SEO’s importance in the construction market, and why it’s changing the rules of publishing

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How important is search engine optimisation (SEO) to media, PR and marketing professionals in the construction and built environment market?
Let me start by providing a statistic. While I was at ContractJournal.com, around 50% of visitors to the site found us via a search engine. (The remainder came chiefly from direct links, eg. newsletters, or started at the homepage.)

So in other words, they came to our site because they were searching for particular keywords – and we ranked very highly in Google for those keywords.
That didn’t happen by accident. We spent a huge amount of time researching those keywords and making sure our website was optimised for them – so that traffic to our website would be high.

For example, we prepared a page on the Construction Industry Scheme, ahead of its revision in 2007, and ensured we ranked highly for it. Over the next 12 months, the page was viewed more than 8,000 times. In total, it has been viewed more than 18,000 times.

But of course, we were not the only ones to work out the benefits of SEO. The more enlightened PR professionals, for example, began to realise that they didn’t have to rely on editors to get coverage for their press releases.

In the brave new world of the web, they could publish a press release on any website, and if it was optimised with the right keywords, then it would be found by an audience searching for those keywords in Google. Suddenly, the entry barriers to publishing were coming crashing down. PRs still send editors press releases, but they also publish them on company websites, on blogs, or press release distribution services. The latter are becoming an increasingly-used route to market for PRs. Besides reaching an audience searching for certain keywords, web distribution services also allow journalists and potential clients to subscribe to tailored feeds.

Many of them charge for the service. Others provide a basic service for free, but require a fee for certain ‘extras’. Industry Today, for example, offers an upgrade service which ensures the press release will be indexed by Google, is shared with a sizeable Twitter following, and crucially, is optimised around selected keywords through embedded links. This allows users to click directly through to a company’s website, and helps boost the company’s search engine ranking.

Yet, good examples of optimised press releases are still rare – which is surprising, given the wider picture. According to one study of B2B marketing professionals, the use of SEO generated a 37% increase in quantity of sales leads last year. Meanwhile, the world’s appetite for using search engines as a means of finding information shows no sign of shrinking. Last year, the global search market almost doubled in size, with 131 billion searches carried out in December alone.

The importance of SEO, it seems, is not going to go away.

And as we found on ContractJournal.com, it is an excellent tool for drawing visitors and potential customers to your website.

Will Mann was a journalist at Contract Journal from 2001 to 2009, and was editor of its website for the last three years. He is now editor of The Construction Index.

For more information about Construction PR, B2B SEO,  press release distribution, online PR, SEO (search engine optimisation), visit SMPR at www.simplymarcomms.co.uk or subscribe to this blog here

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