Have a new website and trying to build traffic? Wondering why your site still isn’t ranked highly on Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines? SEO takes time, first of all, but most importantly, it takes effort. Simply building and launching a website won’t guarantee high rankings, in fact, it’ll probably lead to a stale site that never sees the light of day. Search engines rank websites based on perceived importance and relevance. And to search engines, importance and relevance aren’t achieved by launching your site and never using it. This article is not intended to tell you how to increase search engine ranking. It’s intended to tell you how to create an important site to your potential customers, which will in turn, lead to  better search engine rankings.

Tips for a Relevant and Highly Travelled Website

Incorporate a Blog – Blogs allow you to keep your site fresh and active, two things that search engines value very much. Not much of a writer? Just write small articles, 1-2 paragraphs, once or twice a month. Blogs give people a reason to come back to your site. Own a home improvement business? Give tips to prevent termite damage, to improve energy efficiency in your home, to keep your vinyl siding clean. These small things will give people a reason to come back to your site and even post your articles on other forums and pass them to friends through email. And guess what??? Those things are important to search engines, so they’ll start seeing you as important.

Use Your Site – I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who pay to have a website built, and then fail to use it to advertise specials, deals, and important news. If you have a website, then make sure you have a reliable way to keep it updated. That could be hiring your developer to maintain it weekly or monthly with specials and news, or it could be by having an employee make these updates. These days, it’s not difficult to manage basic elements of your site on your own, even if you do need to allow your developer to manage the more technical details.

Post Your Web Address Everywhere – A simple ad in the Yellow Pages or local paper is very limited. It’s typically a small, black and white block ad with your phone number, business logo, maybe a tag line or current special. Your website allows you to post pictures, animations, video clips, and allows your customers to interact with you directly. Make sure to include your domain name on business cards, newspaper ads, posters, high school football programs, billboards, and any other place that you advertise. You’ve spent the money to have your site built, now promote it. Let people know that it’s out there.

Build It Right – Do you have a nephew who knows how to build a website? An employee who knows a little HTML, a friend who works in IT and took a web design class in college? Don’t rely on those friends to build a website that’s built to maximize search engine results. I have written several articles on SEO, so I won’t go into those details here, however, I’ll say this. Just because your friend took a woodworking workshop at Home Depot, or your nephew took a Carpentry class in high school, you wouldn’t trust them to build your home, would you? Then don’t trust them to build your most effective marketing tool. Is this statement, in part, a plea to use a professional such as myself? Sure, but in the words of Danny Ocean, “That doesn’t mean that I’m wrong”. It’s common sense. A professional has the tools and knows techniques that an amateur does not. Take that advice into account before trying to do it yourself using a simple site builder such as Intuit, GoDaddy, or One to One. Once your site is built correctly, a good developer, (such as Laymon Designs, cough cough…) can build a site that you’re able to manage and modify on your own, however I recommend that your design is left to a professional.

Use Social Media – Use social media sites such as Twitter and the almighty Facebook. Build a business page and get your friends to interact with it. From there, it can continue to grow, and you’ll be able to get the word out to a wider customer base. And use that social media to tell people about your blog, the new products that you’ve just added to your site, to run contests, to share quick tips, and sometimes just to talk and interact. This will drive more traffic to your site, and potentially lead to more customers and clients. And the best part about social media is it’s free!!!

That brings me to the next point. I typically don’t recommend that businesses use a Facebook page as their sole web presence. While this isn’t always the case, it’s typically not a good idea, and here’s why. Search engines, like I’ve said before, rank important and relevant sites higher. A Facebook page, no matter how active, is a free page that belongs to Facebook, and is typically seen by search engines as a shortcut to a web presence, and not an official business web presence. Facebook pages also require that people have an account in order to interact with the page. Considering that there’s a growing number of people who are against Facebook due to privacy issues and negative connotations of social media, you’ll potentially be cutting out a part of your customer base. If you have an established customer base who uses Facebook, or if you’re in a small community with few competitors and search engine optimization isn’t important to you, then you may be OK, but that’s just something to keep in mind.

Take Advantage of Business Profiles – Yahoo Local, Google, Manta, Angies List, and the Better Business Bureau, as well as several other free services allow businesses to build business profiles with links to your website, contact info, and some, such as Yahoo Local and Google, even allow your customers to leave reviews, which is gold in today’s online marketplace. Of course, I’m going to tell you that I’m a good developer, and you’d be a fool to believe me without first checking independent websites to find out more about my reputation. Encourage your customers to post positive reviews to these independent websites, and then link your website to those review sites so that your  visitors will see others singing your praises. If you’re a member of your local chamber of commerce, make sure that you also post your website there, and keep them up to date on all specials, sales, and news.

Be Patient, But Be Diligent – Building an audience takes time, and more importantly, it takes work, but if you can effectively use your site and make a point to keep building your audience, your site traffic will grow. Don’t expect it to happen overnight, but it will become one of the most important tools to your business success. And when that happens, search engines will take notice.

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