(Ping! Zine Issue 36) – Search engine traffic is probably the internet’s leading source of targeted buyers. Nowhere else online do people explicitly tell you what they’re looking to buy, and nowhere else do you have the opportunity to find potential web hosting clients who have their credit card in hand. The problem is, your competitors also know that search is a powerful advertising medium, and with over a million people a month searching for “web hosting”, both paid advertising and organic search engine optimization for web hosting has become an extremely competitive niche.
What’s a web hosting company to do? How do you compete with the large advertising budgets and high Cost of Acquisition that your competitors are using? Here are a few tips that will help you propel your web site’s rankings and get more customers:
1. Employ good on page practices – Make sure your website code is validated and can be crawled by search engines. Your website needs to have unique content and preferably a good amount of it. This helps with both Organic Search and will also improve your Google Adwords Quality Score if you are advertising through AdWords.
2. Avoid Spam Tactics – Using tactics like doorway pages, stuffed keywords, link farms and other “black hat” tactics won’t work long term and will only result in getting your site banned from search engines.
3. Target Niche Phrases – While ranking for “web hosting” is a laudable goal, you will get more conversions and find it easier to rank for longer phrases, such as “small business web hosting” and “blog hosting”. Not only that, you’ll experience a higher tier of customers if you target more lucrative niche phrases.
4. Build Links to Your Site – Most modern search engines rely heavily on links to a site to determine the popularity and ranking ability of a website. The more quality web links a site has, the better chance it will rank for more competitive terms. Link building is an art unto itself, but you can start the process by soliciting links from satisfied customers, affiliates, vendors, and advertising companies. There are many pitfalls to be wary of, including over optimization and getting your site banned from Search Engines, so it’s a good idea to learn more about link building before beginning.
5. Enter the Social Web – Being active on sites like Twitter, Stumble Upon, Facebook and Digg can help both your company’s reputation and give you a better chance at ranking for competitive terms. Give an employee the extra job of being responsible for maintaining your company’s social media accounts, and have him interact with both existing and prospective customers.
6. Optimize for Conversions – Perhaps one of the most overlooked parts of web marketing, conversion optimization entails taking your existing web site and use various tools to test, measure and discover which parts of your site convert the best. This allows you to test different ad creative, copy and promotions to see which results in the most customers. If you can only do one thing today in your marketing, it’s a very good idea to start optimizing and making more money from your existing traffic.
Search Engine Optimization for web hosting companies is a tough vertical, but the benefits in terms of customers and branding are enormous. Try starting with these simple steps listed above, and with a lot of work and some luck, you too can start getting customers from Search.
Ariel Ozick is CEO of Wired Rhino, Inc. and can be reached at [email protected] is happy to receive any feedback and answer questions related to Search Marketing.
Wired Rhino, Inc. is a full service Internet Marketing Company based in Delaware, specializing in Search Engine Optimization and Conversion Optimization with a focus on competitive verticals. Some of their clients include companies like Dish Network, AT&T, and many of the web’s most popular retailers.