Basic SEO Techniques Colchester :
A few basic SEO techniques:
- View Google’s cache to see your page the way a search engine sees it. If you can’t see an element of the page in the cache, the search engines can’t see it either! This means that content isn’t gaining you any search traffic.
- Be sure your page is reachable. Crawlers don’t perform searches, they travel by links. This means your page has to be viewable by clicking on a link on another page or crawlers won’t see it and it won’t be searchable.
- Be sure you don’t have metaframes preventing your page from being crawled. Many Colchester webmasters use metaframes to prevent rogue bots from crawling their page and don’t realize that these metaframes will also prevent search bots from crawling their pages!
- Don’t let your links get lost in a sea of links. Pages with hundreds or thousands of links may not get crawled thoroughly in order to prevent spam and skewed rankings.
- Use specific keywords. General keywords will have lots of competition. By using more specific keywords, a webmaster can reduce competition and increase rankings.
- Don’t abuse keywords. Use your keywords in natural speech. Optimize your page for one or two specific keywords that searchers might use when looking for information available on your page. Be sure your keywords are relevant to your content.
- Don’t use keywords in link anchor text pointing to other pages on your site. (This is known as commiting keyword cannibalization.)
- Be sure your keywords are plain text HTML. Add ALT text for images, transcripts for videos and audio clips, and put captions with java or flash plugins or images. Although crawlers are improving, many are unable to process anything besides plain text.
Be Aware of User Experience
Increasing the usability, accuracy, and visual design of the website will also increase your search metrics. Search engines use search metrics and backlinks to determine the popularity and user-friendliness of your page. These factors play an important role in SEO. Always seek to create content that is pleasing for your reader.
Search Engines use Engagement Metrics to determine user satisfaction. Time spent on a search result means the user found the result much more helpful than a user who immediately hits the back button to look for another search.
The Panda update allows google to use machine learning to rank websites on quality and user friendliness. In 2011, human evaluators ranked thousands of websites based on quality and then implemented machine learning that mimicked those evaluators. This update changed more than 20% of search results.
Things to consider when selecting keywords:
- The Keyword’s relevance to your page. Will the people using that keyword in searches be satisfied with the content on your page?
- The Keyword’s specificity. Would a narrower keyword or keyphrase attract an audience that is more interested in your content than the audience of the broader term? On the other hand, is your keyword so specific it won’t be searched?
- The Competition on that keyword. Can you compete with the current top ranked websites for your keyword?
Where to Put Keywords:
- In the Title: as close to the beginning as you can put it
- At the Top of the Page
- Several times throughout the body of the page
- At least once in the ALT text
- In the URL
- In the Summary or Meta description tag
Optimizing Title Tags:
- Titles should be between 45 and 55 characters long. Titles that exceed 55 characters in length may not show properly in google searches.
- Keywords should be placed near the beginning of the title
- Consider putting your brandname at the end of the title
- Don’t sacrifice readability and emotional impact for keyword optimization
Visit https://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag to see how the title and summary of your page would show up in a google search.
- Keep them short
- Be sure your reader has an idea of what he will find on the page when reads the URL
- Use plain text links
- Use hyphens to separate words
- Use keywords
How Links to your Page Effect your SEO
- Are a wide variety of websites created by a wide variety of webmasters on a wide variety of topics linking to your site?
- Are many sites on similar topics linking to your site?
- Are the ranking sites for your keywords linking to your site?
- Are sites linking to your page using your keywords in anchor text to link to your site? (Anchor text is the blue text that shows on a webpage instead of the URL to the link)
- Are you getting links from trusted sources?
- Have you refrained from linking to spammy or poor quality websites and websites that link to your page?
- Have you been accruing new links?
- Is your page being shared on social media?
If you can answer yes to the eight questions above, links to your content are doing their job and helping increase your rankings. If you can’t answer yes to each question, devise strategies to remedy your answer.
