Last month Google announced changes to the way it indexes and ranks websites. In a nutshell, it rewards sites which consistently publish fresh content. This is where blogs come into their own.
Having a business blog on your website, which you update regularly, can give you an edge on your competitors. So can including regular video updates (hmm... now which huge organisation owns YouTube I wonder?) and maps (there's that organisation again). Google also owns blogging giant Blogger, but of course there are alternatives such as WordPress and other blogging sites which you can use and which will still see your content included in rankings.
It's fair to say that most if not all search engines take their lead from Google. The complex algorithms behind Google's power are able to deliver remarkable results. For instance last year I wrote an article on my Blogspot personal blog mentioning the Melbourne Cup, with comments about a specific horse, jockey and year in the 1970s. I was trying to find out if anyone remembered the horse that came second (everyone remembers the winners). I typed the horse, jockey and year into Google ten minutes after I'd written my blog post - my blog post was the third site down on the first page. That's the power of Google. Ten minutes.
If you have a fairly static brochureware website, which lists your professional services, I strongly urge you to write a blog or at least regular news to add to your site. Also too get yourself on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and link those social media memberships back to your website.
Maintaining a blog and social media memberships IS time-consuming, so budget a couple of hours a week if you can - at the very least one hour - to write updates.
If you've never written a blog before and are not sure where to start and what to write about, find news items about your industry, link to them in your blog and comment on them; even if it's only a few lines it's your take on the news and how it might affect you or your clients. It's a good way to get started. You can also blog about your clients and how you've helped them (use "Mr X" if you need to!). Keep a notepad and jot down topics for your blog as they come to you.
Now... go forth and get your SEO rankings up!
Who doesn’t have a website? Hands up! If you’re in the hospitality or retail industry or you’re a tradie, you might be able to get by having a listing on a website such as etradesman.com.au, truelocal, or eatability.com.au
However, you can say much more about yourself and your business with your own website and your own domain name. If your business is a consultancy, for example, a website is a must. Even if it's only one page, it's a far more personal and professional look for your company name and brand than just a listing on a site that uses the same template for every listing.
If you own a website, it does need regular care and feeding though. Think of it as a pet or a tamagochi. If you don’t look after it, it’ll die.
Who out there has updated their site in the last week? Couple of weeks? Last month? Any time in the last year?
Imagine you’re a visitor to your own website. You read that the last bit of news posted there was in 2007, and the copyright info at the bottom says 2008. Hmm, you think, perhaps Joe Bloggs is so busy he can’t update his site, or perhaps his business has gone down the tubes and he can’t be bothered any more.
Your website is there working for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You need to keep it looking fresh.
For example, you have to give people a hook to connect with you. Have a call to action on your home page, such as Special offer for June 2010. 5% discount to all new clients. Or Contact us for your free report on FairWork. Make sure you change your 'hook' regularly.
If you enjoy talking and writing about what you do or your industry, consider writing a blog and having the latest posts show up on your home page. You’ll have to make time to maintain the pace though – nobody’s going to return if the last blog entry was six months ago.
Make sure you have Search Engine Optimisation on each page of your site, to help you through the rankings. Reciprocal links with other sites help you too.
Consider using Google adwords. This is a cheap and cost-effective way of advertising and because it can be tightly targeted demographically is an excellent spend for your dollar.
Do you know who’s visiting your site? You should have access to your statistics or have Google analytics installed. You should be able to find out from your stats what people are typing into search engines to find you, and what other sites have referred you. If you discover the majority of visits to your site are from your Mum showing you off to her friends, you have a problem with your search engine optimisation.
Add "Share" and RSS options to your site, so people can tell their friends about you or see when your site changes and new content is added.
And of course add your social media links - preferably with the smart little icons you can download from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube etc. If you use Twitter as part of your internet and social marketing strategy, have a Twitter feed on the home page of your site. I'll be writing more on branding and using social media soon in another post and how you can use viral marketing to enhance your online presence.