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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Search Marketing For New Businesses Explained

Following on from our last post, which advised against building a website before investigating the market you're planning to enter, this short article will show you a down and dirty way of doing it.

Sally The PhotographerFirst off let's create a fictitious entrepreneur and give her a business idea. I'm going to call her Sally and Sally's decided to turn her photography hobby into a business and leave her dead end job behind. All's going to be great in Sally's world.

Her plan is to build a website, showcase her work (she's been doing weddings for friends and family and she's been told she should do it for a living) and get enquiries from Google to do it professionally for a nice fee.

She already owns the right equipment so plans on using £6k of her savings to build an amazing responsive website and the other £4k to live on while she establishes herself. Sensible, or is it? Sally lives in London and expects to pick up work from people who search using phrases like wedding photographer London etc. Is anything about Sally's plan causing you any concern?

If Sally continues with her plan she may well finish up with a great website that nobody sees because although there are other ways to drive traffic to a website, search engines are one you can't really ignore. So here's a better plan of attack.

What Sensible Sally Should Do

Sally needs to understand her market. She needs to understand what potential clients search for and more importantly she needs to understand the competition for those search phrases. Sound confusing? Fear not, it's a piece of cake.

Establish The Facts

Go to SEM Rush (the free version will work for now) and type in the search phrase you think people use to find what you're selling. In Sally's case it's wedding photographer London. The software will now throw back a heap of data (unless people don't use the phrase you typed in). Let's look at one set of that data.


This data is telling us several things but I'm going to concentrate on two of them.

  1. CPC - $4.50
  2. Volume - 2,400


This is telling us the cost of a click in the sponsored search results. This means if you used paid search (Google Adwords for example) you'd pay $4.50 if someone clicked on your advert (in reality costs vary). Some simple sums could then be applied. Let's assume you convert 2% of the people who visit your site, and by convert I mean they contact you by phone of email. Let's then assume 10% of the people you speak to actually hire you, and finally let's say you want 2 bookings per week. With me so far?

This means you'll need 1000 people to visit your site in the hope 20 of them will contact you and out of the 20 who contact you 2 will hire you.

As Sally's site's new it won't be on page 1 of Google so won't be found in the organic or free search results, it might not even be in the top 100! So assuming search traffic is where she's expecting her business to come from she's going to have to buy her visitors, at least initially, using paid search or sponsored ads and she's going to have to buy 1000 per week assuming the conversion rates above (which might be a tad conservative for this niche). Each click will cost $4.50 = $4500 (£2900) per week. Gulp! Also, the search volume for this phrase means she's going to have to chase a lot of different related phrases to get her 1000 visitors.


This figure simply tells you the number of times, on average, a search phrase is used per month. As I've indicated above to get the 1000 visitors Sally needs she'll need to chase lots of other related phrases such as those SEM Rush suggests in the Related keywords report.


Bringing All That Together What Does This Mean?

The CPC data above together with information about the volume tells you two things, and it should be obvious. It tells you it's worth ranking for the search phrase wedding photographer London because according to the data people actually use this search phrase, intuitively you knew that but this proves it. It also tells you the competition to rank for this phrase and other related phrases is quite fierce, so fierce in fact that to simply buy the traffic you need could cost you over £2.5k ($4k) a week!

Obviously there are a number of variables in there such as conversion rates and actual click costs across the range of keywords you're chasing but by carrying out this simple research Sally can now re-evaluate her plans. Perhaps a simpler website, leaving more budget to buy traffic to make sales is something she should consider but one thing's for sure, she's not going to finish up like many others with a great website nobody actually looks at, a website that doesn't make any money.

In the next post, or thereabouts, I'll cover competitor analysis to show you how to figure out how hard it might be to move your new website onto Google's radar.

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