A while back I emphasized how important is to have a company website these days (Publish Your Website Or Customers Won’t Find You). I should have added that a website not optimized for search engines is lost in the heap of a billion dead websites. Unless someone searches for your company by name, it won’t show up in the first few pages of any search results.
Search engines are programmed to rank websites based on their popularity and relevancy. These are subjective elements, but there are specifics that even a computer program can evaluate to set your ranking, and thus determine whether your site is alive and a good match to a specific search request. Yet recent research indicates that almost half of small business websites are still missing these basics, and thus are essentially dead to the search world.
The solution is keeping your site alive and vital, and following basic search engine optimization (SEO) suggestions. Here are some high-value elements you need, if you hope to see your company on any page of results for relevant user queries:
- Relevant and constantly updated content. Web sites that haven’t been updated in the last couple of years can’t possibly be alive. These days, the best way to provide fresh content is to attach your blog to the website, and add new entries at least a couple of times a month.
- Create inbound and outbound links. Contact related web sites that are well known, to request reciprocal links. Another way to get inbound links is review other site blogs, and leave your comments with your link. Register your business in relevant directories, and sign up in all local directories. Make sure you have no dead links on your own site.
- Web page title tags. You need to name every page of your web site, and these names must contain your important search keywords. Check every page of your web site to make sure a title is predominantly displayed as the first line of a search result. Missing and meaningless tags will cause your site to be ignored by users, even if found.
- Web site keyword tags and description. These are elements, normally added by your website designer, which contain one or two sentences that briefly explain to the search engine what each web page is about. These same tags and keywords should be used liberally in each page text to give that page a higher ranking.
- Image attributes and sub-folder names. Search engines process every word on your web site, even optional internal names assigned to images (alt tag) and folders. Thus even internal names of website elements must be properly named (eliminate computer generated text) to amplify your search position.
- Reduce page load time. Eliminate flashy ads that delay entry to your site. Search engine spiders (also known as bots) take into consideration the page’s size in kilobytes. Web pages that take a long time to load will discourage search engines and human viewers alike. The usual culprit is a picture or graphic that is larger than 20 kilobytes.
Completion of these tasks is not the full SEO job, but will keep your company out of the Internet dead zone. You can contract an SEO specialist at this level for a couple of thousand dollars, or you can do the work in-house, if someone on your team has some basic tools and web maintenance skills. SEO does not have to be a major expense.
Another alternative is to buy your way out of the zone with Search Engine Marketing (SEM). If you give Google enough money, their search engine will put you up as a preferred provider for any search keyword you buy. That may be a quick fix, but will definitely be more costly in the long run.
But the cost of doing nothing is even greater. Websites that look like the walking dead to Google search, work like no website, which means that your business will suffer. Work on a good website is never done, but there is no time like the present to wake up and get started.