This question was included in a recent article in Website Magazine by Peter Prespitino, he made an interesting point and it really shows how the internet has evolved from one of "build it and they will come" to "show them the way" to "OMG how do I get people to buy from me!!!"
If there were no Google or Bing here's what I would be advising my clients to do:
- Get email addresses from all your current customers and market to them monthly. Pareto's principle is still valid and I see it each time I send out an email. If you aren't using email to market to your customers it's not too late to start.
- Give people a reason to visit your website beyond just your sales hype. If you haven't started adding informational or educational content to your website - do it! Do it today! Set up a schedule to add more information to your website on a regular basis. Be the reporter in reverse and tell people how, what, why, where and who (that would be you!). When you have something good on your website your website becomes a resource and reference to others.
- Social media. It doesn't matter if you don't like it, don't understand it, don't care at all - nothing matters except that you have to do it. Eat the frog, take the plunge. And if any of those statements apply to you find and hire someone who "gets it." Because without search engines the only way to reach out is through social media. So get good at it or find someone who already is.
- Did I mention email? Yeah well here it is again - take that great content you've been creating and use it to market to prospects who've contacted you within the last 18 months. Get their email addresses from your sales people, from your front line, from your email inbox and start using them! Email at least once every month.
- Instead of optimizing for search engines and their unknown, ever changing, standards, optimize for conversions and focus on getting more of your current visitors to engage with your website. When you can get more customers with your current traffic it costs less!
Why is this important - because search engine optimization as we know it is fading. There are so many websites on the internet competing for the same words that it's virtually impossible to get the top ranking for anything that will matter to you in the long run. And anyone who tells you different should be highly suspect. I'm not saying you should give up all optimization efforts but I am saying not to put all your eggs in that one basket. It's simply not smart.