The Law of Attraction From my perspective, it is extremely important that small business people understand from the very beginning that the core goal of any website is to ATTRACT . Say it with me: “ attract, attract, attract .” Do NOT necessarily build a website just because the competition has one and never build one just to satisfy your ego. If you do, the only person that is guaranteed to make money from your website is the designer who created it for you. Websites should be thought of as potential internet “magnets” or “black holes” that draw in search engines and human visitors 24/7/365, from now until the “cows come home”. So how does our website become one of these internet magnets? Search Engine Optimization a.k.a SEO . Search engine optimization ( SEO ) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the "natural" or un-paid ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a website web presence. (Source: Wikipedia) Why is it important for you as a Small Business owner to understand this? Because for websites to have the best chance of attracting the right visitors, there’s alot of upfront and ongoing SEO work required and most of that work will be your responsibility . It doesn’t just happen!
Channels of Attraction In 3 words: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Paid Search Your website Viral Marketing Via social media and other methods. BLINKS Via other sites, social media, blogs, other methods. Offline To Online Advertising Online to Online Advertising Organic Search Local Search
What’s In A Name Your domain name is your websites online name. Pretty important right? It can also play an important role in helping your website rank for certain keywords and phrases which we will discuss in a couple slides. Look at some popular domain names out there: Travel ocity.com / Car Hub.com / Auto Trader.com . When you see these domain names, you have an immediate idea of what the website is about and so do the search engines because keywords are located within the domain name. You should strive for this as well. If you primarily do business locally you may want to include the name of your city as well, such as: plumbingsupplyofwichita.com or something of that nature. It not only says what you do but where you do it. Always try to think how your potential customers are going to search for you. Will they just put in “plumbing supply” and sift through every website listed from across the country or will they get “local” and search for plumbing suppliers in Wichita. If so, you’re covered. Domain Name don'ts: try to get a .com name if possible, .nets will work but I would stay away from .biz, .us etc. Additionally, I would recommend that you do NOT get a name that is hyphenated. It is simply too hard for people to remember. You want to make it as easy as possible.
Content Is More Important Than Design You’re paying your design team to design, code, publish and host your website. They “hopefully” are experts at doing this. What they are NOT experts at is the Industry you serve, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. Write your own content: You will be expected to write your own content for each page on your website and you should WANT to do this to ensure that you get your business’s message across accurately. Another benefit to writing your website’s content is to ensure you are including the most relevant “ keywords ” that search engines will key in on when people search for what you offer. The title of this slide is an important thing to remember. Content is more important than design. Remember, the number one function that we want our website to do for us is? ATTRACT! When it comes to attracting search engines (which in turn will help you attract searching customers) content is indeed king. Search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing cannot read “pictures or graphics”, and do not care what your website looks like. They read words so make your words count.
What’s in a key WORD. Let us take a look at keywords, why they are important and how to determine what keywords you should include In your websites content. Why The Are Important : The number one product that any search engine attempts to offer visitors using their search engine / (Google, Yahoo, Bing) / is the most relevant search results available based on the search word or phrase that was searched for. To do this, each search engine continuously travels to every website indexing or reading the text on the site. By utilizing proprietary algorithms‘ they determine what the site is about and stores that information. If a search term is entered that matches keywords on your site, your site is ranked against other websites and presented in the search results based on the order in which the algorithm determined your site should rank. This is known as Page Rank . Much of that determination lies in the words that are “key” to a websites makeup. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there are a lot of factors that determine where you rank, not just keywords, but keywords are a significant component and are within YOUR CONTROL . Over 80% of all online transactions begin with a keyword search. To compete, you need to target all the relevant keywords.
What’s in a key WORD. Ok, so how do we determine what keywords are important for your particular business? There are several techniques and tools available to help you. Survey Says? One very simple way is to do an email survey with several of your friends. Send them an email and ask them the following: If you were searching for the type of goods or services I offer in Google / Bing / Yahoo, what 3 search words or terms would you put in? Once you receive the emails back determine the most frequently used words or terms common to each and those need to be included. Use the Google Keyword Tool Google wants you to be successful. So much so that they have created a keyword research tool based on some parameters. You can search for keywords based on a word or phrase, and you can search for keywords based on a websites address. Both can prove very beneficial to your research. I like to search for keywords based on the website address. I put in my competitions address and Google tells me what the primary keywords are for the site. I can then incorporate some or all into my site. Pretty cool! Click here to see the Google Keyword Tool Google Insights for Search Google Insights is a powerful tool that offers features not available on most other free tools. For seasonal or fluctuating niches, you can view stats by year or a specific time period. For regional niches, you can view stats by country, state or even city. The graphical reports are great for seeing trends. One of the only downsides is that they don’t show absolute search volume but instead normalized data that is shown on a scale up to 100. Also since the data is normalized the detailed stats are limited. Click here to use Google Insights for Search
TAG – You’re It Your design team does have a responsibility to develop content that is beneficial to your site. This content is in the form of html code called “tags, elements and attributes” also known as in-site SEO . HTML is the language your computers browser interprets and displays graphically on your computer screen every time you go to a website. It is also read by search engines, so it is important for you, “Mr. & Mrs. Small Business Person” to understand what items of code have a greater impact on your search ranking potential in order to make sure your design team has written this code correctly. A lot of web designers / programmers will overlook these small but very important items out of habit, laziness or being overworked. If you know about them, you can hold your design team accountable and ensure that they will be there for search engines. Here is the list of “tags, elements and attributes” that need to be included in your site: Title Tag – Make sure your title is explicit and contains your most important keywords but is not longer than 65 words including spaces. Be sure that each page has a unique title that speaks to the content and purpose of that page . Meta keywords – Meta keywords are used to indicate the keywords that are supposedly relevant to your website's content. However, because search engine spammers have abused this tag, it provides little to no benefit to your search rankings depending on the search engine. I say better safe than sorry and suggest you have it added it to your website. Meta description – Your meta descriptions allow you to influence how your web pages are described and displayed in search results. Ideally, your meta description should contain between 70 and 160 characters. Ensure that your meta description is explicit and contains your most important keywords. Also be sure that each page has a unique meta description. Continued / next slide.
