In the ecommerce era, getting noticed online and attracting new customers can be tough – especially for firms that are starting out or don’t have a big enough budget to bring in an expert. However, rather than losing out online, taking a joined-up approach to search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) can work wonders in improving the visibility of the business online.
In particular, when used in combination with a business-wide marketing strategy, tried-and-tested Google-friendly SEO tools and techniques can all serve to improve business visibility and credibility.
1. Get smart with link building
The link building process is geared towards increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a website. A good way to do this is to create content which people want to share, such as publishing a regular blog with guest writers.
To increase their Google rankings, some firms concentrate the bulk of their link building efforts on buying backlinks from other sites. However, it’s worth noting that a natural growth trend (achieved by adding a few links each month) is not only recognisable by search engines such as Google, but will also score more highly than a sudden influx of backlinks, making it a better option.
Quality is also more important than quantity: getting a single link in a credible high-value news site, blog or even Wikipedia will be far more effective than multiple paid-for backlinks. Positioning also matters – if you can, try to ensure the link doesn’t appear in the footer or sidebar, as it won’t be as valued by Google.
One of the best types of content is an infographic, which can generate a large amount of shares and likes in social networks and backlinks with just a single post. Finally, although there is a charge to enter the site into the Yahoo Directory, it is also likely to boost brand visibility within Google search data.
2. Optimise website content
Using a keyword research tool and taking time to understand which keywords are helping boost competitor sales – and which are not – can be enormously helpful in defining keywords and relevant search query types for the business.
Once the most relevant keywords have been confirmed, the information should be used as the basis of the website’s semantic core – a kind of electronic encyclopedia. To make sure the keywords are visible and will show up in searches, try to put them in the title and the first 100 words of the article, page title, page url and description.
Where content is duplicated on the site, it’s important to tell search engines which copy is the master or ‘canonical’ copy. When Google indexes web pages it can tell when content has been duplicated, which doesn’t score well. To get around this, adding a ‘rel=canonical’ attribute to the coding of pages where content is repeated avoids the chances of being marked down.
Other tips for getting your site to stand out on Google include: making big changes to the site rather than small ones and avoiding changing the order of words in keywords if they are a phrase or longer than one word. Clarity is also key: Google divides sites by a difficulty level of easy, medium and high readability. The best score is easy.
Posting video and visual content on your website will also serve to increase its visibility, as it often gets flagged up in searches and has shown to encourage users to spend more time on the site. If you do choose to create videos, it can also be worth generating a video sitemap, as this will encourage search engines to go deeper into the site to find the video content.
3. Direct traffic your way
Promoting the business online by connecting the brand to industry experts is also a good way to increase visibility. One effective way to do this is to invite contributors to write for your blog as they will not only bring links to the site but also help increase its credibility. Rather than guessing what topics to cover, make the most of Google autosuggest by using it to uncover popular keywords and tailoring it to those terms and trends.
Bear in mind too that buying backlinks to other site and distributing content is also as important as creating it: without external links and traffic it’s unlikely that the site will attract any interest.
4. Don’t forget about social media
It’s no secret that having an active social media presence can help to increase search engine visibility. From an SEO point of view, posting content updates and links on Google+ has shown to contribute towards significantly higher Google rankings. As well as using keywords and site links in the post, avoid making it appear too corporate to potential readers by skipping direct brand references.
5. Get your brand out there
Brand mentions and links on news sites can go a long way to improve Google rankings, especially if the story is picked up by Google news. Other ways to boost business visibility include creating official pages and profiles on social media and business networking sites. Here, LinkedIn and Twitter are especially valuable. The more employees with LinkedIn profiles the better, especially when the company name is featured in the title.
In promoting the brand online, it’s also worth adding your website to Google’s Places for Business. Even if yours is an online company and not selling anything offline, this will allow your customers to see reviews about you and leave their own reviews, increasing business credibility.
Done well, adding good content to the site and promoting it externally should pay dividends. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that there are no effective ‘quick fixes’ for SEO. Rather, the most effective strategy will ensure that the combination of SEO, SEM and strong writing and web content creation form the basis of all marketing, PR and content marketing efforts.
Alexandra Tachalova is SEMrush brand manager.
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