If your business has a website, then there's no doubt about it - to some extent you are going to have to be involved in Search Engine Optimization... Otherwise known as SEO. It is no longer simply as matter of 'build it and they will come' as far as websites are concerned. Basically, SEO is about getting your website as high in Google's rankings as possible so as to attract as many people as possible to visit your site.
Although there are a number of paid advertising alternatives as far as Google is concerned, a high 'organic' ranking in Google will give your business the boost it needs as far as potential customers are concerned, but more importantly, it will give your company a boost as far as credibility is concerned - Google doesn't rank poor websites highly, and so being at the top reflects well on your company: good website = good company... and visa versa of course!
There are a number of conditions a website needs to fulfill to be regarded as a good website, and fortunately, there are a number of tools that will help you to fulfill those conditions. Below are some free tools from Google itself that you should be using right now:
Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google that keeps a record of data related to the visitors that come to your site. Of course, the most interesting detail you could want to know is how many people are visiting your site at a given time, but Google Analytics give you more than that. It tells you which countries your visitors come from and which cities they live in. It can tell you which page in your website most people initially visit (the landing page) and which websites referred visitors to your site (usually via links on those sites). It goes as deep as you want to go and it offers you valuable information that you can use to modify your site for specific visitors. If, for example, you find the bulk of your visitors are, for some reason, from Belgium, perhaps it's time to tap Belgium businesses for advertising on your site!
The so-called 'Mobilegeddon' struck April 21, 2015 with a well publicized update of Google's algorithm that meant if your website wasn't configured (or 'optimized') for a mobile device (with a 'Responsive Design'), it would forever languish at the bottom of the Google rankings. Again. Google has come to the rescue with a tool that helps businesses establish whether their websites pass muster. If so, you can sigh with relief. If not, well it is back to the drawing board and a brand new design.
Your site might look pretty and appear to be working well, but under the hood there could be a number of issues that are making it operate less effectively - and this could lower your page ranking. Google Webmaster Tools provides reports on bugs and issues that might be impacting your website. These issues might even stop your site from being indexed in Google. Aside from the fact that changes at Google are often reported here (Google communicates with you directly through your Webmaster Tools page), a wealth of functions also add to its usefulness. You can submit a sitemap through your control panel and check robots.txt files to see if they are impacting your listing. It also tells you if any pages are being blocked by robots.txt commands. The tool also offers a full list of all the pages that Google can see on your site and as well as indicating its broken links. It's amazing what you can find out, and it's genuinely a 'must have'.
Although your website might pass Google's requirements for a responsive website, fact is it might also be as slow as hell in doing so. The slower your site, the less easy it is to access, and if it is not easily accessible, again Google makes it plummet to the depths of its search rankings. Luckily the Google PageSpeed Insights tool tests your website through a range of devices and gives you a report on what it finds. If it is too slow, it's time to take your website back to the drawing board - again!
The Google Keyword Planner is really designed for those involved in online advertising but it offers functions that are valuable for your SEO and it considering how you need to change your site. It shows monthly searches over the last 12 months and what search terms were used to access your site. There is no point going overboard on adding certain text to your site in a bid to attract searches using that search term if it just isn't happening. The Google Keyword Planner will show you the terms that are bringing people to your site and allow you to monitor the success of your changes. The tool even suggests terms for you that you might not have considered.
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