5 Tips to Optimize Your Website while Building Your Brand
Before thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), it’s important to establish your branding platform (e.g. being real and remarkable), know who your ideal customer is and match your brand messaging to that customer. If you haven’t established that, your SEO effort will likely lack focus and discipline, so I’d encourage you to go back and read those blog posts. If you have, you’re ready for these 5 tips to utilize SEO to build your brand online.
First, a word about SEO. There are many tactics you can employ to optimize your site and increase traffic, but it’s vital that the traffic is relevant – comprised of your ideal customers – or chances are that the visitors will essentially be “window shopping”. Many SEO experts are only focused on traffic, so before you contract one, be sure that they understand how to attract your ideal customer.
Google, by far the #1 search engine, ranks pages based on a combination of relevance and page rank. Relevance is largely controlled on your site and is calculated based on your optimization of the particular keyword term. Page rank is driven mainly by links from other sites to yours. These tips will deal with both factors.
Before optimizing, do some research to determine the keyword terms your ideal customers will be searching. Write down five keyword phrases that you think your ideal customers will be searching and run them through Wordtracker or the Google Keyword Tool to see how popular those terms are, how much competition there will be for each term and which related terms you may want to consider. This will give you a strong indication of which terms you should optimize for best results.
By setting up a separate page in your website dedicated to each term you have decided to optimize, you will have a much better chance of having that page being deemed relevant for that term by Google. For example, if you have a New York law firm, you may wish to have a page dedicated to one particular area of law within your practice if the search terms are telling you that your ideal customers are likely searching for terms related to that area.
Ensure the search terms are utilized in 3 key places: page titles, page headers, and body content. When doing so, be sure to use language that will appeal to your ideal customer and stay true to the key message you’ve developed for your brand platform. The trick is maintaining a balance that will be effective for search engines AND your ideal customers.
In general, the more links that point to your site, the greater your Google page rank will be, thus helping your site get higher in Google search results. There are simple ways to build links (e.g. via directories, industry member sites, etc.) that should be your first steps. You can also build links through social media, a blog, online press release services and other means that you can control. These will all help.
The best way to garner worthwhile links is to create great content online. If your ideal customers find the content valuable, they will share it with others. This could be via blogs, Twitter, Delicious, Digg, etc., all of which will increase your page rank. If a site with a high page rank links to your site, that’s likely more valuable than all of those directory links.
Hope that helps demystify search engine optimization for you. These are basic tips, but if you follow them, you’ll be well on your way to attracting more relevant traffic to your site.