No matter the size of your business, a good website—one that is optimized for the search engines—can bring in new clients and keep your existing clients engaged in your business. For example, let’s say you own a hair salon in Orlando. When a user searches the Internet for “hair salon in Orlando,” your site should appear in the top ten results (on the first page of the search results). If that’s not happening, your website strategy isn’t working for you.
I see this all the time. I use the internet to locate businesses both where I live and globally. It never ceases to amaze me that if I search for something like “Dry Cleaner in Reno,” only one or two websites appear, even though there are dozens of dry cleaning businesses in the area. This is a major missed opportunity!
Go to Google and search for keywords related to your business and the city where you are located. Does your business appear in the search results? Try various combinations of key terms that your target audience would use to find you. If your business isn’t listed in the top ten, then you need to keep reading!
Why Search Matters
The goal for every website owner should be to appear in the top ten results on Google when someone searches for your services or products. As you may have noticed, when you search for just about anything on Google, you will usually receive tens of thousands of results. Most people scan the top ten results on the first page, find what they need, or move on. If your site shows up on pages 2 or 12 or 112, it’s going to be very difficult to get traffic to your site.
First of all, blogging on a regular basis is the best SEO you can get. The more content you add to your site, the more relevant it becomes with Google and the more reasons you give Google to find you.
Second, SEO is a hotly contested topic. You could speak to ten different SEO consultants and get ten different recommended strategies.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what you do to improve your website’s organic ranking with the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.). Since around 70% of all internet searches are conducted with Google, it’s a good idea to focus on how Google ranks your site.
Google uses complex algorithms to determine a website’s relevance and its ranking when a search is conducted. This article covers basic SEO strategies that have proven to be effective for Google and the other major search engines. By implementing these strategies, you should see a noticeable impact on the placement of your website pages in search engines.
Why Text Matters
Google uses technology called spiders to “crawl” across web pages looking for patterns in the text. This is one of the ways it determines what a website offers and how it should be categorized. This is the most basic and perhaps the most important element in gaining better placement in search engines. So when someone searches for “massage therapist in Seattle,” it is imperative that your site include this key phrase.
Every web page has a place to indicate the keywords, page title, and description. This information gets encoded in the page and is the first data that Google sees. When this data is absent or unfocused, it can hurt your site’s relevance with
This is also one of the biggest errors on most websites. Without a keyword strategy to let the search engines know what services you offer and where your business is located, you can’t expect to achieve top placement in search results. There is simply too much competition out there vying for the top ten.
Keywords are the heart of your SEO strategy and should include individual words and phrases that your target clients would most likely use to locate your business. For example, if you’re a professional speaker and business consultant your
keywords might look like this: “Professional speaker San Francisco”, “Professional speaker California”, “Professional speaker leadership”, “Leadership consulting”, “Business consulting leadership”, “Business consultant leadership”, Leadership consultant San Francisco”, “Leadership consulting California” etc.
If you are targeting a local audience, including the city name in your keyword strategy is vitally important. If you serve surrounding cities, it’s a good idea to include those as well. Even if you want to reach a global audience, including a key phrase for your location can be beneficial if clients may look for that information.
For ideas on which keywords to use for your business, try Google’s free keyword tool. When you type in a keyword or phrase here, Google shows you related phrases and their popularity in searches. This can be valuable information for helping you
understand what your customers are looking for. Also, key phrases that are wildly popular are going to be harder to compete with. You may want to focus on incorporating key phrases with slightly less popularity and more of a niche focus.
For example, the key phrase “life coach” receives over 368,000 searches per month while “career life coach” receives 6,600. If you’re a coach specializing in careers, there’s still plenty of search traffic for your specialty, and it will likely be
easier to show up in the search engines if you focus on that less popular search phrase.
Keywords work best when they match the content on your web page. So when writing your web copy, it’s best to repeat the most important keyword phrase throughout the page two or three times. If you want your page to come up when someone searches for “Dallas massage therapist,” then there should be several mentions of Dallas massage therapist throughout the text on the page. Also, when possible, use the keyword phrase in the heading and/or first paragraph of the text. Google may not crawl all the way down each page, so the first two paragraphs are prime real estate.
Of course, there is a caveat to all of this. The search engines will penalize you if you try to beat the system. So don’t bother repeating keywords dozens of times— they will view this as keyword stuffing and it could actually hurt your ranking or
get your site removed from the search engine altogether. Google does care about keyword density. Good keyword density should add up to 4% to 7% of the content on the page, with 93% of the page for other content.
