After some years of service to help expats entrepreneurship to relocate to Hong Kong as well as assistant to local startups, we see that their businesses have got a good website and they are offering great products or services but no one is aware of it.
We see that they need a little help with their search engine optimization (SEO). Google does tell that number of well-known things that contribute to the ranking of a page, Google ranks a web page depending on a huge number of factors that are kept as a trade secret apparently. Moreover, SEO is never a magic spell to summon a misleading, poorly managed, or fake website on the top of search result, SEO is a collection of on-going procedures to optimize your site pages’ content so that your content is always easy to understand for your audience, both the robots from search engines and human visitors.
Keep in mind, your human visitors come to your website for content thus answer. Keep producing quality content that can satisfy your visitors’ wants and needs in the simplest manner. In short, your site pages are answering the hidden questions of your targeted visitors.
Anyway, here is a checklist for every business owners who want to rank higher in Google (affordable) by deploying some simple SEO technique.
- You should be able to access the back-end console of your web hosting (the company provide computer hardware and internet network for your website to be accessible) and your website domain name provider (usually, your web hosting company offer this service to you together with management of your domain name).
- To gauge the performance of your corporate website (e.g. www.your-company-name.com), you need help from some Google products. You need a Google account to access them, if you don’t, sign up our Google Account here.
- You need to create a sitemap of your website help not only your visitor but also the search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, etc..) to under the structure of your website and index your site pages into their database to compose search results later. Here is a free tool to generate sitemap if you don’t have one.
- You need to claim that you are the owner your website (i.e. webmaster) in view of Google, you need to login Google Webmaster Tools, and choose one of the feasible method to verify you website. You must submit your website’s sitemap to Google.
- You need to allow Google to track and record the traffic landing in your website, all you need to add a few lines of Google-defined tracking code in your website.
You’re also highly recommend to create an account in Bing Webmaster Tools to get your website index in Bing.
Select effective keyword(s) for pages of your website
Jot down popular and specific keywords that your targeted customers can locate your businesses
Keywords are the foundation of your optimization and future search engine rankings.
Be smart and creative to create a list of keywords that you will optimize your site for phrases. Keywords can be single words, short terms, or phrases. Unless your business is so unique that no other competitor exists, short keywords (compose of one to two word) are always heavily competitive, it is nearly unrealistic for small business to expect that your pages can rank at the top of the search results on Google on short keyword searches. It’s okay to write down short word on your list of keywords, these words are heavily competitive because your targeted customers come across short keywords within a second when they hope to get answered by search engine initially. Says, if you know nothing about guitar, you probably want to get a general description and photo about it, and you input a single word guitar in your first internet searching.
Extending length of keywords, any terms that your customers may search for and be converted best to sales are typically very specific key phrases comprised 3 or more words (aka long-tail keywords). For example, if you want to buy a guitar for beginner in you city, you’d narrow the search results by precisely input your need in you searching.
When your list grows, you can see the fact that there are popular keywords among your business, a lot of people search these frequently and thus these words are potentially to send a lot of visitors (aka traffic) to your sites. However, you’d be temped to use more long-tail keywords since more specific keyword terms will result in the most leads and sales at best.
To conclude, your aim is to pinpoint the profitable keywords that converts your visitors to sales. Your keyword phrase should be powerful to draw good traffic and also specific enough to outplay your competitors. Finally, get your site to the top on the search engines when these money words are searched.
Expand your keywords list with related phrases
To find out actual keywords which are input and searched by your potential customers actually or to get keyword suggestion you haven’t thought of yet, you need a tool – Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This tool will help you understand the different keywords for your industry so that you can avoid the ineffective keywords.
Google Adwords is a google service for marketers to buy space on the search result pages depending on specific keywords input to advertise their specific links. Buying advertisement can be costly if you’re targeting for competitive keywords, so Google offers Keyword Planner which is one of the free-of-charge tools included in Google Adwords for marketers to do keywords and phrase research.
The simplest step is to “Find new keywords” by entering name of your products or services, their category, and the landing pages of your website. Then, the tool will reply you with a list of keywords and their search volume in the past.
Repeat this step by input those keywords and phrases on you list together with another landing pages of your site, then you will at least find out extra popular keywords (i.e. high volume of search).
