Question: I have a website. What more do I need to do to get noticed?
Answer: Building a website is one thing, but having one that will connect with potential buyers is another. The very thing most of us do today when we are beginning the shopping journey is to search the internet. It has almost become second nature. If we want to look up some obscure fact, we search the internet. If we are looking for a burned-out bulb in a 20-year-old floor lamp, we search the internet. A recent survey reported that 80 percent of people online used a search engine to locate a product they were seeking. Every page of your website is ranked by search engine algorithms for keywords, and the higher your business is ranked the more visible you are on web searches. When posting content to the web you must keep SEO — search engine optimization — in mind. The content needs to be clear and as straightforward as possible, but for SEO purposes it needs to have words and phrases that potential customers are likely to use to search for you.
There are three words to will help define search engines, crawling, indexing and algorithms. Crawling: Search engines are constantly gathering data from billions of webpages. Crawlers are looking for new sites and dead links that don’t work anymore, so when your prospects start a search, information is ready. Indexing: After crawlers scour billions of pages, that information is indexed for key words and content to direct your search to find what you want to know. Algorithms: This is the methodology by which indexed information provide the best possible search results. The algorithms rank the words, the potential usefulness and pair’s words and phrases with webpages. The process also includes the user’s past search history and location to provide the best results.
Why does SEO matter? Websites drive traffic to your business and SEO is a tool for getting that done. If you build your website without SEO considerations, you are losing out on potential business opportunities, since the higher search results position your business, the more click-throughs you will get. Your goal should be to get as high on the search engine results as possible. To optimize your website you must prove to search engines that our website content is relevant to keywords that buyers are using.
How to boost your website’s SEO? Page title: The title of each page is the most important SEO element on your site. Use keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible. Limit your title to 60 characters. Page URL: Include keywords in your URL. It will help search engines better understand what the page’s content is about. Meta-description: Each pages meta-description should be relevant to the page’s content. Meta-description appears as the text underneath the blue clickable text in the search results. Primary headline: This is the second most important SEO element. Include keywords in the H1 tag, which is the HTML language that indicates a headline. Body content: Make sure to include keywords in the content, but without overdoing it. Make sure the content reads well and update it frequently. Image names: When putting images on your website include keywords in the file names.
For Cape Cod businesses, local search is vital. Smaller businesses look for customers from the bridges to Provincetown. When it comes to search, Wordstream in 2016 reported that 72 percent of consumers who searched on a smartphone visited a store within 5 miles of their location. So your physical location is one of the most important factors, since search engines focus on businesses near your location. Since your smartphone has a GPS feature, search engines know your current physical location. Even if you don’t have a storefront it is important to have a physical location. Use Google My Business applications to increase your physical location visibility.
Does paid search work? Although building your website using best SEO practice is important, paid search is another option to consider. This is normally termed, “pay per click,” or PPC. Businesses bid on specific keywords and have ads appear next to search results when those keywords are used. Google AdWords is one of the most popular of the paid search platforms. Businesses pay Google each time one of these paid search results is clicked and the price per click can vary based on how popular and in-demand the search keyword is. With PPC you get three main benefits: Guaranteed visibility. If you are willing to pay the price you are guaranteed to have your business show up each time the keywords or phase is searched. Flexible options: You can fine-tune your PPC. If you are specifically interested in attracting Mid-Cape customers you can make sure your site shows up anytime from Hyannis, Yarmouth, Dennis, and Harwich does a search with your keywords or phrases. Web presence beyond search engines: You can have your ads show up on other relevant websites beyond the search engine results. You can choose the sites to be more specific or narrow your targeting. But, paid search doesn’t help your SEO, it costs money and may be a turnoff to some potential customers.
— Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, certified mentor. Sourced from Small Business Guide/Marketing Fundamentals – Deluxe & SCORE Foundation. To get free and confidential advice on marketing for your small business, contact SCORE Cape Cod and the Islands at capecod.score.org, [email protected] or 508-775-4884. We go where and when you need us. If you are interested in giving back to the Cape’s small-business community, we are seeking volunteers. Contact us at [email protected] Want to give back to the small-business community by volunteering. Let us know and we’ll find an exciting role at SCORE.