Search engine optimization for your business

search engine optimization

SEO or search engine optimization is important to every business. It doesn’t matter if you run a small, local business or a large corporation. But what exactly is it? SEO is simply the process of setting up and optimizing your site so that it’s easily found by search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Most people, today, when they need something. They’ll go online to search for it. If your business isn’t showing up in search results, you’re losing valuable business to your competitors that do. Furthermore, users that find your website via organic search tend to be highly targeted, making them more likely to convert to customers.

Most businesses realize they should have a website, but simply having a website is only the first step. Building an effective website that will provide a strong, consistent flow of leads or sales requires online business promotion.

That’s where SEO comes. SEO makes your website visible to potential customers so that you can make sales.

Take a moment to think about what someone might search for when looking for your business. Now, search on Google. Does your business show up? If not, SEO is how you get there. Think about it… if you
have a website and it’s not showing up in search results, it’s just the same as having customers drive right by your business while looking for what you offer, and not even know you’re there.

Website Design and SEO

Online marketing isn’t as simple as building a beautiful website. Sure, having a well designed site is important. If visitors to your website don’t feel comfortable get frustrated trying to find what they need or any number of other factors that drive visitors away, then you probably won’t make the sale.

Let’s explore the other factors that affect your search engine rankings: on site and off site SEO. In order for your website to be effective from an SEO perspective, both on site and off site SEO factors have to be included in your strategy. What do ‘on site’ and ‘off site’ mean? Read on.

On Site SEO

SEO is divided into two main categories: On site and off site. On site SEO consists of the elements that exist on your website, and in your website’s HTML code, over which you have control. Here are the three main things that this consists of:

Structure

The structure of your website is very important, not just from an SEO perspective, but also a user experience perspective. When building your website, ensure that your web designer is knowledgeable in SEO best practices or works in conjunction with an SEO professional.

Structure includes:

  • URL structure
  • Navigation  structure
  • Search functionality
  • Page layout
  • Internal linking
  • Website Speed
  • HTML & XML sitemaps

Coding

The code, the backbone of your website, needs to be clean and efficient. Messy code will bring your website’s rankings down and result in slower load times for your visitors. Usually, your website visitors won’t see the code, but search engine spider will see it all. Don’t cut corners. Ensure all the code is up to date, and includes proper meta tags, headers, and descriptions.

Content

This is what your customers will see; the front end text copy, images, and videos that are on your website. The content of your website is the most important part of proper SEO, because search engines are constantly changing their algorithms to ensure they’re delivering search results with the most helpful and accurate content.

Your content should be fresh and engaging. Don’t make the mistake of writing purely “for the search engines” by stuffing unnatural keywords into the content and other old tricks of the trade that no longer work.

Content should target topics you want to rank for, but it needs to be natural and fresh. Google especially likes to favor pages and posts that have been recently created or updated, which is one of the many reasons I recommend businesses
maintain an active blog.

Off Site SEO

Once your website is structured correctly and contains excellent content, it’s time to develop and execute a solid off site SEO strategy. Off site SEO consists of factors that affect your search engine rankings which are not on your website itself. Here’s a look at the main factors of off site SEO.

Inbound Links

Links from other sites on the internet come in many different shapes and sizes. A link is simply a clickable word, phrase, image, or button that directs you to another URL. Think of each link as a vote for your website’s credibility, vouching for your worthiness to rank highly in search results.

But not all links are created equal. Just as you’d trust your best friend’s opinion about something more than you’d trust a random stranger’s, links from well known and highly trusted, authoritative websites count for much more than links from unknown or untrusted websites.

So, thousands of links aren’t the answer, contrary to what many untrustworthy “SEO companies” and “SEO professionals” will often tell you. In order to rank well consistently in the search engines, you don’t need a high quantity of links; you need high quality links from authority websites. There are many ways this can be done, but it takes time.

Besides giving you ‘votes’ to help your site rank better, good inbound links will also drive free, high quality traffic to your website. A link to your website that’s created today, if on a relevant site with the right audience, will still be delivering you targeted customers well into the future without any work or effort on your part. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Tips to getting your business online

Build your eCommerce website

Online shopping represents convenience and
simplicity to consumers, and to get the most out of
your website you’ll need to keep this front of mind at
all times. As an online business, your website is one
of your most important investments, so it’s worth
spending some time making sure it’s as appealing to
customers and as user friendly as possible. As well as looking great to promote your brand, it has to operate smoothly on all kinds of devices, read clearly and display your goods or services to your customers. Here are the basic steps to getting it right.