Creating good, quality content that related pages will naturally link to is one of the best ways to get links. Another great way, is through Manual Outreach. Don’t under estimate the traffic that a well placed link can generate itself. Target specific websites who cater to similar audiences, preferably websites with few links, high credibility and high rankings for your keywords, and invite them to link to your page. Be sure to explain how linking to your page is a benefit for them, and not just an act of charity for you. You may also use this tool to see your competitors’ backlinks. Finding sites who have linked to the top ranked sites for your keyword gives you a list of sites that whose links would be of value to you. Avoid self-created links on lower quality websites. While they may help rankings a little bit, they may also hurt your rankings. If you pursue this option, proceed with caution.
Search Engine Webmaster SEO advice
SEO advice from the major search engine webmasters includes:
- Be sure all pages can be reached by static, plain-text links. (Links of the form: , as opposed to links buried in images, java or flash.) These links are easier for crawlers to find.
- Don’t “cloak” your work, or try to present different content to the search engine than you present to the user. Make sure your page is optimized to be found by a search engine when a user searches a relevant query. Don’t try to cheat the crawler’s and their index.
- Use accurate, descriptive, clear language with appropriate keywords in your titles, subtitles and ALT text. (ALT text is text that appears when an image cannot be displayed.) On hubpages, photo captions are ALT text and are therefore an extremely important part of search engine optimization.
- Create content filled with relevant keywords.
Check for Errors
To check for crawl errors see Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Search Optimization in the Mobile Age
In a perfect world, you would have an unlimited budget to market your business in order to find new customers and increase sales. You could buy lots of online and offline advertising, run promotions to build traffic in store and online, and launch a proactive public relations campaign to increase your product or brand's visibility and awareness. But this isn't a perfect world. Realistically, most small businesses and even many mid-sized firms have more great ideas on how to peddle their wares than available resources.
So where do you start if you are looking for more customers? Learning to generate new sales leads is an essential skill for an entrepreneur. Even if you don't consider yourself a salesperson in the classic sense of the Willy Loman character from Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman, you need to understand that the possibilities for finding new customers range from cold calling names from the phone book to buying lists of potential customers to using newer Internet techniques like search engine optimization to drive new business to your website.
The following pages will delve into how to conduct market research to understand your target audience and their needs, how to determine which lead generation techniques are best to broaden your sales horizons, and how to increase sales by following several strategies to sell additional products and/or services to existing customers.
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Understand Your Target Audience
Before you can find new customers and increase sales, you need to understand who your customer is, what value proposition you offer to customers, and what your competition is currently offering in the market and where there are gaps for a new entrant. In other words, you need to do some market research -- whether that means hiring an outside firm to do the legwork or trying to do it yourself. There's an underlying disconnect between your motivation to increase sales and your customer's motivation to solve their problems.
"Attracting more customers is really about listening to their needs, not being a solution looking for a problem," says Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses. "There are many existing problems out there that need to be solved that customers are willing to pay for today."
Dig Deeper: Getting to Know Your Frequent Customers
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Find Out Who Your Current Customers Are
In order to develop a marketing plan to reach new customers, you need to better understand who you're already selling to. "If I'm trying to expand sales, I have to find out who my existing customers are. What are their demographics? What do they look like?" says Jerry Osteryoung, director of outreach for the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at Florida State University. "That means doing market research."
Market research runs the gamut from very simple qualitative research to in-depth quantitative analysis. It can be done very quickly and inexpensively by sending surveys to your existing customers using one of the many online survey tools, such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang. You can also get to know the target audience by looking at existing sources of information -- from the U.S. Census Bureau or other government agencies, from trade associations, or from third-party research firms. But depending on the questions you are trying to answer and your research budget, your market research can involve more extensive interviews with customers and qualitative studies on how target customers feel about your business, its products and services.
Certain products and services may appeal to one audience but not to another, so understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in your target market is critical. You can get to know your customers and segment the market any number of ways including by:
- Demographics -- statistical data on a population including income levels, age, etc.
