Where your business is listed in the results served by an online search engine has a big impact on how many people will click through to your site: the first result at the top of the page gets about 30% of all the visitors who searched for a given search term. The second result gets only 15% of the visitors and the third result only 10%1.
The techniques used to do this are known, collectively, as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and in this article we take a look at how you can use these techniques to place your website ahead of the competition.
Understand how search engines work: when you enter a query into a search engine, the words you use are known as ‘keywords’. If you enter ‘new haircut’, for example, the search engine will use an algorithm to scan all websites and content that contain those words. It will then display a list of websites containing those words, ranking in order of relevance to the person searching. To get the most visitors to your website, you should aim to be positioned as high as possible in these search results.
Keep a list of keywords: To ensure you are positioned at the top of the search engine results, you’ll need to ensure that you have the right ‘keywords’ embedded into your website. In the example above, if you were to own a beauty salon keywords might be ‘beauty salon,’ ‘hairstyles’ and ‘hair cuts’. To create your list you’ll need to think about the words that best describe your business but also reflect the words that people may use when they are searching for a business like yours. A quick tip is to start typing a relevant keyword such as ‘hairdressers’ into the search bar and Google will auto-fill the sentence to let you know how others are searching in relation to that term.
Conduct an SEO audit: You may have already had someone set up your website for you, if you have one, and they may have already inserted keywords into your code. But how do you know if they have? And how do you know if your website is tagged with the right keywords? An SEO audit of your website can reveal whether there is an element of code you might need to change in order to optimise your website. There are free online tools to help get you started: all you need to do is plug in your website URL and the tools give you step-by-step instructions to optimise your website.
Plan ahead for the long term: We’ve discussed keywords and optimising your website but there are other ways that you can help a search engine find and display your content. That’s by creating what are called ‘backlinks’ to your website - when another trusted website links to yours. When a search engine looks at your website and sees that others are linking to it, it will think that the site is more credible and trusted and may return it as a higher result in a search than a website that appears less credible. One way to get a backlink is to ask customers and partners to link to your website within relevant content within theirs. One quick and easy way to build links to your website is to link back to it from your own social media profiles.
Having the knowledge and tools will allow your business to effectively negotiate the many challenges of search engine ranking, but through putting in some effort and employing best practice, in good time your business will benefit by attracting new customers.
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