Even in the age of Instagram and Facebook company pages, yes… your firm definitely still needs a website. In a previous article I covered a few tips on maintaining an effective website in ways that can be affordable to even the smallest firms. As well as additional tips for adding more content and more functions to it to attract more clients.
If You Build It, They … May Have Trouble Finding It
That was almost the line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” except I’m talking about your firm’s website still, of course. Once you’ve created your website, it will soon get indexed on the various search engines, most importantly, Google. But first, how do these search engines find your site? There are hundreds of factors that go into the ranking process, and all search engines keep them mostly secret, but there are at least 200 factors that go into Google’s rankings, according to Backlinko.
In order to apply those factors, however, the search engine must find you first. Most advanced ones constantly send little web bots crawling through websites on the internet, determining content and keywords, looking at the background info on the website (meta data), and following links that appear on the sites it has already found. This last part, link following by the bots, is key, since it helps them find new sites to index and categorize, and then follow the links on that page and do the same. But how do you get other websites to link to yours?
Once you have a new website, it likely isn’t followed by any others, which can make it hard for the index search bots to find. So, an initial action is to add your website to any free directories, such as your local chamber of commerce, social media pages, and “find-a-professional” directories or lists that may be on professional association websites. You should also add links from your site to related information, such as related state and federal websites. These basic free actions should at least get your website initially noticed by the bots. But the more they visit, the higher ranked your site can become.
One key to getting the bots to come back often is to get more links to your website from others. This can still be free, but requires you getting other sites to want to link to you. And the best way to do this is to provide content that others will find useful (that seems obvious), but also to provide continuing, fresh useful content. This increases the likelihood that other people will include a link to your page.
Examples include newsletters or a blog page on your site that is updated fairly frequently with topics your clients or client prospects will find useful. This can include discussion about how a new tax law might affect clients, or how new business processes or technology can help businesses run better. It also helps to be self-promotional: Use your own social media pages to post parts of the articles with a link to your site to read or learn more, or to see what services you offer that can provide the solution to new issues.
While Google and the other sites keep the exact weighting of their ranking algorithms secret, Google shared some insight in a recent blog post, noting that fresh and interesting information on a website is one of the most important factors. So, keep your content interesting, but also make sure to use the key words your target audience will use, and even the most likely way they might search for answers. For instance, if your tax website has the exact words, “How do I lower my income taxes,” it can attract more readers than just listing the relevant tax code. This is referred to as optimizing your content, and the articles should continue to include links to other websites.
Now that your website has good content that is occasionally being added to or refreshed, you will start to notice an uptick in website traffic as more people find your website/blog articles/tips pages, which leads to more linking back to your website, which leads to more traffic, etc. While you can see that this will naturally increase on its own, it is often a very, very slow process, but there are strategies to accelerate this. As I mentioned previously, the first and best way is to continue to have fresh, interesting content that uses keywords and phrases.
Although the impact is no longer as significant as it used to be, the number of backlinks you have is also a factor in Google rankings. So, strategizing on this can result in higher search engine results. And it doesn’t have to be terribly time-consuming or costly, since there are many free resources on how to build backlinks.
- Link Building for SEO (The Definitive Guide) – This guide cuts to the point with a lot of information on link building, explains how Google uses links in its rankings, outlines link building strategies, and offers pointers on what to avoid in link building.
- Link Building for Beginners – This site breaks it down to the novice level, helping website owners understand several tactics.
- Advanced Guide to Link Building – Another useful, but more advanced guide for information on how to get started and several link building strategies.
- Link Building Strategy – The Ultimate Guide to Link Building – This one offers a list of tips on other sites, covering almost every aspect of link building, including how to attract higher quality clicks, optimizing content and best practices for using images.
Local Search Optimization
Google also gives some priority to the location of the person doing a search, with regard to the location of the business. To optimize this, include your city/state/geographic location in your website’s background data, and be sure your firm claims at least the free listing for Google My Business and keep getting your firm listed in local business directories. This can help the search engine provide local service providers related to the questions they are searching for. Now, when they search, “How can I lower my taxes,” there is a greater chance that top listings will include “How can I lower my taxes near (my city)” results, which is more likely to catch their eyes.
Additional Link Tips for Rankings
It’s also a good idea to periodically check whether your outgoing links are still functioning, since links sometimes change or are deleted. Tools like Dead Link Checker or Broken Link Check have free options that crawl through your website and try all the links, giving you a list of which ones to fix.
Your website is often the first time many potential clients will encounter your firm, but finding it is the first step. These tips can help you get started, and there are also many SEO experts that specialize in optimizing websites for professional firms.