As someone with a mission or vision to fulfill, you probably have spent considerable time and resources to get the word out about what you do. Your website should be designed in order to reach as many people in your target market as possible, and there are proven ways to drive more traffic to your website. One very important method is often called search engine optimization, or SEO.
When talking to web designers, ask how they can help your website succeed in crowded search engine results. They should be addressing the items below. And keep in mind that you will probably need to work with a dedicated SEO professional over the long haul to keep improving your website performance.
More on website qualities…
Six free and simple steps to improve your search engine visibility (SEO)…and to convert website visitors into customers
- Know your target audience. Understand their needs and desires. Examine every page on your website, and ask yourself, “Does this meet my audience’s needs or desires? Would this turn a visitor into a customer?” Change content that needs to be changed, and delete unnecessary clutter.
- Consider carefully what your target audience is searching for when they are looking for websites. What words (known as keywords and phrases) would they use in a search engine? (And remember, it’s what words and phrases they would use, not what you would use.) Create a list of those keywords and phrases, and embed them in the text of your website. But make sure your text flows naturally. Think about creating separate pages for main ideas using keywords. Give the search engines more to grab when they index your site.
- Create unique, compelling content for your website. If your website has text, images, or video that can’t be found elsewhere, and it’s highly useful, entertaining, or otherwise special, people will be interested…and will share it on social media and link to it from their own websites. Don’t be ordinary!
- Keep your content fresh. Update and revise your content on a regular basis. Add new text and ideas; remove stale and expired ones. The more updated your site is, the better it will look to the public. No one likes an outdated website!
- Get linked to from other high-quality sites. Part of the success some sites have in their search engine listings comes from quality sites linking to their own sites. Contact reputable associates, and ask them to link to your site. If you need to, link back to theirs in return. Better yet, if you do #3 above, other websites will be dying to link to yours already!
- Make sure the code on your website is semantic. In other words, ask your web designer to ensure that the HTML is structured to make sense, meaning that headings are coded as headings, paragraphs are coded and paragraphs, and so on. (Believe me—even though it sounds obvious, you wouldn’t believe how many websites I’ve seen that mess this up!)
Six free warnings to keep in mind when dealing with SEO
- Be wary of anyone who guarantees your ranking in any search engine, whether it’s the top ten or first ten pages. Because it’s ultimately up to the search engines to decide the ranking, there can be no guarantees. And if someone can get you a top ranking fast (within a week or so), there is a strong possibility that questionable (“black hat”) methods have been used. This simply means that while you get a high ranking fast, the methods to do so may be against search engine rules, and even unethical, and that can result in your site eventually being removed from search engine results. If an SEO company tells you that they use special software to boost your rank quickly, it’s highly possible that it’s “black hat.”
- Avoid paying for search engine submission. The main search engines will find your site on their own. And don’t get swayed by claims to submit to hundreds of search engines. Google and Bing have the highest market share, and many other search engines use the results from them.
- Beware of paying for showing up on the first page of search engine results. This may only be advertising, like pay-per-click, on search engines (which itself is not bad if you have the money for it and it’s part of your marketing plan), but it’s not the same as getting a high organic listings.
- Avoid loading your site with keywords not associated with the content of your website. This kind of “keyword stuffing” was popular a few years back with words such as “Viagra,” “poker,” and the like. Search engines do eventually catch on and can penalize your site for it.
- Remember, real search engine optimization takes time. It can take months of diligence for a website to move on up in the listings. Be patient, and don’t rush it. As with anything worthwhile in life, take the time to do it right, and you can be sure that your site will stay in the search engine results.
- Finally, don’t forget that it should always be about your customers. Don’t get so obsessed with top ranks on search engines that your website fails to turn visitors into customers. It’s better to have a top-notch website that doesn’t rank highly in search results but is responsible for a good portion of your business than it is to have the top ranking website that does nothing for your business.
And there’s more…
Looking for more advice? Check out my articles on website marketing and optimization for some great tips!