Google it! We hear it everywhere these days. My 13 year old says it, and more often than not, it’s his first point of call when trying to find out about something or somewhere. For business owners, we want to make sure that when people search for a service or product we offer, that our contact details get found. With so much competition online, how do you get found?
Does SEO work? Is SEO worth the money?
Yes and no. SEO, or search engine optimisation means ensuring your site is super easy for search engines like Google and Bing to index, as well as showing some sort of popularity or authority in your field by having links to your site URL. Whether or not you are doing it for a better page rank on Google or not, it is good practice to ensure you have a well set out site.
If you are building a new website or paying a web designer to do it, make your it is optimised from the start. There is two types of SEO: on-site and off-site. Exactly how they sound, on site SEO covers all your metadata, image tagging, and the like, whilst off site SEO covers trust and link building.
For onsite SEO, some key indicators of a well made website include the following….
High priority items
- Mobile friendly and multi-device responsive. How well can people view your website on different size screens?
- Speed. And more speed. People’s attention spans are diminishing, they want to see your content now. Can they?
- Simple navigation. It might sound simple, but so many sites make it difficult to find products and services.
Lesser priority items
- Correctly tagged images and links.
- Favicons and retina display icons.
- Meta tags including titles and descriptions on each page.
- Sitemap submitted to Google and Bing.
Away from our websites, we need to look at external links to our site, and what type of site is linking to us. If your competitor for diamond necklaces has 10 websites linking to their site and you have 3, Google is going to see his site as being worth looking at, and will most likely list it higher than your website. This can change of course if those linking sites are bad links, but that’s another story.
Paying for SEO services can be potentially dangerous for your brand. Firstly, when it comes to the financial side of things, you are paying to have links created, and your site to be updated with good SEO practice and revisions. If you take the time to ensure your site is correctly setup, uses the correct keywords for your industry and is easy to use in terms of speed, navigation and device compatibility, you may find on site SEO a waste of money. Secondly, with the changes regularly made to the Google search algorithm, your SEO agency needs to be on the ball and keeping up with the changes, otherwise your listing could just drop off page 1 of Google, and possibly be in a worse position than when you began the campaign. Lastly, Google does watch what is happening online, and it will penalise websites that it believes is doing the wrong thing. Paid linking and spamming is wrong in the eyes of Google policy makers, and if your links do not look natural or come across as spam, you will get penalised and your search results ranking will drop almost immediately. This can sometimes be difficult to recover from.
Not trying to scare you, just letting you know the possible hazards. So is there a better way you ask? Why yes, I think so!
Page 1 of Google please!
So you have your shiny new website all setup and looking good, you’ve checked the backend and made sure its tagged correctly, you have submitted the sitemap and there are a few external links pointing your way. Why am I not on page 1 of Google already, Gosh!?!
It can take time, and it also depends on the competitiveness of your market, and the keywords you are fighting for. Most digital marketing agencies will advise you that with any SEO package to not expect results for between 3-12 months. It can be a costly affair. Not what a new or small business owner wants. But never fear! I have a solution.
Utilise the websites that are already listing high for your industry related search terms. Do some investigation and Google away at words and questions your customers might type into Google search looking for your type of business or product. Check out the top 5 organic results. These are the ones below the paid ads, the maps and the Google business listings.
Majority of the time you will find they are directory listings such as TrueLocal, Localsearch or YellowPages. If you see these popping up near the top of a few of your searches, it may be worth ensuring you have a listing in each of them. Most have free listings, but then offer a premium paid listing to ensure your listing is higher or stands out more.
There are lots of online directories, just Google your industry followed by the words ‘online directory’ or ‘directory listing’. As you don’t need to spend money on a lot of them, why not take the time to submit all your business details. A lot of them will also allow you to link to your website!
Where else should I be listed?
Well what else did you see when you were doing these research searches? Usually, it’s Google Business listings and maps. These are both free as well. You will also find that people using Android phones will also have these listings coming up when they use Google Now or search directly on their phones. Once again, the price is right, so get your business listing on there!
As we are trying to show that your website is worth visiting for the specific industry you are in, try searching for industry leaders in your field. Can you somehow get a link on their site? Some sites will offer linking to and from their website with associated brands. Another way is to look for bloggers writing about your industry and ask if they will blog about your brand. You could perhaps offer a product or service for review, or maybe pay them to post about you. Either way, having a third party say how good you are and then linking to you is what you want.
Don’t forget about social media! People trust other people when it comes to reviews and feedback. Make your brand present across as many social media networks as you can, and monitor any feedback. If someone is talking about your brand, be sure to make it in front of you and not behind your back.
Reviews on Facebook and Google Plus sometimes show up well in searches, and people go looking for them when deciding on a product or service. Ask your clients for a review.
I have covered a few places where you can start improving your online presence, without necessarily having your website showing on page 1 of results. Many of these are free and will just cost you a few minutes or hours of work. The best advice I can give you is to look at this from your customer’s point of view. Who is your ideal customer? Where would they look to find you? Do they click on ads, or would they be looking for articles and blog posts? Not sure how to do this, consider talking to your favourite client and ask where he or she found you, and where else they searched. It might just pay off!
I hope this helped you and your online marketing efforts. As always, I am only a social media page away or a contact form if you need to talk more about this.
Check out our SEO Checklist for more tips on Search Engine Optimization, and getting your website more love from Google bots.