In a world dominated by Google, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be a powerful tool if you know how to make it work for you.
Small Businesses may find this article useful because your SEO involves increasing the traffic to your website, just by optimising the design. And we’re not talking an entire overhaul of what you already have – earning yourself the top spot in the rankings can be as simple as good housekeeping and giving clear explanations.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you work your way to the top.
1. Be the King of your domain
Your domain name is your address on the Internet. Did you know that some domain names have more marketing value than others? A specific, topical name for a florist like melbourne-florists.com.au should rank higher in search engine results than myfloristshop.com.au if potential customers are searching for ‘florists in Melbourne’.
2. Get with the lingo
Know the search terms – keywords and phrases – customers use to look for your product or service. Focus on common or memorable words to increase the chances of matching what your customers search for. There’s no point using obscure terms or made-up product names if your customers don’t use them, or worse, have never heard of them. Google AdWords or Wordstream are a good place to start.
3. List your terms
Once you’ve come up with a list of search terms, use them frequently in your website text, headings, meta tags and image alt tags. A search engine will use these to determine the relevance of your site.
4. Set your principles
It helps to set some basic principles to guide your web developer in building your site. Well-structured, standards-compliant code means search engines will be able to easily read and understand your site.
5. Titles matter
A page title is the text that appears at the very top of the browser window. SEO experts will tell you that an ill-planned title is the ‘Achilles heel’ of a web page. Search engines include titles in their relevance calculations, but more importantly, users will read them in search results before deciding whether to click through or scroll past.
6. Content is King
Good magazines survive primarily because they provide relevant and quality content to their readers, who keep coming back for more. It’s no different with search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN – they reward quality content with a high ranking in their search results.
7. Spread the word
Reciprocal linking is the foundation of the web. This is where you link to another site you like, and they link back to you – it’s word-of-mouth, online. Google, in particular, will rank your site based largely on how many other sites tell their audience about yours.
8. Frames are bad
Frames are a web design trick from a long-gone era, where a page would contain peepholes to information, rather than holding the information itself. This makes it difficult for search engines to take stock of what your site offers – as a result, your page rank and popularity may suffer.
9. No need to look flash
Forget the bells and whistles. Flash sites, apart from being more expensive to build, cannot be read easily by search engines. This doesn’t mean you have to dismiss Flash entirely – just make sure that your most important details remain in good old HTML.
10. Remember to sell your wares
Whether your objective is to sell your product, increase newsletter subscribers or encourage more enquiries, make the most of it when you have a visitor’s attention. Ensure that information is easy to access and that all ‘calls to action’ are clear and visible.
While these rules are a good place to start, they’re just the beginning of a solid SEO project. Search engines are getting smarter and more human-like with every passing year, and just like when dealing with people offline, the most successful strategy treats your audience with the respect they deserve.
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