Online most people start the buying process by typing in the product name on a search engine. These are people that are getting ready to make a purchase and thus are worth a lot to a business. Because of this that makes them ideal for you to target for your business.

To reach potential customers with search engines you are going to need to utilize search engine marketing (SEM). Typically, that involves buying ads in the search results of certain keywords. If you are selling basketball shoes you might buy ad impressions (an impression is when the ad is shown on a search engine) with that keyword. You can also buy ads with your competitor’s keywords (e.g. Nike or Adidas). Different keywords cost different amounts of money and you bid against other companies to have your ads displayed. The goal is finding low cost keywords that result the most customers per dollar spent.

If you do not have the budget for buying ads, and many startups do not, then you can try to use search engine optimization (SEO) to reach the search engine audience. So, while your competitors are paying for placement in the search results you are instead paying with your time by creating content.

The keys to creating content that scores highly (meaning that it returned in the first twenty search results) are:

Create Content Where There is Not a lot of Competition

Use the Keyword Planner to identify good keywords to target and look at how many searches they generate every month. Now run the same searches yourself in Google. See how many results the search brings back and, more importantly, check what is in the first few pages of results. If you see a lot of results from forums rather than blog posts or guides, then you have ample opportunity to create content that will rank highly.

Create Great Content

Look at the blog posts and guides that the previous step returned. Your content needs to be better than those to rank higher. Creating great content takes time and there is no shortcut. (You can hire others to write blog posts and ebooks for you but you would have to weigh that expense versus what keyword advertising would cost.)

A significant part of Google’s search algorithms (how it determines what websites rank highly) is based on the number of links to the page. People are going to share great content, won’t share mediocre content, and will ignore poor content. Write content that you would be proud of showing to your friends and colleagues.

Use the Keywords in the Content

This is the secret sauce but when used with poor quality content it can have a detrimental effect. Use your keyword in the title of your post, in at least one section title, and a few times throughout the content. This helps Google associate your content with that keyword.

If you use the keyword too often throughout your content, then Google will know what you are trying to do and will penalize you by dropping you in the search results or removing you altogether.

Turning Visitors into Customers

Being on the first page of results on Google results in many times the number of visitors to your website than being on page two. The same can be said about being in the first few results on page one versus being at the bottom of page one of the search results. So, scoring high in the search results helps get a lot of potential visitors through the door. It is then up to you to deliver content that matches up to what they were searching for and to guide them to the checkout register.