Don’t shoot your website guys. Part 2 (Going forward)

It’s a fallacy to assume that launching a well designed, written and keyphrase optimised website will mean you’ll always rank well in search engine results. And months or years after launch, when all that great work your website guys did has all been forgotten, it’s time to blame them for a poor showing. Wrong.

The tough truth is that post launch phase (covered in my previous blog: Part 1 (Going live)) it’s then that the real work begins. To continue to rank well search engines are looking for your website to be: (1) helpful and relevant to search terms people use (2) fresh and up to date (3) popular, respected.

To gain all three characteristics takes work, regular work. Your website needs to offer the search engine spiders something new to chew on each time they come-a-calling. In a highly competitive on-line environment website rankings over the long term will always depend on it.

In short, you need to find ways to regularly add original (never stolen) content to your website that appeals to both customers and search engines alike. You also need to prove your website’s standing and popularity through in-bound links. There’s lots of ways to achieve this, here’s the most common:

Blogs

Likely the most highly regarded means of augmenting a website’s content is a blog. Use it to answer customers’ most frequently asked questions, to discuss the issues that effect them most, the upcoming hot industry topics etc. – demonstrate your expertise.

I don’t believe there’s a better way of dramatically increasing quality content without making your website look like a dog’s dinner, while progressively optimising your website for more and more specific keyphrase search terms.

And if you’re struggling to write meaty blogs yourself, then get yourself a marketing copywriter to help or as I suggested previously in ‘If it makes it easier don’t call it a blog’, just call your blog page something else instead like ‘News’ and use it to carry all kinds of helpful and relevant shorter content. It might just make it easier.

Website updates

Not to be sniffed at either are all the other ways you can come up with to add further complete pages of content to your website without having a detrimental effect on customer experience and ease of navigation.

I’ve recently blogged about what I call these other ‘channels of change’ before. Think about separate pages for customer case studies, your photo gallery, new products, press releases, testimonials and more. You simply don’t have to rely on your blog page alone. To coin a memorable slogan, ‘every little helps’.

Link building: business relations

The more quality websites that link back to your website, the more popular and respected search engines will deem your website to be. So get some in-bound links.

Depending on your business model, you might want to ask customers, suppliers, distributors and outlets whether they’d oblige you, and reciprocate.

If you’re a member of a trade association, local chamber of commerce or other significant professional body make sure they’re all linking back to your website. The more the merrier.

And get your business (with a website link) into popular local and national business directories. Most are free, so why not? Just don’t overdo it, keep the quality high.

Link building: public relations

If you run the kind of business that has regular newsworthy announcements to make, ask a marketing copywriter to write them up as press releases for sending to local press and/or relevant industry media.

When published online, they’ll likely include a link back to your website – more visitors, more sales, higher ranking.

Write exclusive feature articles, white papers perhaps or blogs for placement in industry media websites and include a link back to your website. Present yourself as an authority on a topic, it’ll be recognised by the search engines.

Social media

In its simplest sense, having a business page on say Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter instantly gives you three more legitimate links back to your website.

In its broader sense, what better way to proliferate the number of in-bound links while dramatically increasing your engagement and popularity with customers at the same time.

As with your website content, be consistently helpful, genuine and friendly with your social media, keep it busy.   If you add a new blog or a new page to your website then post the news on your social media, invite your watchers to link-through, like, comment, share or retweet. Have a social media content plan.

Advertising

I’ll often see SMEs put money into Google pay-per-click ads or online banner ads when launching a new website or product. Then within a short space of time they’re switched off, they can be a comparatively big budget line after all.

Thinking more strategically and longer term though, even a low level on-line advertising budget can help maintain brand presence, the link-throughs and site visitor numbers you want. The cost of not doing might just outweigh the cost of doing.

e-marketing

Of course the most valuable asset a business has is a loyal customer base and making sure it’s up to speed with your latest products, services, offers and news is a worthy task.

Spamming is never an issue if you don’t spam. Even a quarterly customer e-newsletter gives you plenty of scope to garner the right kind of interest and link-throughs your website needs.

Just like building a brand and customer trust, building a website’s relevance and usefulness, its popularity and ultimately its search engine ranking simply doesn’t happen overnight.

It needs on-going regular work and commitment. After all is said and done, the more quality content your website offers, the higher will be its search engine ranking. The more frequently it’s accessed as a result, the higher will be its ranking – popular sites have got more clout. End of.