happy little biz

How can my site be 'found' by search engines?

In last week's post we tackled the question of SEO, and if it's really still relevant in 2015. The answer is yes, it absolutely is, but things are different now than they were 10 years ago.

The current trend with Google and other search engines is to focus on quality, authoritative content on your website. That is, websites that are user friendly and contain information of value to the people who visit them are ranking higher in searches than websites that do not.

But what does that mean for you? How do you optimize your website so people can find you?

Have a mobile-friendly website.

I've written on this topic before, but in a nutshell: Google now penalizes sites that are not optimized for small screens such as smartphones and tablets. This is for a number of reasons, but the major is that a very large percentage (more than 70%) of users are using their mobile devices to search google. So if your website isn't easy to use on a smartphone or tablet, it doesn't make sense for it to be high in the search results, right?

Have awesome, useful content.

This is a bit vague, but essentially, if your site provides great content to your users, they will return to it again and again. Additionally, they're more likely to spend time on the site, rather than clicking through for a brief moment and then moving on to a different site. Search engines such as Google track these things and it all factors in to which sites are higher up in the search results.

Create new content often.

Another thing that search engines like is sites that are updated on a regular basis. This shows your information is not just 'old news'.

However, don't forget what I said above: it is GREAT content that keeps users coming back to your site! Creating great content on a consistent basis that is useful to your users is a type of marketing called content marketing. It helps show them what you have to offer and that you are an expert in your field. This results in more people booking your services or buying your product.

Quick tips for creating great content:

  • Write in your own voice and be passionate about what you do.
  • Don't just copy others... put your own spin on things. Add new value to the topic you're writing about and people will be more inclined to read it.
  • Make sure it is well written. Even if you are a strong writer, working with an editor can go a long way to improving the quality of your content.

But what if you aren't a strong writer? That's ok! You can always hire a professional writer to help you with your content. Or, you can create a different type of content altogether: a podcast, a video, a comic strip... whatever works for your abilities and still serves your business well will work as part of your content marketing strategy.

Social media matters.

Yes, it's 2015 and twitter, Facebook, instagram and other types of social media have really taken the world by storm.

This does not mean you have to join every social media network under the sun and post and repost your content there. But it does mean that search engines do pay attention to social media (we just don't know how much it effects the page ranking results). My advice? Pick a social media network or two and use it well. Link to your content, retweet/repost other people's relevant content, and engage people in conversations (rather than just spitting out a bunch of links and never interacting with anyone. It is called social media for a reason!).

Don't forget about local listings.

Gone are the days of the yellow pages reigning supreme, but we do have lots of things that have replaced them. If your business serves a particular area, it is vital to have it listed with Google My Business. You will also find listings with reputable sites such as Yelp or with a professional association you belong to (such as the RMTAO's RMTfind for massage therapists) will help your site's search engine results in a huge way. The more reputable places your business is listed, the more likely folks will be able to find you when they search for businesses like yours.

If a reputable site is linking to your content, this will help your search engine ranking. Note I said reputable. This is not the same as the old days where spamming your link anywhere you can think would increase your ranking. Nope.

So what do I mean by this? Really, it's two types of links:

1) Guest posts on industry blogs, getting featured on a local business website, have people link you on social media, and so on.
2) Getting featured on a popular website such as news sites, Life Hacker, Product Hunt, Reddit, Slashdot... this of course relates to what you do and who your services are for, but I'm sure you see my point. If you're mentioned on a popular website, chances are your page ranking is going to improve substantially.

Old fashioned SEO.

You do still need to set up some 'coded' SEO, but really, the most important parts are:

  • Setting proper description meta tags on every page AND
  • Having good, relevant page titles

What you want to think about here is what keywords people are searching for when they look for businesses like yours. For example, lets say you run a florist shop in downtown Toronto and specialize in doing bold, artistic wedding arrangements.

So people looking for your services might be searching for:

Funky florist shop toronto
Unusual wedding flowers toronto
Fun wedding flowers toronto

And so on. I'm sure you can think of more examples.

So when setting your page titles, you might want to put something like: [Business name] - Fun Wedding Floral Arrangements - Toronto

And then when you set the description tag for your home page, you'd want to set something like: Specializing in funky, fun, and unusual wedding flower arrangements for modern brides and grooms. Located in downtown Toronto.

Follow those tips and you should be well on your way to improving your search engine ranking. Good luck! And if you have any questions, leave a comment below.

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