- Psychographics -- the attitudes and tastes of a certain demographic.
- Ethnographics -- examination of particular cultures.
- Buying habits -- how, what and where customers purchase products and services.
Dig Deeper: How to Conduct Market Research
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Defining the Market for Your Product
Use the information about your existing customers to develop a target audience for your business in its drive to win new customers and increase sales. "While there are core customers you are trying to reach, often there are other markets that are also important to address," Arnof-Fenn says. "Make sure you know who the gatekeepers and influencers are; they will affect the decision makers and you will most likely need to sell to them differently than to the end user." For example, parents might be the gatekeepers for products targeted to children or technology managers might hold influence over a company's decision to invest in new software.
Determine which key messages, features and benefits matter to each potential market. Tell these customers how your business can help them solve their problems. "In order to have a customer go to your online shop, you have to find a reason why these customers want to come to you," Osteryoung says. "The value proposition has to be spelled out clearly."
Next, you need to figure out where to reach these customers and whether there should be a marketing or advertising plan that goes along with that outreach.
Dig Deeper: Make 100 Phone Calls to Find Your Target Audience
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Generating Sales Leads
There are a variety of age-old staple techniques and newer tools you can use to find new customers and increase sales. It's best to understand the range of choices you have in order to determine which may best help your business reach new customers. Newspaper readers may not be moved by Internet-based sales techniques. Similarly, business people who are accustomed with hiring only people they know may be better swayed by meeting you at a chamber of commerce meeting than accepting a blind invitation to connect on LinkedIn or Facebook.
"It starts with good people," says Peter Handal, chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, the sales and leadership training organization. "If you're a one-man shop, it's one thing. But if sales people are really important, you need to hire and motivate good people and you want to give them an upside, such as sales on commission. The motivation is not just money it's also helping them overcome the fear of prospecting."
Here is a rundown on the techniques available:
- Cold calling. This is telemarketing without the call center. It's a blind contact with a potential customer who isn't expecting a pitch. Customer leads can be picked up through scouring newspaper articles or items, lists of leads that are culled by a third-party, or paying attention to people or businesses moving into your turf. "People are always hesitant about cold calling or talking to someone they don't know," says Handal. "We coach people to give themselves a pep talk to get them in the mood. We suggest that they set a goal -- this is how many new people they will talk to this week."
- Networking. This can be done the old-fashioned way, by getting involved in community organizations, such as the chamber of commerce, or attending business functions, such as trade shows. Social functions -- dinner invitations, book clubs, etc. -- can also lead to potential business. "All of those kinds of things are important ways to network to find new customers," Handal says. Networking has also taken a 21st Century twist on the Internet, with the rise in popularity of such websites as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Plaxo. Many businesses find that this type of networking, making contacts through friends or former colleagues, can lead to new customers.
- Develop champions of your products. Use business contacts who have been happy with your products to help generate references and referrals. Once you have sold to them, customers can help you sell to others by offering positive testimonials and leveraging a refer-a-friend campaign created by your business. This technique also employs word-of-mouth marketing. Help customers help you by giving them the ammunition they need to tell your story to others. "Don't be afraid to ask, 'Is there someone else I can talk to and also help?" Handal says.
- Affiliate marketing. Look at non-competitive products or services that are reaching out to the same audiences to see if there are ways you can collaborate through shared outreach efforts such as newsletters, mailings (online and offline) or co-branding opportunities. You probably can uncover a handful of like-minded products or services that are talking to your customers, Arnof-Fenn says. Suggest to these business owners ways your businesses can support each other. Your customers will see joint efforts as a value-added opportunity to reinforce their choice of brands.