For example, if you are a seller of all types of dresses online, this tool can help you realize that you may want to add the following phrases to your list to be sure to cater all of the potential traffic, such as evening dresses, cocktail dresses, formal dresses, party dresses, maxi dress, summer dresses, designer dresses, white dresses, sun dress, strapless dresses, vintage dresses, long dresses, dresses for sale, dresses online.
Analyse your competitors to get more suggestions on related keywords
Competitive Analysis is a strategy that will lead you to be truly successful. Understanding what keywords your competition is targeting and ranking for is another smart way to find keywords that lead to the type of traffic you want.
You can input address of site pages of your competitor’s website into the Adwords Planner, these site pages should contain the contents that you want to learn from, and input the your guess of products and services that are selling on these pages. You will see what are the Google suggested keywords for these site.
Localize your keywords to target your local visitors
If your business are also serving local customers, don’t miss to localize your keywords by adding location information to the previously selected keywords on your list.
For example, Asia Business Centre is a corporate services provider based in Hong Kong where is a part of China, the words “Hong Kong” and “China” are seens in the pages content to catch the potential traffic generated nearby.
Narrow down the list of keywords based on their effectiveness
Your initial keyword list is ready, analyze the detailed info on each one.
Use Adwords Planner Tool to analyze the effectiveness of each keyword based on the its search volume, competition, and search trends:
Search volume is a metrics showing how many times per month people searched the given keyword, higher means more popular keywords.
Competition is a metrics showing how many advertisers are bidding for the given keywords. If you can find out keywords with high search volume but low competition, then you are worth to study these words.
Search Trends is a charts to show the search volume over the past 12 month of the given keywords. You can see seasonal influence on these words.
Select the most valuable site pages of your website for improvement
You have already picked keywords to optimize the content of your site pages. Then, you need to decide which pages on your site that are worth optimization for which keywords. Your landing pages should definitely be the showcase of your merchandise to attract as much as targeted visitors who have searched a specific word.
Apart from landing pages which are usually presenting a section of your business. Be sure to optimize your home page and all pages that are popular on Google.
Use the Top Pages report of the Google Search Analytics tool to find them.
Optimize site page content for keyword phrases
Optimize your pages for these keywords
Each page should be optimized for NO more than 5 keywords or keyword phrases (2-3 major keywords and several complementary ones).
Each specific page should be optimized for its own individual set of keywords.
Although you can find numerous places on each page where you might place your keywords, some page locations are much more effective than others. Keyword placement can make a difference in terms of ranking well within the search results, we are going to show you in the next step.
You should carefully optimize pages that are meant to attract targeted visitors and serve as landing pages. It is recommended that you optimize each page for NO more than 3 keywords (1 major keyword and 2 complementary ones). Each specific page should be optimized for its own individual set of keywords.
Do not stuff your keywords unnaturally, because it may turn on Google’s filter for over-optimization and receive penalty.
Optimize the title of your pages for the targeted keywords
We’ll touch a little HTML coding, there are so much tutorial on the net, we recommend the W3.org as official resource of HTML usage, we recommend this beginner guide for HTML learners.
To define title to a site pages, you have to place your page’s chosen keywords is within the HTML <title> tag and included within <HEAD> area. For users, the title tag is the text that shows up in a browser window header when users open your page, and is also the text in users’ Bookmarks/Favorites menu. For search engines, these are the keywords that tell the search engines what your page is talking about, and the Title is used in the line that serves as the main descriptor which is stylized in bold and as a link on the search results pages.
Therefore, the title tag looks like <TITLE>Your keyword-optimized title</TITLE> is where you should always place the most important keywords you’re optimizing a page for and avoid wasting valuable space with words like your company name in front of these keywords, unless your company name or trade name is so famous that people search these name as their primary keyword.
Remember that Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag, if you keep your titles under 55 characters, you can expect at least 95% of your titles to display properly. Be sure that each page needs its own unique title tag, duplicate titles confuse the search engine and harm your ranking.
Create a unique and relevant META Description tag for each optimized page.
The META Description tag is a summary of your page’s content. In the code of the page, the META Description tag looks like <META name=”description” content=”Page description” />A short paragraph to outline this site page</META>.
This tag was once the primary mean for the search engines to understand what this page was about and seriously affect your rankings. Nowadays, all of the META Description tag no longer effect rankings but it’s still optionally be used as the description of your page within the search results.
