Understanding the Basics of Search Engine Optimisation

DIY Social Media MarketingThere seems to be a misconception held by many small businesses that if you have a website, that’s it – there’s nothing more to do. (see our earlier article: How Does Your Website Reflect on Your Business? And Does It Matter?) But a website isn’t like a Yellow Pages phonebook ad – where you create it and then don’t have to think about it again until the next edition. The internet is always changing, so the content you design for marketing and business purposes needs to be adaptable and growing with it. 

So if you have taken the step of having a website developed, how can you ensure that it continues to be relevant and working for you? 

One key answer lies in Search Engine Optimisation, or ‘SEO’. Anyone who owns a website or does any form of business marketing will likely recognise SEO as the subject of copious amounts of SPAM emails they’ve received over the last few years. And unfortunately, the acronym has become such a marketing buzzword, that the cynics among us have mistakenly dismissed the whole concept as a gimmick.

But Search Engine Optimisation is real, and having a basic understanding of how it works is necessary if you want to get a satisfactory answer to the question:

“How do I get my website to rank higher in Google?”

To be fair, despite the claims of the dozens of marketing emails you get, there doesn’t seem to be a quick fix without considerable expense. However, from all that I have read and based on some testing I’ve done, here are a few suggestions to help your website stand out for Google’s web crawlers:

  1. Choose specific keywords and phrases that you want to be found by and use them extensively on your website – on webpages, in blog/news article content, and as categories and tags for your posts. Also, its very important to add these key phrases in the ‘alt tag’ property of the images you use throughout your website.
  2. Add new content to your website regularly – this is why I like the WordPress blog-type websites… you can add new advice articles or stories and photos of successful installations on a regular basis. Initially, I would suggest adding something to your site weekly – but after a month or two, you could stretch out adding new content to, at least, once a month.
  3. Cross linking to other websites, and getting your business partners to cross link to your site, is another way your website gets noticed by Google. So contact your suppliers and ask whether you can arrange for some reciprocal linking – so that you can both benefit.
  4. Creating social media accounts for your business and adding reciprocal links to your website will also be of benefit.  Add new social media posts regularly and use hashtags that correspond to the search terms you are focusing on.
  5. Another way to get Google to check your website more regularly is for it to receive traffic – so promote your website!  Add a link to your website to your emails, quotes and other documentation. Encourage existing and potential clients to visit your website to check it out…

Having a web presence that isn’t properly utilised is like having a vehicle with business signage and then not driving it and keeping it under a car cover – a pointless exercise!  For it to be truly beneficial, your website can’t be static.

However, there are a couple of other additional points worth mentioning regarding your digital marketing strategy:

  1. Your website and social media efforts do not entirely replace your need for all other marketing – cold calling, targeted mail-outs and other advertising may still have a place in your marketing mix.  However, make sure you make reference to your website and social media connections in your other promotional activities.
  2. The size of your market and the number of competitors will have a larger bearing on how easy it is to increase your Google ranking – getting a high ranking for “Italian Restaurant Sydney” would require much more work than for “Italian Restaurant Rockhampton”.
  3. Time is also a major factor – a new site is unlikely to instantly charge up the rankings of common search terms.  So if early website development includes an initial high frequency of new, relevant content, this will increase your chances over a period of weeks or a few months. 
  4. There doesn’t seem to be a way to ‘force’ Google to re-assess your website – again, the more the site is updated and accessed, the greater the chance of Google’s web crawlers revisiting your site and indexing the key terms you want to be found by. 

Effective digital marketing is pivotal to your chances of success in the current business environment.

So having a well-thought-out strategy, putting sufficient effort into it (while also not wasting time), and complimenting these activities with your other marketing, will increase your probability of being relevant in the POS marketplace.

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