- Leverage your website. There are all sorts of tools these days through which you can drive potential new customers to your website. Search engine optimization (SEO) -- using keywords and other techniques to make your site appear on the first page of listings on search engines -- has become an art form. There are websites, such as Search Engine Watch, that will keep you updated about SEO techniques. In addition, there are a growing number of paid SEO consultants who can help you use all the tricks and techniques to improve your search results. You can also use a variety of blogs, chat rooms, podcasts, and webinars to generate awareness for your website and company. A website is a dynamic tool not a one-time experience. The top search engines are constantly updating their algorithms, so you must monitor your website on a regular basis to make sure your keywords are leading customers to you. Make sure you are keeping your website up to date with fresh content so your customers come back often for more.
- Advertising. Typically businesses are encouraged to spend 3 to 5 percent of their revenue on advertising, but a small business needs to make sure that advertising is effective, Osteryoung says. One way to do this is to ask your customers where they heard about you so that you can measure what is effective. In addition, you also have to carefully pick your markets for advertising to make sure you're reaching your target audience. If you're targeting an older audience, newspaper ads might be the way to go. But if it's Gen X or Y you're after, then you may be better off advertising online or on TV, Osteryoung says. "You've got to define your demographics before you develop your advertising or marketing plan."
Dig Deeper: Converting Web Traffic into Sales Leads
How to Find New Customers and Increase Sales: Sell More to Existing Customers
In order to increase sales, many businesses believe the only way is to find new customers, but a number of experts say that this strategy leaves out an obvious potential source of new sales. It's much easier to get an existing customer to buy from you than to convince a new customer to take the plunge. "They're forgetting about low hanging fruit -- their existing customer base," says Osteryoung. "If I want to expand sales, the number one place to go is the existing customer base. They already trust you."
Here's how to increase sales with your existing customer base:
- Bundle products. You can "bundle" a few products or services together for a special price to try to get an existing customer to try some of your other offerings.
- Try the "upsell." Convince your sales staff to go back to existing customers and try to sell those clients related products or services. A common example is a warranty, Osteryoung says. Think of how many times you've purchased electronics and a sales person has tried to sell you on an extended service plan. Customers sometimes take the bait.
- Offer inside information. If a customer is eyeing a product but about to put it back on the shelf, make sure you let them know that the product is going on sale the following week. If you monitor your website's online shopping cart, you may email an existing customer who didn't complete a sale and offer them a discount to complete the purchase.
- Think about customer rewards. Like the airlines have done with frequent fliers, there is no reason a small business can't reward good customers with a loyalty program. Offer a discount on their birthday or for every 10 purchases give them one for free.
- Give free samples. Offering freebies isn't necessarily going to cost you an arm and a leg, but it can increase sales by engendering good feelings among existing customers, convincing them to pass on the sample to a friend or family member, and/or convince them to buy your latest hand cream or ice cream flavor.
Dig Deeper: Tips on Creating a Customer Loyalty Program
"There's a lot you can do that doesn't require much more work," Osteryoung says. "You want to make sure you have saturation but obviously you never want to alienate the customer…. You never want to make the customer feel like you are hard selling them."
Practical principles, processes, and programs that offer people the knowledge, skills and practices they need to influence and sell to customers
Word-of-Mouth Marketing Association
Trade association for word-of-mouth marketing to attract more customers
Find New Customers
Jeff Ogden's whitepaper on How to Find New Customers and more
How to Use E-mail to Find New Customers
Strategies to use e-mail to build your business
Use an Affiliate Program to Snag New Customers
Use an affiliate program to get your existing customers to recommend your business to their circle of contacts.
How to Hire an SEO Consultant
A primer on how to hire an outside consultant to help you maximize your search engine optimization.
Drive Traffic to Your Business Blog
How to use a blog on your business website to find new customers.
The Return of Customer Loyalty
A veteran entrepreneur explains why it's more important than ever to keep the customers you already have
Teach Your Employees to Focus on Your Best Customers
Teach your employees to know who your best customers are and provide employees with techniques and tools to uncover customer preferences and make every customer interaction count.
Which Online Marketing Strategy Has the Best ROI?
