QUESTION: I have just started a new business. I think it’s critical for us to develop good search engine optimization, or SEO, so that people can find us easily on the web. Do you have any advice for how to accomplish this?
ANSWER: Depending on your business, good search engine optimization can be very valuable.
There are many people touting ways to trick search engines into finding your site. We advise staying away from these “get rich quick” schemes.
First, because people, like the folks at Google, are continuously trying to keep the tricks from working. What works today may not work in three months. It’s a moving target.
Second, if search engines figure out you are playing games, they’ll block you.
We find that consistency and quality are the keys to good SEO.
Building and sustaining outstanding search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint. However, in the right industry, it can be invaluable. Here are some tips:
- Choose a unique company name: You want people to be able to find you if they Google your company name or something close to it.
If you choose a frequently used company name, this will be more difficult. For example, we initially named one of our companies Richmond Performance Group. Poor choice: Seemingly half of the businesses in the area are called Richmond something or other.
We found that Whitestone Partners worked better for the name of our consulting business.
- Build a strong website: Make sure that your website describes exactly what you do, whom you do it for, and how you do it.
Use frequently searched terms in the descriptions. Embed the proper meta data, which consists of strong page titles, good page descriptions and the right meta tags. Remember, more is not always better.
Loading your site with hundreds of meta tags will hurt more than help — six to 10 is probably a good rule of thumb. The meta data should utilize frequently searched words, but should also tie very tightly to the content on your website.
- Embed a high-quality blog in your website. If you let someone else, say, Word Press host your blog, you won’t build as much SEO when people visit it. Post regularly. For example, post once per week.
Writing the blog posts yourself will require discipline, but should not be a huge challenge for most organizations.
However, if you don’t have the time, you can request permission to use content written by others or hire a ghostwriter at a very reasonable rate.
Regardless of where you get the content, make sure it is high quality and that it is germane to what you do.
The content in your blog posts should be consistent with what is on your site. Ensure that new content flows continuously.
It is better to have one new post each week than it is to post 52 times in one week and then allow the blog to sit idle for 51 weeks.
Finally, make sure that the titles contain highly searchable words and that they relate directly to the topic of the article.
- Drive people to your website: Nothing creates organic SEO like a consistent string of visitors to your website.
We have been very successful using a continuous string of automated Tweets to advertise the free content on our blog. Tweets go out approximately once every four hours.
When people click through to read the article they go to the blog embedded on our website and improve our SEO. Obviously, this strategy will only work if you have a significant number of Twitter followers who are interested in the topics about which you are writing.
- Make your site more searchable: Including a site map can be helpful. There are tools, such as Google webmaster tools, that skilled technicians can use to assess and improve the quality and searchability of your site.
Doug and Polly White have a large ownership stake in Gather, a company that designs, builds and operates collaborative workspaces. Polly’s focus is on human resources, people management and human systems. Doug’s areas of expertise are business strategy, operations and finance.