SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) has become big business in the last 10 years with companies competing aggressively for that elusive top spot on search listings.
Getting to the very top (or near to the top) can have massive implications for your business, but you need to be patient and be prepared to invest if you want to go all the way, and even then there are no guarantees.
Don't waste money until you have got the basics right
There are some fundamental reasons for listing high up on search engines - things that you can control and that will serve you well going forward:
- A well structured site with good navigation
- A strong domain name (preferably quite an old one)
- Well written page content, page titles and page descriptions that have your keywords in all the right places
- Compliant code
- Pages that load quickly
This is not an exhaustive list, but if you can cover these basics then your site has the potential to make it onto the first page of search engines and possibly all the way to #1, but 'potential' is the important word here - to get to the top, and stay at the top, you have to invest time and money.
Beyond the basics, be prepared to go further than your competitors, and pick your battles wisely
What would you think if I told you I could get a website to the top of Google for the search term "mobile phone"?
You wouldn't believe me right? Good, because I'm lying, it's pretty much impossible....
It's impossible because it's a highly competitive keyphrase, and there are thousands of companies around the world spending millions of pounds to make sure they are in prime position.
This is of course an extreme case, but it's the same in any industry - the words or phrases that you would ideally like to be #1 for are the very same ones that everyone else in your industry wants as well. You can either take them all on to see who wants it the most, or you can get smart and pick your battles, but beware that the big players in most industries will be working hard and spending big to stop you getting anywhere near the top.
A real world example of what you can expect to achieve on a small budget
One of my clients is in the conservatory business, a highly competitive and well established industry in the UK. Like most industries there are major national players and smaller local companies all vying for the same trade. My client would like to be #1 for the keyword 'conservatories' but quite frankly he hasn't got the £50k+ required every year to achieve that, so we focused our efforts a bit more on meaningful words and phrases that are less competitive but still relevant to his business.
By taking this tactic, the website now lists on the first page of the main search engines for more than 25 targeted key phases (excluding geographical terms) which are relevant to the business. This has been achieved by making sure the bulleted points above were ticked off, and by putting a strategy in place and doing some simple keyword research.
We couldn't possibly compete with the big boys, so we focused on our own business and customers - this has paid off handsomely by increasing visitor numbers dramatically, but more importantly it has driven visitors to the site who we are more likely to convert into customers. My client could have spent ten times as much and got a hundred times as many visitors, but I doubt if he would have generated as much new business, and he now has a sustainable SEO model that can move forward with his business.