If visibility is a concern the search engines are certainly a very important channel, but with 14 Penguin and Panda algorithm updates in 2012 Google (alone) has made a statement. It’s got competition everywhere for our eyeballs and it’s cracking down on ranking anything BUT quality content. And think about that… their advertising business doesn’t work unless we keep coming back. Why would we come back if the search results were ranked poorly?
If, for any reason, you haven’t invested in your own content quality … start now! If you have a good product or service then everything you do is marketing! In a disintermediated (What Is Disintermediation?) world there are no barriers to entry! Leveraging a web presence across many different channels is the key. Short sighted SEO tactics won’t do: it’s time to build a web presence the right way.
The goal is always traffic, leads and new business… so consider this the list you need in order to be successful 2013!
- Audience: What, exactly, is your target market? What do they want? Who is likely to become a client? Who do you want to be your ‘brand advocate’? Knowing this sets all the rest in motion!
- Website Design: Every visual opportunity with a visitor counts so your site’s design matters. A visitors ability to navigate your site’s content matters. A site’s markup for search engine spiders matters. Professional copy matters. Assume people are visually stimulated AND navigation-ally challenged. Does it load fast? Is it armed with ‘call to action’ everywhere? Static websites are virtually useless, we all need ‘content management systems’ and blogs. We need sites that evolve because the web isn’t waiting around for us to catch up. Value your website because if you blow it here, you’re not going to do well. Period!
- Lead Capture: Where have you planned ‘lead capture’ in your design? Subscription to a blog, noted below, is one way. Registration for an instructional e- book or white paper is another. Something you can offer FREE is a big draw. What ‘call to action’ can you offer people that enables you to move another step toward selling someone something?
- Keyword Research: It’s free, accessible information about what keywords people search. And keyword research is not only for blogging, but your entire site, it’s pages and it’s meta tags. And not all searching is in Google either! Social networks offer keyword search too! In order to leverage keywords in the most productive way possible, so your next client can find you, you need to do your keyword research!
- Content: As stated, if you have a good product or service then everything you do is marketing! So get in the habit of writing or blogging about it AND do it for the benefit of your clients. Stop and take time to plan what you will write about. How many ideas for unique and original content can you plan in one half hour? What do you offer; why is it better; what stories can you share; what questions do people ask … and do you answer; what do you know AND how do you add value for clients? Get inspired, write and people are going to start finding you!
- Social Networking: Leveraging social networks to reinforce your brand socially is a good idea. Being consistent with content & design helps and using those accounts to drive connections back to where you sell & capture leads the best is even better. ‘Sharing’ is equally big and potentially more viral! Search engines use the (social network) sharing of your content as a ranking signal. Not only does ‘a visitor’s share’ support search engine optimization, but it potentially exposes your content & brand to new groups of people outside existing circles. And those people can also share and than those can share … Every page and blog post should present visitors with an invitation to share!
- Invite Subscription: If you haven’t heard, people that volunteer to hear from you are highly qualified! And smart companies also understand that ‘sales’ is a series of steps. If you can stay ‘top of mind’ for when they are ‘ready to buy’ than you’re likely to get new business. Invite subscription to your blog and/ or to a newsletter, stay ‘top of mind’ and sales will come!
- Link Building: Unless a back link to your pages is given on merit, for instance never sneaky link building tactics like hiding a link behind a shallow comment, you can almost assume it is low quality. Google certainly thinks so with 14 algorithm updates mostly focused on detecting low quality links. Shoot for quality back links on their merit, maybe from a directory or a source of information on your business. If you can, vary the anchor text when possible. In other words, can the ‘Chamber Of Commerce’ link to your business in the anchor text ‘New York Home Inspection Professional’ and can the county directory use ‘Licensed NY Home Inspector’ rather than just link to your site URL? Links still matter, but … regardless of what the ‘Snake Oil SEO Sales Person’ is telling you … assume anything but quality is worthless.
- Mobile: WordPress sites are mobile friendly, but if the audience requires a different look than it’s time to think about tailoring a mobile version. Everyone has a smart phone so “are you serving their mobile needs?” A ‘responsive design ‘ may or may not be too far ahead of the curve for your market, but no matter what – it’s time to get informed.
- Analysis: ‘You cannot improve what you do not measure!’ It’s simple, the answers are in the traffic metrics. And don’t rest on how much traffic you have, look for the clues that tell how you to grow it! With information you have an edge … without it you may be passed by!
- SEO: You can’t buy SEO off the shelf. SEO is a building process and it’s a moving target. Sure those salespeople say they can “get you to the top of the search engines”, but for what? What do they know about you and what do they know about your competition? What do they know of Google’s proprietary (mostly unknown, always changing) ranking algorithm? They can’t sell or serve what’s truly needed fast, certainly not efficiently, so they make SEO sound easy. Folks, it’s never easy … it takes time; however, if you do all of the above your Search Engine and Web Optimization can both be served!