Most companies rely on the internet in one way or another to connect with customers but not everyone is using it as well as they could be. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) is tricky and constantly in flux, depending on the algorithms the search engines are using at any given time. But according to Paul Altieri, CEO of BobsWatches.com, the largest online retailer of preowned Rolex watches, he's figured out some simple tricks to increase the visibility of his website.
Here's what he says you need to do to nail SEO.
1. Become an SEO expert.
Sure, you can hire someone who knows how to do SEO, but ultimately no one will have as much passion about drawing more visitors to your website than you. Altieri suggests making use of the plethora of free resources available online, such as the blogs and how-to guides you can find at sites such as Moz, HubSpot, Search Engine Land, and Local SEO Guide. Then, read these resources voraciously.
2. Build an advisory panel of experts.
Once you've educated yourself on SEO, you'll be better prepared to bring in advisers to help you with your strategy. Ideally, these experts are located near you and can meet with you in person on a regular basis. "You absolutely need to find someone locally who can work on your website, utilizing all the new tools of coding, images, and development," he says.
3. Use the right online software tools.
Google and Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics are free and an absolute must, Altieri says. He also suggests sites such as SimilarWeb, ahrefs, and Majestic, all of which have forums and blogs that are fantastic resources for small businesses trying to figure out SEO. He also recommends IfByPhone, which will give you a unique, trackable phone number that's specific for each of your ads or marketing campaigns. "It will help you track every phone call that was generated from that activity," he says. "It's pretty inexpensive--usually $3 to $5 per month plus whatever usage is."
4. Build your brand with quality content.
Effective SEO used to involve putting into place lots of backlinks to your site from other places, but today Google rewards websites that feature quality content, not just verbiage stuffed with the keywords you think will elevate your site in search rankings. Basically, Google has become adept at crawling every page on your website to determine if it's legitimate or trying to game search.
Once you've invested time creating authentic and engaging content, Altieri suggests sharing your story with local newspapers and bloggers in your space. "Comment back to them, read their stories, and pitch them about your product and company," he says.
5. Be one of the good guys.
If you want people to do business with you online, they need to be able to trust you, especially since there's so much fraud and unethical behavior on the internet. "Don't be one of the bad companies; be the good guys," he says, pointing to Zappos, which offers a 365-day return policy. "It's crazy, but that's the kind of thing you need to do in today's day and age," he says.
6. Use responsive web design.
People use their devices to surf the internet all the time, but many websites are not optimized for mobile. Responsive web design is code that allows your site to recognize and respond to a user's screen size, whether it's a phone, a tablet, or a computer monitor. "You will get rewarded by Google for having a responsive design website as opposed to maybe a competitor that doesn't," he says.
7. Use a content delivery network.
Once Bob's Watches began using high-resolution images on its site, it was penalized by Google for having slow load times. Now the company uses CloudFlare, which mirrors its website across the world. "So when someone in France is dialing up BobsWatches.com, they're going to get the Paris-based version because it would take too long to load those images all the way across the world to Indiana, which is where our server is," he says. "Same thing in L.A. If you're in Los Angeles and you're dialing up Bob's Watches it's going to load from the L.A.-based server."