So you’ve got the design right, the content is written and your shiny new website is ready for launch. The real challenge however, is just beginning. How do you get visitors to your website and turn them into customers?
Search Marketing is vital for any business trying to succeed online. Potential customers are looking every day on Search Engines like Google and Bing for the products and services that you offer. Getting your website in front of this audience will undoubtedly lead to new customers for your business.
So where do you start? Well to help I’ve listed some basic SEO fundamentals that you should consider as part of your SEO strategy along with some free tools that are available to everyone.
Research your audience
The first step in any SEO campaign is to identify your target audience through keyword research. Identifying which search terms potential customers are entering into Search Engines to locate a website or business like yours is vital information that your entire SEO strategy will built around.
Don’t target too many generic keywords at first as this will simply dilute the relevance of your site content.
Type generic keywords into Google and see what results Google Suggest displays.
Study your competitor’s websites to learn which keywords they target.
Ensure your site structure is accessible
Search Engine Accessibility is very important. Once the Search Engine spider finds your website you need them to index all the pages and have no problems navigating between pages.
Remember, Search Engine spiders are trying to establish how relevant your website is to every keyword and phrase on your site, stand alone pages that link nowhere are less relevant than a page that links to several pages of related content.
Add an HTML site map containing static text links to each page on your site.
Use text links with keyword rich anchor text instead of images where possible.
Check your site thoroughly to make sure there are no dead ends or broken links (Google Webmaster Tools can also help you do this.
Get the on-page SEO basics right
SEO encompasses many factors and techniques to achieve top rankings. The key factor to remember is that it’s the Search Engine’s job to return the most relevant results to a particular search query and they do this through an algorithm. Some of the most basic on-page SEO factors include:
Make sure web page URLs are short and SEO friendly wherever possible.
Ensure each page has a unique title tag that is relevant to the page content
Although Meta Descriptions are no longer a considered a ranking factor they do appear in Search Engine listings and therefore can affect click through rate.
Don’t spam keywords (you could be penalised for this!)
Try and use H (Header tags) in the correct format
Make sure image file names are descriptive (e.g. keyword.jpg rather than 12345.jpg)
Label images with descriptive ALT tags
Keep content fresh, relevant and informative
Search Engines will revisit your site from time to time to see if your content has changed. If the search engine keeps seeing the same content the frequency that it will visit your site will reduce. It’s important to consistently add relevant content to your website and link from existing pages, this will help increase your relevance each time the Search Engine Spiders index your site.
Keep adding relevant content to your site like news articles or create a blog that is related to your products or services.
Display content that is unique and not found on other sites
Avoid duplicate content on multiple pages
Include search terms in your page content
Focus on the long tail
When optimising a new website with no history or just starting SEO on a site it’s best to focus on long tail keywords and phrases rather than competitive generic keywords.
Long tail keywords are combinations of various phrases (often consisting of 3+ keywords within the search term). Individually these phrases are unlikely to drive a large level of volume but collectively they can provide a significant amount of traffic.
Websites that rank for generic keywords and phrases will have a good history and trusted by the Search Engines. Targeting a small number of generic keywords at first alongside long tail keywords and phrases within your sites content will allow your site to gain some of that trust and build up history from Search Engines.
Having a site blog and adding regular articles, case studies or reviews to your site will help build a collection of long tail keywords.
When writing content for your site always try and include keywords that people are likely to enter as search terms into a search engine.
Link Building – Gaining the Search Engine’s trust
Link building continues to play a pivotal part in how Search Engines rank a website. Not only will they help rank but your first links are possibly the most important as they will help the Search Engines find your website.
The best link building strategy of course is to create content that will generate links to your site of their own merit which in turn will help build your brand’s credibility and authority within your industry.
A steady stream of links to your site is better than a large number in one hit. If your site jumps from 0 to 10,000 links overnight it won’t appear natural.
Links from authoritive sites such as universities, Wikipedia, established forums and non profit organisations add credibility to your site.
Submit your site to local and industry related directories
Write and submit a press release to announce your new site.
Write and submit an article on your service or product.
Always try and include keywords or your brand name in the link anchor text pointing to your website. Avoid – Click here, my website and similar irrelevant terms.
Choose some non competitor link building partners that offer relevant content to your product or service.
Social Bookmarking (if done right) can be a good form of link building.
NEVER pay for links.
Start Local – Google Business Listings
If you own a small business your primary target customers should be those on your doorstep. Optimising your site to rank for local searches will provide a good platform for building your business online.
Google Local listings are now frequently seen on Page 1 for local search terms and this presents a good opportunity to attract targeted traffic in addition to displaying details like your phone number, address and special offers.
It’s important that SEO remains an ongoing and integral part of your online marketing strategy. Therefore it’s important that a dedicated team member or an SEO agency (I’ve heard iThinkMedia are pretty good!) are managing this channel.
Putting lots of content on your site and just leaving it there forever will never drive your site forward and in the unlikely event that this approach should achieve page 1 rankings they will gradually (or even swiftly) slide down the rankings as your competitors improve their sites and content whilst your site stands still.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post these are just some basic SEO fundamentals and certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a comprehensive check list but I hope you find them useful.
About Chris Ailey — Chris Ailey is the founder and Managing Director of iThinkMedia. Learn more about
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