Ultimately, what you want to do is develop a keyword map for your entire site. Each page should have its own unique set of keywords, which allows you to maximize the potential search traffic. This strategy also means that a standard five-page website is rarely enough. Your business probably offers a good number of services. If you want to increase the chances of being found in the search engines for numerous sets of keywords, the best way to do that is with numerous
pages—one describing each service.
Sample Keyword Map for a Salon and Spa
|Happy times day spa Toledo
|Be sure to feature your business name and/or the most commonly used search term for the main page, plus city.
|You may want to feature your leading service for the Services page. Also, this
is a good place to provide a brief summary of each additional service
with a link to a separate page for each
service or group of services.
|Get the best results by adding separate
pages for individual services.
|Spa and sauna
|Repeating an important keyword or
a phrase like “spa” can have the added
the benefit of keyword concentration
across your site.
Each and every page on your website should have its own title. The title for each page is displayed at the top of the browser, in the data returned from an internet search, and as the description when the page is bookmarked in someone’s internet “favorites” folder. There are a lot of sites that simply read “Home” at the top of the page. Don’t make this mistake! Be sure to indicate your business name or a brief description of the page, and incorporate your keywords for that page.
Include a brief description for each web page. This is the information that is listed after the page title when your page shows up in search engine results. Make sure your description includes as many of your keywords as possible without being too long. Most search engines will cut off your description after as few as 25 words.
The actual name of each web page can also help with placement on Google. For example, the link to the typical “About Us” page might look something like this: happytimesdayspa.com/aboutus.html
A keyword-rich link name can be more effective: happytimesdayspa.com/about-happy-times-day-spa-toledo-ohio.html
If you are in the process of setting up a new site, you have the opportunity to create keyword-rich links for your pages. If your site is already live, this could be a hassle, but a good web designer can help you make the transition without breaking any existing links on your site.
Example: Happy Times Day Spa Home Page
Home Page Keywords: Happy Times Day Spa Toledo Ohio
Page Title: Happy Times Day Spa in Toledo, Ohio – Massage Therapy, Facials, Waxing
Page Description: Happy Times Day Spa in Toledo, Ohio specializes in massage therapy, facials, and waxing services.
Content (keywords are noted in bold)
Welcome to Happy Times Day Spa, located in beautiful Toledo, Ohio. Our luxurious day spa offers everything you need to relax and rejuvenate your senses.
Happy Times Day Spa Services Include:
- Massage Therapy – Swedish massage and deep tissue massage.
- Facial Treatments and Peels – Designer vitamin facials, anti-aging facials, acne treatment, and microdermabrasion.
- Waxing – Body waxing, facial waxing, and bikini waxing.
We invite you to arrive early to take advantage of our distinctive day spa facilities. Change into a plush robe and enjoy relaxing in our steam sauna or the hot springs hot tub, which is always set to 110 degrees for maximum detoxification and relaxation.
Happy Times Day Spa is located across from the Toledo Mall in the Happy Shopping Center, with plenty of free parking. Our experienced staff is focused on ensuring that you enjoy your spa experience and get the relaxation that you need and deserve.
Call Happy Times Day Spa today to schedule a spa treatment. First-time guests receive 10% off services: 555-555-5555
Incorporating Photos and Video
Photos and videos create visual appeal on your website. From before and after photos and video demonstrations to images of your facilities and staff, there are many ways you can showcase your business and add visual appeal to your
Each photo or video that you add to your site not only enhances appeal for the site visitor but can assist in your SEO strategy. Images have “alt tags,” a place where you can include a description of the image for the visually impaired or for visitors who are unable to view images online (some corporations and government entities control employee internet access by blocking images from appearing online). Since the search engines don’t yet have the capability of interpreting photo images and video the way that they understand text, they look for the alt image tags and descriptions. Take advantage of the added SEO benefit and make sure that every image you add to your site includes an alt image tag with a keyword-rich description.
Also, including a caption below the photo, is yet another opportunity to add a description. Studies also show that site visitors are drawn to reading captions placed below photos. For some reason, our eyes are drawn there, and this is an opportunity to bring attention to a key message that you want to convey for that page.
Lastly, the actual file name for each image provides yet another opportunity to improve keyword concentration. For example, instead of inserting an image simply named photo.jpg, rename the image to something like massage-therapyhappy-times-day-spa.jpg
Links within your website and pointing to your website from other sites can have an important impact on your overall optimization with the search engines.
