So you have your business website up and running. But if you think it will work as the virtual version of the yellow pages, you have figured it wrong. It must also be the landing to capture potential customers from the millions researching for your kind of product. Appearing on page 20 of search results is the sure recipe to lose out to more tech savvy local competition.
Time you learnt a few simple search engine optimization (SEO) tricks to up your websites rankings among thousands others with similar business offerings as yours. Mastering the art of SEO, yes it is not rocket science, can help maximize the visibility of your website or page when potential buyers randomly research the web. Simply said, your website or webpage will appear on page 1 and may even be No.1 on the page!
Before you get disheartened with all tech jargon, you really do not require a degree from MIT to be able learn and employ these simple SEO tactics. To begin with, just keep the following key principles in mind when applying SEO practices to your website:
Create keyword rich content: Yes we know, it’s easier said than done. But the tip to remember is to be specific and avoid generic keywords. You are a pet shop owner, ask yourself, which pets, what services, which place, and the last is extremely important. Your keywords may then be “pets, animals, pedigree, exotic, petshop, license, gifts, accessories, and Hong Kong”.
Think up a descriptive title tag: What is in a name? You may well ask here. For, your website name with a descriptive title, tells the search engine nothing about your site. Please put your thinking hat on and work on nice title tag that describes your business succinctly. For example, in the petshop case above, let’s presume the name of the store is Cuddle Mates, the tag then could be “Cuddle Mates your one shop stop for all kinds of household pets, pet accessories and pet gifting ideas in Hon Kong”.
Content is the King: Or the Queen, as you prefer it. Just ensure anything less than 300 words per page is just to sparse for a website page. Aim for 450 words per page of content. If you do have the capability to create such quality content that can hold the reader spellbound, you can even aim for 1500 words per page!
Create title tag for each page: In the online universe, a title tag is your ticket to stardom. It takes just 50 words to create a tag for a page but the result could be your website page being thrown up at the top of the pile in search. Just go for it! Let’s do it for Cuddle mates: Cuddle Mates Pets Solutions for All!
Create and highlight focus keyword: Now that’s done, you need to pick out a Focus Keyword for each page of your website. Taking the example of the pet shop further, for each page he creates, say a page on dogs, cats, snakes, birds, he has to create a focus keyword for that page.
Next, ensure that this focus keyword is the first word your page Title Tag: Why you may wonder so much focus on focus keywords? This simple action will ensure that the focus keyword appears in bold when displayed in search engine result pages (SERPs). Let’s assume that the focus keyword for the home page of Cuddle Mates is Cuddle Mates.
Don’t forget to use the focus keyword in meta description: A meta description is an HTML and XHTML element that describes your page to search engines. It plays an important role in SEO rankings. Hence, your focus keyword is crucial in the meta description of your webpage and the best part is that here too it will appear in bold and will be easily visible to potential customers.
Make the focus keyword appear in the first paragraph of the content too: Is Cuddle Mates mentioned in the first paragrapgh of the home page content? The pet store owner had better ensure this, as you should on your website. You must follow these steps for each of the pages for maximum eyeballs that may translate into hits and potential customers.
Devise an SEO friendly URL: The task is not yet over. If you want an interested potential customer to visit your website, you must create a URL with the focus keyword. For Cuddle Mates let’s create a URL for their first page with focus keyword for SEO – http://www.cuddlemates.com/petsolutionsforall//
Tag the pictures with keywords too: When using images on the website, use focus keyword for naming and include an alt image tag with the focus keyword.
Put up compelling images and video: Search engines will reward you for this little extra effort as will your visitors by lingering longer. You will also significantly reduce bounce rate that is the percentage of visitors visiting website from navigating away after viewing just one page.
A word of caution here: Too much of a good thing is not always good, as they say. If you overuse focus keyword in your content you run the risk of being penalized by Google Panda. Remember to maintain a 1-3% word ratio and you have a winner!
If all this talk of keywords is a bit daunting, worry not. It just needs a little practice, patience and ready reckoner to find new keywords. Google Search is there to with a suggested list of keywords found usually at the bottom of the page.
No duplicates, nor stale mail please: Content that is not unique or compelling is bad for your SEO. If you think once creating a website is a onetime investment and effort, perish the thought. You would be losing more potential businesses this way than perhaps by not being online at all. Old pages on your site are like yesterday’s newspaper, of little value. You must, as a practice update your website with new and improved content. Search Engines seem to have a give weight to pages that are updated often. Make sure the updates are substantive changes. The more you website with content, the more Google bots you will find crawling about your site to index it. For Google fresh content is like lifeblood. It loves it!
Get your local business verified: Google offers other crucial services to small businesses that raise its stake in SEO. If you get your business verified with Google My Business, you will have a chance to appear on the Google Map listings, also known as the 7-pack. Post verification, update your profile to 100% by adding a category, office hours, a business description, pictures, website, and office contact information.
Display your contact information: If your new visitors have to search for your contact information, it may discourage them. Display your phone number in a prominent place.
Add a lead capture form above the fold on the landing page: Lead capture forms are built to capture more customers from your landing page. If visitors have to scroll down to see the form it loses its potential. Ensure the form is above the fold. Also, ask for minimal information unless you want to scare them away (ex. Name, Email with phone being optional). Your landing page or the lead capture page or lander, is a web page that will appear when a potential customer clicks on a search engine optimized search result. All effort has to be made to capture him as a customer.
Become active on Google+: Sharing content and growing your Circles on your personal and business pages is also a good SEO practice. It increases the traffic to your website.
Develop a mobile-friendly website: You do not need data to know that mobile is the way of life today. You must create not just an awesome mobile experience but a search optimized mobile website. To know whether your website is mobile friendly carry out a Mobile-Friendly Test On Google Webmaster Tools.
Enhance visibility, add rich snippet: You must have noticed the extra bits of text that appear under search results. These are rich snippets, a type of on page markup, for example a 5 star review that will show up in the Google search results. You can check for your rich snippets with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
Conclusion: Perfecting the SEO is a slippery slope. You need to be patient for at least the first 3-6 months. It is a process that you will learn through trial and error. There is no science behind SEO approach. It is a self learning process where you graduate from the basics to the advanced. At the end of it though lies the rainbow. Go make your own!