The World Wide Web provides an inexpensive advertising and information board for businesses worldwide. The internet has long since replaced the phonebook as the go-to information source for homes and businesses alike. As such, it offers a fantastic platform for Business to Business and Business to Consumer promotion and engagement.
Of course, any businessperson knows that such a fantastically cheap and fantastic channel of communication will inevitably mean competition – and there is a danger that a brilliantly presented and informative business website could be lost in the quagmire of pages making up the Web.
The key factor in gaining website visibility is being high up on the search results of the web’s leading search engines – and this means SEO. SEO or Search Engine Optimisation means understanding how the web’s leading search engines rank pages for particular search terms and optimising your site to appear as high as possible in the search results for relevant keywords so that you attract desired traffic to the website.
This can be complex as search engines are developing increasingly sophisticated algorithms for ranking pages, with the aim of providing the best results to their users. What’s more, no golden rulebooks are provided as this would enable less relevant websites to cheat their way to the top and make it more difficult for web users to find good quality results. Moreover the main search engines are continually upgrading their algorithms as they compete to provide the best service to their users.
For these reasons, SEO experts are reliant on intuition and experience as they compete for website rankings and advice on SEO will sometimes be conflicting.
The good news however is that as Google and co. have the same end goal as any business or website owner, directing internet users to sites relevant to their search terms. If for instance, all visitors to a site ‘bounce out’ straight away, this indicates that it wasn’t relevant to what they are looked for and that site will be ranked accordingly.
This takes some of the guess work out of optimising a website and means you needn’t sacrifice quality content. Expert advice is still very much worthwhile however and the increasingly competitive nature of the SEO business means agency fees are coming more into the reach of the smaller business budget.
In the meantime however there are a few simple guidelines you can follow:
• Think about your target market.
- Websites are a form of marketing, so like any marketing exercise it is imperative to understand your audience.
- What keywords will they use to find you? Google Adwords free keyword tool provides an excellent way to discover popular search terms
- Make sure these appear frequently on your site so that search engines will recognise them as relevant terms. Keywords in headings carry stronger weightings.
- Avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ Excessive or unnatural use of words and phrases is frowned upon by search engines
• Make sure your site does what it says on the tin.
- Sites and pages will appear in search results with a title and description (SEO title and meta description). These should be attractive and compelling to entice clicks from relevant traffic but must also be accurate otherwise visitors will be lured in under false pretences and make a swift exit – warning Google et al they couldn’t find what they wanted.
• Think about the visitor experience.
- Visitor traffic and time spent on your site provides search engines with proof that visitors to your site found what they were looking for when they entered words for their search. Make your site convenient and informative.
- Keyword stuffing not only risks falling foul of Google but leads to badly written content. High traffic numbers are great but enquiries and engagement are still the end goal so SEO must be balanced against quality and functionality. Don’t lose sight of your website’s raison d’être and remember that a Search Engine Optimised site is a means to an end.
• Essential as it may be, SEO is not the only way to attract relevant traffic to your site. Be creative to attract visitors from relevant social media and networking platforms and give them the opportunity to share pages via these platforms.