Show me that Sweet SEO

You just launched your new website!  So the first thing you do is Google it to see if it comes up on the search page… and it’s not there.

Why is this happening?

  • The site is too new and search engine crawlers haven’t crawled it yet. This just takes time– several weeks to a couple months has been my experience.
  • You don’t have any inbound links to your site.  Links from the outside world give you legitimacy, and create paths for traffic to get to your site.
  • Did you or your developer block bots from crawling your site while it was half-finished?  If you made this change, make sure you open your site back up to bots when you go live! [ Dashboard > Settings > Reading > Search Engine Visibility (enable) ]

What to do:

  • Add your URL to all of your directory listings, professional listings, social media sites. The more links you have on independent sites, the better. You can even politely ask if your colleagues and vendors or other professional contacts can list you on their sites, if it’s relevant.
  • Claim your listings. Create your Google Business Page, Yelp page, LinkedIn company listing, Facebook Business Page, and any other listing you can think of. Fill out your profiles completely. If you don’t check in on those pages often, make sure you receive notifications when people interact with your page so you can respond quickly to questions, reviews, and comments.
  • Content is king! What does this mean?  Keywords should be inherent in your content. The more rich, engaging, relevant, and concise your words are, the better.
  • Create and share new content regularly. Blog articles, vlogs, podcasts, tutorials, Q & A sessions, a newsletter, or anything that drives traffic to your site will increase inbound links and boost your relevance.  Post these on your website first, and then use your social network to direct people to it.
  • Outsource!  If you’re too busy or just not motivated to create content yourself, absolutely hire someone to make it happen. This could be a staff member who can update and maintain your web presence and respond to customers, or it may be a marketing firm that can help you develop and maintain a voice, a strategy, and a publishing schedule.

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t get fooled by unsolicited marketing email promises to boost your ranking for a price. If you are really ready to spend money on web traffic, hire a legitimate marketing firm to help create quality content and cultivate your network.
  • Don’t spend all your time loading meta keywords into headers and hidden blocks of text on your page.  Keywords are still a thing, but how they are used has changed. Google contextualizes complex search phrases into simple directives– so putting your keywords into the appropriate context on the page will help you get accurate results.

Where to use keywords:

  • Post Titles: Your post title should include important keywords first. Example: “Keywords: Using Important Search Terms Early and Often!”
  • First Paragraph: Get to the point and use the most powerful keywords in the first sentence.
  • URL: In WordPress, you can set your permalinks to use the post title in the URL, like this one: http://colleenmathis.com/seo_best_practices
  • Image Alt Text: Every time you upload an image to accompany a post, put a concise description in the Alt Text field. (You don’t need to do this for background or decorative images– that actually interferes with accessibility.
  • Meta Description: Meta keywords aren’t crucial, but the meta description is the text that appears with your link in search results.  Make sure you have a clear, engaging introduction sentence using crucial keywords from the beginning. This makes you look approachable on the search page.

Realistic Expectations

Ultimately, if you simply have a brochure site, and you are fully uninterested in making digital relationships, your site is just going to be informational for those who already know your name. They’ll see the URL on your business card or email signature or get a referral from a friend, and they’ll visit before they make contact. In this case, your website should make them feel welcome, reflect your brand or mission, educate them on what you do and what it’s worth, and give them a clear path to hiring you or buying your products.