TAG – You’re It Headings Element – A heading element briefly describes the topic of the section it introduces. Heading information may be used by user agents, for example, to construct a table of contents for a document automatically. There are six levels of headings in HTML with H1 as the most important and H6 as the least. Visual browsers usually render more important headings in larger fonts than less important ones . Use your keywords in the headings. Make sure the first level <H1> includes your most important keywords. For greater SEO, only use one <H1> title per page. Alt Attribute – The alt attribute is used in HTML and XHTML documents to specify alternative text ( alt text ) that is to be shown when the element to which it is applied cannot be rendered. “What you say?” This is typically used for images on your site. Remember, search engines cannot read images so putting in an “alt tag” to describe the image helps add readable content to your site that search engines can index. It also helps visually impaired visitors or those with pictures turned off in their browsers understand what should be in the blank space where the picture is located.
BLINKING Back links (BLINKS) : Back links can arguably be the one of the most important aspects of getting a high search engine ranking for a website. What are they?: Back links are incoming links to your website or web page from another website. Inbound links were originally important (prior to the emergence of search engines) as a primary means of web navigation; today their significance lies in search engine optimization (SEO). The number of back links is one indication of the popularity or importance of that website or page (this is used by Google to determine the Page Rank of a webpage). If you take nothing away from this PowerPoint presentation, please remember the underlined sentence above. Back links are used by Google to help determine page rank. Outside of SEO, the back links of a webpage may be of significant personal, cultural or semantic interest: they indicate who is paying attention to that page. (Source: Wikipedia) Quality back links matter the most. These are links from other sites within or near your industry that have greater authority than your site does. Google places a higher emphasis on these types of links. For example: you are a local Physician with a website and you are able to ask for and receive a back link to your website from the American Medical Association website. Congratulations - that would carry more weight to Google than having a local hospital linking to your site. TIP: Try to avoid reciprocal links, i.e. I give you a link, you give me a link. Search engines, (particularly Google) algorithms can determine this and give less credibility to these types of links. They can be beneficial, just not as beneficial as one-way inbound links.
ONGOING Your website will need ongoing attention and maintenance over time. Keep content fresh and up to date as much as you can. You wouldn’t want to read yesterdays newspaper again would you? Fresh content keeps your website fresh and relevant which your visitors and search engines will like. Try to grow the amount of pages on your site. The more relevant pages on your website tends to be better. The key is “relevancy” to your business. Never ever ever stop obtaining quality back links for your website. It is an ongoing process that should never end. Frankly, it can be a pain but is well worth the effort in the long run. Make sure your domain name is renewed at the appropriate interval so that your website stays online. I can’t tell you how many times clients have had employees leave that were the “technical contact” for the domain renewal email and it was missed. Thus the domain expires and we jump through hoops re-obtaining the domain (if possible) costing the client visits to their site and fees from us.
In Summary As with most things in business and in life, knowledge, preparation and proper implementation can lead to far greater success than just “winging it”. This definitely holds true for the design, development and publishing of your website. Before you spend $1 let alone hundreds or thousands of dollars, think about what your website should do for your customers and for your business. Identify your competition within the geographic area that you will serve and dissect their website(s), keywords and page rankings for multiple search terms. Perform your online “due diligence” so that you are prepared and knowledgeable when you seek a web designer to get you online. Time Saving Tip: Create your websites potential navigation in Microsoft Word , and begin developing your keyword rich content today. There’s nothing that says you need to contact a web design firm to get started. Take the time to craft your websites content page by page and by the time you meet your web design team you will have a better understanding of the navigational layout of your website to share with your designer. To Your Success, Jess Marlow Web Design of Kansas