You’ve designed a beautiful website, you took my advice and included a blog and you promote that content on all your social media accounts, so why aren’t you getting any organic traffic from the search engines?
That’s a great question and one I try to explain to potential clients before I start working on the SEO for their website. The bottom line is if you have a new domain with little content on it you’re going to have a tough time getting traffic from the search engines for the first few months. In fact Google might not acknowledge your website’s existence for a year because they’ve put you in the sandbox.
Sure, a lot of web designers and SEO gurus will say the sandbox is a myth but the proof is in the pudding and most sites just won’t get any traffic from search engines, from Google, for the first 6 months, longer depending on how your website is optimized.
If you’re handling the SEO for your website there are a few things you’ll want to do to speed up the process of getting organic traffic. Ideally some of these things should be implemented before you design and build your website.
There was a time when it was important to have your keywords in your domain name. Someone searching for Minnesota Web Design was likely to find the website with the domain mnwebdesign.com. You wouldn’t even have to search you could just plug in the url and you were likely to find a Minnesota based web design firm. It might not be a good one, and it might not even be in Minnesota but the odds are you could find the site. Back in the day people snatched up domain names in the hopes that business owners would pay premium dollar for them but unless you were smart enough to purchase Kardashians.com you probably didn’t make a killing that way. Unfortunately a lot of those great domains have been taken. Now it isn’t so important to have the keywords in the domain as much as it’s important to have an older domain. An older domain, if it’s been used, isn’t likely to spend time in the sandbox. You don’t need to buy a domain that is currently in use, you can purchase a dead domain for $10 and build your site there avoiding the sandbox and any other penalties you might come across for being a new domain. Just be sure to check out the domain on the Way Back Machine to make sure it wasn’t a porn or gambling site. Ideally you’ll want to purchase an old domain in the same category as your business.
Now called Google My Business, is the place to get your website noticed locally. If you haven’t submitted your business to Google Places/Google My Business, you’re missing out on some great local SEO. You’ll need an address to get listed so consider that before you sign up. It’s unfortunate if you run your business out of your home because you have to give your home address but it’s worth it for the increase in search ranking. Services are easier to rank than products so keep that in mind too. If you don’t want to give your address you can use a virtual office but those can be costly. PO Boxes aren’t accepted and neither are addresses that are shared by several different business. The UPS store offers a service similar to this, you get an address that isn’t a PO box (though you still get a PO box) but so do all the other businesses using that service. Google won’t count these in their maps so use your own address or use a virtual office.
Content is still king and the more you put on your website the faster you’re going to start ranking for the category your business is in. Unfortunately this is where most people skimp when setting up a website. They don’t see the return on their investment immediately so they quit or they decide they will take over the writing responsibilities. If you’ve ever tried to update a website on a regular basis, while running a business, you know how easy it is to push those writing duties aside. Heck, I am a professional blogger and I don’t update my blog as much as I should because I run out of time.
This step won’t help as much with the search engines but it could make your content go viral, and isn’t that what everyone wants? Start reading other blogs and leaving comments. If you are the one who updates your blog then consider linking to the blogs you read in articles that are relevant to their content. Don’t ask for a link back. It’s considered bad form and Google will negate both links if you do. You want organic back links, ideally from interior pages, so write great content and source businesses your respect. Promote their articles and they just might promote yours.
Don’t give up. If you’ve added your site to Google Places and other search engines like Bing (did you know you can submit up to 10 URLS a day on Bing?), Yahoo and the lesser known search engines hang tight. It takes a while but don’t stop writing or adding quality content to your site on a regular basis. You will see your traffic increase if you’re just a little patient.