3 Easy Search Engine Optimization Tips

Don’t get ignored by the search engines!

Think about the last time you searched Google for something. You got what – hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of results!

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In an instant Google will serve you up more results than McDonald’s has served hamburgers – and that’s no bull! (sorry).

And that is great if you are looking for something – lots of selection, right? But what if you have a web page and you want people to find you.

So you build a page, put it up on a web server, and wait… After a few months maybe Google will list it on page 1,000,000,001.

The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply in search engine land.

The reality is that search engines want people to find your page. Here’s how you can help them, and help potential visitors to find your site.

The three top items to help your web pages make nice with the search engines are:

  1. Page File Name
  2. Page Title
  3. Page Description

Page File Name

Your Page Filename is the actual name of the HTML file, and is the first thing that a search engine seas when it comes to your web page. Most directory-level files are named ‘index’. Your web host assumes that any file named ‘index’ is the top-level page of that directory – or the home page of the directory. So, when you type in our site – www.virtualmechanics.com, the page the web server displays is actually www.virtualmechanics.com/index.html

Page File Names for SEO

Though your home page file should be named index, what you name your other pages has a big influence on the search engines.

Lets imagine we have a fictitious company called Teas of the World. Imagine the person we want to attract to your site – lets call her Sally. Sally is getting tired of boring old orange pekoe tea and wants something more interesting. So Sally goes online and does a search.

Think about what Sally might search for. Perhaps she searches for ‘distinctive teas’. Well, if you have named your web page file ‘distinctive-teas.html’ now Google has a clue that perhaps this is a page that Sally might be interested in.

A few tips when naming your web page:

  1. give your page a name that resembles what you think someone may search for
  2. use a hyphen between words. Don’t use an empty spaces
  3. avoid capitals, numbers, and odd characters (such as &, ª, £ etc) in the file name

Page Title

Page Titles are similar to the file name in that they give search engines a clue as to what your web page is about. More so however, it also gives your potential visitor an idea what your page is about. That is because the search engine uses the Title as the main heading when it displays the search results.

If your Title is vague, or not relevant to what someone is looking for, then they will skip your page and move on to the next result.

 

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Tip: A good branding practice is to include your company name in the page title, along with what the page is about. So to bring back Sally who is looking for an interesting tea, you could name your page: ‘Teas of the World | Delicious Dandelion’. Another page might be titled ‘Teas of the World | Amazing Amazon Aroma’

Page Description

This is where you get to describe what the page is about. And like the Title, it is important not just for the search engine, but for the person looking at the search engine results. Keep your description to 160 characters or less so that the search engines do not cut it short.

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For our factitious Teas of the World‘s Dandelion Tea page, they might say:‘Delicious Dandelion Tea is a unique blend produced only by Teas of the World. Order some today!’

Tip: Make your description unique (i.e. produced only by Teas of the World). Include a Call to Action (Order Today!).

More…

To find out how to edit the page file name, Title, and Description in WebDwarfSiteSpinner and SiteSpinner Pro, see the Page Properties in the SiteSpinner Tutorials.

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Top Five Things Every Website Needs

Don’t leave these missing from your web pages.

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

How many websites do you visit without ever going back, or without ever interacting in any way?

It may be that you just ended up in the wrong place – you might have been looking for the local Fiat car dealer, but ended up on someone’s blog about foot care…

Or it could be that the site owner missed an opportunity to engage with you.

Perhaps it is not realistic for every website to get you to engage, but it should be your goal to get the maximum number of visitors to your site to do so.

So, what does your web pages need so that people are interested?

Clear Content

What is your site about? Say you are selling hand-knit scarves? Great! But if you are, make sure that visitors to your site know that as soon as they first visit.

Pictures of your scarves are good, but if I don’t know that you are selling them, I might think you are simply collecting pictures of scarves for some weird reason.

State clearly what your website is about.

Don’t leave me guessing, because I might leave without ever knowing.

If the purpose of your site is clear, who knows, I might not have been looking for a scarf, but now that I have stumbled upon our website, I might suddenly think that a scarf might be good idea as a birthday present for my mother.

Get Feedback. 

When you create a webpage, make sure you get at least two or three people to look at it, read it, and give you feedback –  preferably people who have no idea what your website is about.

I have created countless webpages that I thought were clear, but when I asked a friend or family member to read it, they pointed out all kinds of problems I did not see.

This can be somewhat discouraging – I know it can be for me – but if you let the discouragement pass, and come back to it, armed with the feedback you have gotten you will improve and produce a better website.

Contact Information

So now that I know you knit scarves, and you sell them via your website – how do I contact you? Maybe I have some questions (my mother might be allergic to cotton, and only prefer lama wool scarves – do you sell them?).

I might want to contact you because I don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you yet.

Have an easy way to contact you on every page of your website.

Have a link at some prominent place on every page that says ‘Contact’ that leads to a page with an email form, an address,  or even a phone number.

Tip: Remember, don’t put your email address directly on your website as plain text. Spam robots troll the web looking for them. As a test I put an email address on a webpage and within two hours I started to receive spam to that email address.

