Getting you started with Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what everyone is talking about. How to promote your website effectively. How to get more traffic and, more importantly, more conversions. The recent decision by Google to remove keyword data from their metrics is causing some SEOs to go into a panic. It should not panic you. In fact, you should be pleased.
As part of their Hummingbird update, Google are trying to prevent website owners stuffing keywords into their web pages in the hopes of being ranked higher in search results. Google are focusing more on long-tail search which requires a natural flow to your pages and posts. This is an excellent development as it means website visitors find more quality content when surfing the web.
What you are looking for is not only traffic to your website but also conversions. Conversions are getting your website’s visitors to do what you want. It could be opening an account, making a purchase or adding your visitor’s email address to your mailing list.
Getting visitors to your website is not easy. Google is the current king of search but remember that there are other search engines out there also demanding your attention, particularly Bing by Microsoft. Google has 67% of the market share and on average 5,134,000,000 searches per day. The first result in a Google search engine results page (SERP) receives 53% of clicks from search users, 15% for position two and 9% for position three. You have to work hard to get on the first page of results.
In order to help you and your business, I have put together a basic SEO strategy which will hopefully help you and your website rank higher in SERPs. There are no guarantees with this, as with anything in life; but every bit helps.
SEO Strategy for you
- Write your website’s content so that each webpage targets a single core keyword – do not stuff your keywords in any old how; remember your text must sound natural; if a sentence doesn’t sound right to you, nor will it to your visitors or to Google who will then rank you lower.
- Find out who links to your competitors’ websites using Backlink Watch – will they link to you? It may be you need to comment on a blog or forum, guest post or even send a quick email requesting a link. Make sure you thoroughly check out who you are linking to has a quality website as links to some sites, particularly directories, can seriously harm your SEO efforts. Do not pay an SEO company to create hundreds of backlinks to untrustworthy websites for you; it will ultimately damage your website ranking. See below for more information on link building.
- Compare your website to your competitors’ sites by analyzing domain authority, page rank, backlinks, and manually checking the traffic of each website using Open Site Explorer. Work through the list one step at a time. Also check Alexa.com to see how competitors’ and your websites perform.
- Find out what’s working in Google Analytics and maximize it by increasing exposure through pay-per-click (PPC) ads or buying banners, etc. with Google Adwords; if necessary and as required. There is nothing wrong with running a PPC campaign at the same time as improving your organic SEO. If you appear twice or more on a SERP through organic SEO and PPC then it is more likely your result will be clicked!
- Keep your website’s content fresh – if you do not have a blog, get one! A blog is the best way to publish new content. Publish often and on a schedule. Google loves new, structured and dynamic content and hates stagnating, unchanging websites.
- Be active on social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+, bookmarking sites like Pinterest, Stumbleupon and Reddit; comment on other people’s blogs and contribute to forums. Your Shares, Likes, Tweets, comments and posts all contribute to your website’s ranking. Make sure you have Share, +1, Tweet, Pin, etc. buttons on your website’s posts to enable your website’s visitors to share your content. The more popular your content, the better your ranking!
What else could I do?
One suggestion would be to spend some percentage of your time on building awareness of your business. By contributing to blogs and forums within your industry you are demonstrating your specialist knowledge. By becoming more and more well known by industry leaders, and hopefully having them follow you on social media, your reputation will grow and your brand will be more and more recognized.
One tenet of web design is that you cannot design a website to please everybody. If you try to please everyone you will end up with a website that attracts no one. You must either define your principal consumer group through research and customer feedback or, if looking to reach a different audience, focus your attention one area of your work.
Target a niche audience by promoting a specialized area of your work. For example, a building company shouldn’t just advertise that they ‘can build absolutely anything’. They should narrow their focus as much as possible to such as ‘custom-built barn-conversion specialists’.
A note on link building
Not so long ago getting links was thought to be the be-all and end-all of search engine optimization. There are unscrupulous companies out there that sell links. Buying links is a bad idea. Why? Because Google knows! It is much better to leave a handful of comments, a couple of forum posts, a slew of tweets and status updates, and a smidgen of social bookmarking every week. Yes! Every week, not every day. Plus, vary what you submit. If you a comment on seven different blogs on one day, only do two the next and four the day after! By varying your posting you are telling Google that you are not a spammer and not seeking to artificially boost your ranking.
Some SEOs argue that link building is dead. Personally, I’m not sure. Google keeps their search ranking factors very to close to the chest. But also, I like commenting on blog posts and encourage people to comment here. Commenting is more of a conversation than a meaningless “Thanks for the post!” I use commenting to question and clarify what the author has written and appreciate the author’s response. It is a natural process for me. As is posting on forums. I am more active on Twitter than other social media networks but that’s just me. The fact that I get backlinks from these activities is just a bonus. You must do what is right for you. As long as it is natural.
More than Google
Remember that Google is not the only search engine out there. It may be current king of search but Bing has a steady 17% of the market share, and is making a determined albeit slow, bid for the top. Whichever the search engine your visitors use, with the above basic search engine optimization strategy in place, you should be on to a winner.
SEO is not a quick fix!
Any SEO work you do will take weeks or even months to make an impact. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your website and keep a diary of what SEO work you do and when so that you may correlate any changes you make with changes in your traffic and, with luck, your conversions too. If you want a good SERP ranking you will have to continually work using the above method as well as regular blog posts and fresh content on your website.
Share this post and your thoughts!
Good luck with your SEO efforts. I hope you found this useful and I would love to hear your thoughts on search engine optimization – your practices, thoughts and responses to Google’s update program. Why not start your SEO work by commenting on this blog post? Come on, you know you want to…!