SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is specialist, expensive and you need to know what you are doing… don’t you?
The current commercial and financial climate that we are operating in is causing most of us to tighten our belts and think twice about spending. This especially true for Training, HR and other small consultancies and entrepreneurs. SEO has always been seen as a “technical” area and only for the specialists.
Few people have said that you can do it yourself with extraordinary results.
The challenge for new startup firms and those that are trading but need a change of strategy to keep the work coming is:
“How are we going to get seen on the web in order to market ourselves effectively?”
Who can do this for us – it’s hard to get seen on the web isn’t it?
Your web designer will say that they can offer SEO and indeed a search on the web will give you 1000s of people and firms promising to get you on page one of Google. And all for £500-£1000 … per month… ouch!
In good trading times this may be hard to justify – but in tough times?
The reality is that it is easy to get seen on page one of Google or other search engines – the ‘con’ a lot of providers will do is to help you find a “key word phrase” that is almost unique to you, and get that on page one of Google – easy. Times have moved on and it is no-longer a technical solution that is required – but marketing and PR effort.
Take a look at the phrase “squarespace template design” if I search for the term without quotes I get:
(See the current results yourself here squarespace template design - http://bit.ly/ASXKQ )
And with the quotes we get:
(See the current results yourself here “squarespace template design”- http://bit.ly/B4dRS )
This is a great ‘trick’ with the first search term (squarespace template design) Google only shows 6,730 results, getting to the top of only 6000 pages is not that difficult.
On the second example where the search is for the exact phrase (“squarespace template design”), there are only 4 results. Now after this blog is published the results will be very different. So using some simple techniques (that I will share with you) watch the results change over time. (this article is being written on 10/10/09). – update in less than 2 hrs This page is listed for the exact phrase – the second search) and on page 8. This is a one off post. getting higher in the 6000+ results will take a little time.
The real test of SEO is getting to the first page for a popular search term- one with 10,000s or millions of results.
I say this is a ‘con’ as who would look for a product name? very few in the business world – our customers are looking for solutions to their problems. They wont be looking for “ABC Inc” – they will be looking for “train the trainer provider” or “train the trainer provider in London”. You need to think like your clients and find key words and phrases that they will be looking for.
So what are the secrets to doing SEO for yourself?
1) Research your customers and find out what they are looking for – you need to discover key words and phrases. (if it is things like “leadership development” “management development” or “train the trainer” then good luck for there are millions of sites with these words and while it is possible, it is very tough and time consuming. One way of making the achievable is to have a specialism i.e.:
- Management development in the care sector
- Train the trainer in Berkshire
- Leadership development for women
The more specialist you can be the more likely your success at getting seen on the web .
2) Get your web developer to add your keywords to your site – in the title, in the description and in the other meta-tag areas of your pages – have different key words and phrases for each page
3) Write copy for those pages which make use of your keywords – repeat the phrase 3-5 times (each page MUST be very different)
4) Write a blog(off your site and free WordPress or blogger), ensure that the content is supportive of your key words and include these in some of your articles – then have these articles link to your site (relevant pages) – yes put the links in the article, not just links on the blog itself
5) Promote your blog – on forums, on other blogs and on twitter. The ‘trick’ or secret is content and links. One powerful and low cost strategy is:
Where you use tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Ning and forums to promote content that you have written on your blog. These are articles that are of interest to your audience. Your goal is to build a ‘name’ in your potential clients heads that you:
a) can be trusted
b) that you know what you are taking about
c) that you can solve their problems
d) you are confident enough that you ‘give away’ valuable material
As Robin Elliot said “Enthusiasm is contagious. When you are absolutely convinced, sold, passionate, enthusiastic and confident about what you’re offering, it’s hard NOT to sell.”
Have compelling reasons in your blog for readers to explore your site.
6) Encourage others to promote your blog, use Linkedin and other vehicles - with great content people will link to your blog – I recently (yesterday!) had a major US training provider send a link to a blog post to over 14000 of their clients – wonderful
7) Have good value material on your site, answer the questions purchasers want to ask, make sure your contact details are easily found – keep the site up to date. the site does not need to be large – but it must be kept fresh.
In SEO content is king.
The more you specialise the easier it is to write unique content, the more niche the content the greater the opportunity you have of attracting visitors, the more visitors the greater conversions you will have. SEO is no longer about the technical “stuff” that developers do – its is all about content and people valuing your content
The ultimate goal is to have people buy you and your service not you having to pitch and sell.
Before you pay anyone for SEO work on your site check out their site. If they advocate using a blog – what is their blog look like? If they claim to be able to get you on page 1 of Google for your search terms – look and see if they have done it for themselves (use view source in your browser and Google the text they are using under “keywords”) – make sure they walk their talk – if they don’t – walk away!
Wow this is a lot of content for you to get your head around.
In follow-up articles I will share:
Step by step HOW to do each of the above (not the meta-tag – best left to the programmers)
I’ve already told you all you need to know – i.e. the WHAT
Then WHERE and WHEN will also feature.
SEO is best done by yourself, or in the very least as a partnership – don’t outsource this core part of your business – your Internet reputation.
PS if you want to check out these techniques for yourself, I have a ‘secret’ project running. For 3 weeks I have been trying to get “train the trainer” with and without the quotes ranked in Google. This is a difficult one to break, I tried once before using old techniques and failed.
I am now hovering between pages 1 & 2 with over 3m results! Watch my progress http://bit.ly/sXDXE (staying on page 1 is my goal – not being at the top)
You do not need to do ALL the things I have talked about, but do link your strategies together.