Its importance is seen when the URL is shared socially, it’s usually served as the text that comes up automatically in your social media.
Optimize the header within content of your pages for the targeted keywords.
When you are writing site pages, you use Header tags (i.e. <H1>Headline</H1>, <H2></H2>, <H3></H3>) to label headlines, and structure your content in a logical manner. Your readers and Search engines consider the information within these tags as important, especially the first-level heading tag <H1> as the most, <H2> is less than that of <H1> but the level of importance is still much lower than the TITLE tag.
Use <H2>, <H3> and preceding heading tags on a page in order to structure information in a proper way and be sure to enrich them with keywords.
Optimize the anchor text of your internal links for your targeted keywords.
In coding of your page, the anchor text looks like : <a href=”/?page_id=7″ target=”_blank”>Corporate Services in Hong Kong</a>
What your visitors see is as follows: Corporate Services in Hong Kong
Anchor text is the text that user can interact with for linking to another pages. Internal links mean that the destination of your anchor text is still under your website domain. Optimizing the anchor text and the internal link for keywords is an extremely important SEO tactic since search engines look for anchor text and its internal link to understand what the site and, specifically a page, is about.
However, marketers are heavily manipulating these anchor text and internal links, search engines regard high percentages of exact match keyword anchor texts to be spam except the text is your company or your website name.
In a normal site pages, natural anchor text links for a given domain name tend to be mostly a mix of the domain name, company name, brand names and a range of specific links like products and services. When a site has a large portion of anchor text containing an exact match keyword phrase other than your company or website name, it can trigger a over-optimization penalty. The same targeted anchor text should not over 25% of your total links as a general rule of thumb.
Optimize image tags by alternative name and title of your images for your targeted keywords.
In coding page, image tag e.g. <IMG src=”https://asiabc.co/wp-content/uploads/asia-business-centre_logo_340x156.png” alt=”Logo of Asia Business Centre”> tag is the most frequently used tag you can insert image in your content. Nowadays, search engines can’t index your image based only on what the image looks like, so you need to tell them what the image is with human readable text. The keyword phrase should be put inside the <image alt=”put text here”> as well as the text surrounding the images for search engine to index your image.
Use it wisely and you can instantly turn images into assets to draw traffic since is very effective in helping your images rank well in Search Engines Image Search like Google Images Search and Bing Images Search.
Bear in mind that you shouldn’t over-optimize this technique and never expect a leap of your site pages ranking. The two major reasons for optimization of the alt text in image tag are as follows:
1. If you make an image a link, the alt text also functions as anchor text and thus affect the ranking similar to how textual anchor text works.
2. The HTML specification require every images should have an no empty Alt tag, failure to input this text will cause validation errors.
To conclude, using the alt tag never hurt your ranking and web design. Fill in meaningful text in alt text tag whenever you can do so.
Validate site structure
Deploy dynamic URLs to make them user-friendly
It is important to keep your pages’ URLs as simple as possible, so that human visitors can easily understand their location in your website and robots of search engines can easily crawl and index every sites page in a logical structure.
For example, a non user-friendly URL is as follows:
Instead, you should try your best to deploy a user-friendly URL as follows:
Rule of thumb to create good URL is to avoid any parameters in URL. In addition, human visitors will be happier if you can restrict your structure of site page within 3 levels e.g. http://domain.com/level-a/level-a-1/level-a-1-2/
If you’re building your website by dynamic content management software e.g. Wordpres, it have built-in function to generate pretty permalinks automatically by your website structure and let you play around it.
WWW and Non-WWW are not the same.
Search engines index URLs beginning with www and non-www as different domains. E.g. links to http://www.company.com and http://company.com are counted separately.
Marketer should choose either one and then be consistent in marketing your company and website. The recent trend is to omit the WWW in advertising websites URL for short.
Once you have make the choice, you can easily fix this by formatting the URL you preferred one (also called the canonical one) and redirecting the other one to it. You will need config a server-side “301 redirect” to redirect all your other domains to the preferred one. No worry, we will show how-to in below.
Use the rel=canonical in LINK tag to specify the preferred page to be presented.
It’s common for the same content to be accessed through multiple URLs in the world of online shopping system, to avoid being indexed as duplicated content of your website and penalty, it’s highly recommend to include a value named “canonical” in tag to specify the preferred page to shown and thus be indexed.
