As a web developer for 15+ years, I’ve been confronted with the need to educate my clients on the importance of SEO. After all, if you’re going to pay for something, you better know why you’re paying someone. There are so many aspects of improving one’s “position” in the search engines, but it really just starts there. It would take several pages of information to really dive into the intricacies of how SEO works, but we’ll touch on a few ways you can improve your SEO ranking, and why you should invest your hard-earned money for such an offering.
1. Patience, grasshopper
First things first, this process takes time. When you build a website, you’ve made an important step in letting others know you exist. Much like planting vegetables, however, it takes time to nurture and feed your website’s content. The more and more “hits” you receive over time, the more publicity you’ll receive.
2. Keep it fresh
After your website has been built, it’s very important to release new information to keep the search engines crawling your site. I know, I know…it sounds kind of gross that anything would be crawling on your website. Search engines utilize “robots” to crawl through your website for any new or pertinent information they might have missed on a prior visit. These robots are secure software snippets that are specifically designed by the search engine to help it rank your site amongst others. The more information that’s different, the better chances your site will move closer to the top of the results for a given search.
3. Keywords, keywords, keywords
If you are a business owner or have taken any marketing class, you’ve heard the most important marketing aspect is “location, location, location.” I emphasize this because too many times, web designers or in-house employees completely miss this important step. When you type content on your website, it’s important to keep certain “keywords” in your paragraphs. If you’re a car dealership located in Smalltown, TX, for example, you’ll want make sure you type content that includes that! That way, when someone types “car dealership smalltown tx” in their search box, the search engine will have those keywords ranked from crawling your site.
4. Affiliate yourself
This concept is sometimes overlooked by developers because it takes some time and effort to accomplish. Affiliate marketing relies on linking to various websites which either share your general category of interest or relate to your products and/or services. This process can be tracked via referral-type linking, or by simply asking the website owner to list your website on theirs. This, again, can be time-consuming, but can greatly help your site get more notoriety.
5. Get social
In addition to affiliate marketing, social media is a great way to get more publicity. Many clients I work with barely have a Facebook page, and even then, few updates are made to show they engage with their customers. I like to emphasize that social media accounts are strictly a tool to bring visitors to your website, not the other way around. Your website should gain momentum from social media links and posts, and draw your customers back to the website for further interaction. At a minimum, I recommend a client have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
6. Encourage positive reviews
A current client recently approached me concerning some nasty reviews on Google. One of their customers had posted a one-star review on Facebook and then re-posted it on Google. I explained that this is actually not completely awful, and that we could work to repair some of the bad feedback. As a business owner myself, I understand that you can’t make everyone happy. The web design business is largely creativity-based, and many clients need a clear plan laid out prior to beginning work on their website. In addition, ongoing consultation is needed to ensure the client is getting what they want (and paid for). In much the same way, customers of any business require a clear explanation of what they’re buying and how it will benefit them. If they don’t get this, for any reason at all, they’ll lash out on any public forum they can. It’s important to realize that many times, the customer has a valid reason to be upset. Don’t be discouraged.
Remember, any review is publicity for your business. Encourage your customers to leave a review upon completion of the product/service rendered, and offer incentives to do so. In addition, for any bad review, attempt to reach out to that customer to resolve the issue. It may be an opportunity to regain the trust of your customer. I won’t go any deeper into this matter, as it would take another article, but you can see how reviews can improve the overall visibility of your business (whether good or bad).
I hope these concepts have helped you realize why search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary to cultivating your business and making it more visible to everyone. These are only a few ways to improve your SEO, and there are many books on the subject. I wish you the best in your endeavors to becoming the best-ranked business you can be!