ultimate control over it. The last thing you want to do is build your empire on digital real estate that you don’t own.”
After building your website, Dimaandal recommends either learning SEO yourself or hiring a SEO service provider to do it for you.
“Whichever route you take, the core principles of the optimization process remain the same,” Dimaandal quips. “Building a stable website with great content are at the heart of the things that Google and other search engines look for in websites they heavily feature.”
The SEO expert provided the following tips to guide business owners in optimizing their websites for search:
- Maintain the technical health of your website. The faster it loads and the less downtime it has, the better.
- Frequently publish content that people will love to consume and share.
- Set up a Google MyBusiness account to get featured on Google Maps.
- Promote content to increase the chances of being noticed by digital influencers and mainstream media. Getting links from their websites will enhance your site’s ranking power.
As an example, Dimaandal cites the recent launch of his new blog focusing on men’s lifestyle topics.
“If you take a look at the site, you’ll notice that all the principles I cited are in practice,” he concludes. “Granted, the site is very new but as the weeks go by, we expect it to start performing well for the keywords in the articles we wrote.”
Mr. Dimaandal is the founder and CEO of GDI Online Marketing, a SEO agency which went from micro to medium-sized enterprise within four years and is hailed as one of the best firms of its kind in Southeast Asia.