Danielle Haley, Co-Director for our associate sponsors Freelance SEO Essex, outlines the five things that will improve your business’ search engine presence.
When it comes to marking your online territory, it really is best to adopt a hands-on approach. But as the owner of a small business or a start-up company, your time is incredibly valuable, so you need to make sure that the hours spent crafting your search campaign are put to good use.
Here, we’ve listed five things you (or your team) can do to effectively optimise your website and make sure it’s in a position to compete for first-page positions in Google, Bing, Yahoo! and all the other major search engines.
Create unique, accurate meta titles and descriptions for each page
Much has been written about the role of meta data in SEO. These valuable HTML tags sit in the ‘head’ of your web pages and are used to help provide the best possible search experience for the user. They also appear alongside your URL in your search engine listing.
This article from Search Engine Watch explains the principle behind meta data in much more detail and contains some great tips for those of you who want to enhance your search engine listings further for better click-through rates. But before delving into the murky world of Schema.org and Open Graph protocol, the first thing you need to do is make sure your meta page titles and descriptions are well-optimised.
The meta data behind each of your web pages needs to contain a selection of your targeted keywords for SEO value, yet also encourage the reader to click through to your website. Above all, though, each title and description needs to be different from the rest. Bear in mind, too, that search engines usually only consider the first 70 characters of the meta title and the first 160 characters of the meta description, so you’ve got a lot of information to pack into a very limited space!
Click here for some great tips on how to create strong meta titles and descriptions, courtesy of OpenVine.
Add a blog to your site – and update it regularly
We recommend adding a blog to your website for two important reasons.
- You can use your blog as a way of connecting with your existing and potential customers. Keeping readers up to date with your company news, adding useful ‘how-to’-style articles, and commentating on recent news stories will help establish you as an authority in your industry. Current, high quality content that reflects your expertise is proven to retain the interest of your existing customers, but it will also attract readers from elsewhere as your blog posts are shared around the web and indexed by the search engines.
- The search engines are constantly looking for content that is helpful for users, so they tend to rank sites that are continuing to offer something new to their audiences. Adding fresh content to your blog, even if only once or twice a week, gives the search engine bots more information to index when they visit your website. Search engine crawlers love fresh content and are more inclined to head back to your site if there’s a chance they will find something new every time.
The key here, though, is to update your blog as frequently as you can. A blog that offers thin or out-dated content gives off the impression to the search engines and your readers that you’re not at the top of your game.
Establish your business on Google Maps
Sure, Google likes to make it difficult for you to break into the first page listings. Its never-ending algorithm updates certainly keep search marketers on their toes. But it does offer a few tools that, when used properly, can help fast-track your site to better exposure.
Google Places for Business is one such application. It allows you establish your company’s identity by adding your name, location and contact details to its Maps database. Google Places for Business is now integrated with Google + Local, too, which means users can access more information on your company than ever before via Maps.
Creating a Google Places for Business listing means you are more likely to show up in local Google searches – vital if you run a small company that operates within a given area. Plus, if Google thinks your business is particularly relevant for local search queries, it will place your business profile within the Local 7-Pack at the top of the first page of results (we’re referring to that little cluster of listings that are illustrated by the pin balloons on the map itself – for more info, click here).
Get stuck into Twitter
We know, we know. Twitter is time-consuming. But don’t be afraid to invest a reasonable amount of time into social media management.
Twitter is renowned for its role in online B2B networking and those who have recognised its value early on in their marketing campaign have reaped the benefits of added exposure further down the line. Take it from us – you can, and most likely will, pick up some good leads and enquiries from unexpected sources if you stay on the ball with Twitter!
Keeping on top of your Twitter account can often seem like a full-time job in itself, but if it feels like there are not enough hours in the day to reply to every query and Retweet every customer’s kind comment, you’re obviously doing something right. The more users you’re engaging with, the more involved you are in your online community, and if you keep having to take time out to thank people for their Follow, you’re clearly attracting the right kind of attention. Be sure to Follow local press and media profiles so you can send any big company developments their way – they’re always on the look-out for great stories!
Use paid search advertising wisely
Pay Per Click advertising is not your enemy. In fact, many webmasters benefit from integrating their organic SEO efforts with a water-tight PPC campaign.
Paid ads can be used to temporarily boost click-throughs and increase sales at times when you need to increase your visibility. For example, having the opportunity to advertise via Google Adwords or the Yahoo Bing Network comes in handy if you work within a seasonal industry and you need to increase sales at a particular time of the year to meet your targets. You can also specify which geographical regions you’d like your ads to show in, which means you won’t waste money on unwanted clicks from users in towns and counties you don’t cover.
Lay the foundations for your SEO campaign by following the five pointers above and you’ll be well on your way to search engine success! For more tips and tricks, visit our blog. You can also send questions and queries our way by clicking here.