Getting Ready for the SEO Work
- Organize your information and process for efficiency
- Set aside three photos or logos, one 250 x 250 pixels (for Facebook, Twitter, and FoundLocally), one larger (say 500 x 500 pixels), and one or up to 5 good photos of you, your business premises/store front, your products
- Write a couple of business descriptions: First, write a 1000 character one (for Facebook & LinkedIn), then cut it in half (this version under 500 characters), and in half again (250 characters, which is what FoundLocally allows), down to 140 characters for Twitter, and for extreme websites (DMOZ), a version under 100 characters. This task requires BRUTAL EDITING, and if it’s any consolation, remember:L a highway billboard will FAIL if it’s more than SIX WORDS… the Internet is very much a “drive-by” world and directories and search engines understand the impatience of their audiences.
- Check your site (and at the VERY LEAST, the home page) to ensure it has TITLE, DESCRIPTION, and KEYWORD meta tags. (keywords are not used by Google or Bing, but useful in some circles: but limit yourself to SIX)
- Prepare your address information, so all websites display the addresses the exact same way. This should match the way Canada Post formats addresses. This helps with Search engines matching up local addresses to prepare local search results & results maps, without confusion or redundancy.
- Do as quick website check-up, if you’re doing this yourself (without an SEO professional) using https://website.grader.com/ and then check how fast your site loads using https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ (its amazing how much beautiful –but not optimized– images uploaded into WordPress can slow down a website!)
Search EnginesThis process must include not just the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo), but all the smaller ones (and if you don’t know who some of these are, you have no business calling yourself an “SEO expert”). There are software tools that help complete this process quickly & efficiently.
Social MediaSocial media is not only an important way to reach and interact with customers, but a way to extend your reach to new ones, and they help to improve your search engine rankings… they RIGHTFULLY assume that if you have NO social media presence, that you are a “bit player” and not worthy of an improved ranking.
- Create a listing in Facebook (it should be a business page which gets “likes”, not a personal page which seeks “friends”)
- Create a listing in Twitter. For efficiency, some businesses it may be more efficient to point Facebook posts to your Twitter feed, sometimes you might chose to auto-repost your Twitter feed to your Facebook, and some will find it best to post separately (since they allow different post lengths)
- Set up a Google business (Google+) page, even if you don’t use Google Plus, it will help your Google ranking
- If you are a “B2B” business (business to business), setting up a LinkedIn Profile for the business owner, and then a business page (yes, like with Facebook, keep them separate)
- Based on your audience, market and demographic, there are HUNDREDS MORE you can participate it, like Yelp for restaurants, TripAdvisor for hotels & attractions, Instagram for anyone targeting tens or 20-somethings, MySpace for the music industry… Pick wisely.
Directory SubmissionsThe process must then extend to include marketing to update in the many directories that exist online. Some are local directories, some are industry-specific directories, and some are a hybrid. Some directories are free, and some will only accept a listing for a fee (monthly, annual, or one-time), and some work on a hybrid business model, where you get some elements for free, and some are “premium” services.
- The first step is find what directories a website is already in
- Then visit these sites and update the listings, description, and logo/photos that may have current info & branding. And in this highly visual world, often a product/premises/pet/personal photo is more effective for getting click-throughs than any corporate logo
- Then search for other directories. FoundLocally.com has a directory of local directories. Also go to the different search engines and google [your community] + “directory” and then search for [your industry] + “directory”, and compile a list of these possibilities
- If the directory is free, or has a free listings component, GO FOR IT, and make the submission. And afterwards, take that listing and SUBMIT THAT to Google, to increase your link-back count (which improves your Google ranking)
- If the directory has a cost, decide if it’s worthwhile and has enough traffic to merit spending that amount (or discuss that with the client, if you are an agency). Consider, that Google and other online ads cost money yet online advertising is still remarkably inexpensive compared to even the crappiest print, radio, or television presence! And again, submit THAT LISTING to Google to increases your link-backs
Update the Redirects
Depending on how major the site redesign is, don’t deleted your old pages and replace them with a new site structure. You are better off inserting redirects from old pages to specific new pages.
404 File Not Found error pages display when content is not found. They are not a substitute for redirects. Use 301 Permanent Redirects so search engines know the content has been moved. Best of all, combine a 301 Redirect with a Canonical Tag to ensure the old and new page should both be re-indexed by the search engines as just the new page, for the greatest positive impact (and the new page gets “brownie points” for all its prior years of existence).
Pay-Per-Click Advertising (“PPC”)While a re-designed site is ramping up, and it takes a while for the major search engines to re-spider, re-index, and then include the new site contents in its search results and rankings. Your improved (or new) site may not show up in search results for weeks or even months! You can speed early-on visibility for your re-designed website, by paying for PPC advertising.There are a number of options for this, including Google (which shows up on more than just Google, but also on FoundLocally.com), Bing, and Facebook.While the process is relatively simple, it is recommended that you consider the advice and campaign management skills of a web marketing professional for this.
Thank you, to my friend Randy Milanovic, CEO of Kayak Online Marketing for his comments on this article.