The thick “Yellow Page” directories dropped at your door each year have become a thing of the past. If you are selling bargain books on the Internet or simply want to draw in more foot traffic from the surrounding community, you need to get noticed. Yellow Page directories have been replaced by online search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. With literally millions of businesses now captured into search engines, how do you get yours noticed? With these SEO marketing tips you can bring your website up the ranks.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, consists of a collection of best practices to get your website ranked high in search engine results. By “ranked high” we are referring to your business being listed on the first page (ideal) or the second page of results from an online search. If your business listing is on page 9 or 10, there is only a small chance it will get noticed.
Every minute of every day search engines send out electronic robots that crawl the Internet, including your website, collecting and organizing information. Search engines rank listings based on relevance, which is determined by things like popularity, referrals from other sites, content, HTML, trustworthiness, site design, and locality. It’s just like when you ask someone for the best steak restaurant in the area; they will typically give you the top two or three they are familiar with. When someone is searching for a product or service that you offer, you want the search engine to recommend your business before that of the competition.
1. Relevant Website Content
So let’s start with the things on your website you can directly control. First and foremost, the content of your website needs to be relevant to what you are offering. If you were a potential customer, think of the keywords or phrases that would be used to find your business and make sure they are used multiple times in your site content. Try also to use words that differentiate you from the competition. For example, maybe you have a lot of craft and hobby bargain books, offer a 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee, and also have a loyalty program. Make sure these important points are mentioned several times on multiple pages throughout your site content. Search engines love new content, and new content boosts your rankings. Consider having a blog section on your site where you write a weekly article on some aspect of your business that your customers will find interesting. Customers will benefit from it and so will your search rankings.
2. Proper Website Architecture
The second component involves making sure your site has been properly architected to enable search engines to successfully crawl your site. Crawling involves going from one page to the next, gathering information like keywords, product listings, business information, and blogs, and storing it in the index of the search engine. If your site avoids dead links (page not found errors) and properly employs site maps, HTML and XML, chances are it will index well into a search engine.
Today more than ever, having a mobile-friendly site that loads quickly is important. Mobile-friendly sites are sometimes called “responsive,” meaning their layout and content will automatically adjust itself to the device that you are viewing it on. It is estimated today that more than 50% of all Internet browsing is done from a mobile device like a phone or tablet. Make sure your site is designed and tuned to welcome all friendly visitors.
3. HTML tags
The third component we cover in this blog is HTML tags. HTML stands for “Hyper Text Markup Language” and in simple terms is used to create documents for the Internet. Naming of page titles is an essential part of HTML that is captured by search engines. Make sure each page has an HTML title that is descriptive of the content and includes keywords that will match search terms. Also embedded on each page of your website is the HTML Meta Description tag. This tag contains the page description (up to 160 characters) you see in the search results. For example when I type “book depot” in Google the Meta Description comes up as:
“Bargain Books at 75% to 90% off every title every day. New Bargain Books arriving daily with monthly specials. Over 450,000 ft2 of discount books.”
While the Meta Description tag is not broken down by the search engine for its content, it is important since the right description will often capture the attention of the intended audience.
Another HTML component for each page is Meta Keywords. This section is used to list keywords that will help tell the search engine the content of the page. Many search engines like Google no longer use these Meta Keywords because they have often been abused.
To recap, content, architecture, and HTML all play an important role in getting your business properly indexed into search engines. All three of these components are within your control on your website and can be used to give your business a considerable search advantage over your competition. While parts of SEO marketing are a bit more technical and may involve implementation by a programmer, you need to understand how this works to provide direction and appropriate content.
Stay tuned for Part Two of SEO Marketing where I will write about the other factors – those that are off your website but work in conjunction with it – that also play an important role in achieving a top-ranked listing.