Step One: How to Optimize Your Site
This is a multi-part series written by Lee Schneider about how to be found online using social SEO.
You want your site to be indexed by Google, Bing and other bots. The reason is simple: when people search for the name of your business, your business comes up, and even more importantly, when people search for the market category you're in ('eco-friendly dry cleaners in Jackson Hole') your business comes up at the top of results. Optimizing your sites for search engines is making them machine friendly. But that's only part of the puzzle, because people are your customers and clients, not computers. (Unless you're living in an advanced civilization somewhere, in which case I suggest you just get on your jet pack and fly away now.)
People find what they want online by using search engines, but they also go by recommendations. If they don't have a friend to give them advice, they turn to online proxies, like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Google. Activity online like posts, conversation and comments will change rankings. People are calling this conversational approach Social SEO. Let's start with the simple things you need to have going on for your site to be found, then we'll move on to some deeper social SEO techniques.
If you have Google Analytics installed on your site you'll be able to see how people are finding you. You'll see the keywords they use in search, where they come from, and what pages they like the best. (If you don't have Analytics installed, get someone like me to install it for you.) You'll want to look at the key phrases people use who successfully find your site. These words and phrases form a path to your business online. Open up Google's Keyword Tool (Google it) and type in some phrases and words you think people would use to find your business online. If there are a lot of searches for your keywords, that's okay, but it means there will be a lot of competition.
If they are just a few searches it means that your search term is obscure. You want to find the sweet spot for your key words, and yes, there is an art and science to this. For example, there are more than a million searches a month for the word poodle, which is a lot, but 74,000 searches monthly for miniature poodles. If you have some miniature poodles you need the world to know about, you'd have a good chance of your audience finding you. If you use the keyword poodle, you'll get (ideally) a million lookers, but only 74,000 of them actually will want what you have. Focus is important. In fact, Nick Stamoulis pointed out in the comments below that we can take things further and include grooming supplies, breeder, or other keywords to get as specific as we can. "It might cut down on the number of people actually searching for your site, but they will be a much more targeted audience," he commented.
You want to be sure your finely-tuned key words appear in your site title, url, and description. If you're on WordPress, there are plugins that do this for you. If not, you'll need your web developer to be sure they are in there.
Next, list your site with these free services.
- AllTop.com (if you have a blog)
- ProfNetConnect.com (if you give interviews or do speaking gigs)
Then, if you want to attract local business, and especially if you have an office location or place of business, register with these local listing services.
- Yahoo Local
- Google Places
Take these first steps and you'll see a short-term spike in traffic on your site. If you want more people to discover your site over the long term, you'll deep some deeper engagement. That's covered in the next blog: How to take your social conversations online with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and Pinterest.
What are your thoughts about attracting visitors to your site?