Step 1 – How you will create your websiteonline business promotion

There are two main options you can choose from to
create your website.

  • You can either go for a web developer who can
    help build a tailored website designed around
    your needs.
  • Use a website provider offering customisable
    stock designs which you can personalise with
    content and images for your business.

Step 2 – Write content for your website

When creating content online you should keep it simple and engaging. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, what would you want to know? It’s always good to check out other websites in your sector too. Seeing what works and what doesn’t will help you get it right.

Sections you’ll need to include …

  • About us: Tell people about your organisation, people, history or mission.
  • Webshop: Display your products or services with great photos and clear descriptions. The easiest way to create a webshop is through your shopping cart software.
  • Contact us: Encourage customers to get in touch by
    providing contact details such as your phone number, email, address details and links to your social media profiles.

Step 3 – Secure your website

It’s important to secure your website for you and your customers’ benefit. Your business’ reputation can depend on it – customer trust can be hard to rebuild once it’s lost. So make sure your security is in place from day one and update it regularly as part of your website management.

  • Install antivirus software
  • Make sure you have spam filters
  • Change your passwords regularly

Step 4 – Add shopping cart software

Once you have set up your website you’ll need to add shopping cart software so you can start taking payments. The software will allow you to display your products or services, track your orders and manage your order inventory. Your customers can then add the items they would like to purchase by placing items in the shopping cart. Once in the cart, it will calculate the total of the order including additional charges such as delivery costs and discounts such as promotional vouchers.
When setting up your shopping cart software you’ll be able to choose which payment acquirer you would like to help you transfer money and manage your transactions.

Go Social – market your business online

Once your website is ready to go, you need to let people know about it. When it comes to marketing your business online, the more visitors to your website the better, and getting the message out there isn’t as hard as it sounds. It’s all about getting involved with your customers and making them feel valued – and that’s always great for business.

Create your social media account

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are all popular with businesses, so they’re good places to get started. Choose the one you feel suits your business best and then create your profile. Remember to make sure to include your business name, location, telephone number and a link to your website. You could also use your company logo as your profile picture so your customers can easily recognise your business.

Post a comment or tweet a message

It’s good to have a plan about how often you are going to post something online. A good post once a day, or even once a week, can work better than lots of less interesting ones. You can post the same thing on different accounts, or vary it. It’s up to you. Remember to keep directing visitors to your website.

Send multimedia content

With nearly a third of web users more likely to make a purchase after watching a video, it’s an effective way of attracting customers. A short video of how you use your product or what your business offers people, can inspire your customers into making a purchase.

Contact your customers directly

It’s all about creating a relationship. You can reply to messages individually, or send out offers to groups. Read comments and tweets from your followers and get involved with their feedback. And don’t forget to direct people to your website at every opportunity.

Other ways to get people visiting

Google AdWords

Making sure your site has a high profile in search engines is trickier then ever. Most are now based on site traffic volumes, which is why using social media to encourage people to visit is so important. Google
AdWords is another option, helping customers everywhere to find your business based on selected key words. You only pay when someone clicks through or calls, so you’ll know how well it’s working.

YouTube

You don’t have to be an overnight internet sensation to make YouTube work for you. YouTube is your chance to show your customers how your products could work for them. Link to your other social media
accounts for maximum views.

Newsletters

Collect customers’ email addresses so you can send out newsletters with updates or offers. We all get bombarded, so you need to make sure yours stands out. Keep it short and snappy with good images.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship is often considered the domain of big business, but there are plenty of excellent opportunities for smaller companies.
These might include sponsoring a local cricket team, art exhibition, business competition, school project or recycling initiative. Sponsoring a local event or team will help raise your company profile on your home ground and can give you lots of ideas for your social media postings too.

Vouchers

Sending out e-vouchers to your customer base is another good email opportunity. You could also add these to newsletters or just post printed vouchers. If you know your customer well enough perhaps send them on their birthday or event when there is a holiday coming up.