OK, so you have your business running already and you are either looking to build a website for it or invigorate your existing website?
Any business that owns a website must ensure that it is optimised for search engines if they wish it to be successful. The internet has meant that starting up an online business is now very easy, which means low barriers to entry and increased competition. Although this may sound like a bad thing, it also means that there are companies who are actually achieving positive results in terms of SEO which leaves many opportunities to be explored. This article will give you some basic tips and pointers about how to optimise your website for search engines so you can benefit from higher rankings and increased visitor traffic.
Before we start I want to give you an overview of how search engines work so, if you are a beginner, you can understand why all these optimisation techniques are important.
How do Search Engines work?
Search engines use complex mathematical algorithms that take the form of online robots or ‘spiders’, to effectively crawl across the internet to seek out new websites and new content. Once on a website these search engine spiders will read the information on the pages and the code behind the pages (this is called indexing) to understand the following:
- The subject matter of the site.
- Website relevancy with regards to particular search terms that appear on your site.
- The quality of the content on the website.
- Importance of the website to the outside world. (i.e How many other sites link to yours.)
There are many other variants, which is what makes search engine marketing both an art and a science. Only the search engines themselves know the true formula for the perfect website but these variables change so often that it is really a moving target. The best approach is to cover all bases, follow best practice and work hard on your site to achieve results. Above all you should remember – search engines work on relevancy and quality. Therefore, here are some basic SEM tips to help you get started.
1. Define Website Subject
You have a business and now you are building a website for it. You need to make sure that your website reflects the subject matter of your business and only contains information about your product or service. Search engines are looking for defined, relevant content so make sure you are strict with it. For example, if you website is about ‘cameras’ then your website content should be based around cameras and camera accessories. You should try to not have any content that relates to clothing, for example (unless it is a fashion photography website).
The more defined your website is, the more the search engines will see you as a specialist in your area and rank you higher.
If you have a site is a mixture of subjects or products then you must make sure that your site is broken down into relevant sections and each section is optimised in its own right.
2. Keyword Research
You have your subject matter and now it is time to research the keywords that will form the basis for your website content. Put yourself in the mindset of your customer. Think outside the box and don’t for the most obvious terms and think about phrases as opposed to just single words.
For example, for a photography website you may have a list of keywords and phrases like this:
- Camera lenses
- Photography Techniques
The thing to remember about keywords and search terms is that the most competitive terms will obviously be harder to gain the best rankings, especially if you have larger sites with far more traffic. Therefore, you should aim to have a strategy that targets the terms with less competition. There may be less traffic to those terms but it will far easier to rank highly and probably more quickly. Multiple word phrases are also great opportunities because many websites do not focus on these. These keyword phrases are referred to as ‘long tail’ terms.
A great tool to help you research your keyword terms is Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool. It’s FREE, pretty comprehensive and tells you how many searches per month a term receives and the level of competition for each term. See: (link)
3. URL Structure
An important part of SEM is the quality of your url structures or website page addresses (i.e what appears in the address bar at the top of the page). Many websites ignore this but the url structure is very powerful. If your url structures are clean and can be read by humans then the search engines will see and read them also. The url is basically the title of the page when you save it and upload it to the server. A good page title will consist of keywords you have chosen in your research and bare relevance to the content on the page.
4. Page Titles
Make sure your page titles reflect what your pages are about. Page titles are one of the main features of good SEM. If you run any search within a search engine the results will appear with either the page title showing the keyword or search term wording. Be sure to keep it simple and don’t stuff your titles with keywords for the sake of it. Remember, relevancy and quality will win so make sure you keep it that way.
5. Meta Data
Meta description is an important feature for your website and not just for SEO. Many search engines experts claim that meta data no longer plays a part in site optimisation but the truth is, nobody knows for sure. Therefore, it is always best to cover all bases and make it count, just in case.
Your meta description does appear as part of your search results on the page so it does play a major part of attracting clicks from visitors. If your description is poor and does not sell your site then it is an opportunity missed.
Do not stuff your meta keyword tag with useless phrases and keyword terms. Keep it simple and you will not be penalised.
Headings are used to tell the search engines where an important piece of information begins and also to give context to that piece of content. Your headings should contain your keywords and should be label appropriately with H1, H2, H3 tags, etc.
H1 Tags should be used for the main page heading at the top and the rest of the ‘H’ tags should be applied to the content lower down the page.
Again, with trying to repeat myself, keep them simple and relevant.
7. Alt Tags
Alt tags are the snippets of information that are applied to images or links on a website. When you hover of an image or a link you will often get a label pop up with a description about that particular element. This is called the ‘Alt tag’.
Again, there are conflicting opinions as to whether Alt tags actually help with SEO but you can’t go wrong if you apply them correctly.
8. Images Names
Have you ever searched for a logo or image using Google images? Well, the most powerful way to appear in Google images is to ensure the file names of your images are relevant to your keywords and the content on your site. Like every other element, if it is not relevant then it should not appear on your website.
9. Web Copy
Whatever the subject of your website, you should be able to write great web content to help reinforce your SEO strategy. Targeted, quality content will send you leapfrogging above the competition and will also give you more credibility amongst your customers.
To ensure your content rank highly you need to base it around the key word and phrases which you discovered in your keyword research. Great examples of good content include:
- Top 10 Ways to…..
- Best Tips for…..
- A Guide to……
- Press Releases
- News Features
There are plenty more ways to generate great content on your site. Just be imaginative and remember that the more effort you put in the better the rewards.
10. Generate Regular Content
Search engine marketing is about ensuring your website displays useful, relevant and targeted information for your visitors and the search engines. However, to be truly optimised that information must be regularly updated. Search engines looks at the frequently of new content on your site and will give you bonus points based on the effort you put into marketing it. If you launch your site and leave it with no new content, your site will stagnate and you will eventually lose much of the SEO equity you worked so hard for in the first place.
You will find that many of the sites that appear in the top results are either directory-based, news pages or websites that have continually changing product catalogues like property listings, cars dealers, retailers, classified ads, review sites and auction sites like eBay, Craigslist and Gumtree.
Producing regular content can be a very time-intensive task and is often a full time job. Your content doesn’t have to be updated every day but the more often the better, provide the content is targeted and well written. Try to write a brief article every couple of days. If you can get into a routine you will be surprised how much can be achieved.
Pro Tip: Try to create dedicated landing pages to target specific customers and search terms. These landing pages can sit in the background of your site and target more niche terms that you wouldn’t necessarily place in your navigation.
Another approach that many websites use to produce new content is to place the emphasis on visitors to produce the content for them. This is called ‘user-generated content. A great example of this would be the retailer Amazon. Amazon enables anyone who owns an account to write a review about any product. The reason why this works so well is because visitors to a site have more time on their hands to write a review, there are usually many visitors writing at any one time and the level of content is potentially far more than what could be produced by you.
Need some assistance with your business growth?
If you are looking for proven strategies to grow online sales and find accurate e-commerce advice, don’t hesitate to contact me. You can also check my e-commerce course which has all the information you need to start setting up your online business.