Getting your website on Search Engines
There’s no getting around it: we live in a digital world. And if you want your independent to be successful, you will have to create your own space in that digital world, in that part, your website should be on the search engines. Not only that, but the digital home you carve out for your business will inevitably be surrounded by millions, perhaps even tens of millions, of other online storefronts, many just like yours. So how do you make your company’s digital storefront stand out? How do you keep your independent business from being lost in the online global marketplace?
The importance of SEO
By now, most business owners wishing to take their operations fully or even partially online have heard of the importance of SEO—Search Engine Optimization. But what does that mean, exactly? SEO merely refers to the strategic use of keywords which will increase the likelihood that your company’s websites will be included among the “hits”, the results lists, potential customers receive when they search online for goods and services like those your company provides. The effective use of SEO keywords is, far and away, the most important technique for ensuring that your company website does not get lost in an ocean of online competitors.
However, making the most of SEO keywords is not always easy. It requires careful planning, a strong sense of who the target customer is, and a clear idea of what that customer is looking for. The first things to consider, then, are the SEO keywords you will need to use on your website to ensure that the web’s most important search engines, such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo!, find your business when scanning billions of pages of digital content posted on the World Wide Web.
A helpful first step is to conduct a bit of good old-fashioned competitor research. Go online and explore the websites of local, national, and international competitors. Are there any particular words or phrases that keep recurring? If so, it’s a good bet those are SEO keywords that will benefit your website as well.
A similar strategy is to do an online search for the types of products and services your company offers. This will enable you to identify diverse ways of describing your company catalog, thereby expanding the all-important SEO keyword list that will help make your website become a search engine magnet.
Know your target audience
Perhaps the most important technique for turning your website into an irresistible beacon to draw internet traffic your way is to know your target audience. How are they? What do they want? What do they expect and require? And what language are they most likely to use when searching for those elusive goods and services? If you understand who your customers are, how they speak, and how they research online, you will be able to tailor your website content to draw them in.
For example, if you are a soft drink retailer with only limited regional distribution, then you might customize your website content by using the words that customers only in that region are most likely to use to refer to soft drinks: “pop” in the mid-west and Pacific Northwest, “soda” on the east and west coasts, and “coke” or “cola” in the south. If you want to expand your website’s reach, however, just incorporate each of these terms and you will have an SEO keyword goldmine, attracting customers from nationwide—and perhaps beyond. The more SEO keywords you incorporate into your website’s content, the more likely your company is to appear in search engine results from the world over, luring internet traffic from as close as next door to as far as a continent away.
Once you have attracted these online viewers to your little corner of the digital world, however, you will want to ensure that the virtual storefront your prospective and existing customers find there is a welcoming one. This means that attention to detail is key. Your site should be uncluttered and inviting, with an appealing mixture of text and graphics. It should be easy to read and navigate and highly specific regarding the products and services your company offers and how it operates—including details such as shipping processes and payment and refund policies. Above all, it should be engaging, demonstrating a passion for the work being done, pride in the goods and services being offers. It should clearly and immediately articulate for new, potential, and existing customers what makes your company special and why your business, above all others, deserves the customer’s hard-earned money and even harder- earned loyalty and trust. The website should be worth of the company it represents, worth of the time and soul investment you have put into it, and worth of the customers it seeks to win and keep. And don’t forget to edit! After all, the company website is the face of your business in the digital world, so make sure it is an unforgettable, an irresistible one.