Every time I hear those words, it makes my smile because it takes me back to my first ever website.
Boy, was I ever excited! I had spent hours putting beautiful images into my new online galleries, writing and uploading information about my products and services, the ‘About Me’ page, my contact details, testing the contact form worked and making sure everything anyone could ever ask about was there on my site, ready and waiting to answer them.
After a week of no-one contacting me, my enthusiasm was a little dented but I was still sure someone would use the contact form or call me on the phone. I typed my name and occupation into Google search, only to see lots of other people with my name but no mention of me on any of the first 7 pages. ‘It’s still early days’ I thought to myself.
After 5 months, digital tumble weed was blowing through my site’s pages and still no-one had been in contact. Was my site so ugly and uninviting that nobody wanted to see it?
Finally, I contacted a good friend of mine, who was also an internet marketing guy, and moaned to him about all my traffic-less woes. When he asked what had I done to optimize my site and what keywords had I used, my blank expression said it all. He was kind enough to run through a few elementary things with me and over the next few months, he worked with me to put into place some basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) steps to start the ball rolling.
From that day forward I soaked up every bit of search engine optimization information as I could. I invested thousands on courses, books and coaching so I became an expert in SEO and could help other people.
What my friend had initially showed me gave me an understanding of why I needed help with SEO in the first place, and so now I’m going to pass some of that on to you…
If you are anything like me, you will have assumed that just creating your website is enough; Everyone who needs you and your services will find your site without a problem. Right?
All you have done is to take your site and drop it like a boat to float about in the ocean of the internet, and as such your site is drifting aimlessly in wave after wave after wave of other sites. You may have set up your virtual store front online, but there are millions and millions of store fronts just like yours, all together in one gigantic worldwide shopping center that is the internet.
You and your site need more than dumb luck or a happy accident for potential customers to fall across your site. You have to make your business stand out from other websites, and you need to start putting up some “This Way” signs to your site.
Search Engine Optimization is the way to direct attention to your business and website. It’s a fancy technical-sounding name that scares many business owners off trying it at all, but it just describes the process in which you help search engines notice your site and find their way to it.
One aspect of SEO is how you carefully manage the placement of certain buzz wording (known as KEYWORDS) into your site’s page content, page and image titles and other key places within your site.
When done correctly, it means search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, explore your site and read these keywords, which results in them giving your site a good ranking. In other words, your site appears higher up, or nearer the front, in the search results. Since most people don’t look past the first three pages of search results, it is vital to your business that you appear as near to the top of the first page as possible.
INVISIBLE? OR UNRANKED?
Ok, you have probably done this quite a few times, but type the name of your business into Google. Where do you appear in the results? Page1? Possibly, but you could be further down the search results than you would like, perhaps page 2 or even 3. But when a potential customer is going to look for the type of services you offer, how realistic is it to think they will search for the name of a business they are unfamiliar with?
Try the search again, but this time use the kind of general terms a customer might use – so just use the industry your business is in (e.g. florist) together with the name of your local town or area. Now where do you appear in the results? Are you in the first 5 pages? NO? How about the first 10 pages?
As worrying as it may seem that you can’t find your site, there’s no need to panic just yet. It’s time to take positive action to improve things.
The first thing you really need to know is why your site isn’t getting any attention. Does Google really not see your site at all? Or is it just a case that you are getting so little traffic to your site that there isn’t enough for the Search Engines to give you any ranking worth a bean? Knowing which it is will change the way you approach your SEO.
How do Search Engines find a site?
As you can imagine, there are billions and billions of sites, pages and bits of information in cyberspace. To make sense of it all, it has to be put in some type of ordered format so that is can be scanned quickly to gather the relative information needed for each search enquiry.
Search engines have software programs called ‘robots’ or ‘spiders’ that are sent out to read the massive volume of information people have published on their websites. They ‘index’ this information, noting which pages they have come across and all the words contained on each page. So when a search enquiry is made in one of the Search engines, this index helps sort the relevant sites for the results.
Entry in this index isn’t a foregone conclusion. Websites that are new or have little traffic to them won’t necessarily be brought to the attention of these spider programs. You can check the status of your site by going to Google’s search and typing in site:www.(followed by your domain name). If your site is indexed, you should see a list pages from your site that Google has found and indexed, and ideally every page of your site should have its own index entry.
Let me show you an example. Take Amazon, a massive global company…
To see Amazon’s indexed pages, you would type site:www.Amazon.com into Google search. Have Amazon done their SEO homework? (See screenshot)
They most certainly have. You can see at the top of the results Google has indexed around 125 MILLION pages. Impressive.
While your indexed pages probably won’t run into the millions, you should certainly expect to see some pages appear in the index results. If some or all of your pages are missing, don’t worry. Far rather you find out now and take steps to correct it, than sit around for 6 months wondering why no one has come calling to your website.
