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When you are launching a new business in the 21st century, the single most important aspect of getting people to know about it is your website. All other pieces of the marketing portfolio pale in comparison. In the mind of many consumers, if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.
So, if your website is so important for getting people to know about your business, the question inevitably becomes, “How do you get people to know about your website?” As I’m sure you aware, that’s exactly what SEO (search engine optimization) does. SEO is all about structuring your website in such a way that people will find it when they search for things on the web.
Before you launch your business and build your website, there are a few things you might want to know about SEO that can help people find your website more easily and be more satisfied when they get there.
1. Create content for human beings. In the early days of the web, before search engines became more sophisticated, “keyword stuffing” was a common practice. Many websites would simply stuff as many keywords as they could on their web pages in order to get people to their websites. The content wouldn’t answer questions and, often, wouldn’t even make sense, but it brought in traffic. Now, search engines have gotten better and are increasingly more concerned with the user experience. Don’t think of your SEO activities as “search engine” optimization so much as you do “human optimization.” Make sure it’s easy for people to understand and interact with your content when they get to your website. People buy your stuff. Robots don’t.
2. Answer questions. In a similar vein as above, you want to make sure that your website answers the questions that your keywords are promising. Never try to bait visitors with a question that you do not answer. If you use, “How much does CRM cost for real estate agents,” as your keyword phrase, talk about your pricing on the page to which it leads. If visitors go to your website and do not find what they are looking for–what you promised them–they will leave. Most searches online are questions. Answer those questions and you will get traffic that matters.
3. Focus on building quality links. One part of SEO is on-site optimization–how you build the content and structure of your website (keywords, proper HTML tags, etc.). The other part is off-site optimization–getting other reputable and relevant websites to link to your website. When other websites place links to your website on their websites, search engines view your website as more credible. For a long time, SEO strategists focused on building a high quantity of links to websites. Now, what’s really important is the quality of the link. Rather than blindly trying to get just anyone and everyone to link to your website, build relationships (online and offline) with other reputable people, business, and organizations that are relevant to your line of work. Build relationships and the links will follow.
4. Focus on specific keywords. If you’re a donut shop, “The Best Donuts” is no longer going to cut it as a keyword phrase. You want to be as narrow and specific as possible with who you are targeting. There is too much competition for generic keywords and, besides, there is a greater possibility of attracting the right person when you use specific keywords. Instead of “the best donuts,” try “the best glazed gluten-free donuts for sale in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.” Be a master of the preposition (for, in, of, at, etc.). Ask yourself questions about your product and answer them in your keyword phrase. Be as specific as possible.
5. Capitalize on Meta Descriptions. The meta descriptions are the descriptions that show up beneath the web page title on an SERP (search engine results page). It’s the text that searchers read immediately after the title of the web page. Your meta descriptions should always be used to tell the searcher what your web page is about and to spark their curiosity about learning more. Most websites ignore their meta descriptions and searchers see a random snippet pulled from the text of websites. Make sure you take control of your meta descriptions.
6. Use social media as lead sources; not destinations. For most businesses, it is a great idea to have a presence on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and so on serve as external communities from which you can draw website visitors. The major problem businesses encounter is trying to build their social media platforms as ends rather than means. You always want people to come to your website, never away from it. It’s okay to put “tabs” or “buttons” on your website to let visitors know you are on Facebook, but don’t go overboard with it. Always be sure that you are using social media platforms to drive traffic to your website and not vice versa.
7. Optimize landing pages for conversion. You can do everything else correctly but if you forget about your CRO (conversion rate optimization), it’s all for naught. In the end, why do you want people to come to your website? It isn’t to answer their questions. It isn’t even to get more page views. It’s to sell your products. Don’t lose sight of the end-goal. You want to get a customer. Make sure that, whatever page your web visitors land on when they enter your site (many times, it will be your home page), you have a call to action. Tell your visitors what you want them to do. Have a contact form. Have a phone number. Have a “Buy now” button. Don’t let your visitors leave without being presented with the option of taking your business relationship to a deeper level.
There is undoubtedly much more to learn about search engine optimization and the field is ever-changing. But these principles should give you a primer for getting started. Your website is the digital front door of your business. Before launching, make sure you know how to drive traffic to it. If you do it right, you may have customers lining up before you are even ready to sell anything.