Search Engine Optimization, or SEO when implemented properly can bring a lot of new custom to your business, but also add extra revenue streams to an already profitable “bricks and mortar” business.
Not implementing any type of SEO or using outdated information that used to work will definitely lose you a lot of potential customers. Implementation of a structured and up-to-date SEO strategy can be one of the best ROI (Return on Investments) you can make, for expanding your customer base.
A few words of warning
Many companies will assume that paying a company who advertise themselves as an experienced SEO company will solve their problems. This “throw money at the problem” approach rarely works without some upfront research. As with all sectors of business, there are very good and very bad (and every type in between) SEO companies all vying for your business – some genuine others fly by night scammers. Here are the telltale signs …
- Promising a specific number of customers or/and visitors
- Promising a minimum number of backlinks to your site
- No meaningful previous examples of their work
- Outdated case studies
- You were solicited out of the blue via email or cold calls
- Promising page one of google in less than a month (or three)
- Asking for login credentials to your sites (taking you hostage if things don’t work out)
- Talking more about money and billing and not what they can do for you specifically
- Telling you what went right and glossing over what went wrong (and how to learn from the mistakes)
In fact, in many cases putting someone with a bit of computer acumen that works for your company and has some “skin in the game” can work out better… read on.
The essentials of SEO
The basic and most important steps to SEO that will help your business increasing its visibility and consequently customer base and sales are very few. It is the constant application and minor tweaks via active testing that will ultimately give results. SEO is not “fire and forget”.
- Decide on your Keywords
Having the right keywords is easily the best way to start an SEO strategy. You must first understand or predict the ways a customer will search for your business. For instance, via location, product, service or sector specific keywords.
The basic Google search engine will popup suggested phrases as you type, and this is the simplest area from which you can collate a good set of initial keywords and phrases up with relevant keywords. The Google keyword planner tool can show you the statistical numbers of how many times a certain keyword has been used over a period and the relative popularity of keywords and phrases.
The old brute-force listing of many keywords at the foot of a page will actually lower your rankins, so don’t even contemplate it. Instead, use your list of keywords within coherent, readable and more importantly relevant articles within your products’ area. Either make sure the person implementing your SEO is competent at constructing pages and articles in an “SEO friendly“ way, or write some articles yourself with the knowledge and passion for your business that an outsourced SEO firm cannot easily do.
- Image Tags – so simple and yet so important
SEO indexing includes the ALT-assigned to images which are invariably seen as not important by many. Judicious use of image tag labelling can help you label the images and thus be indexed for image archives within Google and Bing. Not using image tag labelling can be detrimental to rankings and traffic, and can easily be the deciding factor as to whether your competitor has the higher ranking.
- Meta Descriptions – more important than ever
The meta description of a website or page can have as much of an effect as the website content these days. Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo Search Engines will show the title and a large portion of your meta data when a prospective customer is searching for similar information. The Meta description is your chance to grab the prospect’s attention – it is one of the “low hanging fruit” SEO actions you can take. A well composed description will make them choose your link and keep reading, while a meta description of incoherent keywords and phrases will have the opposite effect. If you are using wordpress this is easy to do.
- Use real authoritative Backlinks
Proper backlinks from other websites will increase your search rankings and thus an increase of traffic from a trusted source. Guest posting on relevant sites (blogs or community forums) or industry magazines can make a big difference. Posting an article that piques the reader’s curiosity will lead a potential customer to your site for more or updated information. Do not under any circumstances pay for backlinks – it will harm your rankings.
Helping or Hurting?
SEO done well will take time and some luck to buy organic traffic from a well-implemented strategy beats “black hat” techniques every time. Taking advertising through google (or bing) can kickstart your business but any visitor should be entered into a”email funnel system” so that initial paid for visit can be made use of in the future if there was no sale the first time. “The money is in the List” still holds true.