GET INDEXED, GET FOUND
Thanks to Google, you can take steps to start your site being indexed. Google has provided website owners the opportunity to take advantage of their free Webmaster Tools which helps businesses and individuals alike to make the most of SEO on their site.
All you need is a Google account, which you can sign up for when you visit the page at https://www.google.com/webmasters/ BUT before you start, make sure your website is ready. Check there are no broken links, you have enough unique content on your pages, you have keywording in all the right places (don’t worry, we’ll look at keywords shortly).
Once logged in, you can get your website verified, add your site and a site map, check for any site issues using Google’s helpful Support Tools, even ask for your site to be ‘crawled’ by the spider programs. Then check your site index listings again after 3 or 4 days to see if you have been added to the Google index. If any of this sounds daunting, you can contact us for assistance. We can put of your SEO requirements in place for you.
Time To Stand Out From The Crowd
Now that you have taken care of the technical aspects of your site, it’s time for your site to start jumping up and down shouting, ‘Look at ME’.
Whether you have a fairly new site, or one that has been up and running for a while, you need to look at ways your site can start to draw attention to itself, and ultimately attract both Search engine attention and traffic. This is a multi-strand operation using:
• Title Tags and Page Metadata
• Unique Content
• Constantly Changing Content
• Links to Other Sites
It may look like a lot of work, but you don’t need to tackle everything at once. That’s the beauty of SEO. It can be done progressively, and as the content of your site should always be changing, you should be tweaking and adding to your SEO little and often.
Keywords are the life blood of your site’s SEO. They are a key factor in customizing your site so that Search engines can deliver the right type of visitor to your site – someone who is looking for your products and services and is wanting to buy. They put your business before the people who count – CUSTOMERS!
If your keywords are too general or generic, more likely than not you will either have so much competition in the searches that you won’t appear in any of the first pages, or you will appear before the wrong audience. Either way, it won’t result in many, if any, sales.
You need to find keywords that describe your products/services the way your customers think about them, not the way you see your business. Put yourself in their place and try to imagine what terms someone who didn’t know about your specific business would use. Do some research among friends, asking them what they would search for if they were ever in need of services like yours.
If you have access to some analytical tools, see if you can identify popular terms people are typing in when making searches relevant to your business. Once you have considered all the information, try to spot some key core wording or related topics people seem to be using in their searches and incorporate these terms into your site’s content.
Remember your goal is to move your site up the search results, so avoid keywords that have excessive competition by being to general or popular.
For example: A sports equipment firm wouldn’t use ‘exercise’ as a main keyword. There is simply too much competition from millions upon millions of sites – everything from equipment to playing sport to discussion forums.
By choosing to concentrate on a smaller aspect of that broad topic relevant to their business, using terms like ‘washboard abs’ or ‘flat stomach’ together with other key terms customized to their products will produce much better results.
Where Do I Put My Keywords?
There are certain prime locations that are searched by spider programs within sites. When a search inquiry is made, these spiders look through site pages to see how many times that keyword is used on the page, how near the top of the page it is used and whether it is used in any other key location.
You need to incorporate these keywords naturally and organically into your text, so that your content flows smoothly and keywords don’t make sentences read in a clumsy or awkward way, while still getting your message over clearly.
There is no alternative to spending time adding keywording into your site, but it is worth the effort and you can add them a few key words at a time. If you don’t feel like you have the time to spend doing this, why not give us a call and we can talk you through how we could do this work for you.
In order for the keywords to be searchable, they do need to be in text form. Text within an image is not readable by the Search engines. Here are some of the really key places to add Keywords into:
Headlines & Section Title
Both of these are likely to be in a larger, bolder text and appear much more prominently on the page. This draws more attention from the spiders and so keywords that are included in these have a greater influence than the same keyword in the body text.
Keywords scattered, (not stuffed), throughout the page, but especially within the first sentence/paragraph. Keywords higher on the page have more effect, so use strong keywords here.
Wording that is used in links to your site, such as Social network profiles, your blog, external links that go to your site, are given priority status when search engines are looking at that page.
By adding keywords into the URL address of each page, you can make each page highly significant to Search engines.
Over time you will build up a strong keyword presence within your site. As you refine the terms you are seeding your site with, keep in mind any phrases, tag lines or mission statements specific to your company and make sure to include them on a page or two.
Make sure you regularly use analytical Tools such as Wordtracker or Google Analytics to watch how effective your keywording is, and to see what new terms people are using to find you on the internet. There are many free resources on the web which can help you to do this.
A word of caution – It can be tempting to run riot with keywords and stuff them into every nook and cranny of your site. It might seem like a good thing to do, but it is anything but. Known as Keyword Stuffing, there are severe penalties for doing just that.
Search engines are constantly analysing the information being collected and if they suspect a site has been overfilled with keywords in an attempt to manipulate a higher ranking in the search results, that site will either be penalized with a LOWER ranking or, worse-case scenario, your site will be BANNED from appearing in any search results, and that would be devastating for your business.
