Looking to invest in SEO this year but feeling nervous about hiring an SEO company? Fed-up with smoke, mirrors and contracts? Fear not, Google feels your pain and wants to reward you for investing in your website rather than an SEO company. Search Engine Optimisation consultant Andrew Gloyns has some sensible tips to help you invest your budget for the best return.
2011 brought a host of major changes to the Google algorithm. Millions of websites were finally penalised for the use of questionable tactics or simply lacking quality content. These sites experienced huge drops in traffic and associated revenue as the search engine began putting its algorithm where its mouth is.
What’s changed? Google are trying to reward businesses that have published websites that are easy to navigate, have well-written, unique content and, most importantly, engage with their Customers.
2012 brings with it the real potential to get better returns from alternative strategies that align to Google’s ideal. Here are a few pointers…
Get a website that works
The best way to ensure that your website adheres to best practice is to use a tried and tested Content Management System (CMS). A CMS provides a platform from which a site can be built; much like buying a pre-fabricated house versus building one from scratch.
Many businesses won’t have to look far beyond the World’s #1 CMS, WordPress. Not only is WordPress free and acclaimed by SEO’s around the globe, it is highly adaptable to a wide variety of uses. Whether you wish to build a standard business portfolio site, showcase photography or art, run an online magazine (Dynamic Business runs on WordPress!) or even sell products, the platform can do it all.
Whilst WordPress is generally easy to use, I’d recommend hiring a designer and/or developer with experience of the platform to assist in migrating or recreating your site to ensure a smooth transition. Additional plugins can be installed to essentially put your website’s SEO on autopilot. This will ensure that new content is automatically assigned Page Titles, Meta Descriptions and even let search engines know as soon as you have added new content. I personally recommend WordPress SEO by Yoast.
If you have previously had feedback from SEO companies stating that your website has certain limitations, perhaps now is the time to invest part of that SEO budget into releasing that potential. Whilst you’re at it, why not consider whether some simple design changes such promoting your phone number or adding accepted payment logos improve your conversion from visitors to buyers.
Content, content, content
It’s a tired cliché when it comes to SEO, but ‘Content is King’ and its even more important in 2012 to ensure that all of the pages on your site contain well written, unique content. If you’re not sure whether your content is unique, simply copy and paste a sentence into Google and see if the exact text exists on other sites to yours (Tip: Enclose your pasted text in inverted commas, E.g. “Insert pasted text here” for more accurate results).
This is particularly common with E-commerce sites that utilise manufacturer provided product descriptions. Writing your own product descriptions is not only a sure fire way to see a likely improvement in rankings, but you’re also providing experienced details and insights about a product that Visitors may not be able to find anywhere else. If you don’t have products, improve your service descriptions as well as other static pages such as your ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’. Tell the world who you are and don’t be scared to add photos of you or your team.
Writing and publishing your own articles on your site is not only a fantastic way to demonstrate your industry knowledge but you can also promote new products or services. You’ll generally find you get a higher return by publishing fewer high quality articles than several hundred low quality articles. Take time to invest in a particular story or opinion that either your Customers or people in your industry would find particular interesting or useful.
If, like me, you’re no Shakespeare (thanks for sticking by so far!), simply hire a copywriter to write or rewrite your content for you. Freelance copywriters are generally inexpensive to hire from freelance websites and many can be hired on an ongoing basis to write regular articles.
Get your social on
If you’ve set up your business on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn then you’ve taken your first step. If your business is not on Google+ yet, get onto it. If early indications are anything to go by, then it appears that Google+ may have quite a vital role to play in Google’s vision of how search result pages will look in years to come.
If you’re not yet set up or need a few hints, check out The Twitter Marketing Guide to Profits by Denise Mooney for the low-down on how your profile should look.
Use these channels to engage with your customers and target market. Just written a new article on your spanking new WordPress site? Tweet it! Share it on Facebook! Post it on LinkedIn and Google+! Spending just a few minutes doing this per day (and it doesn’t need to be more than that) creates exposure for your new content and not only creates traffic, but also increases the likelihood of somebody linking to the article on your website.
Read what like-minded people in your industry are writing on their websites and, if relevant, link to their articles in yours. Don’t be scared to link out to others! Building these relationships can be invaluable not only to your business as a whole, but as a link building strategy. The more high quality content you write and the more exposure you and your website achieve, the more popular your website will become to visitors and search engines alike, both of which attribute to increased rankings.
The days of mass search engine and directory submissions are over. Google are fed up of people chasing their algorithm and are pushing even harder towards rewarding Authors of well-written and structured content.
Invest in your website, create great content, build relationships and you will be rewarded with levels of traffic and quality links that will leave both your competition and SEO companies breathless.