Now that it’s possible to create a website at relatively little cost, start-up companies as well as established businesses have an increasing number of competitors when selling their products and services online.
With this saturation of the market and Google pushing their organic search results further down the page in favor of their paid listings, it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to be noticed online without paying Google for the privilege.
Google’s algorithm, which calculates the rankings of websites, can seem like an enigma, changing over 500 times a year. However, the biggest factor in determining Google’s rankings tends to be based on those little blue links that you see on almost all websites.
Imagine Google as the Internet’s polling station, counting the votes from all the links that it finds on the web. Unlike in your typical democracy, where one person has one vote, Google gives more weighting for votes from authoritative, relevant websites.
Unfortunately, there are no quick and easy ways to make your website get more links or turn up on the first page of a Google search. Here are 10 strategies that can help.
1. Pool your votes. Often business owners don’t realize that www.yourwebsite.com and http://yourwebsite.com are seen as different pages by search engines. This can result in any links that you receive being diluted between the two pages. It’s the equivalent of a political party splitting up and the votes being shared by the two new parties. The solution to this common problem is to tell Google that you want all the votes from www.yourwebsite.com to be counted towards http://yourwebsite.com. This can be easily implemented by using a permanent (known as a 301) redirect from one of the pages to the other.
2. Provide testimonials. Every company relies on other businesses to supply products and services. Brainstorm a list of all the businesses that you use and recommend and offer to provide these businesses with testimonials. Often companies will have a dedicated page on their website for testimonials, acting as social proof to potential customers. Usually the company will jump at the chance to receive a testimonial from a satisfied customer and will be more than happy to link back to your website. This technique is a win-win for both websites and helps cultivate a good relationship with suppliers.
3. Offer discounts. Everyone loves a good deal and clubs and organizations love to promote such benefits to their members. Offering an exclusive discount to a club or organization is a highly effective way of receiving a link. I have used this technique to offer university students discounts which then allowed us to receive excellent links from these authoritative websites.
4. Donate to charity. Often charities will list their donors and benefactors on their website. If there is a relevant charity your business can donate to, asked to be listed on this page with a link back to your website.
5. Volunteer your services. If your business can’t afford to donate money to a charity, maybe you could offer your services. Alternatively, you could have a staff team-building day on which you help a local charity. This is good for moral and can help promote your company.
6. Locate references without links. Look for web pages that mention your business or website. Without a link back to your site, Google will not count the citation as a vote. You can use Google Alerts to create an automated notification, so that anytime a website mentions your business, you will receive an e-mail. You can then get in touch and ask them to provide a link back to your website.
7. Book speaking engagements. A short biography of the speaker is usually included on the event website. This is an excellent opportunity to include a link back to your business. If members of your staff spoke at events for a previous employer, ask them to update the biography to include a link to your company (the person’s currently employer) also.
8. Create a superior product or service. This helps to create buzz and adds character to your business and website. For example, this $200,000 Christmas dinner menu created a great deal of media attention (and links) for the business owner.
9. Sponsor photo contests. Ask your customers to send photos of themselves using your product or service in a creative way. Not only does this provide interesting content for your site but, people love to win things. The photos can be uploaded to your company’s Flickr and Pinterest accounts, providing more opportunities to engage with potential customers. Then use Google reverse image search to find other websites that use your images. Asking them to credit your site as the source, results in even more links back.
10. Target the right keywords. One of the biggest mistakes that websites make is targeting the wrong keywords. Take the time to analyze the keywords that produce conversions and make you money. One way to do this is to have analytics software, like Google Analytics, installed on your website so that you can see how visitors are interacting and finding your site. Often business target broad, high-volume keywords that convert well, instead of ranking keywords based on multiples of volume, competitiveness and conversion rate.
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