Every time you turn around, it seems that there’s a new tip to getting better visibility through Google and other search engines. You depend on your website to attract new business, to keep current customers happy, or to serve as your complete business presence. How can you ensure that what you do on your website today will keep serving you results even through the changes in Google’s algorithms and the latest SEO tricks and trends?
Fortunately, it’s entirely possible, but there are a few things you need to do first.
1. Know that you should be focused on meeting your customer’s needs before anything else.
This seems so obvious, and yet, it’s amazing to me how many people forget it. I have seen people who get caught up in trying to boost their Google rankings that they are desperate to try anything: getting on all social media channels, making YouTube videos, writing daily blog entries. Yes, these can be helpful to your search engine presence, but none of it will translate to more customers if you don’t have anything to back it up. For example, a website that doesn’t effectively encourage a sale, a product or service that is poorly positioned or marketed, and appealing to the wrong target market are all things that won’t make a positive impact on your business, regardless of how well positioned your website is.
Take away: Know your target market, and know how your product or service meets their needs. Know how to talk to your target market to sell your product or service to them.
2. Develop your website with your customers’ needs in mind.
Probably the biggest mistake I see with people planning their websites is not focusing on meeting their customers’ needs. Instead, some people focus more on the neatest feature they’ve seen on other websites that they want for their own, and others are too concerned with topping the search engine listings. What they really should be focused on is how the website will appeal to their target market and how a potential customer should use the site to ultimately convert to a sale. Plan to make the site easy to use and compelling for the potential customer. Working with an experienced web designer is crucial at this step so that you can be sure that the site is well developed behind the scenes, too.
Take away: Instead of focusing on SEO tricks and “cool” technology, concentrate on making a compelling, easy-to-use website that’s designed to close the deal.
3. Focus on compelling, engaging content.
Now comes the hard work. If you’re focused on meeting your customers’ needs and have a website plan that appeals to your target market and is ready to make the sale, you need a solid plan to market it. Your potential customers need a reason to visit your site, and if you provide content that’s unique, entertaining, useful, or otherwise compelling, they’ll stay. And if you continue to provide equally unique and compelling content, they’ll come back. Search engines also view this as a strong reason to give a site good visibility in search listings. If you’re not sure how to do this, working with an experienced content marketer will help you keep generating excellent content that appeals both to customers and search engines.
Take away: Create content for your website that’s unique, compelling, and engaging, and you’ll win with both your target market and search engines.
4. Market your organization…and your website.
Just like you can’t open a business and then expect automatic sales, you can’t open a website and expect automatic visitors. You need to work to get them. Offline, put your web address on all your marketing and branding materials. Encourage existing customers to visit—and share—your website. Online, engage in a solid social media campaign that reaches your target market. Engage potential customers in forums, blogs, and other places they are. Get listed in directories, maps, and review/rating websites. Once search engines see all this activity tied to your website—and see people sharing your website on social media—they will respond with better visibility.
Take away: Once your website is prepared, you need to share it consistently with your target market.
5. Be prepared for the long haul.
Here’s the real reason people fall for SEO tricks and trends: Doing it the right way takes time, effort, and money. It’s easier to try the latest quick SEO tip and hope it works, but the sad truth is that many of these tricks will have only a temporary effect (if they ever work at all). Search engines continually tweak how they prepare search listings, and they weed out the tricks. If you do it the right way from the beginning, you have nothing to worry about.
Take away: Success won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you consistently give your website the work and effort it needs. Working with marketing and web professionals will help you adjust this plan for your specific business needs.