I'm a freelance graphic designer, illustrator, writer and the founder of Sand Web Design. Graphic artist at News Corp. Father and husband. Pop culture addict.
Staking your businesses own small (but very important) corner of the internet can be a difficult task. There are many avenues to consider, all that come with either a time or financial commitment, sometimes a combination of both. The get your business online and visible to a prospective consumer base, there is no single, all important step. Instead you need to make sure you have a series of elements in place, all working with one another in conjunction to take hold of your SEO market share. But what are these elements, and which of them should you direct your time and money towards in order to make your web presence bare fruit? Below are five important steps to ensure your business is web ready, and that you have a solid base on which your organic SEO can grow.
This should pretty much go without saying. Your business needs an effective website. Period. But that can be a very simple thing to say, and much harder to actually implement. What is an effective website? Again, it is a combination of many things, all forming a greater whole. A good business website should act as the definitive, online hub for that business. It should offer up tangible, solid information on your products and/or services in a way that is easy for the end user to navigate and digest. There can be no roadblocks. No dead links or unintuitive interfacing. It should work aesthetically, and represent your overall brand well. With as few superfluous words as possible, your website should establish who your business is, what it does and tell its story. It should be well optimised for SEO, and generate leads and inquiries for your naturally. It should be easy to find, and designed in such a way as to establish your business as a professional, legitimate enterprise.
The two words 'social' and 'media' can set off alarm bells for some business owners when they hear them in close proximity to one another. Social media can be an enormous time-sink. In the last five years the importance of social media to business has grown exponentially. These days many businesses have dedicated employees tasked with just running social media on a day to day basis. The good news, however, is that not every business has to dedicate quite so much time and expense towards social media.
It is important not to overlook it though. There are social media avenues available with very small barrier to entry in terms of time commitment, which run at no cost at all once established. Why not create a Facebook business page for your company? It costs nothing, it can be done in minutes, and just by its very existence on the web, and thanks to the ever important aspect of SEO called 'back-linking', having that page there can help with your overall web presence. All of those social media accounts and pages that you can create for free; they are all indexed in search results, and when you link each platform back to your main website, you are creating back-links that can boost your SEO results significantly.
Another important (and cost free) option for small business is a service that Google provides called 'Google My Business' (GMB). This one is essential, particularly for locally focused businesses. By creating a Google business listing, you can make sure that your details will appear in all kinds of Google search results, including things like Google Maps searches. The value with GMB is that it's indexing is much more locally focused, meaning they are influenced by the users location much more than standard, organic results. This means that your GMB listing is going to generate a lot more impressions for people in the proximity of your business address.
After a short and relatively painless verification process, which may rely upon Google sending you out a card containing a verification code in the mail to ensure your address is legitimate, you are able to establish your listing with vital business information such as contact details, business hours, links, photos and reviews. Updating this profile regularly is a good idea, ensuring the accuracy of your details. For many of your potential customers and clients, your GMB listing will be the first time they are presented with your information, so keeping it on point is key.
So you have your website up and running. Your designer has implemented a logical content and keyword strategy for your search engine optimisation. Everything appears to be running smoothly. Set and forget, right? Wrong! Like your least favourite primary school teacher probably told you; there is always room for improvement. Once that site is live, monitoring it's traffic and analytical data is very important. Statistics that can be sourced at zero extra cost to you can yield an amazing amount of detail in regards to your website and how users are interacting with it. With tools like Google Analytics, which can be very easily implemented into any website design, you can see incremental detail on a page by page basis.
What does that mean? It means you can see which parts of your website are working well and which parts are not. It means you can get precise information on how your visitors found your website (eg. organic searches, social media links) and how long they view each section of the site. Does your homepage have a very high bounce-rate? Maybe some adjustments need to be made. You can use Google Analytics to view keyword data, showing you just which search phrases are bringing users to your digital doorstep. This can then be used to steer future content and capitalise on these searches.
Everything is in place. You've planted your 'digital flag' in the ground. Your website is ticking along, fuelled by a healthy influx of SEO and back-links from your social media platforms. So what happens next? You need to grow from there. Capitalise on your potential customers. Use content to drive engagement. Phrases like that are repeated again and again all over the internet, but what does it actually mean? When you boil it right down to the basics, I like to put it this way; give those potential users a reason to click on your site. Establish knowledge in your given field, be it in the form of a blog or video journal. Create content relevant to your industry that has some real, tangible value. Do that, and everything that you have established will begin to work in tandem together.
The only real question your need to ask yourself is how much of your very important resources (namely time and money) are you willing to commit to pushing your web presence? For many, it simply ends with steps like those I've listed above. Once that website is there is only limited upkeep to take care of. It must be said, however, that it will not work like this for everyone. Your field or industry is a huge factor. If your working in a niche, that can be a huge advantage. It can be much easier to establish yourself as an authority in a limited field. Jumping into something more broad, however, that can be a tough fight. You're going to have to work hard to create that killer content that will drive your share of traffic in the direction you need it.
My suggestion; speak to an experienced professional. Get a designer on board and start with a plan. Talk it through, then put it into action. A well thought out content plan is your way forward.