10 tips for your Search Engine Optimisation strategy
You decided that your business needs a website. But a website without visitors is not very helpful. Here’s a list of things you need to keep in mind when building your online presence:
1. Google is about providing the best results and not about showing your business
That’s probably the most important thing to keep in mind when you start building your online presence. Your spot is not reserved on Google. Not even for your branded name. Google wants to give its users the best results. So, chances are you’re not going to show on Google at all if you use on your website the same information that you already added into different web directories. If you want to rank better in Google, your website needs to contain what people are looking. If you plan to put the effort in your Search Engine Optimisation campaign, stop. You need to put the effort into making your potential clients happy, by having useful information on your website. That’s the only good way to start your SEO.
1.1 Your website should have content to help your potential clients, not to praise you
As mentioned earlier, in order for Google to like you, you need to have valuable quality content on your website. If you are an electrician in Dublin, don’t just fill a page with your contact details and one or two images of you or your equipment. Help them instead. What are people asking you when you call to fix their problems. What are their main problems and how could they avoid those issues? You definitely know better than me what’s the pain in your industry.
1.2 Don’t be lazy, but ask for help when you can’t handle it!
Chances are you were not born to become a writer. And even if it’s easy for you to talk about your work, when you start writing down your thoughts, everything becomes more difficult. You would prefer to go back to your work, instead of writing about it. Don’t give up. Try it a few more times. Try using bullet points, maybe it will make your writing easier. If it’s still not working, remember there are always people who can help. You could team up with a marketer, a social media consultant – they would be more than happy to help with your content writing. You would only have to spend a few minutes a day/week to explain to them what your work is about.
1.3 Time is money – that’s not just an expression, is pure math.
Probably you will try to write the articles yourself because you think this way you would save money. If you feel comfortable writing articles, then you’re good. Go for it, and help your potential clients find you. But if you struggle for hours, just think of how much time you wasted: Let’s say, you spent one hour a day to write, but the final result was not good enough to be published on your website. How much do you charge per hour? 25 Euro? 50 Euro? If it’s the last number, then you just lost 50 x 5 hours = 250 Euro trying to write an article. You know… an article for your website should not cost you that much. It’s time to find help.
2. Backlinks should be one way other people recommend you
Do you know your friend has a website? Your last client? Your stock providers? Ask them to write something about you, to mention you and your work, and to put a link from that story to your website.
Don’t just ask them to put links on the footer of your website or on the right/left sidebar. Those are not links that tell stories and are useless.
You don’t need to spend a lot of time getting those links back to your website. Get one a month, and that should be good enough. In one year, you should have 12 websites that recommend you through links to your website, and that should boost your website in Google.
3. Use a country code top-level domain (ccTLD).
If your target is local, then use a local level domain. If you plan to expand in the United States, buy and use a .com. But if you plan to grow local, then country code, like .co.uk, .de, .ie will help you. I won’t go into too much detail here, but just so you know, if we have two websites, with the same content, the same number of backlinks (recommendations), but one with .com and the other one with .ie, the .ie one would rank better than the .com in Ireland. Same with other countries. So, if you plan to sell in the UK, then buy a .co.uk or a .uk domain.
4. Use Google Business listing
Once your website is ready and online, register your business with Google My Business – https://www.google.com/business/
Remember step 1, when I told you that your spot in Google is not reserved? Google my business is your reservation ticket. Just make sure you fill all the details correctly. Again, not a bad idea to contact a marketing consultant to help you with that. Or ask your website developer, he might be comfortable in using Google My Business. Once your business is verified (you will receive a card by post with a code from Google), your branded name should be on top of Google, at least in your town.
Time for some more technical stuff. When you build or review your website with your developer, keep the following things in mind:
5. Title and Headings
Google title: That’s your website’s Meta – title – Should contain your branded name and your business. Something like “Jason & Sons – Emergency Plumbing Repairs Castlebar”
5.1 Pay attention to your headings – That’s your best PR
H1 – heading 1 should be the title. Talk to your developer about it. You don’t want your H1 to be your logo (an image), you want your H1 to be text, and should be something similar to the meta-title, but more user-friendly. Something like “We are Jason Electrical Ltd. – 24 Hour Mayo Electricians – Emergency Electrical Services in Castlebar”. Also, you should have at least 2-3 intertitles (heading 2) in your main web-pages.
6. The extra layer of security for your visitors
May not be one of your top priorities, but it well worth it: Add an SSL (Security) certificate to your website – That could cost you an extra few Euros, but will help you rank better in Google. Even if your website is not an e-commerce one, will still help.
7. Make sure your website is fast
Load your website from your computer at home. Is it fast enough? Try it again from your machine at work – still too slow? It means that not only the internet is slow, but maybe there’s a problem with your website as well. In most cases, there’s a simple fix: check the size of your images. Maybe you took photos with your phone, and they are full HD –too big for a website. Phones now take photos that are ready for print, but you don’t need the same resolution for web. Just make sure you optimize your photos before uploading them to your website. optimizilla.com, kraken.io/web-interface, and tinypng.com are just some examples of a website where you can optimize your images.
8. Make sure your website is mobile ready
That’s a no brainer. Most people are now using their phones and tablets to read articles, find services, or even to watch short movies with dogs and kittens. If you want them to find and contact you, then your website should be mobile ready.
9. Google tools
Create a Google Search Console (previously Webmaster tools) account. Link it to your Google Analytics account (have I mentioned you have to have a Google Analytics account?). Visit your Search Console at least once a week. Check for any errors. With this tool, you can even check to see how Google visualizes your website.
10. Codes and errors.
The technical stuff can be weird at times. For example, error codes: There’s a 200-server error code. This error means that… everything is good!!?? Really, 200 means there’s nothing to worry about. On the other side, there’s the 404 error. This means the page you were looking for doesn’t exist. And this can be frustrating to users. Do you remember when you added that new page, with a new service on your website, but after a couple of months you decided to take it off because that service is not worth providing it? Have you deleted the menu links to that page as well? Or when you deleted a page with some photos. Or maybe you have changed the title of a page, to make it more appealing to Google, and the Content Management System that you’re using (probably WordPress, Joomla or Drupal) automatically changed the url of that page? But the links from the menu are still pointing to the old url? Make sure you update all the menus and links. (Make sure you use a 301 redirect to make your 404 a 200. Too confusing? Use your developer’s phone number instead, and ask him to fix it).
Is not that difficult to make your website found by people in your area. My best advice is to forget about Search Engine Optimisation all together. Stop trying to optimize your website for Google. And start optimizing it for people.
If you have a website with plenty of unique quality information, then people will come to you. Put your effort in helping your potential clients, and make sure they have a great experience on your website. Their experience is the only reason I mentioned the technical stuff: You want to keep your users happy, and they don’t want to wait too much for the page to load or to get a “Page doesn’t exist” message. Keep them happy, and the results will come. Good luck!