Many website owners tend to overlook the fact that, unless you have invested time – and possibly money – in various search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques, your content might not receive many hits.
If you’re serious about marketing your business online, you need to enable your brand and business name to be in front of users at the exact time they’re searching for you, says Sensis Senior Manager of SEO, Kavit Shah.
To put search into perspective, in 2012 there were 1.2 trillion searches on Google globally, says Shah. That’s roughly 3.28 billion queries fielded by Google per day.
And if you think of the typical search engine results page (SERP), only 4% of that traffic goes beyond page one and onto page two of the search results. Essentially, 96% of those users are finding what they want on page one of Google.
There might be several reasons why your business doesn’t rank on the first page of Google, so here are some essential steps that can improve your ranking, advises Shah:
1. Recognise long-term goals
SEO is an ongoing, long-term strategy not a set-and-forget type of tactic, so define your aims: do you want to direct more traffic to your site, increase online sales, get more qualified leads or improve visibility of your online brand?
2. Ensure your SEO strategy is ‘local’
If you have a brick-and-mortar business, check your location information is clearly marked on your website – so that a search engine such as Google can include you in map-based results. Ensure that your content also has a local feel allowing someone from that particular area to relate to it.
3. Research the ‘right’ keywords
Do your keywords line up with specific pages on your website, and do those pages help you realise the goals you set for the site earlier? Try to get a grasp of the non-technical terms people use to describe products/services similar to your offering.
4. Create unique content
Search engines hate duplication and plagiarised content can damage your ranking. From their perspective, only the originator of that content should rank. Ensure the content you publish helps you realise your website goals, projecting your unique identity.
5. Good link structure
Not only do hyperlinks allow users to navigate your site, they are also used by search engine ‘spiders’ that crawl your content – the absence of links means these spiders hit a virtual dead end on your website, preventing them from showing your content on SERPs.
6. Avoid keyword stuffing
Don’t spam search engines by stuffing your pages with keywords in the hope of improving your ranking – it’s just one of several bad practices now penalised by search engines. For example, Google will remove offending sites from their index of results and their algorithms are smart enough to detect when something is written purely for the purposes of ranking and is of no relevance to a real-life user.
7. Analytics tools
Measure performance on your pages for insights into the user’s mindset and their behaviour. Such information will help you tweak and change your content and layouts to better suit your potential customers.