Gone are the days when display adverts in the Yellow Pages and a few local newspapers was all that was required to generate enough business to keep your alarm company busy month-to- month. Search engines like Google and networking sites like LinkedIn are two of many options.
March 16, 2010 By Steve Nutt
Your company website is like a storefront to the outside world. It creates an important impression for potential customers when they visit for the first time. In the early days of the Internet, simply having a website was all it took to appear on page one of the search engines.
If you are an alarm dealer operating locally or regionally, you now have to compete with tens of thousands of other companies from both inside and outside your area, all trying to reach the top of the search results for the same industry standard search terms like “burglar alarm” or “residential monitoring.” Each region of the country used to have its own local Yellow Pages, so everyone got to know their competitors, their strengths and their weaknesses. The Internet is much more global in nature and there are a limited number of search engines. They each have a single, highly sought after page one. Unfortunately, not many Internet users ever visit page two. Most Internet searches return many thousands of results that never get viewed.
The key concept that an Internet savvy alarm dealer has to grasp is the importance of something called SEO — Search Engine Optimization. This is the name given to the practice of getting your website to the top of the major search engines and just as importantly, keeping it there. There are some well known techniques that can be used to get your site highly ranked in search engines like Yahoo and Bing, but there is no magic formula for reaching the top of the most popular search engine, Google, because the algorithm they use to determine the results is a closely guarded secret. It is the job of an SEO company to try different methodologies over a long period of time and develop a series of trusted techniques that work.
Alarm dealers should investigate what an SEO campaign can do for their business. What you will likely find is that it can provide your company with a much wider reach and you will be able to take on business from new geographical regions and business sectors that you may never have even considered before. There are many online resources that can help you do your own SEO at a basic level. The disadvantage is that the work is very time consuming and needs to be carried out on a reasonably regular basis.
On-page SEO is the name given to any work carried out on the design and content of your web pages. Things like the careful choice of keywords for page titles, the even distribution of keywords throughout your pages and the use of keywords within internal links are some basic on-page SEO techniques. When building web page content, you have to think about how the search engines will analyze your pages as well as how professional they might look to your potential customers — it is very important to strike an even balance.
Well thought out, original content is the key and will make your website interesting to both search engines and customers.
So you’ve done all the hard work and managed to get your company website to the No. 1 spot on all the major search engines. You’re probably thinking you can sit back and take it easy as your Internet-generated sales figures go through the roof. Well, maybe.
What if one day you are checking your hard-earned top spot by testing your key search terms in Google and you find that just below your link, a jealous competitor and an angry customer have both posted some really negative reviews about your company. Page one may now contain links to pages that you would prefer your existing and potential new customers did not see.
This is where reputation management comes into play. The challenge is to have new links appear on page one that point to more positive pages about your company. These have to be strong enough to force the negative links further down page one and preferably onto page two or later.
While this is definitely possible to do, be aware that it is very time consuming and can work out to be quite expensive. Unscrupulous competitors and Internet savvy consumers alike are becoming ever more aware of the power of the Internet and search engines in particular, and some will use these tactics as a way to make their voices heard. The old adage that “a happy customer will tell a few friends about your company, but an angry customer will tell the whole world” has taken on a whole new meaning. Be prepared to use reputation management if this happens to your company.
Negative things online can also happen to you personally, so it is best to prepare for this in advance. The social networking website LinkedIn allows you to create a public profile in your name. Google and other search engines place a high value on LinkedIn profiles and you will often see them appearing on page one. It doesn’t cost anything to register on any of the popular social networking sites, so it’s best to secure your name on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter as an absolute minimum before anyone else does.
LinkedIn is an excellent tool for building new business relationships with like minded people in your industry and also with potential customers. The Internet is constantly evolving and although you may use Google for everything today, many predict that you may find yourself using social networking sites for searching in the future.
The Internet will likely play an increasingly important role in the future of your business, so why not take the time to learn a few basics about search engines and social networking sooner rather than later.
Steve Nutt is a former alarm installer who developed IP & GPRS solutions for alarm monitoring.