6 non-technical things every new site should do to start getting found in search results

A Google search results pageWe recently had a question from a client about why their new website wasn’t being found on Google for their keywords. We pointed out that it was being found, but – as was to be expected – it was way back on page 8 of the search results. Here is the letter I wrote them explaining the situation and what to do about it:

Dear ABC Accountants

Your website is online and can be found by people searching on Google and other engines. However, because the site is new and quite small, there are many other websites that are ahead of you in the search results. To get shown in the first page of search results does take a bit of time and effort. The whole business of getting a good ranking on Google is called search engine optimisation, or SEO. Big companies pay thousands every month to make sure they get found ahead of their competitors. However, we don’t need to go to such extremes, and there are some basic steps we can take right now to start getting your site appearing more often in search results.

Backlinking and site authority

One of the main indicators Google and other search engines use to decide how important your site is is backlinks. Backlinks are links from other sites to your site. So if I put in a live link of your website on my WebRabbit.co.za site, it counts as a backlink to your site. The more sites that link to your site, the more important the search engines think you are. It’s kind of like a measure of popularity. At the moment your site has no backlinks, so it is not being ranked very well.

Another indicator for your site’s importance is whether Google and the other engines recognise you, the business owner, as a real person who is an authority in your subject. So we have to demonstrate to the search engines that you are an authority and let them get to know you. One way to do this is to have personal profiles on trusted business sites like Google+, Linked-in and Bizcommunity. The more of these you have, the more important you are seen to be. Also, the more articles you write and publish on these various platforms, the more you are seen as an authority.

So now we need Phase 2 of your website plan to build backlinks and increase your site’s authority:

1. Online yellow pages and professional bodies

I see you are already listed on some online yellow pages. Go to each of them and add your website address. This will give you a backlink from each of them, immediately increasing your SEO worth.

Also, are there any professional bodies you can join that offer profiles on their websites? If so it is worth paying the membership fee just to have a high-quality backlink from their website.

2. Gumtree and OLX

Gumtree and OLX are South Africa’s biggest community shopping sites. Ads on gumtree often show up in Google search results. For instance, if I search for “claremont accountants” and I focus only on SA sites, then about half way down the page there is a result from gumtree. I recommend you post an ad on gumtree and on OLX.

3. Bizcommunity

You should also set up a profile on www.bizcommunity.co.za. A basic listing is free – and you get to have a website link (which adds to your tally of backlinks pointing to your site). You can link your Google+ profile (more on this later) to the Bizcommunity profile to create a more coherent online presence. The important thing here is a) bizcommunity is a very big site, so a backlink from them counts a lot, and b) people search on bizcommunity and can find your profile, and then go to your site or call you directly.

4. Linkedin

You need to have a profile on Linkedin (www.linkedin.com). This gives another opportunity for a backlink to your site. It will also enable you to be found by people searching for accountants using Linkedin. I highly recommend having a profile here as it is the world’s foremost business networking site. Your profile here will add signfificantly to your online authority. Remember, the search engines want to know that you are a real person with opinion and subject knowledge.

5. Google+ page

How Google+ results show up in Google searches

This is one of the best ways to jump ahead on the search results. Google+ is a Google service where you can list your business. The important thing is that because it is a Google service, it naturally feeds into the Google search results, giving you an added boost. Google will trust you more because you have a profile on Google+, and the more it trusts you the higher it will rank your website. Also, people use Google+ to search for local businesses, so they will find you here even without visiting your website. This is really a necessity and I highly recommend you get a Google+ page. In the screenshot of search results above, the results in the red circle are Google+ pages. If you have a Google+ page you should also show up there.

6. More content

Another signal that search engines use to judge your authority is the size of your site and how many articles you have. So I recommend you start posting helpful articles and tips on anything to do with accounting and tax. This will boost your website size and each new page or post that you add becomes one more opportunity to be found by people searching for information.

Once you’ve published your article, be sure to Facebook it and also post it on Linkedin, Google+ and Bizcommunity.

OK, these are just some of the things you can do right now to increase your backlinks and your online authority. And one important caution before I go – never ever be tempted to pay for backlinks. There are unscrupulous companies out there that offer you thousands of backlinks for a few dollars. These are very low quality links and will actually get you penalised by the search engines.

All the best with your website popularity building – and let me know if I can do any of this work for you.

Warm regards