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How to Search Engine Optimise your website: 5 Steps to get you started

Jan 29th 2013

How to Search Engine Optimise your website: 5 Steps to get you started. Many businesses have high expectations for their websites being found in Google, and good Search Engine Rankings can take time and cost money. We look at some basics to get you started.

Want to know how to Search Engine Optimise your website?

Here’s 5 Steps to get you started:

1)    Why bother at all?
Sounds daft doesn’t it, but let’s take a step back and think about this. The natural reaction to any business owner is “well if you can’t be found on Google, there’s no point, everyone’s doing it these days”. That might be true in some cases, however Search Engine Optimisation can be time consuming, expensive and often doesn’t yield the results you might expect. Although Google is a strong player in marketing your business, look at all your avenues to market first. Over the years, we’ve found many businesses pinning their hopes on Google, but missing simple low cost exercises that can ultimately yield more business. For example, simple things such as using a Facebook Page, email marketing to existing customers, printing offers and promotions on invoices, attending key networking events and focusing on building partners and referral networks are a few we’ve seen our clients do that yield a large proportion of their business. Remember that Search Engine referrals are nearly always cold leads, and if you can be found easily, then guess what… your competitors probably can too. Google generated leads can sometimes be “tyre kickers”, conversely anyone in business will tell you, there’s nothing better than a strong referral by recommendation.

2)    What’s your customer looking for?
Google registers details of every search term used and can supply you with statistics to show you what people search for. This is called Keyword Analysis and can be found with Google’s excellent Keyword Suggestion Tool. That will give you your first step towards understanding your online market, but does it really tell you the full story? Just because a lot of people search for a phrase, it doesn’t mean it will generate you more business. First of all competition. If you’ve got a lot of competition for a phrase, it’ll be a hard time consuming and costly slog to make your website stand out above the crowd, even then it may not generate business for you.

Enter Google AdWords. AdWords is paid advertising where you can use what you’ve found with your Keyword research to built small relevant adverts. AdWords tells you exactly how many people search for a word, how many people saw your advert, how many people clicked on your advert, and used effectively much more. Consider rotating different adverts for the same phrase which tests the proposition of what you’re selling. This technique is called Split Testing or A-B Testing. Using this technique, it’s possible to see not only how many people search for a term, but what’s driving your audience to click, be it a price based advert, quality based advert or range based advert.

Using AdWords gives you hard fact, but most importantly it can be used to tell you what works, and more to the point what doesn’t before you spend time and money optimising your pages.

3)    What Search Terms would you like to be found for?
If the answer is “everything!” or “I don’t know” think again. Consider what your business is called, what you offer, where you want to pick up business, but most importantly what does your potential customer call what you offer. Let’s think of an example, you’re a plumber in Watford specialising in Gas Boiler servicing and installation, a natural choice would to rank number 1 in Google for “Plumbing”, but in reality, someone typing “plumbing” in to Google could be looking for advice, a plumbing store and probably anything other than a Plumber in Watford. So in this instance location could be a factor, so how about “plumbers Watford” That would be a much better bet, but plumbers could also specialise in sink plumbing, pipework and not Gas, so you may end up with referrals that aren’t specific enough. How about “gas plumbing Watford” or even “gas fitters Watford” “gas installation Watford” or “gas servicing Watford”. These are much more specific terms and truly reflect what this business does. Going back to this example “plumbing” may yield several thousand visitors a day to your website, but at best only 1 or 2 genuine enquiries if that, so with 1000 visits to your website and 1 genuine enquiry, that’s a 0.01% conversion ratio. “gas servicing Watford” might get you 5-10 visits to your website, but you’re likely to get 1 or 2 enquiries so on the basis of 10 Google Referrals and 1 enquiry, that’s a 10% conversion ratio. So, that’s a 0.01% conversion ratio against a 10% ratio just by being more specific…you do the maths!

4)    Is our website ready for it?
Quite often it’s not so much a question of adding new words and phrases to a website, but often a completely new website. More often than not, people are searching for one thing, and a website is offering something else completely different. Just adding the words and phrases that people search for to a website isn’t enough, and can make hard to read copy that’s confusing and often “shoe-horned” in to place. In this instance, consider targeted landing pages to assist with the search optimisation that are geared around what your customer is looking for, with well written relevant copy and relevant pictures that answer the question your customer is searching for.

In the old days, a chunk of special tags called Meta tags could be added to a website, but those days are long gone, and even if Google ranks you for a phrase, will it still be relevant once your customer reaches your website to make them pick up the phone? Search Engine rankings and lead generation is all about relevance first and foremost, so if you’ve discovered your customer wants one thing, and your pages aren’t relevant, there’s what to do.

5)    How long does it take?
So you’ve tested the phrases you want to rank for with AdWords, you know what’s driving your customer, you’ve built targeted pages on your website that reflect those phrases, so what next?
Very focused and niche terms can take a few days to rank in Google, but more broader popular terms can take months if not years.

The time comes in to building relevant links in to a website to generate Search Engine PR, writing press releases, testing continually with AdWords and constantly adapting, measuring and altering pages. This process takes time and can take lots of it too.

If an agency was doing this for you properly, they could easily spend a minimum of 2 hours a week, and at £50-£100 per hour, you can do the maths yourself.

Can you do it yourself?

With some training, some expert guidance, a website that will allow you to manage and adapt it and a few hours a week, there’s no reason why you can’t. Need some expert training?

Why not try one of our free Workshops: http://www.fl1group.com/workshops.asp

Need more on how to Search Engine Optimise your website?
Give us a call on 01727 739812