By Sue Brady
There are a handful of things that you should know about if you are just getting started with your website. These tips and tools will help you to get ranked in Google search to make sure you are visible! Note that this process can take a while. The more visitors you generate to your site, the higher you will start ranking in Google search. Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) helps your website to become more visible.
Adding keywords to your site is a key part of your SEO strategy. It’s a good idea to do some research to make sure you are choosing the right keywords and keyword phrases. You might want to choose phrases that have less competition (how to do this is a blog post for another day!). Your goal is to show up in a search engine when a user types in terms that are relevant to your business. To do that, you need to make sure you have those words present on your website. Don’t overdo it, but mention your keywords at least once or twice on your home page. The home page carries more weight in Google’s eyes, so that page in particular needs to show the right words. But don’t overdo it. ‘Keyword stuffing,’ the practice of loading up your site with your keywords in an effort to manipulate the system, is a bad practice and if Google catches you at it, you’ll be penalized.
Keywords can be visibly present (as in, a part of your copy), and they can also be present in page titles and page descriptions (also called meta data), as a part of your site’s html code. You may be advised that these are no longer important, and while they aren’t as important as they once were, they still have value and are an easy addition to your site, especially for your home page. Your page titles should be no more than 60 characters, and should be set up to have your primary keyword first, followed by a secondary keyword, followed by your company name. Your page descriptions should be limited to 160 characters and no two pages should have the same description. It’s a good idea to include a call to action as a part of your description too. As an example, if you do a search for my employer, RM Factory, you’ll see this:
In this example, the RM Factory: Sales Enablement Marketing Agency is the Title tag, and the copy that starts with “Market Ready. Sales Focused…” is the page description. This looks much better and is more impactful than just seeing rmfactory.com in your search engine results page (aka SERP).
Adding Your URL to Google
You can add your URL to Google by visiting here and typing in your website URL. If you aren’t prompted at that time to open a free Google Webmaster Tools account, make sure you do that also. You’ll be prompted to verify your site and you’ll need to know where to put the Google code to do this. Google provides instructions.
Also, don’t forget about registering with the other search engines. (You can submit your site to Yahoo/Bing here.) Other search engines have less competition so it’s easier to be more visible. Here’s a great post on that subject :).
It makes sense to include a site map at the bottom of each page of your website. A site map lays out all of the pages that are a part of your website. Not only is this a good place for keywords, but it also helps a user with navigation. A site map will typically look similar to this one:
While the general thinking about Google+ is that it’s not a great lead or sales generator, it remains a positive in the eyes of Google. So create an account and post to it now and then. For now, it helps with SEO, though the current buzz is, that won’t last.
Good links are highly valued by Google. You can have inbound links, outbound links and internal links. Google values inbound links the most, as long as they are relevant to your site. If you have logical partners who you think will be willing to link to your site, give them a call and see if they agree. It might also make sense for you to return the favor by offering an outbound link to their site (make sure that any click on a link in your site opens as a new tab). Again, the key is to make sure that the inbound or outbound links are relevant, and are from a reliable and solid source. Internal links can also enhance your rankings and refer to links from a page on your site to another page on your site. Make sure the links have relevant keywords and that they make sense. An example is your site map (shown above). Site maps consist of inbound links to the various pages that are a part of your site.
Andy Crestodina, co-founder of Orbit Media and super smart guy, recently published a great SlideShare presentation that talks about the value of links (that part starts on page 6). As he says: “Links are credibility.” You can access that presentation here.
Doing these things will help you on your journey to get noticed and help you drive more traffic to your site.