You’ve launched your new website and you feel like your business is finally going somewhere. It’s a great feeling isn’t it? A bit like watching your baby waddle off across the floor on its own little legs for the first time.
So why aren’t you getting any sales leads? Why aren’t customers beating a path to your door? Why isn’t your phone ringing off the hook?
It could be that, while your website looks great and has all the bells and whistles on it that you could wish for, the content isn’t working for you. Your content MUST be written with a laser-like focus on your target market, obeying all the basic SEO rules and playing search engines at their own game. If not, it’s a bit like spending hours creating a wonderful display in a shop window then forgetting to unlock the door so your customers can get inside.
Just publishing a website then sitting back waiting for the business to roll in won’t cut it these days. Search engines want to see you using keywords, publishing fresh content, linking to other websites and sharing your content on social media platforms and elsewhere. Neglect any of these aspects and you may as well throw away that shop door key, because you’ll never need it.
There’s much to learn – too much for one blog post, in fact. So here’s Part 1 giving the first four of nine possible reasons why your site isn’t featuring in search engine results (yet) and some hints and tips for fixing it. Come back next week for Part 2.
Reason 1: Not using keywords
Your keywords are what your customers use to search online for your business, without knowing the name of your business. So these are the words or phrases that describe your business, your products and your services. Too often business owners don’t do their research to discover how their audience describes their business, so they don’t include the right keywords in their online content.
At the other end of the scale some business owners use too many, believing that “keyword stuffing” will help them get to the top of page rankings. Search engines got wise to that scam a long time ago so now any webpage where the keywords (or “keyword density”) is more than 5% of the total content will suffer in page rankings.
Top SEO Tip: Do your research, find out what words or phrases your customers type into search engines to find your business, then make sure to use them in your page content, including the title.
Reason 2: Using duplicate content
You’ve seen some great content on someone else’s website, so you’ve cut & pasted it into yours. Or, you’re using the same or very similar content on more than one of your own web pages. Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,right?
Wrong. Duplicate content is a big no-no in SEO world.
Copying someone else’s homework may be a handy shortcut to publishing new online content, but it will negatively affect your page rankings. Search engines will have trouble deciding which page to show in search results and they will rarely show multiple sources for the same information. So they are forced to choose and its likely that both of you (you and the person you copied from) will suffer.
So, next time you’re tempted to cut & paste, ask yourself the following questions:-
1. Do I want to look like someone else (usually a competitor)?
2. Do I want to risk my page rankings being diluted?
3. Do I want to risk accusations of copyright infringement or plagiarism?
Top SEO tip: Use published content as a source of inspiration by all means, but do hire a professional copywriter to turn it into something completely original using your branding and your tone of voice.
Reason 3: Using low quality content
In SEO world, quality counts more than quantity. A page of online content that has lots of typos, broken links and lo-o-o-ng sentences or paragraphs will not help your page rankings. The same goes for trying to tackle too many subjects in one post (ever heard of “one thought per paragraph”? it’s still true today). Or only talking about yourself or your business and ignoring any statements about what you can do for your customers. Or writing about something no-one else cares about.
You can be forgiven for the occasional spelling mistake (thank god for spellchecker, amiright?) and it won’t affect your page rankings. But a page riddled with them is a poor user experience and search engines won’t like it.
Google describes poor quality content as “thin” content. It can easily detect content that has been generated by machine, uses a low total word count, stuffs in too many links, or has little information relevant to the keywords.
Top SEO tip: Look outwards, not inwards. Write about subjects your audience will want to read, keeping their WIIFM (what’s in it for me) mantra cycling around your brain as you do so. Get your draft copy professionally proof-read and edited if you can, or at least get someone else to read it first before you publish it.
Reason 4: Writing for search engines not humans
Search engines like Google have spent billions on creating an easy, natural experience for their users. And by “users” I mean people using them to search, not website owners. Their page ranking algorithms are virtually sentient, and are very clever at “semantic search”, which is guessing the intent behind a search term, often displaying results that are synonyms of the original search term. But some website owners get so caught up in obeying the SEO gods that they forget about the real human beings at the other end of the process and lose sight of what will resonate with the readers they are trying to attract.
Top SEO tip: Good optimised copywriting is all about creating useful, compelling and valuable content that targets specific keywords and speaks directly to your target audience. Avoid keyword stuffing (see above) and keep the language natural and readable. Start writing with your ideal customer in mind and your content will make all the right connections with the right people.
End of Part 1 – Part 2 with Reasons 5 to 9 will be published next week. There’s a lot to remember, but if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by it all then please give me a call. I’m sure I can help!