Posted: Wed 10th Apr 2013
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the process by which you can improve rankings for your website in the top search engines such as Google, so that your site appears on the first few pages of results rather than page 75! Google uses software known as 'spiders' to crawl the web on a regular basis and find sites to add to its index. There are steps you can take to make it easier for the spiders to find and add your site.
Provide high-quality, text-based content on your pages - especially your homepage. If your homepage has useful information and good quality, relevant text, it's more likely to be picked up by the search engine spiders. Beyond the homepage, write pages that clearly describe your topic/service/product. Think about the keywords users would type to find your pages and include them on the site.
Identify influential bloggers and sites in your trade/industry, contact them and offer to write posts. You can also improve your visibility by writing helpful comments in forums and on other people's posts.
Create a buzz by running competitions. This could be simply to win one of your products or services, and you could make it interactive by getting customers to submit something, such as photographs of how they've used your products (which you could run through Instagram using a hashtag). You could also offer other influential bloggers to run a competition on their blog, to reach out to their readership rather than just your own.
Improve the rank of your site by increasing the number of other high-quality sites that link to your pages; these are referred to as 'inbound links'. For example, if you're running a competition, go to sites that promote competitions and add yours. You can also register your site with the major search engines:
Or add your domain to local search services, such as:
A webpage's title, referred to as a 'title tag', is part of the SEO mix and can make a difference to your search rankings. It's also the text that appears in the top of the browser window. Include in your title tag your company name and the main key phrase you'd like the search engines to associate with your webpage, keeping it between 60 and 90 characters in length. Duncan Green of Moo Marketing is an SEO expert and explains: "The title tag on the homepage for Moo Marketing reads: 'Moo Marketing - Search Engine Marketing - PPC Management - Search Engine Optimisation'; as you can see, the title element is 85 characters long, contains three key phrases and identifies the subject of the webpage."
The results from your efforts in SEO will appear on the main engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) in the central column of the page as a natural or 'organic' search result. But have you spotted results on the right of the page when searching for items yourself? These are paid-for results and referred to as pay-per-click or PPC advertising. PPC is where you pay to have ads displayed when people type in certain words, in the hope it will attract more visitors to your site. Google AdWords is the most widely-used form of PPC advertising. Think of the keywords or phrases you reckon your customers will be searching for and apply them in your campaign. Link to your homepage or other pages on the site where you're running a promotion and make the most of geotargeting, which lets you target your ads to specific territories and languages. You are in full control of the budget and campaign duration.
Many small-business owners are unable to afford the advertising rates of the national glossy magazines, but you can increase brand awareness by advertising on blogs which cover your specific target market. If you make crocheted items, look to the craft blogs, or if you make soft furnishings, there are many homes and interiors blogs you could approach. Online magazines are becoming very popular. Again, many of these are niche and generally offer lower advertising rates than the glossies. These advertisements tend to link straight through to your website and as they are online they have a global readership and can potentially introduce you to an international customer base.
Make it easy for visitors to spread word of your site through social sharing. Have your site Stumbled, Dugg and Tweeted and make the most of this viral effect. You can add these social book-marking tools by visiting AddThis and choosing the icons you'd like to have displayed on your site. The most popular are:
Recently published in partnership with House Beautiful magazine, A House Beautiful Home Business by Emma Jones is the complete guide to starting a successful interiors, homewares or furniture business from home. It's available as both an eBook and a print book from the Enterprise Nation shop. Just click on 'Select options' below. [product id="67907"]