Let’s do the maths on being visible online.
1. Google has 91% market share of all UK online searches, and 89% share of global searches. By anyone’s definition that is a monopoly position
2. The top 5 organic results of Google’s search engine results page (or SERP) secure a total of 83% of clicks. The top 5 positions, according to one survey, gained: 53%, 15%, 9%, 6% and 4% of click-throughs. It pays massively to be the number 1 organic search result
3. Google uses over 200 factors to rank your website. Google will not reveal these factors or their relative importance as they change their algorithms over 500 times per year. Having said that, Google does publish various Guides and has some great online tools, of which many SMEs simply do not take advantage. Google Analytics is a must as are their Keyword and Webmaster Tools.
4. Typically, large businesses have a classy, up-to-date website design, the latest interfaces and a dedicated, internal team armed with a significant budget. SMEs don’t!
Bottom line….unless you operate in a highly niche area the typical SME is unlikely to get to Page 1 of Google naturally. So what to do ? Give up? No, put these 5 basics in place regarding website design and in the next blog we’ll consider how to use paid search, in a cost effective manner to help achieve your visibility goals.
5 Basic Steps to Online Visibility
- Design and build your site for humans but with search engines (i.e. Google) in mind. Ensure a coherent flow, intuitive structure and hierarchy with well-designed pages that load quickly and relevant content which is updated regularly. Make it easy to navigate with fresh, useful content and people will stay and may even return. Remember that users now are equally active on tablets and mobiles so design for those formats too where appropriate.
- Understand how your potential customers might look for your product or service and develop a keyword strategy to suit. Learn how to use the Google Keyword tool and build a list of relevant keywords for your business. The tool also gives tremendous insight into alternatives that you may never have considered. It’s often a surprise to know that your “pet phrase” (i.e. solution provider) is simply not used as a search term by people outside your company. Take some time to research competitive sites (using right click>view page source) and look at what companies appear in searches for various potential keywords.
- Do the basics of On-Page Optimisation which will include:
Keywords should generally be placed near the top of the page and at the beginning of paragraphs. Avoid keyword/synonym stuffing and ignore the Keyword Meta tag.
Title, Meta Tags & Alt Tags
Take advantage of the number of characters shown in the Title (70) and Meta (156) tags, adjusting them for each page as they also show up in the SERP (search engine results page) ranking. Images and videos are really helpful too, so include good titles and “alt tags” for every image.
Set up your URLs, and link anchor text for that matter, in a logical way to give the user an idea of what to expect from the content of the page. The URL www.mydomain.co.uk/index.php?12345/ is not as useful as http://www.mydomain.co.uk/plumber-brighton/
4. Do the basics of Off-Page Optimisation which will include promotion to search engines and directories; building back-links from relevant, quality sites; developing a presence on social media channels, providing useful content through blog commentary, article submission, technical papers, infographics and instructor videos.
While you may think these 5 basic steps to online visibility are too complex, or simply an extravagance, remember that online search is the first response of a B2B prospect. Remember, your competitors may be way ahead of you and increasing their digital lead.
You would never consider retaining a featureless telephone system or an antiquated I.T. infrastructure. Your business deserves a good chance of being found online. Now is the time to devote resources and budget to make it happen.