Are You Google Friendly?
To set up your own business is no doubt a thrilling endeavour. The flip side? The growing pains of your startup’s early days are not exactly proving to be a walk in the park; you’re trying to make a breakthrough in the public’s eye, and tickle the audience’s interest in you and your services.
After all, for a startup to be successful, its idea needs to catch on, and fall on fertile ground with potential clients and investors.
If that’s where you want to get to (and we know you do), a strong Internet presence is not even an option – it’s a must have. Achieving one pretty much comes down to playing to the rules of the almighty Internet behemoth: Google.
More specifically, you want your startup’s website to appear in Google’s organic search results as close to the top as possible. For your startup marketing strategy to work, you need Google to like you.
While the global search engine constantly changes its algorithms that analyse and rank websites, there are a few tenets of SEO optimisation that have time and again been proven to reap results. If you’ve applied them consistently, you’ll probably stay in Google’s good graces for the long haul.
So, is your website eligible for Google’s seal of approval? Here are some key pointers to help you find out:
- You avoid using too many images/Flash/Java Script
Same principle goes for a multitude of photos, animations, and images; as they’re not visible to Google, resist the urge to inundate your website with too much visual content. Sprinkle them here and there to break the monotony of blocks of text, or publish them under dedicated “gallery” pages.
We love good photos as much as the next guy, but back them up with written content that Google can see.
- You use keywords wisely
Keywords are the mainspring, the sine qua non of every sound and well-carried out SEO strategy. But how do you figure out which ones will get you the best ranking results and reel in most visitors?
Rolling the dice and hoping for the best?
Not quite. In fact, Google comes to rescue once again: with its AdWords Keyword Planner, you can distil which words and combinations of words have the highest number of searches and lowest competition ratios. If you want to diversify a bit and check out what other companies have to offer, see 10 best keyword alternatives.
- You make good content
Long gone are the days when a sub-par block of irrelevant text could climb to the top of Google’s results page, only because it’s brimming with SEO keywords. Ever since its Panda update, Google has been chasing and penalising websites with low-quality content.
Nowadays, you ought to write stuff that’s relevant, useful, and appealing to the reader, with an overall great user-experience as the final goal.
Bear in mind that for a site to be user-friendly, apart from providing engaging and provoking content, you also have to make sure it’s professionally made, fully functional, and easy to navigate.
Therefore, don’t skimp on designers and web-developers who’ll make sure your good content is also well presented.
The logic behind this rule is quite simple: if a user likes the page Google suggested and finds it useful, Google benefits by gaining the user’s trust, and the relationship with the user thus continues. So, a lot of brownie points for both the site owner (you) and the search engine (Google).
- You make good content frequently
What’s usually been said for parties and other social gatherings is now valid for your website content, too: the more is the merrier, but only if you have something to offer. There’s nothing so annoying as the persistent content-publisher who has nothing much to say.
Balance is key: don’t babble, but always stay in your audience’s sight. As Woody Allen once said, “80% of success is showing up.”
What about the posting schedule? We go by the words of SEO consultant Matt Smith:
“If you choose to post a couple of times a week, commit to posting on certain days of the week. It doesn’t matter whether it’s every Monday and Friday, or Tuesday and Thursday. Not only will your readers come to expect new articles on those days, but it will motivate you to getting your article finished for your deadline.”
Whatever schedule you pick, keep in mind that a regularly kept and updated blog shouts “relevance! relevance!” in Google’s ear. Roll up your sleeves, and your consistent efforts will not go unnoticed by the search engine.
- You put social media to good use
On a similar note, your content also has to be shareable. Think of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram… as wingmans to your Google ranking. The more your content gets shared and distributed (not just by you, but by your followers and general audience), your traffic count increases by the boatload.
Google reads this as a so-called “social signal”, meaning your website has engagement value, and places it higher up its results ladder.
- Your site is mobile-friendly
Take a look around you during rush-hour on the tube, or in the doctor’s waiting room: chances are, most people’s eyes are riveted to their phones. It’s the age of being constantly in motion; multitasking; swiping and double-tapping.
That’s why it’s so difficult to wrap one’s head around perhaps the greatest faux-pas in every digital marketing strategy: failing to optimise your site for a mobile friendly version.
Google thinks so, too. In fact, if your site returns a mobile error, Google can choose to penalise it by appointing it lower rankings in search results. Assure your site is reachable to everyone; not just classic desktop users, but to the ever-growing pool of mobile users on the go.
- You set good meta-tags
Meta elements basically help Google “understand” your website: it’s the code lines that Google reads to qualify and categorise each page. The importance of meta-tags are overseen by many websites; which is too bad, because these can be quite an ace up your SEO sleeve.
Basically, each page has to have its own meta-title, which has to be different than the descriptive page name, but still needs to describe the content it’s promoting.
If you’re not sure whether you’re doing meta-tags right, there are several tools aimed to check this for you; we like Meta Tag Analyser best. Analyse the results, and use them to tweak your meta-tags for your site’s better performance.
- Other websites link to yours
How many other websites lead to yours? If your content is deemed worthy from third parties, Google will assume that’s true and reward you with a better ranking. Mostly, you can do this by linking other sites yourself, and assuming they will reciprocate.
Some of the other things that will help you get mentioned are producing good content people will refer to, occasional guest-blogging, leaving comments and reviews with the link to your website included, etc.
There’s one more thing you should consider; sometimes it’s more about who links to you, than how many link to you. “Not all votes are weighted the same, as links from the homepage of major websites, like the Australian Government australia.gov.au, amazon.com or facebook.com, are going to be worth a lot more than a lesser known website.”, explains Jeff Bullas.
- You build links at a natural pace
There’s a catch, though. If you resort to unnatural strategies and try to artificially increase your backlinks base (by automatically created or bought links, for instance) in a short period of time, Google will see right through it and debunk it.
In fact, back in 2012 the company published an algorithm under the codename Google Penguin, whith the sole purpose of detecting the so-called black hat SEO techniques aimed at manipulating the number of links pointing to a particular site.
If you want to avoid a slap on the wrist by Google, get rid of any fake backlinks you might have unnaturally built in the past. And then never resort to such shortcuts again – the Penguin will be on to you.
There’s just no other way round it: anyone who wants to stay relevant in today’s virtual world, needs to play ball according to Google’s rules. However, if your startup is running an uphill battle in this vast digital jungle, give us a call! We like to see young new companies thrive, and we want to be a part of your success.
Let’s discuss your digital marketing strategy in a free consultation session.