Printable Promotions has only had a blog on its site for a month or so. But it's already made an impact on the company's search engine rankings. 'I did a Google search on ‘reusable folding grocery bag,'' says Stacie Long, the company's operations manager. 'The YouTube video of our product that we posted on our blog came up third or fourth.'
For many small business leaders, blogging can engender feelings of envy and frustration -- envy over legendary blogs that draw thousands of daily page views and frustration from the sneaking suspicion that no one out there is reading their own postings. Search engine optimization (SEO) can change that.
'Blogging is a great way to drive users to a site,' says Kelly Cutler, CEO of Internet marketing firm Marcel Media. 'It can also help with stickiness, which is an important goal these days. It's too easy for users to bounce away from your site before they've done something valuable like sign up for your newsletter or fill out a form.'
How can you improve your blog's ranking on search engines? SEO is a complex science, but here are some principles that will help:
Make it crawler-friendly
Search engines dispatch software called crawlers (or sometimes 'spiders') to roam the World Wide Web in search of sites that might be of interest to searchers. One important SEO strategy is to have your blog be easy for the crawlers to find.
'Make sure the software is set up so that posts don't get buried ten levels deep in your site,' advises Jill Whalen, CEO of High Rankings, an SEO service. 'They should be easy to reach so search engines can crawl them.' Whalen also advises using SEO-friendly blog software. 'WordPress is probably one of the best for that,' she says.
It's also smart idea to include links in your posts, both to your own website's product pages or other information, and to outside websites as well. Why? It's links to your site, not from your site, that drive search engine rankings -- but, Whalen notes, one often begets the other. 'It's a good way to get linking back and forth,' she says. 'Other site owners usually check who's linking to them, so they get to know who you are.' When linking to outside sites, make sure the links open in a new window or tab so that users don't automatically leave your site whenever they click on a link.
To keyword or not to keyword
Since all searches start with keywords, it seems obvious that including the pertinent keyword as many times as you can in a blog entry should help bring traffic. Not so fast, experts say. 'Don't force keywords into content where they wouldn't normally be,' Cutler cautions. 'That creates a bad user experience, which means people won't use your blog, and then Google won't index your blog.' In fact, Marcel Media usually refrains from even telling client bloggers what the top keywords are for their sites. 'Blogs are usually better done without that kind of research in mind,' Cutler says.
Instead, she tries to identify blog topics where preferred terms come up naturally. 'One of our clients is a hospital and we've identified specific areas they want to focus on. We've invited doctors who specialize in those areas to participate in blogging. We're not trying to build content around keywords, but because those doctors work in those areas, we know the keywords will be used.'
If you do decide to do keyword research, Whalen recommends Keyword Discovery or Wordtracker to find what keywords your customers are searching. She also notes that Google's AdWords offers information on keyword searches that is free to use, even if you're not an AdWords customer.
But, she advises, don't just go for the top terms. 'Very competitive phrases probably have many sites optimizing for them,' she says. 'So you want a phrase that's less competitive, but still has some people searching it.' If that phrase is specific to your business's unique value proposition, optimizing on it can be a very powerful tool.
Content is king
'A mistake I've seen a lot is that companies think Web 2.0 is like regular advertising space,' Long says. 'They treat it like a billboard.'
Instead, make sure you're providing content that will entertain, amuse, or inform your readers. One way to build traffic is to comment or react to the news of the day as it affects your particular business. 'If you're a bookseller, you might blog about the current lawsuit by J.K. Rowling to block publication of a Harry Potter Lexicon,' Cutler says. If you use this strategy, she adds, 'Keep it short, to the point, and keep it opinionated. Don't just republish news.'
Understanding the connection between blogging and search rankings can inspire busy executives to take the time to blog, Cutler notes. 'What I like about blogging is that it stays in the spirit of the Internet, but lets you accomplish SEO goals in the background,' she says. 'Content and linking are two of the most powerful Internet marketing tools --and blogging lets you use both in a non-advertising way.'