SEO: SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Article written for the Franklin County Chamber page in the Greenfield Recorder on Friday, August 11, 2017
If you have a website, you have probably heard this term. SEO is a method of writing and organizing (Optimizing) your website content to make it easier for Search Engines (such as Google, Bing, etc.) to find your site when people are searching. The more the search engine can match text on your site to what people are searching for, the better your placement in the search results.
Techniques include proper titling of your pages, and beefing up your pages’ text content to include important keywords and phrases that people are likely to use when searching for something. Even your choice of domain name is important.
The key to SEO is to understand that you’re writing for two audiences: the people who read your pages and the search engine that indexes the text on your pages. Thus, you should write your content in such a fashion as to have as many key phrases as possible (this is what people are typing into the search engines) while also writing naturally so the content doesn’t seem too keyword-centric, or contrived. This is where the real skill comes into play.
GOOGLE: GETTING INDEXED
One of the hardest things to do when you first create a website is getting it to show up in Google’s indexes so people can find you when using a search engine. To get your website started, go to Google MyBusiness, if you haven’t already. This is critical, especially if the MyBusiness page already exists and has incorrect information, which is possible if your business has moved or changed phone numbers.
Google My Business (previously Google Pages) is the main business directory used by Google for its search engine and maps. This is an important part of having good “SEO Juice” in Google and on the web in general. If you’re not sure you’re in there, stop everything, and read on…
Your first test is to go to Google and type in your business name, not the website domain, but your actual business name. Your information should show up at the top of the list with a marker flag next to your address, several important pages from your website highlighted, and a map box on the right showing your location, directions, contact info, hours, etc. If you don’t see the map or the marker, go to www.Google.com/MyBusiness to get started.
Below the map box you should see a small link labeled “Are you the business owner?” Clicking that will bring you to a login page similar to Gmail and Google Analytics. From here you’ll be able to edit your business info, including adding the keywords. Of all the information you enter for your business, the keywords, called “Categories,” are the most important, and the most frustrating. Google has a rigid set to choose from, and you can only choose up to five. If your business doesn’t fall into one of their categories, choose whatever works best since you cannot add custom categories.
The second most important information you can provide is your address. This starts the process of getting you on Google Maps, which is critical if you’re a store-front business that relies on customers getting directions.
Once you’re in Google’s Business database and you’ve entered in your street address, they’ll want to verify the info before your record appears in searches. The two methods they use for confirming your info are: calling your phone and giving you a six digit code that you enter into your account, and/or sending a postcard to the address you provided with that six-digit code. Yes. A postcard.
Be aware, Google compares your address to other databases of business addresses, which means you can’t enter someone else’s address as yours. It may verify for a couple of weeks, but eventually it will be removed. If you work out of your house, this may be an issue. Keep that in mind when deciding whether or not you want to appear on Google Maps.
Once your entry is verified you will find yourself on the map. If you like, you can copy the URL (web address) of the map and add it to your website on a link labeled “directions,” or you can embed the map on a page. Click the gear icon on the bottom right of the map to access the options for linking or embedding your map.
Getting in the Google MyBusiness and Maps directory is important. If you need help, give us a call. We’ll walk you through it. Or ask for the latest copy of our little black book, MWW Website Tips & SEO Tricks, pictured above.
Mik Muller, MontagueWebWorks, 413-320-5336
Posted: to Mik's Blog, sort of... on Sat, May 20, 2017
Updated: Fri, Aug 25, 2017