"Following on from my article "What is SEO and why businesses need to tune in?", once again I'm pitching this article to business or website owners who have a very limited knowledge of this subject in order to improve their online marketing. I'm not going to baffle you or presume you have any preconception of what's being discussed." Carl
"Hang up the jacket. Take it down. Put it on."
Maintaining a website can be a time consuming and soul destroying task for business owners. Many small business owners I've spoken to, quickly become disillusioned with the whole concept of online marketing.
Why? Well usually because -
- there isn't a quick fix
- there's no visible and significant change to their search engine status.
- business owners lack the time or inclination to keep a website up-to-date.
- there's no suitable staff available to update the website.
- there's no priority to improve the business website.
- there's no revenue available to work on the website.
- And most importantly - there's no obvious signs that it brought in new customers.
So what's the point?
Businesses who developed a website did so initially to promote their business. They recognised the advertising potential for their products or services online, so spent money on this. What they didn't consider was keeping the website active. Even if they did they quickly tired of it. They forgot the original purpose because they saw little reward.
What business owners rarely do is maintain and promote their website, thus rendering it - invisible.
The main reason your business has a website is so customers have a visual access to your wares and to attract new business. This is your showcase. Paying for a website, writing the content, overloading it with keywords and then forgetting about it is futile. Nay - damaging!
And consider this. Unintentionally, hanging your business out to dry in the depths of the internet wilderness can harm your business more than not having a website at all!
Nothing turns off online consumers more than an out-of-date website.
Consider your own behaviour and attitude when trawling the internet. When you're searching - particularly for locally supplied produce, or for specialist or bespoke services - how long do you remain on a website that's -
- visually barren
- has broken links
- is woefully out-of-date
- is badly written
- is crammed with the same words
- showing content irrelevant to that page
- or is grammatically poor?
How likely are you going to purchase from that company? It makes you wonder if the owner even read through the work representative of their company.
If your website content is poorly thought out, it informs the consumer that this is how you conduct your business. Your authority over what you do or what you're selling is questionable.
Business is a contract of trust. If your website has been neglected, badly written or inappropriately represented how can you expect potential customers to trust in your services?
Customers want to be wowed. They want a shop window that'll encourage them to walk in and look around.
Writing IS the first lesson in SEO.
Okay that's over 500 words and not a word about SEO? So what's going on here?!!
Well what you have read so far, is indicative for creating good SEO.
Whether you have an existing website or you're planning on creating your own, through template services (referred to as WYSIWYG- 'what you see is what you get' sites) or a professionally recognised web design company, your initial step to SEO should always be the same -
GOOD CONTENT (capitalised, bold and in italics because it cannot be stressed enough).
How do I write good content that affects SEO?
Before you need to concern yourself with the elements of SEO such as keywords, key phrases, meta tags, H1 and H2 titles, alt image, descriptions, social media, back-links, directories and categories etc., you must concentrate on the basics.
To achieve a good chance of a high ranking and online visibility right from the offset, it must begin with well thought out and informative content. Links, keywording and website activity is important, as is reviewing analytics and revising landing pages. But not yet!
Considering SEO elements when writing, will only harm your thought process and is like writing a book backwards. If you're not used to writing, particular for the internet, but are determined to write your own website content, my advice to you is this.
Sit down open up the notepad on your PC (or get a piece of paper and a pencil) and write about your business. No frills, no beginning, no format. Start with whatever is in your head regardless of what that topic covers. Don't worry about a start point or the ending. Find some quiet time and sit and write... and write...and write and don't stop.
Why notepad and not Microsoft Word or direct to the website?
Well, if you write on a documented word processor such as Microsoft Word, the chances are you will continually stunt your progress. You'll either keep fiddling about with formatting or checking your spelling and grammar.
Writing on a website dashboard also has the added worry of freezing or refreshing and not saving your progress. Plus one false move and you can mess up or lose everything!
Write unabated on a blank canvas. It will save you hours in editing if you leave it alone until you've finished.
Cover everything you do. Think about your topics. Depending on your business model, size and what you consider appropriate consider –
- What you do
- Where you work from
- Who your customers are
- What you produce
- Your personal experiences
- How you got into your work
- What your plans for the future are
Keep it interesting and if your business isn't technical – don’t write technically.
Research competitors similar to your business.
Go to a search engine, preferably Google* and type in 2 - 4 keywords that you would expect to find your category of business under. These are keywords you should adopt within your own content. What other keywords and content is relevant to what you do?
DO NOT COPY THEIR WORK.
Do use relevant information to provide you with your own ideas and thoughts. When you've exhausted yourself - stop.
Once you have your first draft 'copy', move it by cutting and pasting it into a processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs, etc.
Now you can edit and format in preparation for your website. Grab portions of text and marry them with other parts that seemingly belong together. Consider your directories, sub-directories and how you wish to divide up your topics. From here you should be able to develop titles (Again, get examples elsewhere if it helps).
Proof your work
Find up to three 'literate' people to proof read your work. Regardless of how good your English is you will miss errors and perspective. Remember this work will represent your business. How important is it to you? Can it be easily read and is it without error?
(There's also a useful function on Microsoft Word called the Flesch readability score. Follow this link to find it. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/test-your-document-s-readability-HP010148506.aspx. Also see my Proof Reading page.
As I continue with this series, the articles on this subject will progress. I will move onto tips, tricks and techniques and much more advanced SEO that'll help you rise up the search engine ranking system. In the meantime -
- Bear this in mind
- SERP (Search Engine Ranking Performance) dominance is not achieved overnight. In fact, you must accept that certain keywords used to achieve a high search engine ranking can take months to achieve. Being No.1 or even on page one is not guaranteed or always achieved.
- Google has made it markedly more difficult to rank highly, as they're focussing more on revenue through Adsense when populating top ranking than traffic and keywords.
- Traffic could be misdirected onto your site and therefore not there to "do business" with you.
- Your ranking is not the only reason for having an active and attractive website.
- Your goal should be an informative and readable website to assist existing and new customers, to enhance your reputation and to fulfil your own sense of achievement.
For more tips on writing try this blog: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/how-to-start-writing-when-you-dont-feel-like-it/