Improve your search results page ranking

Creating a website and learning how to manage the information on it is a worthwhile endeavour for any small business. However, no matter how good your website may be, the question still must be asked 'how are your customers and potential customers going to find it?' While traditional methods of advertising and promotion can be very effective in getting attention, these obviously cost money and for a small business with a limited marketing budget they might not be sustainable.

Attracting attention in the online environment is very different to traditional media and as such there are ways to draw eyes to your website without spending the earth (or any money at all for that matter). It's all to do with search engine optimisation - a term that will be explained in more detail shortly. Firstly though, please note that the following tips and approaches might not be suitable for all websites, but as the online world keeps expanding at a rate of knots they are worth knowing about nonetheless:

The influence of Google

Everyday millions of people looking to find information about a certain topic or item go online and 'Google it'. The monopoly Google has created over the search engine market is a remarkable phenomenon and while its ability to search millions upon millions of websites and return results in a blink of an eye that nearly always match what we are looking for is incredible, it does create a dilemma for anyone who is hoping for their website to be found. With Google only returning 10 hits per page, and with most people seldom bothering to look even at the second page of results, it's definitely not easy to be 'seen' on Google. However, by understanding how Google ranks its search results it is possible to use these rules to increase your search engine optimisation.

Search engine optimisation

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is the term given to the task of achieving a high ranking in the search results pages returned by a search engine. Importantly, SEO relates only to results returned on the main section of a search results page, not the paid or sponsored links that appear down the side or across the top of the page. Modifying or tweaking your website to achieve SEO is one way you can increase the amount of visitors to your website. Below are some tips on how to go about it.

Google has released its own starter guide for search engine optimisation on. Click here to read it.  This guide makes the important point that you need to think carefully about SEO tactics and determine whether any modifications you make to achieve SEO will compromise the experience of your customers/clients when they visit your website. 

Accurately title the pages in your website

Every website has tags which explain what information is contained on the web pages inside it. For a homepage, this is called the 'title tag'. The title tag you give your website doesn't just have to include the name of your business, it can (and should) include a few words about what your business does. This is very important because you are hoping that the words you use to tag your web pages match some of the search words people might use to find your website. For example, let's use an imaginary business 'Jim's Office Furniture' which leases and sells office furniture. This business should consider tagging the homepage of their website: Jim's Office Furniture - buy and lease office furniture. This tag would help the site's SEO for searches including 'office furniture' (as these words are mentioned twice in the tag line) 'buy office furniture' and 'lease office furniture'. In comparison, if the page was simply titled 'Jims Office Furniture' it would be disadvantaged by the fact that it doesn't include key search terms.

These rules apply not just to your homepage but all pages in your website. Create unique and accurate tags for all web pages within your site as this will tell search engines that you have numerous pages within your website, not just one.

Use links

A hugely significant factor in the way Google ranks pages is by the number of incoming links flowing to a website. To take advantage of this, you might seek to get links for your website placed on other relevant websites. Importantly, the anchor text used for these links (i.e. the actual highlighted words that you click on) should reflect relevant search terms.

Using again the example of Jim's Office Furniture, the company might try to see if it could have a link to its website (Jim's Office Furniture - buy and lease office furniture) placed on the pages of real estate agents specialising in leasing office space, or developers that build office blocks or companies that regularly deal with lots of other companies, such as recruiters. The rule is the more links that flow to your website the greater the chances your website will improve its SEO.

Use directories

Although SEO is important (as Google is far and away the search tool of choice for the majority of internet users), it is not the only way people search for companies on the internet. There are a number of business directories online (hotfrog, yellow pages, localbusinessguide,nationwide business directory of Australia,start local and Aus, to name just a few). Many of these sites will allow you to add your company's details for free, so it is definitely worth having a look and taking advantage of their ability to direct more traffic to your website.

The presence of the online world cannot be ignored by any enterprise and although many small businesses do not rely on the internet to attract customers, it is worth keeping an eye on its influences nonetheless - it is amazing how something as simple as a search results page steers eyes and money.

For more online marketing tips from Dun and Bradstreet continue reading 'pay per click advertising for small business'.

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