I have been away in Selangor for the past few weeks no thanks to a family emergency and all other project commitments. It’s hard to blog when my mum is in the hospital (to be exact, she was in the ICU ward).
Anyway, I’m back and today I’d like to write about a topic everyone loves.
A lot of people attend our Tech Tuesdays because they want to find out how to get visible on Google. These days it’s imperative that your website is found on the first or second page of Google. Come to think of it, the first page of Google is it. Anything beyond page one is simply what I call a ‘search again’ where we impatiently key in another set of keywords or key phrases.
Organic Ranking Is Possible
Over the past 18 years, we’ve helped our own clients get to the top of Google search a.k.a first page results. We’re kind of radical in this area as every other web designer would suggest Google advertising (that’s where the mega bucks are, after all) but we don’t. Does that mean you should never advertise on Google? Of course not. You can advertise if you’re running a campaign with a finite date. You can advertise if you want
Does that mean you should never advertise on Google? Of course not. You can advertise if you’re running a campaign with a finite date. You can advertise if you have all the money in the world.
But What If You’re A Small Business Owner?
But we deal with small business owners. We know exactly what keeps them up at night. Small business owners cannot splurge RM2,000 per month on online advertising because that money can go towards so many other important areas of their businesses.
(I met the sales executive of a web hosting company a few months ago and she was excited about working with us. She thought she could sell us the Google Adwords package for our clients. If we were like regular web designers, maybe we could work together. The issue is, we’re hardly like regular web designers. We’re the anti-thesis of the regular web designer! I think she was disappointed when I started telling her that our clients’ websites do very well in search results.)
Early on in our business, we decided that it was best if our clients could get organic visibility. We could help them get visible in Google without having to pay for advertising.
How did that happen? What magic did we do?
There’s no magic. But it does involve a lot of hard work.
Here’s How You Get Good At SEO
Every design element in the website (and this includes the words we chose to use in the headline, page title etc.) needs to be thought out thoroughly.
Naming the page had to be thought out properly. Even getting the domain name was a process where we brainstormed with the client to get the best name – a name that’s easy on the tongue, easy to spell and short enough to be memorable.
Each photo had to be resized. If the colour of the photo did not match the overall colour scheme, the photos had to be manually adjusted. Photos had to be renamed too – if you want your photos to help you with your search engine visibility, you need to rename your photos (description and ALT) and write a caption that’s keyword-rich too.
Is this a tough job? Of course. But this is what needs to be done if you want your website to rank organically. All these factors help but all these need to be done by the web designer or web design company.
Write To Persuade, Not To Bore
What else helps with your search engine rankings?
Content, specifically website content that makes sense to your website visitors and to search engines. Website content that contains the keywords that help your website visitors find you!
This is why you should never use the content from your brochure or company profile for your website. The medium is different and you need an experienced copywriter (preferably one who has done extensive work on the web) to help you write/create website content that grabs your prospects.
The job of a website copywriter is an amalgam of writer, psychologist and sales person. Their copy (or words) must help you grab the website visitors by the collar, sell your benefits and get them to take action on your website (which can be anything from signing up for your newsletter to emailing you).
If your website content doesn’t compel people to take action or reads like a superbly boring thesis, is it any wonder that no one’s finding your website on search engines?
Content isn’t just the stuff that’s about your business. What about the useful content for your visitors? They searched and landed on your website because they wanted something from you. They were attracted to your website content (it could be your blog posts or articles or freebie downloads). They’re not necessarily looking for you so the strategy of using well-written, sharp and insightful content to attract visitors is still key.
This is why we often encourage our clients to update their websites on a monthly basis with new content. Granted, this is hard particularly for Malaysian businesses where writing has never been their strong point. But this strategy is for the long-term – you build goodwill on Google by regularly adding new and useful articles to your website. Your active status makes your website intensely desirable to the search engine bots.
Besides these strategies, curating your content (removing outdated news once a year, for instance) also helps keep your website lean and quick to load. Nothing kills your visitors like a slow-loading website. Nothing kills your reputation than an old piece of news that’s no longer useful!
Do all these sound like a lot of work? Yes, it does. That is why you can take the shortcut (advertise monthly on Google) or you can take the long view (work on the hard stuff now so you can save money later). Both avenues are open to you but if you’re a small business owner, you should know which route you should take.
If you are interested in knowing more about making your website search engine friendly, join us for our 27 September 2016 Tech Tuesday where we will elaborate more on this favourite topic.
Sign up here to grab a seat.
Or buy our recently published book, Web Wisdom where we reveal all our best tips and strategies to help you with your website.