My friend Amy sent me an email asking why her pages seem to be scoring worse in Google these days and how to better promote her site. Her message reminded me that creating the pages of a Web site is only part of the process. (Visit Amy’s site at inplainsightart.com to see her beautiful glass and ceramic designs and decals.)
Most of my books and videos are about how to build Web sites, but increasingly I find myself answering questions about building an audience. That means everything from Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and how to score high in Google, to whether Social Media is worth the effort.
In my new social media newsletter (sign up here), I share tips for promoting web sites that have caught my interest and consistently worked. Here’s one of the most important:
Search Bots Can’t See Pretty Pictures
If you want to score high in Google, offer valuable content and update it regularly. It’s one of the few things that everybody agrees attracts search traffic and is one of the reasons adding a blog to your website boosts Google rank.
Your site may be stunning to look at, but Google is focused on text. Bots aren’t into pretty pictures. If you have an image-heavy site, take a few minutes to add some text (even if you put it “below the fold”) to provide Google something that it can use to match up with keyword searches.
Answer Their Questions Before They Ask
Most people don’t enter keywords into Google — they enter questions like, “How do I get bubble gum out of a longhair cat?”
How do you answer their questions before they ask? Our pet sitter provides helpful information on her web site, and she sends out a newsletter every month with reminders about vaccinations and tips caring for growing pets. It’s useful, it reminds me that she’s there, and makes it easy to find her contact information when I need her. (Here’s an article about why bulk email services are important.)
Here at DigitalFamily.com, I give away a lot of free tips and answers to common questions about web design, and it brings me a lot of traffic from Google. I’m not the only one giving away information to attract an audience– the ‘freemium model’ works well on the web, especially if you sell a niche product or service.
Google is Complicated
Google ranks sites based on some 250 variables and Google is constantly changing them.Expect your Google rank to fluctuate and beware, if your competitors are smarter than you are about increasing the rank of their sites, you can drop down the list fast.
To attract the right people to your site, consider writing 3 Tips that answer some of the common questions you got in 2010; not specific instructions for using your product or service, but general tips that you think are likely to help your audience.
Then turn those tips into your next 3 blog posts, email them in a series of newsletters, and add them as a page of tips to your site. Don’t overthink it, write up short answers to three common questions as if you were writing an email to a friend — it will make it feel less like a chore and help you find a friendly voice.
If you want to extend your reach, shorten each tip to 140 characters and tease them with a link on Twitter or Facebook.
I hope my tips help you attract just the right audience and I wish you all the best in 2011,
Want more detailed instructions? Here are 10 ways to make your Dreamweaver site more search-engine friendly.