By Barry Lee Cummings
As a business owner, the digital side of your business should be a core focus for you. If it isn’t, you are almost certainly leaving ‘money on the table’. For just about every business, B2C or B2C, from today onwards, more and more of your customers are going to expect to deal with you online. They don’t want to be bombarded though, they only want to see what you have to say when they want to see it, not when you want them to. So the idea is to be visible to your target market, only when they want to see you, and on the their preferred channel, not yours.
Seems like the power has shifted. And it has. The consumer now dictates how we as companies need to provide content. You only have to look at this in terms of online radio stations, podcasts, pausing live TV and of course sites like Netflix and Hulu. It’s the customer’s way or the highway, so to speak.
People go on line for one reason: to find free information. The go to tool for this now is Google. We can’t dismiss Bing and Yahoo, but the elephant in the room is our multi coloured, newly branded friend Google. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the long term strategy to help us make sure we are the company our customer finds at the precise moment in time they go online to ask the question we can answer.
SEO is a traffic driving activity that is designed to get your digital real estate ranking for the language (keywords and keyword phrases) that your target audience types into the search engines when they need what you offer. For the purposes of this article, we are going to break it down into it’s two component parts – on page and off page SEO – and focus on the on page activity related to your website.
If you don’t have a website, you need one. Too many companies hand business cards to me that just have a facebook.com/companyname address on them. This worries me because these businesses are building themselves in someone else’s hands. I will hazard a guess that most people reading this have never read Facebook’s T’s & C’s. If you contravene them, they shut you down (I’m on my third account, so I know how this works). If you have built everything on their platform, you just lost your business.
Your own website is so important because it should be the hub of your online presence. It’s also the only piece of your digital real estate that you actually own. Owning it means that you make the rules and are in control. As you can control it, you want more of your target audience to come and spend time there. Google can help you with this, but you have to show them that you are relevant. Relevance is the secret to success online. Relevance is talking the language of your customer and SEO can help demonstrate just how relevant you are.
From an on page perspective, there are elements of every one of your web pages you can control to help Google understand exactly what each page is about, therefore letting it know when it should show your pages in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). Below are a couple of points you should look into on every one of your web pages, not just the home page.
On Page SEO absolute basics
- Page Title – your home page shouldn’t be called home page. Use the language of your customer and build it into the title of your page. Make sure you write as a human for other humans. For example, as an SEO provider, my page title should read something like ‘Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – specialists for SME’s’ not ‘Company Name – home page’.
- Meta description – this is the snippet that shows up in the SERPs and describes your page when someone searches on Google. Another opportunity for you to include the language of your customer, as well as a call to action.
- Header (H) Tags – another chance to use the language of our customer more often in our web pages. Header tags are important because both humans and algorithms don’t read anymore. We scan. Header tags allow us to break up the text of our web pages, using keywords we want those pages to rank for. One H1 tag per page, then use H2-6 to divide the page up and highlight to both readers and spiders what the page is about.
- Robots.txt – is a public folder used by website developers to help visiting robots understand your site. Make sure it’s visible to the search spiders as this shows them what they can see and what you don’t want them to
- XML Sitemaps – sits inside your robots.txt and as the name suggests is a map of your site, allowing Google to quickly navigate it and get what it needs from you to index your site in it’s directory with the right keywords, so it knows when it should show you in Google search.
The above 5 points are your starter elements of on page SEO. There are other elements of course, and on page SEO accounts for about 30% of the total SEO activity that needs to take place to get your pages ranking in the search engines. The other 70% is off page and will be tackled in an upcoming article.
Barry Lee Cummings is a digital translator and strategist. He takes the techno speak of the digital marketing landscape and translates it into a language businesses can understand, build into a tailored strategy and execute. For more information Google ‘Barry Lee Cummings’ or head over to www.maximumnetgain.com