TITLE TAGS and PAGE METADATA
Each time you create a new page on your site, or add an image to the content, you are given the option to add text, including keywords, into several significant fields which are read by the Search engines:
Page Title Metadata: This field is the text that appears in the header bar of your browser window. When you click on an entry in the search results, it appears right at the top of your page on the header bar and is often shown in the search results as the page title.
There are a few ways to change this field, including using the HTML page code, but don’t waste this field by just adding in your company name. By making each page’s title unique, you can add several different keywords into the overall searchability of your site.
Page Description: When you create your pages, you will see this field as an optional text box. Here, you can give a longer description about the content of the page itself, and keywords entered here are also searchable by the spiders. The page description can also often appear beneath the Page title within search results.
Image Metadata: Every time you add an image onto your pages, make sure to give your image a short punchy title that relates to your site and/or business, and don’t forget to fill out the alt title and image description fields.
These fields are all optional, and so some businesses overlook them as unimportant. However, why pass up another SEO search opportunity? You shouldn’t stuff keywords into these fields, but make sure you add in at least one!
There are many sources for adding content to your website, including purchasing PLR articles.
While there is nothing wrong with adding these straight into your site, it is the UNIQUE content of your site that scores highly with the search engines. So when you find an article that relates to your business, why not try rewriting is slightly.
You could slant it to answer questions or problems you think your potential customers may want answers to.
So, for example, you could use an article like ‘5 Dog Training Tips’, but that is very general wording and says nothing about the article’s content.
However, by rewriting article and titling it ‘How To Housetrain Your Puppy’, it immediately shows there is an answer to a the specific issue contained in the article, contains keywords and is much more likely to have someone click on it to read the contents.
CONSTANTLY CHANGING CONTENT
Once you have enough content on your pages, it’s not enough to sit back and leave it there, untouched for years.
Think about it – Would YOU repeatedly visit a website that had nothing new to say? You would come back once or twice, but after that you would be looking for new places to find information that is fresher and more current.
More importantly, search engines also lose interest. Because they want to deliver the best and most relevant information to each search inquiry, they look at how regularly your site is being updated.
Sites that have new content added frequently excite search engines, so they are frequently indexed, making them rank higher in search results.
If you are not adding brand new content in the form of news, updates, new products or images, you will lose the attention of the search spiders. Once that happens, it could take months before anything you do add is discovered.
So how can you keep adding content quickly and easily?
A blog is one of the best ways. Not only can you add a new blog entry in less than 15 minutes, but you can use it to encourage others to share it and to link to the contents, increasing the traffic volume all the time. This nicely leads on to another important avenue of improving your SEO…
LINKS TO EXTERNAL SITES
Have you ever been walking through a craft fair or rummage sale and seen a crowd of people around one particular stall? What is your natural, almost subconscious, desire? Is it not to go over to see what the fuss is all about?
Well believe it or not, this is exactly what happens when Search engines notice other sites have links coming in to (not going out from) your site, especially if the sites that have linked up to you are from accredited sites which rate highly in the rankings themselves.
The more sites that are linked to you his way, the more it tells the search spiders: “This site is a good resource and has key information on certain subjects” and so the higher up the search results you will rank. You can see which sites may have already linked to you by going to Google search and typing in:
link:www.YourDomain.com (or .org, .net – whatever domain suffix your site uses),
How Can I Get Others To Link To Me?
If you find you have no links at the moment, don’t panic. There are many ways to encourage others to link to your site.
Check on site directories that are relevant to your business field to see if you are listed there. If not, apply to get your site included in this and other directories, including larger, more general directories.
If you have partner organisations, make sure they have links coming into your site.
Is there some content you could add to your site that others would see as a useful resource and so encourage them to link to you? It could be an article that relates to solving specific problems, reports, toolkits or resources.
Another option is to see which sites rank highly when searching for keywords relating to your business, and then look for ways you could encourage them to link to your site.
An inbound link is worth much more to your SEO than hundreds of outbound links from your site to others.
Effective SEO takes time, and effort.
Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. It can take a little time to build up the momentum of your SEO, so don’t get discouraged if it takes a few months to start to see results, but once you get the ball rolling, you must keep it going.
SEO is like a muscle – you have to use it or you lose it – but doing a little SEO work often is the key to building up an effective SEO campaign.
Keep your finger on the pulse of your site on a monthly basis, checking your keywords and links and making sure to add fresh, new, shiny content often.
And always remember your end goal:
Search Engine Optimization is all about trying to place your website in an outstandingly prominent location so that it can be found by both Search Engines AND potential customers.
Unlike me, you might not have the huge amount of time and resources to invest in trying to be an SEO expert.
The good news is that you don’t have to embark on a huge learning curve. We can do it all for you.
That means that you can concentrate on running your offline business while you let us put into action our expertise and experience and make sure your website is easily found by the search engines and your customers.