By Sean Tambagahan, Operations Manager – Butler Web and Design
I’ve written in the past about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you are new to the phrase, I would suggest reading two of my articles: The SEO Myth, and The Magic SEO Button Fallacy. Both of those articles, along with a ton of other free resources, can be found on Butler Web and Design’s resources page here: http://butlerwebanddesign.com/resources.html.
The purpose of those articles was to expose the hidden tricks that many SEO companies try to pull on unsuspecting business owners who want higher rankings on search engines. Though I gave some practical tips on things you can do to get better search engine rankings, I never included a “checklist”. So the point of this article is to provide a checklist of things that are absolute musts if you want to get started with SEO.
- Get a Website
- Index It
- Create Content for your Site
- List It
- Promote It (friends and customers)
- Social Media
Step 1) Get a Website
I’ve spoken with clients who weren’t interested in having a website, but really wanted to have their business name and number found on Google when someone did a search for their type of business. Though this is possible by creating free business listings on Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, directories, and social media sites, it’s a lot better if you have a website that links these listings to your business. Your website, in essence, acts as a landing page. If you had business listings all over the internet, you are more likely to be found by search engines if these listings were all linked to the same website. The first step to great search engine exposure is to have a website that you can link to; even if it’s a basic site that only shows your business name and contact information.
Step 2) Index It
After your website is created, it’s important to index your site with Google. Indexing your site simply means adding your site to their database so that it shows up in the Google search results. Indexing your site enables Google’s crawlers (search programs) to find your website on the internet.
How do you index your site? Here’s a quick 4 step process:
- Go to http://google.com/webmaster
- Sign into webmaster tools using your Google account (I you don’t have a Google Account, create one)
- click the button to “Add A Site”
- Verify that you are the site owner
“Can my website be found without indexing it?” Yes, eventually Google will find your website among the billions of others out there; however indexing your site drastically speeds up this process.
Step 3) Create Content for your Site
Imagine if you went to Google to do a search for “go green products in Clovis California” and you got a bunch of results of Go-Green companies who weren’t located in Clovis California, and they didn’t have good content that you were looking for, but they were able to manipulate their site to get the top position. Now imagine if this were to happen every time you did a search on Google. It wouldn’t be very long before you realized that Google wasn’t a trusted source to give you relevant content, and you would start using a different search engine.
Google doesn’t want that to happen. That’s why it’s in their best interest to make sure that you, as a searcher, are finding the content that you want to see, when you want to see it. They are good at what they do, and they’re always changing to make sure that searchers are happy with their search results. That’s why it’s important to design your website for the searchers – not the search engines.
How do you do that? Here’s a simple 2-step process:
- Create lots of good, relevant content
- Hire a good web developer that can give you a unique design, with a good layout for your content
If you need help getting started with content creation, check out the article here.
Step 4) List your Site
After your website is created and indexed, and you now have some good content for people to look at, it’s time to start getting it out there. The first step in getting your site out there is by creating listings in various search engines and directories, and backlinking them to your site. Backlinking is simply making sure that any listings you create have your website address posted.
It’s important to know that it’s not about how many directories you are in, but what directories you are in. You don’t want to submit your site to every free directory you can find, because not all of them are good. If your site is on a bunch of directories that Google deems as spammy or as phishing scams, then you could actually get penalized with worse rankings.
Step 5) Promote your Site
After you’ve done steps 1-5, the next step is to start promoting your website. Have your friends, family and customers check out your website and give you feedback. Ask them their thoughts. How does it look? How is the content? What do you suggest? Taking visitor feedback is important because it helps you determine how helpful your site is to people who are newbees in your industry.
Start putting your web address on your business cards, brochures, signs, handouts… basically, anything that your customers and/or potential customers will see.
Direct your customers and prospects to your site for helpful resources. If they ask you “where can I find information about ________” you should be able to say “visit my website for that”. The more people visiting your site for relevant content in your industry the better. Google will start picking up on the activity, and mark your site as a helpful resource and give you better ranks.
Step 6) Social Media
Social media is the number 1 activity with the most time spent online; therefore Google and other search engines have incorporated social media presence into their algorithm. Create a Facebook page, Twitter account, or LinkedIn Profile for your company (and don’t forget to backlink).
It does take time and dedication to build a good following on social media. Consistency is the key; therefore, don’t create any social media pages unless you plan on using them. It’s pointless to have a Facebook page with no “likes” or a Twitter account with no one following you. The point of social media is to engage with your customers and prospects so that your name is always in front of them. When they have a need for your services or products, they’ll think of you first because you’re engaging with them frequently on the platform that they’re using.
That’s it! At least to start that is. There are definitely many other factors to take into consideration regarding SEO, and speaking with an SEO consultant may be helpful. Remember, SEO is not an overnight task – it’s often a slow process that takes time, consistency, and dedication, but the reward is worth it. Hopefully you have found this article helpful. If you have any questions or need assistance, feel free to give us a call.