You already know that establishing a website is the online equivalent of hanging your business sign. Yet, just as you wouldn’t place your sign in the middle of the desert where it would never be seen, you shouldn’t build a website and then forget about search engine optimization (SEO). Otherwise you’ve wasted your efforts creating an online advertisement that no one will ever see!

The goal of SEO is to get your website to the top of search engine results. This means when a potential customer searches for keywords related to your business, your website shows up in the search results.

Search engine matrketingIt’s important to remember that results can depend upon the amount of competition out there, because only about ten web pages can be featured on the first page of Google search results. Having more competition means you have to work even harder at standing apart from the crowd.

Having said that, any effective SEO plan must incorporate all of the following elements if your website stands a chance at seeing steady traffic:

Keyword Density Keywords are the search terms for which you want to be included in the results. These need to be sprinkled strategically throughout the text on your website, as well as in page headings, titles, descriptions, tags, and even the specific URL’s of each page. It’s important to remember that overuse of keywords can actually hurt your rankings, so you have to find the right balance between “just right” and “too much”.

Blogging/Content Updates Search engine algorithms place high importance on the blog portion of websites, because they want to provide their users with information that is fresh and relevant to their searches. A website that is updated regularly with new information is more likely to perform well in search rankings.

Quality Backlinks-  When another website links back to your site, this is called a backlink. Search engines view this as a signal that you are providing high quality content, and so it helps your rankings. Building backlinks is a specialized skill, and must be done slowly, over time.  Most website owners won’t have the time or experience to do this correctly so if you’re going to go down this road, best to outsource it to an experienced source.

Social Media Integration–  Search engines recognize the importance of social media, so content that is shared and discussed on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn appears more important and relevant. This translates into higher search rankings for your website. It’s important to post your blogs or videos on social media sites, and to produce original, quality content that other users will want to share.

Sitemap Submission-  Submit your sitemap to search engines at least once per month, and any time your website is updated. This reminds search engines to crawl and index your pages.

Error Elimination-  As your website ages, errors can develop in the back end which affect your search engine rankings. It’s important to regularly monitor for, diagnose, and repair errors in order to keep the rankings you’ve earned through diligent SEO work.

A final note on search engine optimization: If all of this sounds complicated and difficult, you can indeed hire an SEO specialist to help improve your search rankings. However, it’s important to remember that results can never be guaranteed, so be wary of any company which promises to deliver a particular ranking. It simply is not possible to predict results this way, and it could be a signal that the company plans to utilize fishy methods that initially provide great results before causing your website to be completely de-indexed by search engines.