Yesterday was launch day – you unveiled your site to the World and today you are wondering why Google isn’t showing your site in it’s listings and you haven’t been flooded with traffic!
Reality check, it just doesn’t work like that.
So why doesn’t Google love you yet? Didn’t they get the memo that you launched your site yesterday?
Well, did you tell them?
Unfortunately all this stuff doesn’t happen over night and it requires a LOT of SEO work. What is SEO I hear you ask? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and basically covers everything that is involved in getting your website seen in the search engines (so Google and friends).
So what do you need to do? Let’s find out…
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is the first place to start, you can sign up for a free account at search.google.com and they will guide you through connecting your website. You will then need to submit your sitemap – that’s your personal invitation to Google that your site is live and you want them to come and take a look at it. You can access your site map through SEO plugins such as SmartCrawl and Yoast.
Information won’t be displayed straight away but Google will now start gathering info and after around 24 hours you will see data starting to come in and not only will Google Search Console tell you about any errors accessing your website but you will also see a performance tab where you can see what visitors typed in to find your website (if it is shown in the top 100 of that search term), how many people saw your website for that search term and also how many people clicked on your website after typing that in.
So how is this helpful?
You start to find out what people are typing in to get to your site, so:
- You have more of an idea of what people are looking for and also how they word that so you can use that in your keyword research or if it’s something you don’t have covered on your website already then go get a page up or blog about it.
- You can see what Google thinks your website is about (or they wouldn’t be showing it for that search term) so you can see if your efforts are paying off or you need to do more work.
After you launched your site, did anyone even visit? To find out this we use Google Analytics. You can sign up free on the website analytics.google.com and instead of using their tracking code on your website I suggest using the Monsters Insights plugin to easily connect the two together. Tracking will start from when you install analytics, so make sure it’s one of the first things you do.
Now, from your WordPress dashboard (if you used Monsters Insight) you can access how many visitors you had in the last 30 days, where they came from and what pages they visited. So, the reason you may not be making sales yet may just simply be no one has actually seen your website yet! But don’t despair if it’s on zero as this now gives you a chance to start monitoring and tracking, so when you change things you will also be able to see if that tweak or promotion made a difference.
If your site is taking forever to load then your visitors will get bored, and so will the search engines. If someone closes your site before it gets a chance to load, then Google sees all and marks this against you. I like to think of Google giving and taking away points for completing or not doing certain things. These points then determine how far they push you up in the search rankings (they may do it totally differently, but this helps me explain!). So, a slow site loses you points.
How can you fix it? The biggest reason for slow site speed is incorrectly sized images. WordPress likes you to upload your images in the correct size. If they are incorrectly sized, then the website itself has to resize them before it can load – every single time! So just think of WordPress sat there resizing your images before it can even show them – it puts seconds on your load speed. Seconds may not seem like much but anything over 10 seconds and your visitor is gone!
Other things that can affect site speed is not having browser caching (use WP Fastest Cache), which is like your browser taking a snapshot of that page to save for future use (to load it faster next time on your browser). Image optimisation is another bigger, que the Smush plugin.
To find out what’s slowing your site down, or how fast it’s loading visit GTMetrix.com. As a bonus it will also tell you what size your images are meant to be.
Back links are one of the biggest ways to show the search engines that you are an authority in your niche. Think of it as a referral scheme, or the Internet’s version of word of mouth. If another website links to yours then effectively they are recommending you and Google LOVES that. If you use moz.com’s free tools you can take a look at your domain or page authority (so another scoring system!) how many websites link to yours and how that gives you more authority, sites with higher authority are generally listed above sites that have lower authority.
Ideas for back links are swapping links with businesses that compliment yours, listing your site in directories, guest blogging and writing articles. But remember these recommendations need to come from good quality websites. Spammy websites or buying backlinks will only associate your site with that kind of thing and who wants to go there right?
I’ve left keywords until last because this is the first thing people think of when it comes to SEO but it’s also something that will be picked up organically, the other stuff I mentioned won’t and you need to do the work.
The first thing I would say when it comes to keywords is don’t use a keyword.
Using one word as a keyword is just far too general, think of it as niching. SEO plugins are now catching up with this and referring to them as key phrases, which I prefer a lot more. Just think, if you go on Google do you just type in one word? Well, unless you are looking for Price the answer is probably no. Over the next day or so take note of all the things you type into Google and see how often you just type in one word. The answer is probably very rarely and the reason is that the results just won’t be specific enough for your query.
There’s a quote I saw on moz.com that talked about shoes. If you typed in the word shoes what results do you get? Do you want to buy shoes? Do you want to know how shoes are manufactured? What type of shoes do you want? Do you want to learn how to sell shoes? The questions are endless! But what if you typed in Nike Air Jordan white size 6? Well, you are now looking to hand over your money to someone!
Single keywords are also taken up by the big name brands, type in WordPress and see what comes up! So for example if you were selling Avon, don’t even bother wasting your time optimising you website for the keyword Avon as I think Avon have that all sewn up! It’s just more time wasted – time you probably don’t have.
So, how do you choose key phrases?
You niche and you give the people what they want!
What do they want? I hear you ask.
Well there’s a website called answerthepublic.com that can help with that, along with your Google Search Console performance terms and also let’s not forget about the ever popular ‘ask the audience’. Ask your ideal clients what would they type in if they were looking for your service.
A good example is I am also an NLP Practitioner and Coach, one of the techniques we use is called Fast Phobia. But if I were going to write a page about that would I use those words? No, of course not because people are looking for solutions to problems, they probably have never even heard of Fast Phobia. They are more likely to type in something like ‘how to get over my fear of flying’ so if I used that search term then bingo I have your solution!
Each page needs one primary key phrase and you need to use that in your headlines and copy and I suggest using the SmartCrawl or Yoast plugin, which gives you a traffic light system on how to optimise your page for that phrase. But please use common sense, these are only plugins and if things don’t read right you may have put your key phrase in twenty times but the reader has no idea what you are on about so they click off anyway (remember that click off is a big no no!). You can of course use secondary phrases throughout your copy, as at the end of the day these are only little nudges to Google. It’s up to them and the algorithms what search terms they show you for.
I know I’ve mentioned moz.com a few times and they have some nifty little tools that can help you find out if those search terms or phrases are popular and how big the competition is. They even have a 0-100 scoring table where they let you know if the competition for that key phrase is so large don’t even bother wasting your time – unless you want to work REALLY hard.
So there you go, what I want you to remember though is SEO is always hit and miss, you are going to have to try a few things to see what works best for you and your business. Google loves you updating content so it’s not a do it all today and leave it there job, it’s an ongoing process that takes a LOT of time. There are also specialist agencies out there that can help for a monthly fee but I suggest seeing what you can do for yourself first and go from there.
SEO for Small Businesses TOP TIP
Want more in depth video tutorials of what I’ve covered above then check out my courses page, Where in Basic SEO course I have a video tutorial for each of the above topics, guiding you through each one, how to install Google Search Console and Google Analytics, how to choose key phrases, more on backlinks and exactly how to manage your site speed.