Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Small Organisation and the Social Media Part Six: Small Business SEO

Whilst not directly relevant to the social media, a strong understanding of SEO can, when implemented alongside a well thought out online presence, help to enhance the overall visibility of the organisation. Still considered by many to be a form of 'black magic', SEO has the capacity to significantly raise the number of leads obtained through a website by helping to ensure that the site in question places highly in the organic search results returned by the major search engines. Whilst appropriate development of an SEO strategy is an ongoing process, there are a handful of simple techniques which, if approached thoughtfully, can significantly raise the visibility of your site.

Be Content in your Content
Intelligent implementation of SEO knowledge can give a site a much needed boost in overall search engine visibility. Careful consideration of the site's composition; both in terms of content and design, can help search engines to more appropriately categorise the site. By ensuring that themes and subjects are clearly conveyed, the likelihood of the site appearing for relevant search queries increases significantly.

When developing content, it is important to understand those keywords that are most relevant to the business. Keywords are the basis for sound SEO, and without an understanding of how these words and phrases influence the business, it becomes near impossible to develop appropriate content. When developing a list of business relevant keywords, be aware of customer perceptions of both the organisation and the brand. Ask yourself whether internal and external brand perceptions match up. If not, then arguably the organisation should use external brand perceptions as the basis for its keyword selection; after all, it is almost certainly these keywords that will enable the customer to actually locate the business.

The Power of Keywords
Tools such as the Keyword Tool from Google AdWords enable search volumes for user defined words and phrases to be established whilst returning a list of additional keywords that may be relevant to the business. As an aside, I would recommend installing Google Analytics; a useful website reporting tool which can help to esablish how users have located the site. This tool can provide a number of useful insights into the site's performance, at no additional cost to the organisation. Each of these tools will empower the organisation to locate the keywords that are both relevant to the business, and likely to draw attention from the customer. These insights will also help in the subsequent development of a PPC campaign, should the organisation choose to engage in search engine marketing in the future.

Optimising the Site
By establishing a number of business relevant keywords, the organisation can begin to optimise the site. Through appropriate incorporation of keywords in both the content and the page's construction, the website's author can help the search engine spidering software to categorize the content of the page. Keywords should appear naturally in the text. As these keywords should naturally represent the business in which the organisation is involved, content should be developed to honestly and openly inform the user. Whilst this process will almost certainly occur organically, inserting the most relevant keywords into the page's composition is likely to prove more mechanical. Despite many of the major search engines attributing less significance now to page elements such as the meta description than was once the case, it is still advisable to include the keywords in the URL and the meta tags; including the meta description, the page titles and the meta keywords. Whilst these elements will not guarantee front page performance for the site, they will almost certainly facilitate the categorisation thereof.

SEO and the Social Media
The development of a social media presence is without doubt one of the more advisable methods for drawing attention to the organisation, though as we have seen over the course of the past week, resource constraints can impede an organisation's capacity to fully realise this goal. As social media best practice dictates that content should remain fresh, relevant and informative, producing social content is actually one of the more obvious means of improving site performance. Each of the major search engines associates regular content creation with site quality, thus the more regularly a page is updated, the greater the quality attributed by the search engines. As I suggested in opening, when employed alongside an ongoing social media strategy, intelligent SEO can help the organisation to achieve significant search visibility.

Is SEO unethical? That's clearly a subject for debate; a post for another day perhaps. What I would suggest though is that SEO is, by design, a means of drawing attention to information of relevance. Each of the major search engines has evolved to counter those more questionable SEO tactics, penalising the websites of those deemed to be 'gaming the system'. Whatever your stance on SEO, a simple awareness of how your site is composed can significantly increase the visibility of your site.

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1 comment:

  1. Interesting!

    I feel like there is a scarcity of good marketing today. Good marketing means which can convert the leads into sales. The only marketing that has moved me in the last couple of years is Social Media Optimization.