When I first made the decision to leave the company where I had built my career for nearly 5 years, I laid out both a business and marketing plan to help determine how I would make my entrepreneurial journey a success. It probably comes as no surprise that as a digital marketer I put a very heavy focus on marketing tactics such as: blogging, Google AdWords and social media as ways to generate business.
While I continue to use all of these tactics to varying success, the one tactic that has stood out above all the others in the early months of my business is search engine optimization (SEO). Over the first 4 months of my business almost 37% of the traffic to my website has come via organic searches, 97% of which comes from Google (the other 3% is spread between Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo).
If even a portion of your business plans to generate sales directly or indirectly from your website, I highly recommend developing and implementing an SEO plan. If you’re completely new to SEO (or even if you’re not), here are a few do’s and don’ts to ensure your plan is on the right track.
- Develop a list of 50-150 keywords and keyphrases you feel your customers will use when searching for your business on a search engine
- Research the number of searches completed for those 50-150 keywords and keyphrases using Google’s Keyword Planner or another keyword tracking website
- Narrow your list of 50-150 keywords and keyphrases to 5-10 to use throughout your website
- Optimize the title and META description tags on each page of your website to include your keywords
- Update your website on a regular basis with fresh, unique content targeted towards your audience, this is typically done using a blog
- Hyperlink pages within your own website using keywords which you’ve used to optimize those pages (eg. Link to your “social media marketing” page using the words “social media marketing” rather than “click here”.)
- Guest blog on industry-related websites which allow you to hyperlink back to your website within the author bio
- Add too many keywords to your title and META description tags
- Go over the allotted character count for your title and META description tags, title tag maximum length is between 55-60 characters with spaces and META description tag maximum length is 155-160 characters with spaces
- Target general keywords like “bakery” or “weddings”, focus on more specific keyphrases like “cupcake and dessert bakery” or “wedding reception planner”
- Acquire too many backlinks from other websites too quickly, this is a signal to search engines that you may have received those links unnaturally
- Purchase backlinks from other websites, this is explicitly against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
- Add hidden text to your website that only search engines can see, everything you do to optimize your website should be done for the user, not the search engines
Whether you’re an entrepreneur who’s a tech geek like me or someone who has no idea how to update your website, it’s important that you include search engine optimization in your marketing plan. Familiarize yourself with websites like Search Engine Land and Moz to learn more about SEO or get started by asking yourself these 5 questions to determine if you’re site is search engine optimized.