Adding a <link> element with the attribute rel=”canonical” to the <head> section of the pages looks like:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://your-company-name.com/” />
The “https://your-company-name.com/” will be the preferred URL for search engines to use to access the content, so that the search results will be more likely to show users that URL structure.
Deploy 301 redirects when you change your website’s structure.
301 redirects are named as Moved Permanently Redirect, it means that a requested resource has been moved permanently to a new URL and any future references to this resource should use one of the returned URLs. Google recommends using a 301 redirect to change the URL of a page as it is shown in search engine results.
If you amend your website’s URL structure and a web page you remove has a suitable alternative page on your web site.
301 redirects are particularly useful if:
1. You moved your site to a new domain, and you want to make the transition as seamless as possible.
2. You’re merging two websites and want to make sure that links to outdated URLs are redirected to the correct pages.
Control quantity and quality of links pointing to external sites on each site pages
Providing your site visitors with a link to a quality and related resource on an external site brings value to your human visitors. You have to reorganize worthy links and remove the ones that do not bring real value to your visitors. Be careful that over-populating too many external outgoing links from one page can have a negative impact on its rankings. Google clearly recommends using less than 100 outgoing links on a page.
Remove broken links, missing anchors and images.
It’s no doubt that a problem-free website is the fundamental of a user-friendly website. Inspect your site is free from common problems like broken links, missing anchors and images which are commonly found in aged content.
Boost your site’s loading speed.
A fast to load site page is on top priority in your optimization. Not only slow sites decrease visitor satisfaction, conversion rates but also has a direct impact on your rankings in Google.
Feed the your potential landing page to Google PageSpeed Insights and Pingdom Website Speed Test to measure your website loading speed score, and inspect the result to find out what are blocking your web server to delivery your site pages to your visitor.
Deploy the Schema Markup to attract visitors
Think of Schema Markup or ‘microdata’ are invisible highlighter to mark up specific content in you site pages so search engines can easily understand and, most importantly, the Schema Markup is used to create rich snippets on the search result pages, visitors may receive enhanced information of your links like pictures, reviews, prices, events, show times, phone numbers, addresses and even recipes. As a result, visitors love them.
Schema.org is the standard of all the available snippets that the search engines have agreed. Adding appropriate Schema Markup does not require intensive work on coding and do not hurt your design. Meanwhile, Google has free tool Google Structured Data Markup Helper to generate HTML code with Schema Markup included.
Deploy the Open Graph Markup to control the way your content is shown in a social media.
Similar to the concept of Schema Markup, social media platforms likes Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, recognize Open Graph tags to allow marketers to control who their site pages look like when their pages are shared on social platform.
The Open Graph Protocol is the home of usable Open Graph Markup.
To test run and to troubleshoot how your site page is displayed in a form of social graph, Facebook URL Debugger is a free tool to help. Facebook requires user login before access to it.
Frequently update your site’s content
Announced by Google almost 2 years ago, website’s freshness is taken into account of Google pages ranking. Google measures all of your documents for freshness, and scores each page according to the type of search query.
We understand that there are two types of content updates search engines evaluate:
1. the updates of your existing pages
2. new pages added.
Start a blog on your domain.
In order to show search engines that your website is providing high quality, frequently updated and relevant content, the simplest way to have new pages added is to start a blog on your domain.
A quality blog will also help you to widen the semantic core of your website and give your visitor the sense of lively website.
Optimize your website for mobile devices.
The fact is the world is shifting towards mobile and your website should be optimized for mobile devices if you want to catch all customers.
The world of mobile search is the mobile page speed load and proper display of your website’s content on mobile devices with various screen size.
Rather than develop another mobile-only website (redirect your visitors to a corresponding mobile page, when they access your site from a mobile device.), you can deploy responsible design on your website.
Responsive website design maintain the same URL across platforms, its aim is to make your web pages dynamically response to different mobile device based on a range of predefined sytlesheet (ie: CSS) to cater different screen resolutions.
The world of SEO is a hard and tedious job, it can take a large amount of your time, there are too many pieces of the puzzle that you need to piece together. The number one is of course Quality Content, you need to offer a good read with plenty of useful information, so concentrate on quality, uniqueness, depth and presentation of your content.
Feel free to comment. Good Business.