One of the criteria that the search engines use to rank website pages is the number of inbound links pointing to your website from other websites. More importantly, they look at how many links from high-traffic websites are pointing to your pages. If a popular website features a link to your site, it shows the search engines that your site is relevant.
Other important incoming links are from industry-related sites. When another site in a related industry features a link to your site, it helps Google see your site’s relevance. For example, a website that covers news about the spa industry would
be an ideal link pointing to a salon and spa site.
Government sites (with a .gov extension) and education sites (with a .edu extension) also have high priority with the search engines. If you’re able to get incoming links from any of these sites, it can help your ranking.
The key to success here is to make sure your link is listed in as many places as possible.
Where to Promote Your Website Link:
- Update the free online profiles provided by any trade organizations that you belong to by including your website link.
- Ask colleagues and business partners to swap links with you. They can publish your link on a “Recommended Resources” or similar page on their site, and you can do the same in return.
- Publish articles and include your bio and website link. The more articles you push out across the internet, the more links you will have pointing back to your site. The same is true for guest blog posts
- Engage in social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Take advantage of every opportunity you can find to post your link online!
Some services offer to add lots of inbound links to your site—beware! Adding dozens of links at once can be viewed by the search engines as spam, and many of these services are scams in their own right.
It takes time to get your link out there, so always be on the lookout for opportunities to add links.
An anchored link is a link to a web page that is embedded in the text. For example, when “Click here for more information” is an active hyperlink to a web page, it is an anchored link.
Anchored links are a boon for SEO because they tell the search engines what content is found on the linked page. Because of this, links should incorporate keywords instead of the generic “Click here” example.
For example, a high-traffic site with a link embedded in the text to “Visit Happy Times Day Spa in Toledo, Ohio” would be an ideal anchored link.
The hardest part of this strategy is getting others to link back to your site in the first place, and then to do so with an anchored link. But because anchored links are so valuable, it’s worth your time to ask your link partners to do this whenever
You can also weave anchored links throughout your own site to the different pages within your site. For example, from your primary services page, you could include a link that says, “Find out more about massage therapy services.” You can also incorporate anchored links on your home page in addition to your site navigation links.
Other Important SEO Strategies
Following are some additional strategies to incorporate into your SEO plans.
One important factor in featuring the keywords that are central on your web pages is the use of headline tags. A headline is denoted on a web page with basic HTML code: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. These tags not only affect the formatting of the text, but the search engines interpret headlines as being important content on a page so they should include the keywords for the page. Be sure to check with your web designer to see if your headlines are properly coded. Also, note that text in larger fonts or bolded using a <strong> tag will also be noticed by the search engines.
Generally speaking, the longer your website is in existence, the better. Newer sites are not regarded as highly by Google as those that have been live for years. There’s not much you can do about this, but know that your site’s standing will improve over time.
Flash is technology often used to create dynamic elements on pages (such as rotating images). Some websites have a Flash landing page where you must click to proceed to the site’s main page. Unfortunately, Flash is not search-engine friendly.
Avoid using a Flash introduction page (the main home page for your site) at all costs because it could completely block Google from viewing your site. If you use Flash within your site, be sure to minimize its use and set alt tags that describe the text on the page. It’s also a good idea to offer an HTML-only version of your site to help the search engines and to ensure that web users who can’t view Flash are still able to view your site.
If you feature links to other websites, be sure to periodically verify that they are working. Google doesn’t like broken links, so your ranking can be penalized.
When you completely redesign your site and upload all of the changes at once, prepare to take a hit from Google. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t like it when all of a site’s pages change at once, but over time you will regain your position. Also, if you do have your site redesigned, make sure you don’t break existing page links. If your page links change or are renamed, ask your web designer to set up .htaccess 301 redirects for each changed link.
To help Google crawl all of the pages on your site, ideally, you should provide them with a Sitemap. Your website designer should be able to help you with this. If you want to do it yourself, instructions are available here
Updating website content on a regular basis is very important. One of the worst things you can do is let your website sit idle for weeks or months at a time without adding new content. This tells Google that your site is less relevant than competing sites that are adding content frequently, and thus hurts the ranking of your site.
Ideally, it is recommended to add new content to your site a minimum of twice each week, though more is better. The easiest way to do this is with a blog. But you can also add articles, news, videos, and other content. And remember, the more content you add, the more reasons you give Google to find your site.
Source: “Own Your Niche” by Stephanie Chandler