Make It To The Top Of Search Engines' Lists

When buyers are sourcing online for services, it is imperative for a shop to be in front of them at the exact moment they are looking. A number things are necessary to position a company in front of buyers who are actively using the Internet as a search tool. Let's examine search engines and how to get a site listed near the top of search result pages for topics that are pertinent to a company's interests.

"Sourcing" is a term that buyers use to describe the process of discovering suppliers, qualifying them, soliciting quotes, collaborating, negotiating and so on. In essence, it is the process of discovering the best value for their company. Buyers of services are overwhelmingly using the Internet as their preferred sourcing tool. Why? The same reason we all do: It's more efficient and produces better results than traditional methods. Does anyone source airfare for a family vacation using the yellow pages to call every potential service provider, or do they go to the Internet?

When buyers are sourcing online for services, it is imperative for a shop to be in front of them at the exact moment they are looking. As I mentioned last month, a number things are necessary to position a company in front of buyers who are actively using the Internet as a search tool. Let's examine search engines and how to get a site listed near the top of search result pages for topics that are pertinent to a company's interests. For example, a machine shop in Ohio wants to be on the first page of results when someone searches Google for "machine shop, Ohio." Since few people click past the first page, not being on this page means that being discovered is unlikely.

The first step is to have a Web site that is filled with quality content about your company and its specialties. Include case histories about how you have helped your customers. Don't put equipment listings on the home page. The average buyer doesn't care much whether you have the latest five-axis machining center or multi-spindle machine. Buyers want to know that a shop has experience and has been successful servicing customers like themselves.

A consequence of good content is that it will be replete with the search terms that buyers use when sourcing for services. For example, take a buyer searching for "machine shop ohio medical industry." Having a case study about how you've machined parts for buyers in the medical industry increases chances that your site will be right at the top of the results. Add lots of pages that highlight various machining projects, especially those that are in your "sweet spot."

In addition to the content, there are four other factors that will help Web pages surge to the top of the search results page.

1) Page title (the title tag in HTML language) is very important. A home page titled "Acme Machining" will be less effective than one titled "Machine Shop-Dayton, Ohio with Medial Industry Expertise." Choose a different and relevant title for every page on your site.

2) Page description (the description tag in HTML) should describe the content on the page in about two sentences. This description should be unique for each page.

3) Keywords (the keyword tag in HTML). Choose keywords that are relevant to the content on a given page. Hint: If the keywords match the page title tag, description tag and are in the content of the page, search engines give extra credit.

4) Links. If other sites link to pages on your site, it increases credibility with search engines. They figure that if other sites think that this content is good enough to link to it, then perhaps they should give it more weight than other sites.

This list helps optimize a site for the search engines. Take the time to learn these techniques or hire someone to optimize your site, but understand that this route is costly (up to $10,000 per month) and requires constant maintenance. You can also purchase a profile page from a company that has a track record of getting them in the top results of the search engines. Buyers will find this profile page in the search engines and then click over to your site. For example, each member of MfgQuote.com gets a profile that is search engine optimized as part of its membership.

Send a note to me at mfree@MfgQuote.com with questions or thoughts about search engine optimization. I'll be glad to discuss them.

Mitch Free is president & CEO of MfgQuote.com, Atlanta, Georgia. He can be reached at (770) 444-9686, ext. 2946 or at mfree@mfgquote.com