In this final part of the VictorsFood case study series, I’ll outline some of the online marketing and SEO techniques used for the project. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but there are a plethora of sites online that will fill in the gaps.
Organic SEO methods – Back to Basics
I’m a firm believer in the benefits of organic SEO – i.e not paying for advertising. I’ve seen and heard experiences of clients pushing money into Google Adwords and it dissapearing into a blackhole. Facts are, that PPC (Pay per click) marketing is only sustainable if you’re a large company with lots of budget for online marketing. If you’re a small start-up I’d recommend staying well away from it.
So what are organic SEO methods? Basically anything you don’t have to pay for.
Meta tags are the off the page SEO techniques that sit between the <head> tags in your HTML.
- Title tag – this is what you see in the top bar of your browser. It’s a great space to fill with keywords, starting with the most important keywords to the left hand side of the tag. The title tag is also the clickable link that appears in Google search results. It’s important that your title tags are different on all pages.
- Keyword tag – forget about it, no major search engines bother indexing these anymore.
- Description tag – Make the most of this space by summarising what the page content is about. Try not to go over 200 characters and make sure it is keyword rich and unique for each page.
- XML sitemap – create an .xml file with all the URLs on your site, then upload to your server and submit to Google Sitemaps.
On the page SEO
On the page SEO are all things visible to the eye.
- Keyword rich copy – quality copywriting is key to being found by the search engines. Make your copy short and sharp and full of keywords. If you aren’t good and selling your wares, hire a copywriter to do it for you. It may cost, but will save you money in the long run. Also make your headings keyword rich and enclose them in <H> tags.
- Alt text for images – every image should have alternative text. This is essential for users with screen readers to get verbal descriptions of the images. You can incorporate keywords into the alt tags for SEO benefit. It will also help your images to be indexed in image search engines.
- Internal linking – search engines like links, they rank them higher than other on page elements. Link your keywords to other pages within your site.
- External linking – start reciprocal link programs with your partners and suppliers. Google ranks pages higher dependent on the number of inbound links coming from trusted sites.
There is no point having a website if it gets no traffic. You have to market yourself agressively just as you do in the offline world with traditional forms of advertising.
- Social media – leverage the power of modern social networking and media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, MySpace and LinkedIn. Word of mouth is a free and trusted form of advertising. If people like your products and services let them easily spread the word to their connections through sharing options on your site. VictorsFood has its own blog, Facebook Fan page, Twitter stream, YouTube Channel, Flickr Photostream and LinkedIn profile. Reality is there is no such thing as overkill.
- Free directory listings – Find all the free business directories covering your local area and list your site on them. Some of these services require you do repost your ads or listings, so make sure you regularly maintain them.
- Search engine submissions – submit your site frequently and repeatedly to all the major search engines.
Making sense of it all
Sign up for Google Analytics before you launch your site and add the tracking code to all your pages. Google Analytics has all the functions of major analytics software but is best of all, free. Analytics among other things, will let you evaluate the users of your site, what keywords they are using and their originating sources. With VictorsFood, the site was launched in May 2009 and within it’s first month was averaging around 200 unique visits. By April 2010, the figure was over 1000 unique visits per month. (Update: July 2010 – 3,500 unique visits and 11,000 page views). An excellent improvement.