Step 1 - Identify the search terms used by your customers
OK, first things first, and this is a BIG one, AND usually overlooked. If we are talking about the results in search engines, then we need to talk about what the searches are! Identifying the actual words and sentences your potential customers are using in their searches is the first step. These are your "keywords" or "key search terms", and only when these have been identified will you be able to take action and improve a website's chances of appearing in search results. You can try to guess what these search keywords might be, but it is much better to do research using tools provided by the search engines such as Google's Keyword Planner. The advantage of knowing the search terms not only allows you to target more accurately, but it also enables you to target more efficiently and cost-effectively in the case of advertising.
Step 2 - Prepare relevant content
The search engines will list your site if it contains content relevant to the search terms. So now we know what the keywords are, we need to ensure your site has plenty of content that contains these keywords. The content has to be genuine, you can't just include a paragraph of keywords jumbled together, as the search engines will detect this. In fact, search engines have algorithms that monitor how effective your site is at satisfying people that have searched for those keywords. So, in other words, your site needs to be providing quality content that people actually want to read! And you can't copy the content from another site - you will be heavily penalised if you do that.
If you are providing a few different services or selling a range of products, then you need to have dedicated pages for each of those services/products that feature related keywords. This increases the chances of those individual pages turning up in search engine results, and potential customers will enter your site through these pages. For paid advertising campaigns you may want a dedicated landing page for a specific advert that will maximise sales and enquiries but that is different to a landing page optimised for SEO.
Many site owners do not produce blogs as it can be difficult and time-consuming. This is a real shame because blogs are a very effective tool to improve site rankings in search engines. Having a blog enables you to create more pages easily that include the keywords associated with your product/service. It also allows you to write about the subjects that might only be loosely related to your product/service and thus cast your marketing net much wider. Finally, the greatest asset a regular blog will give you is an audience that you can grow and market to. This shows the search engines that your site is trusted and includes useful original content, which helps you rank higher in results. In addition, the return on the investment into the generation of a single good blog can attract potential customers to your site for many months or even years.
Step 3 - Ensure your website is technically optimised
There are many technical aspects to a website that improve it's ranking in search engines.
In plain English, the search engines are doing two things - checking your site to see if it is user-friendly and scanning the content.
Features that enable a website to rank more highly include:
- Fast loading speed (you can check your site here and here).
- Responsive and mobile friendly design - your site will rank higher if it is readable on mobile.
- Secure and safe for visitors - your site will rank better if it is using an HTTPS connection (check the url on your site).
- Does not contain broken links and missing images - your site will be considered unmaintained if so and will rank poorly.
While your site is being scanned by a site engine, the content is being recorded and this will be used to return results to your customer searches. In addition to the actual written content on the pages as talked about in point 2 above, the search engines looks at words used in the URLS, and also in hidden bits of code called meta. They will also benefit from files that can guide them, such as an up-to-date sitemap file, and something called a robots.txt file. These present opportunities for you to maximise the inclusion of keywords and so your site will rank higher if this is properly optimised. This also affects the appearance of your listing in search engines which can be a major factor in whether someone clicks on the link or not.
Step 4 - Actively drive visitors to your site
Your site will rank more highly if it is already popular and has been shown to be a useful resource for visitors. This is a bit of a chicken and egg scenario because you want to rank more highly to get traffic right!?! Well, you have to put in the hard yards and promote your website. The most obvious and effective promotional tool is social media because people can share your content and traffic can quickly grow. But for this to work well, you really need good content (see point 2). You can also advertise the website (both in search engines and on social media), and this can kick-start your positioning in search engines until your organic (natural) listing raises.
Finally, a very important and often forgotten method is to get links from other websites pointing at yours. If you know companies that have well-ranking websites that do not compete directly with you, you can try approaching them to see if they will link to you. Putting links in forums can help but there is nothing better than a genuine incoming link from a good source such as an online magazine - so think about approaching bloggers and magazines that will write a piece about your products/services.
Getting a website high in search engine results requires a multi-pronged approach, taking a lot of investment in the research and content development. In today's online world, companies need to spread their resources across efforts to improve their organic ranking in search engines with paid advertising promotions. Conducting quality search engine optimisation work is "playing the long game" as the investment will return valuable leads/sales for months and years. At Roojai Website Solutions we excell in providing these services so please do get in touch if you would like help with your website.