What we will cover
Where do you want to get found online?
“I want to visible online.”
This is often asked, or even assumed by those looking for a new website. It’s just not that simple because the digital world is now utterly cluttered with interconnected online spaces.
For most companies and individuals, being visible online means showing up on Page One of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). This is the realm of search engine optimisation (SEO), and there is a lot of misunderstanding about how this works.
Is SEO a product or a service?
Some businesses believe SEO is a product they can buy and that if they do they will go to the top of the search engines. However, it isn’t the case that someone can tweak a few settings and ‘hey presto’ you’re top of Google. If that was the case, wouldn’t every business be doing the same thing?
SEO is a process, therefore a service, and you are hiring a team of expert analysts, creative thinkers, content writers and technical wizzes to perform various tasks.
There are three main parts to SEO: content, technical & backlinking, leading us to the conclusion that it isn’t an off-the-shelf product that you can buy, but also, it would be a real challenge for it to be delivered by one person – due to the range of skills required.
And of course, this is before we consider the fact that your competitors may already be doing this themselves.
The reality is, that being found for searches where people spend money makes a business sales – when we get a sale we all like to know where it came from, and if we know it’s from google, then the smart money is to invest some of our profits to stay there.
Do I need to be top of google?
Latest data suggests just under 40% click the first organic result, compared to about 2% clicking the ad above it, and 70% will click the top 3.
In any case, not all businesses need to dominate the search engines. If you have an Etsy shop, a Facebook Business Page or an Amazon Seller Account, for example, these communities et enough traffic of their own that you might be better off focusing on the best practice guidelines for these platforms.
Just like Google, these tech firms use sophisticated computer algorithms to calculate which products and businesses most deserve to be seen, and (shock horror) it’s normally down to the cut they can make from you.
Competing with them can be challenging. If we take Etsy for example, it’s a website like yours. Only it has a community of people adding content to it all the time, and to a search engine like Google, it is thriving with relevant content for a whole bunch of search terms around hand-crafted goods.
To put yourself in Google’s shoes and compare your website to Etsy, it would be like giving someone directions to the corner shop when there is a supermarket just around the corner. However, therein lies an opportunity (more on that in a moment).
So, if you have a website and you want to know how to get found online via Google and the other search engines, you need to think hard about the systems you have in place, the offering you have and the expertise you have behind you. Are they all working for you?
Technically speaking, are you set up for success?
Not all websites are created equal. You might be expecting us to present a sales pitch where we tell you how brilliant a Vu Online website would be, but that’s not what this is about.
There are commodity website builders out there – your Wixs and Weeblys, Shopifys & Squarespaces – that provide platforms for creating websites. These can look decent enough and you can add content to them (part one of SEO), but because they are locked down to the platform they are on, they won’t let you at the code, you then lack the control that you need to edit your code, speed up your site and technically compete online (part 2 of SEO).
Alternatively, building a bespoke website on an open-source platform, like WordPress, is open to being hosted on any platform you choose, which means you can put it on super fast servers and tweak any piece of code.
There are many brochure sites out there that consist of just some ropey product images and a couple of lines of descriptive text. This will impress neither Google nor potential customers as it often isn’t good enough to earn the trust of a human or enough optimised content for a search engine.
Once businesses understand that owning a website is just the first stage of how to get found online, they can start looking at what combination of digital services they need in order to stand out to their customers.
This involves drawing up a digital marketing strategy and likely then creating landing pages for their products and services before driving traffic to them.
Why buy from you?
Remember earlier I mentioned the corner shop vs the supermarket analogy? Traditionally SEO has been about “more”. More content, more backlinks.
In recent years search engines have been swamped by content and tried to aim towards better. Relevant content for a search term (blog vs product page for example).
What mustn’t be missed when getting lost in the data is that someone still needs to get out their card and pay for your product. You need to answer their questions, fulfil their promises, solve their pains – and this can all get lost in a wall of SEO-optimised text.
So we must bring your brand back into question, if someone can find it cheaper then they will buy elsewhere.
If someone can find a better range of products, they will buy elsewhere.
If someone feels aligned with a different brand, they will buy elsewhere.
So what is your niche? What is your USP? What values do you hold? What difference do you make? Why do your customers buy from you? Have you asked them?
How do you the measure success of getting found online?
We sometimes get enquiries from businesses claiming they only get a sale or two a year from their existing website. Our response is normally, “How do you know?”
In most cases, this is an estimate based on a gut feeling. By setting up and monitoring their digital tools, they can move on from guesswork to real, measurable statistics. This is the first step towards setting tangible business targets for leads, sales and profit.
If you aren’t doing this, start with a spreadsheet – track your leads and where they came from. With the gravity forms plugin, it will tell you how many people have seen and filled out your contact forms – capture this data. Add content to your website and look at analytics and search console to see the impact on traffic.
And all of that is a lot of work. So I return to the final point earlier of getting found online, it’s about having expertise behind you, for a small business the expense of hiring an SEO professional and the tools they will need with cost thousands a month, so if you want to be visible online, you will likely need to find an agency partner you can trust.
Need some assistance?
For more help with understanding how to get found online, take a look at our SEO services. We can find the best keywords for your niche, turn your cluttered service page into hyper-focused landing pages, develop your brand to turn visitors into leads and measure and report back to you every month the progress we are making.
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