Posted 11th February 2011 | By Nick Evans, Chairman

The usefulness of the web to businesses is summed up in one word - findability. If you can't be found, your business is nowhere, in online terms.

Ensuring that your website can be found is down to some common-sense techniques called SEO or Search Engine Optimisation.
Your website is like a shop window - I've said this before - and it will not attract attention unless it changes. Search engines such as Google and Yahoo! love websites that change because it allows them to index new content and display it to everyone who is searching. Your challenge is to wave hard enough and long enough to attract their attention, so that you make more of an impact than your competitors. Here are three ways of helping to do this:
1. Get links to your site from other websites and social media - your suppliers, web designer, your blog, Facebook posts by delighted customers, Twitter tweets by people who are excited by your latest piece of news.
You're not doing any of that? Your competitors are, you can be certain. If you do email marketing with an external provider, the links from the emails will also count as referrals from an external source. External links are one of the key factors for improving Google ranking.
2. Change the text of your website pages to reflect the keywords that people search for when looking for your products or service.
To test your text content, search for your products or service in Google, then check the first result that comes to the top of the list. Look at the content: there'll be a headline and the search terms you used will be there. There'll also be an abstract of text from the linked page and, yes, your search terms will be there too. Now, check out your website. Does your relevant page have those same characteristics? If not, change it soon. Keyword-laden content is one of the key factors in attracting search engine users' attention.
3. Check that important content that may contain searchable terms is not hidden inside images.
Some websites are completely invisible to search engines because all of their textual content is embedded in images. Although this can look very good visually, in terms of the usefulness of the site in the competitive world of search, it's a no-no. Images for text are often used to allow styled headlines to be built, using creative fonts. However, your headlines are important artefacts in the search engine system - if they're hidden in images - well, Google doesn't read images.
Of course, there's a good deal more. Overall though, always consider that SEO is a continuous process: update your site regularly; build content in other areas (such as social media) that points back to your site; cultivate reciprocal links with relevant websites; check how your successful competitors are getting to the top of the tree; build keywords into your content.
The effort you put into your website's SEO will repay you - it is, after all, the hub of your marketing strategy.

Nick from ExtraMile Communications Ltd.

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