One of the most common misconceptions in web site development, is that once a site is built and submitted to the search engines, heavy traffic is on its way. That’s just not how it works… not even close!
Search engine optimization is not rocket-science. A high rank on Google is an evolving, high maintenance process that begins with site structuring, design and content.
- Usable and accessible sites tend to be search engine friendly by their very nature.
- Be patient! High rankings don’t happen overnight.
- Don’t hire a so-called expert. SEO is built into your website structure and design – it is not something you can easily fix afterwards.
- Don’t obsess. Don’t make your website so Google-friendly that your customers can no longer understand you. Hits and search rankings don’t make you money, customers do!
About SEO experts
Every few weeks an expensive “SEO expert” will call or email to say they can get you on the first page of Google. I’m sorry to say that SEO companies make money because we all desperately WANT to believe that we can cheat Google’s system.
Google hires some of the smartest IT people in the world, and they spend every minute of every day pitting their wits against the best web development people in the world. Look at your SEO guy – is it likely that for R350 an hour, he knows more than they do?
Since few SEO experts will tell you EXACTLY what they are going to do, and most know you will never be able to measure if they have done anything at all, they keep making money. Then quickly move on to the next company in a few months. Everyone suspects they have been conned, but who knows – perhaps things would have been even worse!
Critical steps to take before submitting
Before you write the content of your website, do keyword research to determine what keywords you want to target. Think about what terms potential customers would use to search in order to find you.
While constructing your website:
- Use headings and subheadings on the content of your site. A keyword in a heading earns more Google points than the same word in text.
- Optimize your URLs
- Use keywords in your domain name
- Use keywords in your URL (e.g. www.myservice.com/keyword/keyword-2.html)
- Optimize your content
- Use keywords liberally yet appropriately throughout each page. You should assume that Google is not stupid and will blacklist you if you lie or cheat.
- Have unique content – critical!!!! Useful articles about your industry (like this one) help a search engine ranking
- Have quality content – critical!!!!
- Use search engine friendly design, Google likes sites that are mobile-friendly.
- Make sure your website is complete before launching it or you will get indexed for the wrong words!
Immediately after launching your site
- Create A Google Webmaster Tools Account (Google Webmaster Tools)
- Submit your site to all three major international search engines
- Submit your site to the major South African search engines
- Create an XML sitemap
- This link to a free XML sitemap validator was provided by Nancy Johnson: https://www.websiteplanet.com/webtools/sitemap-validator/
- If you are prepared to pay to promote your website, try Google Ads (it works!)
- Continually update your website with quality, unique content
Do NOT do the following:
- Do not use duplicate content. Google indexes only the first website to display an article. If you copy-and-paste text from another website (because you are too lazy to write your own content or articles) Google will ignore those pages.
- Do not use other “black hat” techniques unless you accept the risk of being blacklisted by Google.