Date: Summer 2016 for The Financial Broker Magazine
Author: Lisa Lomax
So your website is launched, it looks elegant and professional but in the space of three months, it hasn’t moved up the search engine rankings when you google “financial brokers Dublin” for example. Someone pipes up, “is the website optimised?”
In building websites, it is part of the web designer’s job to optimise your website (on-site optimisation) using elegant and informative text that reads well. This involves creating behind-the-scenes code such as Titles (ideally up to 55 characters) and Descriptions (also known as meta description, up to 160 characters) pertaining to what each page of the website is about as well as formatting headings and using bold and italics correctly.
In writing the Titles and Descriptions, the web designer will be using keywords (the words and phrases that your customer is likely to be searching for in Google to find your business).
How does the website designer know what your keywords are? There is a great free Google tool available known as the Keyword Tool. If you type a couple of words that you think your customers will be searching for, i.e. “insurance brokers” or “legislation and compliance obligations “ for example, the Google tool will come up with every word and phrase that people are searching for within these categories. In so doing, many words and phrases will come to light that you haven’t even thought of that can then be used in the copy of your website.
This is just skimming the surface to get your website picked up by the search engines and help them recognise what is important. It is also worth mentioning that overuse or abuse of keywords can have a negative impact. Content stuffed with keywords or content that doesn’t read well will be penalised and consequently knock you down the rankings. Consider the search engines as your customer looking for the very best business on-line.
There is also link building. Internal links refers to linking one page of your website to another. External link building, one of the most time- consuming tasks but extremely beneficial, is when there is a link from a quality website to your website. The link must be of relevance and interest to your customer.
Off-site optimisation refers to all the additional supports that can be utilised to get your website noticed and pushed up the search engine rankings. Social media: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram – not every medium will be suitable for every company but it gives company owners additional means of using keywords and phrases that their customers might be searching for, which will then be spotted by the search engines.
Blogging is another great tool; pick a subject of interest to your punters and write about it! Try and get them hooked by writing up-to-date and interesting material and then they will return to your website for more. It also gives the company credibility with its customers, reaffirming your professionalism and expertise. The more quality content you write, the more links and comments from customers you will get. You will then move up the search engine rankings as each of these is classed as a vote in your favour.
Videos continue to increase in popularity in addition to the written article. Often a video can get a message across more quickly to customers and often people are more likely to click on a video than read a page of writing. Using the two together can therefore increase your likelihood of gaining an audience.
It goes without saying that there is no point having social media or blogs if you’re not going to use it. There’s nothing worse than going to a Facebook page for example and seeing that nothing has been written since it was set up. Your customer is likely to question whether the company is still in business. My advice would be to get inspiration from similar companies to yours. See how they are using social media and think about whether there is someone in your company that can set aside time every day, or once a week at least, to post.
With SEO done, your website’s performance then needs to be monitored regularly to ensure it is rising up the rankings. Another great free tool is Google Analytics; a bit of code inserted on your website will reveal insights such as which words and phrases are performing best or worst for you, where your customers are located, how often they click on your site and which pages they stay longest on. Your website can then be tweaked accordingly.