This is a question I received today on a closed Facebook group and due to this being the type of question I get asked for quite a bit I felt I would adapt my answer slightly to fit nicely into a blog post. I needed to spend a little time thinking about how to answer this question because to be asked this question in the first place shows some lack of understanding. To answer this question first you need to understand a little more about how websites are ranked in the first place. Firstly, Google have over 200 factors that their algorithms take into account when ranking a website. To break these factors down to a number we can talk about here we need to look at the following:
1. Content is king! You website needs to contain as much relevant information about yourself (sounds obvious right?) Believe it or not most people get so wrapped up in how the website will look that the content itself suffers. When planing the content for your website you need to make a list of things like, the areas you cover, your services, prices etc. You need to do research on keywords / search terms around your business. For example “Electrician in Oxford” Again this is something that people get to wrapped up in without researching thoroughly.
It is not good enough to know that you rank number 1 for “electrician in Oxford”, you also need to know how many searches are made each month for that search term. It is pointless trying to target a keyword that may receive only very few hits. These types of keywords are “sold” by so called “web designers / developers” as “ego” terms. So from your point of view it looks like your web developer has done a great job and you are at number 1 in Google for “Electrician in Oxford” Yay!! Well, this is no more than an ego thing! You need to research how you think people will find you and of course most importantly, you know your business and know how you want people to find you. So instead of having say 10 keywords you want to “rank well in google for” try to think more about “the quality and quantity of your traffic” and in turn “how to convert these to clients”! People these days seldom type in one, two or even three words into Google when searching for a product or service.
Think about how you use Google. When searching for a new Ipad, do you type something like “new ipad” or do you search something more like “new ipad deals in my local area” etc etc – These are called long tail keywords and these are the sorts of keywords you should research and target. You will find that you will receive a much more relevant user to your website and also have a much better chance of converting this user into a client.
This model is no different to how we do things offline but again people tend to get too wrapped up in the online business models they forget the most important thing. That is to simply extend what you do offline into an online version. That is all you need to do and people will find you.
2)Usability, this again is something that is often an after thought. It is really important to ensure you build your site for your visitors, not you. Google very much takes this into account when deciding on where your website should be placed in their search engine when someone types in a key term.
3)Structure. Think about how you structure you website, not just where you put things. Things like how the URL's look. For example mywebsite.co/?=*11234_*//?= is not good for the user. Therefore your inner pages (not the home page) for example your about us page should be something like – mywebsite.co/about-us – Also try to categorise your content into sections that can easily be found from the front page. Again this is all common sense stuff but it does get forgotten or not worked on enough.
4) Be social! Remember people buy from people! Get on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and shout about your services. Also be social and interact with people. Of course you do need to be careful in the way that you do this, for example, have a personal account for each and a business account, and never log into your business accounts if you are not in “work mode”!
5)Tracking. Use a tracking software to find detailed information on visits to your website. For example how many visits do you get per month?, where do they come from? How are they finding my site? These are some important stats that are a must have if you have a website. From these stats you can tell what sort of online advertising is working and what is not. For example, you advertise in Yell and they tell you they send you 500 visits per month to your site. Well, tracking this information yourself will tell you if this is true or they are simply spinning you a line to get you to sign up for another 12 months etc!!
So to outline, don't think about how you “rank” in Google, think “how many relevant visitors am I getting and what is the percentage of those who are converting to work for me and my business.” These are just a few things you need to think about, this is not an exhaustive list by any means and to ensure you dominate your local area market online is time consuming and complex. If you want to ensure you dominate your local area online then I would always recommend getting help with this. It does not need to cost you a fortune, you just need to make sure you get a return on your investment of course :)