The work is done and the page is live, now what? Well, that was the easy part. The temptation is to leave it alone and concentrate on the “real” business. Many of your competitors have done just that, they let the site sit there. But the companies on the first page of Google in your market did not just sit still, they got to work. Letting a new site sit, is the fast track to search engine purgatory. And a site which doesn’t rank on search engines is a site not worth having.
The real work is to drive traffic to your site.
The site needs to be on the first page of internet searches. How difficult that is depends on your niche, and who your customers are. If your business is for example, a Lawnmowing business based in Wamberal and you want to capture everyone who wants their grass cut, concentrating on the keyword “lawnmowing”, 99% of the customers searching that term will be of no use to you since they will be from all over Australia, because you are a geographically dependant business. But people in Wamberal could be typing “Lawnmowing Wamberal” and have a good chance of finding our hyperthetical lawn mowing business on the first page.
Businesses which are geography dependent already have their niche, in a small a enough location, like Wamberal, can rank well with that keyword. The question, how many searchers will use that keyword? It could be that the niche is too narrow to get any volume and we may have to discard it as a candidate.
High ranking with useless keywords is, well, useless. With research we can find out how useful “Lawnmowing Wamberal” is and it could be the wider geographic location, “Central Coast” or “Gosford” are the only options feasible. With that comes more competition, in which case, our Lawnmowing friend will need some extra work on his site.
A business wanting to promote its bricks and mortar store have an easier time of it, if all you wish is to sell to the locals. However, if you aspire to sell your product or service nationwide, or to worldwide audience, then it is a totally different ball game.
This brings us to SEO. To quote wikipedia:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural,” “organic,” or “earned” results.
Guarantee on #1 page in x amount of time.
There are many SEO sites promoting guarantees to be on page 1 or even #1. Beware that those kinds of guarantees are either fraudulent or misleading. It is easy to guarantee with a useless keyword, one that very few users type in searches. SEO is like advertising in the old world after all (Like print ads), there are no guarantees, but SEO, like advertising works at some stage if you keep at it.
But we can make a good ranking prospects with a reasonable niche. For example, someone wants to sell shoes nationwide. If the entire first page of Google for “shoes” is stacked by large companies then that keyword is basically unattainable to the small business. This is because Google over the years with their updates have skewed their algorithm to big brands. They pay the million dollar Adwords budgets, they get all the Google search goodness.
But, the idea is to sell to the niche, for example shoes for a special purpose. Hiking boots, dancing shoes, two tone shoes, that kind of thing, though these are still quite large niches. A niche subset attracts lower clicks, but at least page 1 ranking is attainable with these kinds of keywords, still with a lot of work.
What does SEO work involve?
Initially, an interview with the client is needed, to learn about the product or service offered and find out who the competitors are. From this extensive work needs to be carried out, starting with competitors, to discover what keywords will work for the business. It has been known for a client to focus on keywords completely different from what the potential customers use in searches. To craft a website using those keywords would indeed be a waste of time. So it is important to know who your customers are.
When appropriate keywords are identified then it is the job of the SEO specialist to craft every part of the website, pictures, copy, everything tailored to those chosen keywords.
Then we start the link building. This is how Google determines if your site is to be trusted. If your site is linked to by more important sites, then Google determines your site must be genuine enough and rewards you by boosting the ranking.
Initially this process begins by submitting the your website to every search engine and free online directory possible. It means identifying all the relevant industry association sites too. These all need to be joined. There are many paid directory sites and decisions need to made whether they suit the particular client.
This is still not enough for competitive keywords. Every week tweaks and additions need to be made to the website, it is an ongoing operation. Blogs are the biggest enabler of link building there is. This is why it is highly advisable to maintain a blog. An opportunity to share your expertise and set yourself up as the go to expert. A blog written in normal conversational terms – definitely not in big corporation PR speak – builds trust with the public, (not to mention it also builds your brand). A blog with some MODEST mention of keywords helps SEO too. As The Cluetrain Manifesto says, markets are conversations. Communication with your customers as human beings is something large corporations struggle with, the public has become too savy recognising PR speak, this is where small business have the advantage.
But if the information on the blog is valuable and unique, people will eventually respect it and link to it – thus increasing SEO. The way to write a blog to attract others to link to it? There are ways and means, such as, authors of really big blogs tend to search for themselves online (could be a vanity thing – but its a business thing too..), they will know when you quote them or link to them..
The point is, after a year of this activity, an amazing website presence can be achieved. A huge amount of work will serve as a barrier to new entrants in your market to match. After a few years, and brands everywhere really take years to develop, the site will become a major force in your niche and customers will fly in the door just from organic searches. Like leads for free, but they weren’t free, you worked for it!
Don’t be afraid to spill the beans in blog posts, tell too much information, people will still need your product since they are time poor. I may well be spilling the crown jewels in this blog. But that’s fine, (- there is far more to tell) our market are small business people who dont have the time to do the tedious work of SEO themselves.
This amount of work may require a person employed specially, writing blogs posted weekly, monthly etc. A cheaper option is to employ an SEO company to do the job – like The WebXperts. It will require fortnightly phone calls to discuss progress and ideas for the next piece of content among other things, but the long term result is the same. A formidable presence on the web that customers in your niche will see every time they do a search. A line of accurately targeted users arriving on your site with their credit cards out – and that is what you really want.