Improve your search ranking

Building and improving on your website ranking in search engines is an essential part of running an online business. It should also be considered an objective in your overall marketing strategy.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help you design a website that meets the needs of your customers and improve the chances of them finding you online.

What is SEO?

Put simply, SEO is a set of web best practice techniques that allows the information you publish on your website (web content) to be discovered, understood and ranked against similar websites on search engines like Google, Bing etc.

SEO is about understanding how people use search engines so that your website is front and centre when they search for your product or service. It's also about understanding how search engines interact with your website and what they look for when ranking websites.

It's useful to remember that search engines apply rankings to web pages by matching the relevance of the web page to the search term used. By making your web content more relevant to your customer's needs compared to other websites, you'll have a better chance of appearing at the top.

When setting up your website, consider the following points to ensure your website has the best chance of ranking well.

Understand your customers

Much like traditional marketing, improving your search rankings starts with an understanding of your customer's behaviour. For example, consider how a person's search behaviour changes during the buying cycle:

1. Awareness: the customer is aware of a problem that needs fixing, and begins searching for potential solutions using broad search terms. For example, 'leaking tap'.

2. Consideration: the customer understands their problem and is now searching for solutions that best meet their needs. They will typically start using search keywords that include a location, product feature or product type. For example, 'plumber in Townsville'.

3. Purchase: the customer is ready to buy, and generally knows who they will buy from. They will often search directly for the service provider. For example, 'ABC Plumbing'.

Matching your web content with customer search behaviours requires an understanding of the language used. Being aware of common misspellings, slang and abbreviations can help you match your content with these searches.

Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases a customer uses when they perform a search. For example, 'flowers online' and 'where do I buy flowers online' are both considered to be keywords.

Matching the keywords used on your website with the words used by customers when they search for you is an important part of SEO. If someone searches for 'flowers online' and your page is titled 'florist website', there's a chance that your page won't be found on the first page of their search results. This is because competing websites with pages titled 'flowers online' are considered more relevant to the searcher and will be ranked higher.

Understanding the search language used by your customer is an important step to being found. Inserting the right keywords in the browser title, meta description, URL, content and page headings can boost the relevance of your page and boost your visibility too.

Refresh your content often

Add new content to your website weekly and update content on your pages at least once every 6 months. This could be information about a new product or service you're selling, a customer story, or even new images.

Refreshing your content encourages search engines to visit your website more often. The more frequently they visit, the faster they're able to discover new content on your website. You may even see some rankings benefits!

Links from other websites

When applying a ranking to your web page, search engines look at which other websites provide links to your page and your website as a whole. To search engines, links from external websites are considered a vote of confidence in the accuracy, relevance and usefulness of your content.

However, not all links are considered equal. Links from highly reputable websites have more 'weight' applied than less reputable sites. Typically, the more links you gain from reputable websites, the better your website will rank.

Don't forget the meta description tag

Though not a ranking factor in search engines, the 'meta description' tag tells users of search engines in 155 characters or less what your page is about. When you see search results, each listing will contain descriptive text underneath based on the meta description if it's available.

Without a meta description, search engines will simply make their own description for your pages. If you want to prevent this, just set a meta description! Keep it concise, and remember those keywords.

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