How To Get More Website Traffic From Search Engines like Google and Bing
Most AV companies have a website which they occasionally update with new success stories, annual events, or special offers. But what if your website isn’t being found in the first place? Wikipedia.org defines Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as: the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher on the page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
The key to SEO is knowing how the search engines work, and more importantly, to figure out exactly what your target audience is typing into the search engine box. A few years ago, it wasn’t uncommon to find hundreds of keywords hidden at the bottom of a webpage in its footer, because back then, those various permutations would get the webpages more “hits” by casting a wider net. Then came the Flash websites, which search engines found difficult to read, and therefore counted on metadata inserted into header files. You many have also seen insanely long meta-titles bars that show up at the top of you web browser window. Example: MY COMPANY – projectors, screens, plasmas, flat screen TVs, AV furniture, two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…
Nowadays, search engines like Google will recognize when a webpage is saturated with repetitive and/or irrelevant keywords. Also, studies have found that each page of your website should be optimized for just a few keywords, and should NOT compete with your other webpages for those same keyword search engine results. So, it’s better to have a page optimized for “video projectors” and another page optimized for “projection screens”, instead of one page trying for a handful of terms.
Before you get started on your SEO, you are going to need to swallow your pride, and realize that you are not your target audience. For example, you may consider yourself a Theatrical Consultant, AV Systems Integrator, Control Systems Programmer, or Low Voltage Technician. Because you are the expert in your field, you may be tempted to use keywords like Acoustical Consulting, Audiovisual Systems Design, Sound Masking, Hearing Assistance, Sound Reinforcement, Public Address, Systems Integration, House Of Worship, Audio Engineering, Infrastructure Coordination, and Noise Mitigation.
But the reality is that your target audience is not going to use Google to search for “Audiovisual Systems Integration” or “Acoustical Consultant”. More likely, they are going to search for terms like “projector installation”, “church sound system”, “video screen”, or “ceiling speakers”. Google Adwords offers a free keyword search tool that you can use to see the popularity of your target search terms, as well as the competition for those words. Check the different permutations of the target terms, decide on a handful, and then put those exact terms into your webpage content, your photo filenames, alt text fields, etc.
If you are just starting a website, or adding a new page, you can also build your SEO keyword(s) into your URL. Oftentimes they are separated by dashes or underscores, for example, here is a blog post URL optimized for “social media policy”: https://pkaudiovisual.com/2011/06/28/social-media-policy/
Your social media community pages can also be keyword optimized. If your company is on Facebook, and has more than 25 fans, you can customize your Facebook URL so it is more intuitive for your fans, and also optimized for search engines (although they don’t allow for dashes or underscores). Don’t worry, your old Facebook URL will still work.
Most Facebook users don’t care about Facebook URLS, but they account for approximately 25% of the page loads these days, and the URL can only help your SEO results. Facebook’s Search engine has also become very popular, and also includes results from Bing. If you are targeting local consumers, try to include your geographic area in your Facebook URL, for example: www.facebook.com/AudioVideoBayAreaMarin.
Generally, the best way to improve your SEO score is to get additional inbound links, where your website address is listed on someone else’s website. There are hundreds of ways to do this, one is to regularly read blogs relevant to the AV industry (like this one) and offer thoughtful comments on posts, including a link to your website. It’s very common in the blogging world, as bloggers tend to help promote each other in this way, just be sure to do it subtly with thoughtful comment, not just blatantly writing a shameless promotion in the comment box.
There are entire college courses about search engine optimization, hundreds of SEO books, and countless websites and posts with the latest SEO tricks. This blog post is only meant to be a primer for the audiovisual industry based on my own research. Here are a few other websites that I found helpful (and by linking to them, I will help improve their SEO):
- www.websitegrader.com – Powered by http://www.hubspot.com, this free website gives a score of 1 to 100 based on your SEO , versus your competitors and all other websites it has scanned.
- SEO Checklist: 60 essential checks before launching a website – www.webseoanalytics.com offers a very helpful and comprehensive list of SEO factors, including links for more info
- Keyword Density Tool – by http://www.seobook.com calculates your keyword frequency. I suggest using this tool before and after you optimize for SEO to see what you have changed.
- TagCrowd.com – I like to say this is how search engines “see” your website. If the results are not what you intended, you may want to increase your use of target keywords (and decrease the use of those words that are not keywords)