Many online businesses are stuck in that field of dreams syndrome. “If you build it, they will come.” That just isn’t true. The website you’ve created is one of 1.7 billion websites estimated to be on the internet as of January 2020.
So, how do you get spectators to your field of dreams?
There are several ways to get potential customers to your web- site. The most common is word-of-mouth. This is where you tell your family and friends about your website. You might at- tend some trade shows and spread the word. You might send emails out that you have accumulated. Unless you have a lot of family and friends that want what you’re offering, this probably isn’t going to get you the results you want.
The next option is buying advertising from various sources such as Google, Facebook, and several other sources. This is generally one of the fastest and best ways to get traffic to your website. But if you are like many other business owners just getting your website up and going, you may be on a limited budget. Or may-
be you are a seasoned veteran and just want to make the best use of your online presence.
Well then, the final option I’ll mention is Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO. This simply means optimizing your website in a way that the search engines show you some love and lists you in their search engine listings.
If you’re using WordPress to build your website, there are tools such as the Yoast SEO plugin that will help you make a lot of the tweaks you will need. But what I want to share with you are a few tips that will help increase your search engine placement.
- Know Your Customers. You MUST know the words or phrases your customers will use to find your website. These are called keywords. Think of keywords as buzzwords potential website visitors will type into Google or wherever they are searching to find sites like yours.
- Implement Your Keywords. You must integrate these keywords throughout your website so that the search engine believes that your site is a relevant site for these terms. We’ll come back to how to best achieve this.
- Create a Sitemap. A sitemap is similar to a book index; it references what pages are where on your site. This step can be automated with a plugin or manually created, if needed.
- Tell the Search Engines Where Your Sitemap is. Using the webmaster tools for each of the search engines you are wanting to get listed in, you can provide the link to the above-mentioned sitemap. This will suggest they come visit your site which they will index into their listings allowing you to get more traffic.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Keywords are one area that I see many business owners stumble in. Generally, they guess at what they “think” their visitors will use to find their website, or they just don’t really know. People talk about spying on your competitors; while that is not a bad start, it is not always the best method. Maybe they’re just guessing too.
That’s kind of like a flash back to school where you “may” have peeked at your fellow students paper for the answer to a difficult question. To make it a bit easier, here are a few resources I would recommend.
The first is Google’s Keyword suggestion tool. You enter a few words you know are related and Google will give you more results they feel are similar to those words. Another resource I like to use is UberSuggest by Neil Patel. Neil’s tool is super easy to use and gives you some alternative suggestions.
Once you’ve found your keywords, start weaving them into the text of your website. What I mean by “weaving” them in is that they should make sense with your existing copy on your site and fit in naturally to enhance what is there.
For example: Thanks for visiting our website.
Could be: Thanks for visiting our website about widgets.
Or instead of saying: We offer a wide range of widgets…
You could say: We offer high performance widgets that come in a variety of materials such as ….
Sprinkling keywords throughout not only enhances the text on your page but can help increase the relevance of your content. Don’t overdo it with your keywords. This can become a blatant attempt at what is called keyword stuffing.
That would look more like, Thanks for visiting our widget website about widgets. We offer a large line of widgets that are the most widgety widgets you’ve ever seen.
So, now that we’ve talked about weaving in keywords, let’s discuss some other ways to get them incorporated in your website. Head- lines are very important to search engine ranking. Many times, you see one headline on the page, and it’s generally the page name.
If you were a search engine reviewer and you came to a website page that said “About Us” as the headline. Do you think you would judge that page as being very relevant to your widget site? You might determine that the page is about the product or company, but if yo were to use “About Wildwood Widgets,” they would know a lot more from the headline and know that you’re going to tell them about your widget company.
Just a bit of geek speak here…
The main headline should always be an H1 tag. You can see this when you are editing the text. Sub-headlines should be of less importance but should use the H2, H3, H4 and so on. Be sure to make use of headlines. Not only does it help the search engines, but it also helps the reader as they scan your page.
Another place that you should add in more keywords are your images. When adding images there are extra text fields where you can put information in. Many people just leave them blank allowing just the default field to be filled in. These boxes are generally the Alt text, Title text, Caption, and Description.
These fields help tell search engines what the image is about. The Alt text is Alternative text to display in case the image doesn’t load for some reason. Be sure to use at least three of these, if not all four. Alt, Title and Description being the most important. Again, be sure not to keyword stuff these fields. Some suggestions might be like the following.
Alt Text – Picture displaying an Oak Wood Widget
Title – Polished Oak Wood Widget
Description – Oak Wood Widget used to stabilize medi- um size doors
As you can see, we’ve fit in quite a bit more keywords than just the default.
One other area related to images is the file name itself. Many times, you might see an image named something like img- 5069-large.jpg. This is great for you if you are cataloging the images and you know what image 5069 is. But, the rest of the world (including the search engines) have no clue what that is.
When naming your images, I recommend using a naming con- vention such as polished-oak-wood-widget.jpg this tells the search engines that you have relevant images to match your copy and makes more use of keywords.
As you can see, there are many areas we don’t always think about when creating a website, but by adding even just a few of the strategies mentioned above, you will be well on your way to increasing search engine optimization and bringing in optimal perspective customers to your website.