Customer Reviews

Your happy customers are your best sales referrals. People want to know that other people have, and like your product or service.

Remember, if there are two restaurants across from each other and one is empty and one is full, which one are you going to be most interested in? I would go for the one with the people in it.

It is the same with customer reviews on your website. Posting reviews from customers adds credibility to your website.

Of course, these have to be real reviews and can’t simply be made up. But I don’t have to tell you that…

How do you get reviews? 

If you don’t have any reviews the best way to get them is to ask for them. You know who your biggest fans are. Ask them. Generally, happy customers are more than willing to say something nice if you ask them politely.

Perhaps I saw a review that said “I gave this scarf to my mother for her birthday and she loved it. I sure am glad I bought it…”. Now I am almost sold.

Newsletter Sign Up

If you have a website, you should be collecting email address.

Anyone who is willing to give you their email address is saying ‘I am interested in your product or service’, or whatever your website is about.

Lets say I am interested in a scarf for my mother, but her birthday is still six months away. Once I leave your website there is a good chance I will forget about it.

However, if you send an email with your new, fall collection of lama wool scarves, it will remind me that my mother’s birthday is coming up.

Go Social

Just as reviews give your website credibility, a referral from a friend is even more powerful.

If you are sending out a newsletter, encourage your subscriber to forward it to a friend.

If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, encourage visitors to your web page to Like your page. Whatever you can do to get others to spread the word about your website will benefit it.

Finally

You can do all the search engine optimization in the world, spend a fortune on advertising your website, but it is wasted if those visitors gag and leave.

As a final thought, be sure to keep your website up to date. The search engines love new content, and so do your visitors.

Your Turn

What is the most important thing every website needs. I would love to hear what you think. Share your opinion on Facebook.

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing?

You hear a lot about digital marketing these days. But what does that mean?

 

 

Woman working on SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

Woman designing her website with SiteSpinner Pro. Photo courtesy of iStock.

 

Very simply, digital marketing means to market a product or service by digital means. OK, that is a bit obvious.

More specifically, it means marketing a product or a service on the Internet.

The medium has changed and matured quite a bit since I first became involved with Digital Marketing back in the 90’s. Today, digital marketing includes, but is not limited to:

Websites
Email Marketing
Blogging
Social Media
Paid Advertisements

Websites

Your primary Digital Marketing vehicle is your Website. This your home base. It is where you tell people about what you do or what you sell. The first websites I built were basically digital brochures. Though that is not a bad starting point, they can now be so much more.

Email Marketing

Email is still the best means to keep in touch with your customers or clients. If you have someone’s email address, then (hopefully) they have given you permission to keep in touch with them. And you should be taking advantage of that opportunity.

Blogging

A blog is where you gain trust. You do that through telling people who you are, talking about things that are of interest in your field, or to you. Just about anything that is either going to convey a message, to teach, or to tell a story.

Social Media

If you are going to engage with your audience, Social media is one of the most effective ways to do it. Social includes Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. For digital marketers, Social must be done right or it if can backfire. Using social channels purely for selling is a no no.

Paid Advertisements

Paid includes Google Adwords, Pay Per Click campaigns, Banner Ads, and more.

Social Media

So where do you begin when promoting your product, brand or service? A rule of thumb is that you are much better off doing a few things reasonably well, than doing a lot of things poorly.

Avinash Kaushik in his book W Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity uses the metaphor of a ladder when marketing online.

Start out with a website. And if you want it to be mobile friendly, SiteSpinner Pro is the way to go. It does not have to be spectacular. However, it should not look amateurish. Simple and clean with a clear message. And it must be SEO friendly – see the SiteSpinner WebTip on this.

Build an email list. Once you have a website up, add a means to collect email addresses (see the WebTips on this here). Sending out a regular email once a month is a good start. Schedule it so that your customers (and you) get use to the schedule. The first or third Monday of each month is a good starting point.

Start Blogging. If you have the time and the interest, start writing. This can be integrated into your website and your email schedule. Remember, the majority of people who start blogging end up stopping. So if you don’t think you have an interest or the time, then skip this. It is better to have no blog at all, than one that you can watch the tumbleweeds blow through.

Get Social. If you have all the steps above in place, dip your toes into social media. The same rule applies though, if you don’t think you can do it well, then go small.

Create a Facebook Page for your company or service. You can then add Like buttons to your website. Get your email service provider to post your emails directly to your Facebook page, or to Twitter. Create YouTube videos of your product or service. If you have the time, resources and interest, you can be creative and have fun.

Pay for it. If you have nailed all of the above (and if you have, then you are doing well) then, and only then, start thinking of paid advertising. You have all these means by which you can grow an audience organically. Don’t waste money on Paid until you have the foundation above in place.

The Internet has taken away a certain amount of innocence. These days we can all spot a fake, and our radar is up for a scam or sale’s pitch as soon as we log on. But the flip side is that online marketers have to be more honest. If you want to get something from someone, then you have to be prepared to give first. And that only makes sense.

Your turn

What do you think is the most important online channel to market on. Share your opinion Facebook.