There are almost 15 billion online searches every month. Is your website sharp enough to capture those searches that relate to your business and create potential sales?
Virtually everyone who uses a computer understands that Google, Yahoo, Bing and all the other search engines are designed to find relevant answers to the queries you make. Type in ‘Patio Barbeque’ and you will be rewarded with suppliers from all over the country. However since you may prefer not to drive hundreds of miles, perhaps a more local search would be useful. Modify the search to ‘Patio Barbeques in Bristol’, in my case, and this will return the local suppliers required.
From the opposite perspective if you run a business selling barbeques how will your website capture my search and entice me into your store. OK, that’s an easy one – by having a great website and being ranked first on page one.
You’re not there? Find out how you can apply a sharpening stone to your business website, generate traffic, website rank and sales.
- The search engine quest
- Key words and phrases for my business
- The tools you will need
- Tens, hundreds or thousands?
- The competition
1 – The Search Engine Quest
A search engine’s job for life is to supply accurate and appropriate answers to people’s questions. For example ask Google how many centimeters in a foot and 30.48 comes back instantly. Search engine companies spend huge sums perfecting the process of matching queries with answers. If you want to figure in their answers you have to help them, read on to see how.
2 – Keywords and Phrases for my Business
Researching and establishing the right key words and phrases for your business is really the first thing to be done even before you build a website and will save a lot of work later on. However its fair to say that most site owners approach this after their site has been constructed. It is a threefold process: 1. research relevant key words, 2. identify the amount of search traffic they generate, 3. determine the strength of the competition. This will be time consuming but worth it when done properly. You often see advertisements from companies asserting that they will get you on page one instantly, however, more often than not, if you probe deeper you will find these listings of little or no value simply because no-one is actually using those terms. The first two tasks therefore are to find key phrases that relate to your business AND potential customers who are using that term, the third is to analyse just how strong the competition is for those key words. For example, if you run a small book shop and want to rank for the phrase ‘books and novels’, you’ll find your competitors for page one are Amazon and nine other massive organisations all of whom have thousands of pages on their website, millions of backlinks and mostly page rank 5 and above. Forget it, you’re not going to get past them! The trick therefore is to find key phrases that, to go back to my restaurant theme, are little back street gems. They relate to your business but perhaps in a more niche area, and Amazon is nowhere in sight. The Google Adwords key word research tool is ideal for this task.
3 – The Tools needed to help Search Engines to find You
When a search engine looks for an answer to a query, it goes through the billions of pages in its databases looking for matches and those that it finds are graded in order of importance. Of course we would all like to know exactly how that grading process works and needless to say they aren’t going to tell us! So common sense is probably the best measure here – if you want to find a good restaurant what do you do? Ask your friends, look for a recommendation in a local publication, see how many stars it has, is it busy, does it look inviting. If a restaurant passes all these tests you walk in. Although the methods and algorithms are incredibly complex this is pretty much what a search engine does to determine whether a site is worth recommending. So apply these principles to your webpages; is the page relevant to the search, ie does it contain the search term in all the right places; does it have interesting and unique content; is it easy to navigate and are related topics all linked and easy to find; do other people find the website’s content valuable and interesting and have shown this by linking to it.
These are the basic building blocks of well optimised, professional web pages and Applause can provide help and advice for anyone who needs more information on how to achieve this, but here I want to concentrate on how to determine what those key phrases should be in the first place and how they affect your web strategy.
4 – Tens, Hundreds and Thousands
So to summarise, the essence of keyword and phrase selection is to work hard on finding those still relevant to your business with hundreds or thousands of searches per month but with less then ten large competitors. Remember, do not be disheartened if there are a number of insurpassable competitors on page one; like the joke about the two missionaries who come face to face with a lion, when one puts on his running shoes, the other exclaims ‘ you’ll never outrun that lion’ to which he replies ‘no, I just have to outrun you!’
5 – The Competition
So you have identified the key phrase search terms that you want to target, now you need to assess the competition. To do this you need to consider the key metrics search engines use to determine the importance of a website and compare your competitors’ to your own.
- Age of website
- Page rank
- Amount, relevance and uniqueness of content
- Presence of key words in domain, title, description, meta tags, head and content of the web page
- Links within the website
- External links
- Links to recognised web directories such as DMOZ
Take each key phrase, if you find the competition is too strong move to another until you find competitors who are within range. Do not spend months optimising your website for a key phrase where you have little prospect of surpassing the competition.
A valuable tool for this analysis is Market Samurai or the SEOMoz toolset amongst other alternatives.
6 – Winning
Finding and competing for the right key phrases is critical. Even if many hours of work moved your site from position 100 to position 20 for a given phrase it might look, and is, a huge achievment but it is unlikely to generate any return for the investment of time and energy. Spend your time building site performance in less competitive areas, once you have successfully built page one status, traffic will increase and generate links. As the relevance of your site builds so will page rank and soon you will be able to compete at a higher level, taking on the competitors who, at the outset, were considered to be out of reach.
I hope reading this article will give an insight into what you need to do to give your website a competitive razor edge. Applause is an small independent business specialising in digital media and marketing. If you would like help or advice on any of the aspects of the above article please call 0117 933 4416 or browse these web pages for more information.