Search Engine optimisation (SEO) is the term used for a range of processes and tools that help to ensure your website is found and, hopefully, found on the first page of any search engine listing for certain words. An entire industry has sprung up as part of the internet revolution. There is one thing that many of these companies have in common. They make the whole process more confusing than it need be and they charge large amounts of money to the customer who then becomes reliant on them. The tips shown below will allow you to get up at least a couple of steps on the ladder to a high performance website. These tips are by no means exhaustive but it will at least start bringing the hits to your site.
Tip 1 Website Content
You just need to look at any website randomly and this point is amply illustrated. The text that you use should be visitor friendly. A visitor wants to see that they are searching for fairly immediately. If you are looking for a manufacturer of widgets the last thing you want to know is all the machinery that the company has got that is used to make the widgets. If you ask yourself “so what” when you have read a website then the website owners have missed the point. Any website should be about benefits to the potential customer. The same widget customer wants to know what colour he can get it in not how they make it. With this in mind your text for the website should not be all about what you do but what you can do for the customer.
Tip 2 Research Keywords and phrases
Ask yourself which search terms will people put into search engines such as Google to find you? This is the basis of all search engine optimisation. You need to follow a few simple rules and identify which are the most important ones for you. Suggestions for key words can be found using Google’s Keyword Tool. But do not be tempted to choose keywords that are the most popular. Firstly those keywords might be the hardest to optimise for and secondly they may not reflect accurately your product or service. Google helpfully provide an indication of a keyword’s competitiveness and a keyword with less competition may be more appropriate.
Tip 3 Include relevant keywords in your text
To ensure your site is more relevant, include keywords in your text. A word of caution here. You should not be too repetitive with the keywords just to achieve a higher ranking. As we have seen you should write your text for the people who read it and not for the search engines. Also you can have different keywords on the same page or different ones on different pages. This will ensure that each page is optimised not just the home page.
Tip 4 Call to action
Ask yourself one question once you have read a web site page. “What do you want me to do now?” A lot of websites are beautifully written have nicely laid out graphics but then fail to close the deal. That deal may be to get the prospect to click on another page or even to purchase something. So it is very important to have a strong call to action on each page. This call to action can be anything from “call now” to “buy now to get free gift” etc. The aim of a website is to attract someone to it and then get them to do something else.
Tip 5 Keep Navigation Simple
Today people in general have a short attention span or they are impatient as time is precious. You will hear variations on a theme of the following statement but typically when someone lands on your site you have about 12 secs to capture them. If they do not immediately see what they want or have to search through layers of website they will leave and your competitors will benefit. As a rule of thumb no more than three clicks should get anyone to where they need to go to get information they are looking for. It goes without saying also that if you optimise a page for a particular keyword or phrase and someone searches for that phrase they should land on the right page and not on the home page where they will have to search for what they want.
Tip 6 Use Title Tags and Alternate Tags
When you carry out a search on Google or other search engine you will be returned a website name and some other text. The text used comes from the title tags. By default the many websites include something to the effect of “Welcome to our website” or similar. However a better approach would be to include some of your main keywords. And it is perfectly acceptable to include keywords only and not form them into a sentence. You should also keep the company name to the end of the title tags and not the beginning. All of this means that when someone searches on your keywords the list will include a title with the keywords they were searching for and this will encourage them to click on your link.
Alternate tags are the text messages you see when you hover your mouse over a picture or graphic. It is necessary to describe your graphic in this way as Google cannot ‘see’ graphics and therefore will consider them as uninteresting white space. Once again including keywords in your Alt tags will further improve your ranking.
Tip 7 Update regularly
There is nothing worse than seeing a last updated date of many years before. This says that the company cannot be bothered to keep it updated. If this is the case why should the customer be interested? Regular updating is essential to ranking. The more you update your site the more often Google will return and the more often that happens the higher your ranking will be. This does not necessarily mean that you have to change your whole website. It is however worth refreshing it on a regular basis. One way of updating your site regularly is to include a news feed or a blog. This will allow you to change the content of the site without it being too time consuming.
Tip 8 Build Links
Linking to other sites both incoming and outgoing is an important part of optimisation. The more traffic that you have coming from external sites the better your ranking. This means not only trying to obtain reciprocal links but other activities that can be very cost effective. Some of the newer approaches include social networking. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook among many others can be used to improve your brand but also to encourage people to visit your site. Once you have built up your following particularly amongst the customer base you are targeting, making offers or offering some other incentive via these media can often result in increased traffic.
Another way of doing this is to write articles like this one on your specialist subject. Including a link to your website with more information, will ensure further click throughs. There are many free press release sites to which you can send your release for distribution. Again click throughs can be obtained linked to further information on your site.
Tip 9 Add Google analytics
If you cannot measure it, you cannot control it! All these tips will lead to changes to the number and types of hits on your site. But how do you know if it is working and how do you know what else to do to improve your SEO? There are many tools available now that will allow you to see how many hits you get on each page, the conversion from enquiry to action, which keywords are important and much more. One such is Google Analytics which is free code generated on the Google website for you to include on each page of your website. This allows the software to track what happens and gives you the results in terms of a regular report. Review of this report on a regular basis will help you to make changes that will improve your site and possibly improve the journey through your site for visitors.
Tip 10 Add news letter/download sign up
How do you capture the details of those prospects who visit your site? One way is to write a regular newsletter, perhaps with offers or important information. Visitors can then sign up to receive this newsletter from your site. Similarly you may write articles, papers or other documents relevant to your industry, technology or market which you can offer free to visitors in exchange for their email address and other details. This is useful in two ways. First you can use the data to build a database for your newsletters and offers etc. Second you can use the information to carry our segmentation of your market which will allow you to precisely target your messages to different groups to make them more relevant.
In the SEO world there are no guarantees and it takes a lot of time consuming effort but the results will be worth it. Also be patient as it will take time for your site to climb the rankings. And finally keep at it. Good SEO requires persistence above all else.