With all the money you have invested in a website, sometimes it can be disheartening to see that few people are actually going to the site. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) becomes one of the most important digital marketing techniques you can utilize.
Here are some quick things you can do, for free, to help increase your website traffic.
First things first, you cannot manage what you cannot measure, so you need to ensure that you are counting visitors to your website accurately. Take five minutes and install the free Google Analytics tool on your website. This will not only help you track your goal of increasing traffic to your site, but show you where your visitors go once they reach your site.
Take a few minutes to think about and write down terms that you believe people would typically type into a search engine to find your business.
If you sell or repair household appliances, users would search “dishwasher repair,” or “GE dishwasher repair,” if they had a brand they needed looked at.
Identifying search terms can be a tough exercise, but it’s an important step in the process of helping you be more easily found online.
Next, search for each one of the search terms you created above, on Google. Does your business show up as a search result? Where do you show up? Are you on page 1? Page 2? Page 4? Not at all? This is a big concern.
“Page 1 results garner 92 percent of all traffic from the average search, with traffic dropping off by 95 percent for Page 2.”(Source)
Note: It’s important to keep in mind that the search results in the shaded areas on the top and the links along the right hand side of the page are paid advertising, so don’t be too concerned about those links right now.
Most users today will change their search term before they scroll through multiple pages. Set this list aside and continue reading; we’ll come back to your list shortly.
Go to your website’s homepage, right click anywhere and select “view page source” or “view source code” (it’s named differently depending on browser).
If you haven’t done this before it will look like gibberish text, but this is your site’s HTML code. When Google attempts to rank your website they will literally crawl through this code and catalog the terms you have written, among other information they find, such as your location, when the site is updated, how big it is and how many other websites you link to, or link to you.
The most important fields to look at in the code are your title tag (<title>), and meta description tag (<meta name="description">).
Note: These fields should be near the top of the page you’re viewing. If they aren’t you can search the page for “title” and the meta tag for description will be not far below.
Does your title tag contain your company name and main product/service offering? Does your description tag list in more detail the various products/services you provide?
<title>Mr. Fix It | Household Appliance Repair</title>
<meta name="description" content= "Specializing in household appliance repair, Mr. Fix It is your fast, affordable appliance repair expert. Dishwasher repair, fridge repair, washing machine repair, and more!" />
Google will use both of these fields to decide how highly they rank you when someone searches for something in your industry.
You can update your title and meta tags easily in most website development programs. If you cannot do this yourself, your web designer should be able to insert them quickly and easily.
It does beg the question though, why were these source code tags not inserted before? The quick answer is that many website developers do not focus on SEO because it is viewed as a marketing function. While there are many other methods to increase web traffic, this one offers the best bang for the buck, because you can do it yourself, and the only expense is your time.
Once you are satisfied with the new title and description information, you should submit your site back to Google to be “indexed.” This is done through another Google application called Webmaster Tools. Because you’ve already set up your Google Analytics account, you can request to have your website re-indexed in seconds.
Within this tool you simply choose the option to “index” your site and, voila! This lets Google know your site needs another peek and will allow them to review the new content you’ve added.
You should always re-index your site after any major update(s). Google does review sites, but to request that they do it sooner than later, use Webmaster Tools to index.
Now that you have the basics covered, and can track your progress, it’s important to set up a performance review schedule either bi-weekly or monthly.
Has your site traffic increased? Take a look at a sample metrics sheet we produce for our clients. This covers much more than just site visits, but it’s a good guide to help you collect metrics and gauge progress.
There are no quick fixes. Period. Increasing website traffic and search engine ranking is a process, and anyone promising you that they can increase your traffic and ranking overnight should be questioned. The process is ongoing and, depending on your organization, it can involve using additional social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, email marketing, or LinkedIn, among dozens of others, to complement your efforts. The good news: we will have DIY Digital Marketing tips to help you integrate these tools into your strategy in subsequent blog posts.
As the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step”, so if you are not happy with your current online marketing efforts, it’s not as difficult as you think to change it, and you can start today.