How Can I Improve My Web Site’s Search Results Ranking?

Tonight my friend contacted me and asked how she could get her store’s new website to show up in search results.  While I don’t claim to be an expert I do have a little experience with web sites, ecommerce, blogging and SEO (search engine optimization).  Here’s a list of what I told her just shooting from the hip.

I told her it’s definitely a multi-faceted approach.  First, her site looks good, is easy to navigate and has relevant information.  Without a decent place to start none of the rest of this will matter.

  1. Start with a good site with good, relevant content.
  2. Be patient. It takes time to rise to the top, or even to rise at all.
  3. Get visitors. The more traffic your site gets naturally (sometimes called type-in traffic) the better it will rank in search results. Give the URL to all your customers. Print it on their receipt, on the merchandise bags, put a flyer in their bag. Put your sites address up in your stores. Outside the stores. Basically anywhere you can. Get your existing customers to go to the site.
  4. Add content (merchandise and info) to your site often as possible.  Keep the site fresh. Use the island names (or your location) in product descriptions if/when possible. Basically you want the search words people would use to find what you offer throughout your site as much as possible.
  5. Have your own blog and use it to make announcements about new products, etc.  This helps fulfill the previous suggestion. And post to it regularly. Again using key words.  And make sure it links back to your store.
  6. Inbound links are invaluable, particularly from higher traffic sites. Post the link on facebook, twitter or anywhere you can. Try to get written up and linked in your local paper, citysearch, kudzu, places like that. Trade links with other sites where it makes sense, etc. Inbound links are the holy grail of high-ranking search results, and ultimately more site traffic.
  7. Work your networks, get people going there, linking to it etc.
  8. Use site analytics.  Make sure to enable some kind of site analytics (either from your hosting provider or Google Analytics or other) so you can monitor activity to your site over time; and track key words people used to find your site; and where they came from (search engines, inbound links, etc.).
  9. While it’s harder and harder these days to get good domain names it really helps if the site name is something that makes sense, is easy to remember.  It is also really important for it to match the name of your business.

Again, be patient.  It takes time to build traffic, especially search traffic and to get ranked higher in search results. While no one knows exactly the algorithms that Google and other search engines use it is no doubt a combination of the things listed above (and certainly more).  Build your traffic organically using the customers already interacting with you.  Make sure your site is easy to navigate, looks good and has lots of content, particularly the key words you believe people might use to find products or services you offer.

If you’re ever in the Charleston, SC area go to Islands Mercantile on both Seabrook and Kiawah islands for some great T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs.

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