GROW

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Advice

Things you can do to help your google ranking

As soon as you go online with your new website, you’ll be checking to see whether you’re number one on Google.  You won’t be, sorry, so here is a quick explanation of how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) works, and some suggestions of how to promote your site.

Firstly, ignore the emails you will receive from companies or individuals offering to get you to number one on Google. There is no magic bullet.

Your website is ranked by the many factors that make up Google’s algorithm.  There is endless information online about how this works, and it is worth reading the basics:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

Google’s algorithm is secret to prevent it being manipulated, and it does work extremely well. Google constantly updates its methods to ensure honest sites rank highly. People using tricks to try to cheat the algorithm (link farms, invisible text etc) have their sites identified and demoted, which is why occasionally you may see unworthy competitors shoot above you in the rankings and then mysteriously disappear.  The best way to improve your listing on google long-term is to behave honestly and professionally, to work your site well and give good customer service.

Basically, Google rewards honest sites that customers want to find.

Google recognises these sites by:

  • A professionally built structure, with no broken links, with a site map, well labelled images, with page titles relevant to text and keywords relevant to the overall expectations of the website.
  • Quantity and variety of viewers.
  • Viewers finding the site through links from other relevant sites, from searching the company or website name, from searching relevant terms.
  • Viewers staying on the site for a long time, exploring the different pages, checking the links.
  • Viewers using the site interactively: filling in forms or buying products if relevant.
  • Fresh and unique content, or content being consistently updated such as a calendar or blog
  • Longevity.

Your Grow website developers have taken care of the first step, we will have checked structure, keywords, links, content and given advice on best practice before going live.  Your site will appear on the Google search engine above unprofessional and insignificant sites, but still below good, well worked sites of your competitors.

To start your climb up the search engines you need to address the remaining points above. This is an ongoing process. Regular, structured work on SEO does produce results.  Your ranking will fluctuate as competitors come and go and as google adjusts the algorithm, so check regularly and monitor progress over a year.

It is important to understand how and why your viewers are using the website.  Will fresh content or images encourage repeat visitors to engage?  Would viewers read a news page about your business to keep them updated?  Are all your viewers new customers, who will only view you once and for whom updates are irrelevant?  Know your customers and give them what they want from your website.  There is a great set of tools available from Google called Google Analytics which give very detailed statistical information about your site. Analytics has a bit of a learning curve and may not be for beginners but GROW can help with this when you are ready for the detail.

The following suggestions are a good starting point for your website SEO campaign that you can do yourself, for free. Paid advertising of your website can also help, but is outside the scope of this document.

1)      Set up a Google + Page. Add a map if relevant to your business.

2)      Set up and regularly update a Facebook page (and Twitter etc if appropriate). Use keywords in your text, and add links to pages with this keyword on your website. Update at least weekly, writing 20 words about what your business has done during the week is time well invested.

3)      Submit your website to directories (list below*). You just need to do this once.

4)      Do everything you can to encourage honest “in-bound links” from other reputable, well established websites.  You can read up about ways to do this, search “backlinks” or “inbound links” for ideas.
Eg. Write an article in a magazine, check they have an on-line version and will add a link to your website. Send press releases to relevant media, with a link to your website.
Eg. Get listed, with a link, on the websites of relevant Trade Associations, business or activity groups. Ask suppliers if they will add you as a stockist on their websites.

5)      Update content regularly, using a blog or news page works well. Don’t copy text. Google will drop content it sees as plagiarised. Always write fresh text and don’t repeat text within your website.

6)      Advertise the website. Give a reason for your existing customers to engage with your website – an online offer or competition.

*There are dozens of directories, all of which will provide a useful link back to your website and help promote your business. Look for the link on their website for registration, or to suggest a business, and follow the instructions for free registration. There are lots of other directories, but resist any sites that say they can load your website to thousands of

All these things are important to establish your website’s presence and maintain and improve your ranking.  Work your website as your would any other aspects of your marketing, cleverly and regularly, and you will see the benefits.

However, the online world is constantly changing, and updating your strategy every year is recommended.  Talk to us at GROW about keeping informed; we can recommend reading or courses, or we can help with your updating.