How to boost your business presence online

The rapid evolution of social media and its influence on search and referrals for conversations is changing the digital landscape so radically and constantly that it has created a confusing new world for many business owners and marketers. Have websites ceased to be of any use or are they more important than ever?

Well, in the ongoing fifth e-tourism East Africa Conference, held in Nairobi, Google Country Manager, Mr. Charles Murito, said that for any business to flourish today, a website is equally important, but a serious challenge comes in when most businesses try to hit that sweet spot when trying to market their products online so that they can stand out amongst billions of Web pages in existence.

He also highlighted Google’s travel study where leisure travellers are turning to search engines as their first step in trip planning. This use of search engines appears to be coming at the expense of the use of apps, showing need for any business to have a presence online.

According to a study by Google in 2014, 95% of online users read reviews before going to a destination. Leisure travellers read an average of 6-7 reviews before booking while business travellers read an average of 5 reviews. Leisure travellers also spend an average of 30 minutes reading reviews before booking while 10% of business travellers spend more than one hour reading reviews.

Another study carried out back in 2006 dubbed as Prioritizing Web Usability revealed that 93 percent of web users don’t look beyond the first page of search results study. Though times might have changed, still not many online users would look beyond the first few pages of search results

This is no wonder every business wants its site to land in the top ten results for relevant queries. Here are some few steps to boost your site’s search engine status:

Use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services

Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO) describes the service of using a professional computer consultancy to do all the leg work for you. Don’t be taken in by cold telephone calls or emails promising to get you onto the first page of Google.

Deciding to hire an SEO is a big decision that can potentially improve your site and save time, but you can also risk damage to your site and reputation. Make sure to research the potential advantages as well as the damage that an irresponsible SEO can do to your site.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is another tool that can help your product stand out. Unlike SEOs though SEM involves gaining traffic and visibility from search engines through paid search listings.

Use accurate descriptions in your page titles and Meta descriptions

Ensure that your page titles and Meta descriptions contain accurate and brief descriptions of your page content. Google routinely shows snippets of your meta descriptions in search results, and uses them to decide how relevant your site is in particular searches.

So, how do you unleash a click-through-compelling meta description.

Be Descriptive. The language in your meta description should introduce the user to what the page is about. In general terms, sketch out the page’s content. If the user is going to the trouble of clicking on it, he or she wants to make sure that the page really is about what they are interested in.

Be Persuasive. Great meta descriptions involve a touch of the persuasive. To get clicks, go ahead and tug a little bit. Some SEOs advocate using a call-to-action in the description. I’m not convinced that this is necessary; I do, however, recommend that you create a meta description that invites a response, even if it doesn’t directly call for it.

Inspire Curiosity. One of the most persuasive things you can do with your meta is to spark curiosity. This is particularly true for informational queries (as opposed to transactional queries). By the time a user finishes reading your description, they should be curious about what the page will say about the topic. You need to provide just enough information to explain what the page is about but not so much that it ruins the curiosity factor.

Make use of Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Often, a business doesn’t describe its products using the same keywords that its clients use. That’s why it’s important to talk to employees, partners, current and potential clients, and your sales staff to determine which words are most frequently used when people seek out your company and its products or services. Use those phrases to develop an initial list of SEO keyword candidates.

Several keyword-research tools are available to help you choose the best terms for SEO. The free Google AdWords Keyword Tool helps you gauge how frequently keywords are searched in the United States (and globally), and how competitive a keyword is.

The tool is designed to help marketers choose keywords for Google PPC ads, but it’s useful for organic keyword research, too. You’ll also get lots of keyword variations that you might not have thought of.

You can search for keyword and ad group ideas, see how a list of keywords might perform, and even create a new keyword list by multiplying several lists of keywords together. A free AdWords tool, Keyword Planner can also help you choose competitive bids and budgets to use with your campaigns.

Whether you’re new to online advertising or an experienced pro, you can use Keyword Planner to lay the groundwork for a successful campaign.

Optimize Your Pages

The HTML pages on your site may look fine in a browser, but you’ll have to peek into their actual code to see whether they’re going to perform well. HTML code elements that search engines pay attention to include Title tags, Heading tags, Body Copy, Link Text, and Alt tag attributes. If you’re using WordPress to publish your content, there are many good SEO plug-ins that can make this optimization process very easy.

Ensure you register your site with Webmaster Tools.

Webmaster Tools is a free service from Google that allows you to submit your website (and its sitemap) to Google for indexing. That’s not all though: you can use Webmaster Tools to do a lot of other useful things including: check important backlinks to your site, ensure that Google is not experiencing any crawl errors with your site, view the kinds of search queries that are driving traffic to your site.

Most importantly, by registering your site with Google Webmaster tools you are telling the search giant that your website exists. Which of course is the starting point to appearing in search results.

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