You’ve typed some words related to your business in Google and hit search, yet your business is nowhere to be seen, even though those words perfectly describe your company. Why isn’t your business coming up? And more importantly, what can you do to ensure it does?
There are two things that you should check first before we dive into keywords…
IS YOUR WEBSITE INDEXED?
If your website hasn’t been indexed for Google, chances are you won’t show up in Google searches.
What is indexing?
Indexing essentially gives Google an overview of what’s on your website and will remove any old links from its memory. It’ll then analyse the content on your pages, which is why it’s important that your website and blog content is of good quality and set to hit targeted keywords.
Check if your website has been indexed by typing site:yourdomainname e.g. site:thisisinfluential.com, into the Google search box. If your site has been indexed, you’ll see each of your pages listed below.
If your site is not indexed you will need to sign up for Google Search Console. You can then link your Google Search Console account with your Google Analytics account to pull in your website data. This will also flag if any of your website pages contain errors which could affect your search ranking.
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account it’s imperative that you set one up, so you can correctly analyse your traffic, audience acquisition, web pages and lots of other cool stuff that will help you make smarter decisions for your site.
DO YOU HAVE A MY BUSINESS LISTING?
If you haven’t already, set up a Google My Business profile. These profiles appear when you search for businesses on Google or in Maps. Not only can you share updates via your listings page, but you can also add your opening hours, photos of your office/products and people can also publicly review your business, which only adds to the authenticity of your brand. It also makes your business much more helpful! If a shopper is looking to visit your store for example, they’ll know exactly what time you’re open and where you are.
Whilst it’s important to set up a Google My Business profile to help improve SEO, don’t try to stuff keywords into your business name. If Influential were to add ‘Manchester PR & Comms Agency’ to our name we’d likely be picked up by Google as spam which is only going to damage our SEO score.
Adding virtual office addresses and fake reviews will also eventually be picked up by Google and again your score will be lowered. Don’t try and take shortcuts, they’re not worth it in the long run.
Ok so now we can get into the smaller details that might be affecting your search engine ranking…
SHORT VS LONGTAIL KEYWORDS
Short tail keywords are usually 1-2 words, whilst long tail keywords are 3 words or more.
For example, if you are a law firm and you want to appear as the first result for a Google search of ‘lawyer’, you’re going to struggle. Not only are you competing against other companies, but for this particular keyword search, you’re also competing with Wikipedia and careers sites!
However, if that law firm was to aim for a keyword phrase like, ‘criminal law firms in Croydon’, they’re much more likely to appear.
Of course, long tail keywords are great for getting specific about your product or service. However, the more specific you get, the fewer people searching for that exact phrase.
Do some research into keywords and set out a list of what you want to be ranking for all your key pages on your site. From there, you can start to build content to suit.
CONTENT RELATED TO KEYWORDS
If you haven’t already, set up a blog. It’s the easiest way to publish a steady stream of content to your website and allows you to write about things outside of your own products and services. The more content you have on topics relating to your keywords the more likely your business will rank for those keywords. 95% of people only look at the first page of search results, so it’s imperative you try and get on that first page or you could be missing out on traffic, conversions and customers.
Think about your target audience and what they would be interested in, but don’t just write about random topics – they still need to relate to what you do. E.g. if you’re a white goods retailer, writing content on gardening is not going to help your rankings, but something along the lines of ‘why my washing machine is not draining’ could be of interest and has a natural flow into selling products or replacement parts, without being an obvious sales tactic.
In terms of the keywords you want to rank for, they should be placed within your post a couple of times, usually in the title, headings, image alt text and in the copy. Remember that Google is clever enough to pick up keywords even if they are not placed in the exact same order and will also know if similar words have been used, so no need to stuff ‘washing machine replacement valve’ throughout your copy – make sure it all sounds natural. In fact, stuffing keywords throughout your blog will harm your SEO score. If you’re using a content management system like WordPress you’ll see recommendations on how to improve your post at the bottom of the page.
Blogs should be at a minimum 300 words long, as research has found that this is the minimum post length that search engines would recognise as a blog. We’d recommend reserving blogs of 300 words as an intro to an infographic so that you’re giving the reader enough information to work with. Generally aim for blogs that are around 1,500 as these are more likely to rank on search engines.
Previously, you could pop keywords into the hidden back end of your web page and these tags would count towards your search engine ranking. That was all well and good until people started stuffing irrelevant tags in their meta in a bid to try and rank for them. Google then realised that this wasn’t working as it should and now ignores them. However, some other search engines still use meta tags, so we’d recommend populating these as you create pages, but please keep those tags relevant. It’s best to do this as you go along, because imagine in the rare case that Google does decide to reinstate the use of tags, then someone on your team will need to trawl through old pages and repopulate meta tags for every single page. Whilst it seems unlikely at the moment, Google have even stated on their help pages that they could potentially be used again at some point.
Meta descriptions are still hugely important though. They are the two lines of text that usually appear under the title of a page in search results. The meta description will also appear when your website page is shared on social, so it’s important that it effectively describes the purpose of the page. It’s recommended that they are approximately 155 characters long.
On your website you should try and use keywords as the hyperlinked text and avoid using ‘click here’. This is a great way to use your keywords, especially when linking to internal pages. If you have press releases going out, we’d recommend hyperlinking keywords that describe your company rather than your business name. e.g. Manchester PR & comms agency. When the release is published by a website that has a high authority (e.g. a national newspaper), Google will recognise that this established website is verifying that those keywords relate to your business and this will again boost your authority for those search terms.
Alt tags should be included on all images and videos on your website. These are essentially descriptions of the content and can also be a place where keywords can be used – again, only when relevant to the piece of content. Search engines use alt tags to locate your page so it’s worth making sure any old content has the appropriate tags or you could be missing out on clicks.
Just like your home your website needs a spring clean. You can do this easily by updating old content on your web pages and making sure contact details are up to date. Update your homepage every now and then to give your website a fresh look and feel, which should also encourage website visitors to stay on the page a little longer.
Check via Google Analytics which pages aren’t getting traffic or have a high bounce rate as these are likely the pages that need updating. E.g. if you’re a travel company with a blog post on the best cities to visit in Spain that was published two years ago, update this with some fresh recommendations and people will be much more likely to click onto the page. Remember the more people clicking through to your website, the higher you will rank.
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