(As originally published in “Business in Vancouver“)
My clients often tell me that they could not find me when searching on Google or other search engines. Why are some websites showing on top of search engines while others are “buried” on the 100+ position on Google? How can my website improve? I heard there is a medication called “SEO.” Would you recommend it to treat my website condition?
Ivan: This is a typical case of “website invisibilitus.” So many of our business patients suffer from various forms of invisibilitus. While I am afraid that there is not one magic solution, the good news is that there is a simple six-step process that is relatively easy to follow.
Cyri: Yes. As usual, the first step is DIAGNOSIS: understanding what really is going on with your website. For this purpose, you may also want to use some of the tools described in our earlier columns on this blog. Start with checking if your website has actually ever been indexed by Google. Enter your URL in the Google search box and see if Google has listed your website at all. If not, you may want to go to the google.com/addurl page and submit your site to Google. If Google does know about your site, check your site’s “search engine saturation”, in other words how many pages of your site have been indexed by search engines (tools.seobook.com/general/sesat/). In addition, check how many sites point toward your site. This is called “link popularity” (www.linkpopularity.com).
Ivan: The above described diagnostic steps will help you understand what happened and where to put a particular emphasis in the following steps. The second step is the KEYWORD or PHRASE DECISION. Learn which keywords people use when searching the Internet by using Google’s own tool: adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal. Decide what would be the most appropriate phrase for your site. Make sure the phrase is very targeted. Don’t go too broad. For example, if you are promoting a hotel, choose “hotel Vancouver,” or even “ hotel in Vancouver downtown,” rather than just “hotel.”
Cyri: The third step we recommend is the “famous” SEO or SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION pill. It will definitely improve the “potency” of your website… Talk to your doctor about SEO. Now that you have chosen your most important phrase, make sure to put your phrase on relevant places on your home page, including the code. This is how you will tell Google what your website is really about. Repetition is the key here. In other words, use the same or very similar phrase in your website URL (if possible), as a page title (“title tag”), in the “description meta tag,” and in the “keyword description”. Also, make sure to use the same phrase as part of your copy on the home page, including the headings and sub-headings. You may need a bit of help by your designer in order to alter the code and content of your site as described above.
Ivan: The fourth step is adding the CONTENT. Add as much content on your site as possible, as long as it is relevant and related to your business. Then optimize all your other website pages by repeating steps two and three as described above.
Cyri: The fifth step is LINKING. Make sure your website is “well-connected” with other websites. This is how you get additional traffic, but also additional points in Google’s ranking. You can add free or paid links to your website by finding appropriate business directories on the Internet. You can just search for them online by entering “business directories” or “free business directories” in Google. Or you can submit your link to the Yahoo! directory – one of the first and most important directories on the Internet: https://ecom.yahoo.com/dir/submit/intro/. One additional linking strategy is to ask your business associates or strategic partners to place your website link on their own website. This can also be done in a reciprocal way, and it is usually very worth the effort.
Ivan: The sixth step is PROMOTION. Make sure to promote your site by adding sponsored ads on Google, by building your own presence in social media (Facebook, Twitter), by creating your own e-newsletter, or by promoting your site offline : on your vehicles, promotional gifts, etc. The promotion and traffic building strategies will be described in more detail in one of our next columns.
Cyri: In most cases, these steps should be enough to help you overcome you site’s invisibilitus. If, however, you want to be sure that you are not missing anything, you may want to hire an SEO professional who will follow this process but also ensure that your website does not have any other problems in your code or programming technology.
Future Management of This Condition
Cyri: We recommend to keep adding content and links to your website. Make sure your website content always stays relevant and fresh. Keep adding new ways to connect with your customers, such as RSS feeds and tweets.
Cost: Most of these steps are free, unless you hire someone else to do the job for you. The two exceptions are paid (sponsored) links, such as the one in the Yahoo! directory (US $ 299.00) and Google sponsored ads (your budget can be from several dollars to several thousands a day).
Generic Name & Alternative Medicine
Ivan: The generic name is “search engine optimization.” Alternative approaches to SEO include PPC (pay per click) ads, social media marketing, etc.
Precautions / Warnings
Cyri: Please allow at least 4-8 weeks for SEO medicine to take effect.
Cyri & Ivan’s Medication Rating:
Cyri Jones teaches entrepreneurship, project management and IT at BCIT and Capilano University and is the co-founder of ZedPress.com, a social network for learning. He blogs at 24posts.com. Ivan Surjanovic is in Capilano University’s Marketing Faculty and CEO of iPower Lab. He blogs about new business and technology trends at whereispuck.com. All Cyri and Ivan’s previous columns published in Business in Vancouver can also be found on bizpharmacy.co