Now that you have a website, the next natural question is “How do I get people to come visit it?”
Your options are quite large, although your budget probably isn’t. Therefore one of the most popular and cost effective tactics is targeting the search engines to position your website higher for a specific keyword phrase. Yes, I’m talking about SEO, or search engine optimization.
SEO is less of a demand creating technique and more a demand capture technique. For example, being ranked #1 in the search engines for the keyword phrase “Blue Dog on Mars” doesn’t mean you’ll get an influx of visitors. Unless of course one was discovered or it becomes a popular Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor.
My point being, you should attempt to optimize your website for keywords that actually get searched. A great tool to help with this is Google Trends. This tool allows for you to enter one or more keyword phrases and it will show you the popularity of that search over time against each other. For example, we’ve created a comparison between the keyword “newspapers” and the keyword “tablets.”
Another tool, called Google’s Keyword Tool allows you to enter the keywords and provide you with a global and local number of searches that specific keyword gets on average. Keep in mind that more searches typically means that your competitors have likely figured it out and are competing for attention there. Taking a step further with the first example, we’ve looked up the metrics on the keyword “newspapers” and the keyword “tablets” to see their search demand.
Take some time to research a broad range of keywords. Compare keywords about products, product categories, industry terms, and your own brand name.
Another option that can advance your learning a bit quicker is getting immediate feedback through Paid Search. Paid Search refers to the sponsored advertisements that appear above and to the right of the organic listings. Those advertisements appear after a company bids for clicks for that particular search term. With a Paid Search campaign, your website for a particular keyword phrase can appear within minutes. Watching for these results allows you to quickly gauge the popularity of the keyword and also your conversion rates once they get to your site. Conversion rates are measured by comparing how many people purchased something after clicking those advertisements.
Now that you’ve identified the keywords you’d like to rank for, below are five quick things you can do today that will put you on the fast track to increasing your ranking.
1) Update Your Title Tags – Every single one of your pages should have completely unique copy between <title> and </title>. Just as important, you should have the 1 and only 1 keyword phrase that page is attempting to rank for in the Title Tag. Finally, it should be no longer than 70 characters.
2) Update Your Description Tags – Similar to the Title Tag, every single one of your pages should have completely unique copy between <meta name=”description” content=” and “ >. The description should be your most compelling call-to-action for that page. Meaning, you should explain exactly what the visitor will gain by clicking the link to visit that page. The Description Tag should be no longer than 156 characters.
3) Sign Up for Google Webmaster Tools – There are many advantages to adding your website to Google Webmaster Tools and verifying your ownership of it. Verification normally only takes a few minutes and you have a number of options depending on your website. Methods include adding a Meta Tag, adding a file to your root directory, or creating a DNS (Domain Name System) record.
4) Submit Your Sitemap – A sitemap is typically an XML file that is used to tell the search engine the exact URLs of every page of your website and how often they get updated. Historically search engines only used robots, also known as spiders, to navigate around your website and index every page they find. This is limiting as some pages may get missed if there are no links to those particular pages. After you’ve signed up and verified your website on Google Webmaster Tools, you should navigate to “Optimization” > “Sitemaps” and click “Add/Test Sitemap.” Finally, paste in the name of your sitemap file.
5) Optimize Your Navigation – Your navigation is a very effective way to communicate to search engines which pages should be prioritized. Also, search engines give a lot of weight to the keywords that appear in those links. Therefore there are 2 quick opportunities here. First, link to the most important pages that you’re trying to increase the ranking for in your navigation. Linking to those pages and limiting the number of links to other pages will give these pages more weight and influence. Second, add your most important keywords as the text in these links. If your links are images, make sure to add the keywords in the ALT tags of the images.
The algorithm that determines which websites get ranked higher than other websites looks at hundreds of factors. However, if you’re looking for the low-hanging fruit that can begin to drive your website upward then tackle these five things today!