I sat down today to write a ‘how to’ for SEO (Search engine optimisation). I had begun with the adage “Top ten things you need to know…” etc. Halfway through I realised that (and this is a completely subjective opinion) really there are a large number of SMEs that could (with the right set of tools) run their own SEO at a start-up stage of Online Reputation creation. In no way does this mean that a multi-trillion operation should attempt to understand and run their online relationships without professional assistance, but a small 1 – 10 man (or woman) operation could quite easily take the first few steps in establishing their reputation online without breaking the bank.
Suffice to say that this article will give you a quick up and over for the initial SEO wall.
This article is going to address Social presence, basic keywords, and site Validation (It will be brief)
So lets begin with the basics. You will need:
1. Steady Internet connection
2. Company website (Please put some time into having this made well)
3. A web professional (Does not need to be an SEO or SMO specialist)
4. Working knowledge of the on line world (You can google)
There are people who will tell you you need facebook and twitter no matter who you are. They are lying to you. The first step in deciding how to tackle your online reputation is to know your brand and you clients. Think of yourself and the people you address.You would not expect to follow the local Milkman on Facebook and twitter, but you may still google him. The demographics of your clientele are paramount in deciding the way forward online.
None the less, for the sake of this article we will assume that you need what is presented and that you have a website. If you have no website I suggest calling Chuck Norris to roundhouse kick you into reality.
So lets go…
Any decent web developer will know to add keywords to the site text and the meta tags. What you cannot expect your basic web developer to do is keyword research. Either you should do it or (preferably) get a professional to to it.
Keywords are the webs way of knowing what you are all about and if you should be delivered as a possible solution the the search user. In this way keywords are tantamount to the success of any website. So spend a little time:
1. Know thine self…. Who are you? What terms have described your company from the beginning? What do you do? What do you sell?
2. Check out your competitors. Go to google/yahoo or bing and search the terms you would like to rock up for. See which competitors are there. Open one of their site and do the following:
- Look at the text on the site: What have they written and how?
- Hover on the site and right click. In the menu that opens scroll down to ‘View Page Source’ and click. Look for titles like meta = “Keywords” and see what keywords and phrases they are competing for
- Repeat with two more sites
Google Keyword tool:
Go to Google Keyword tool and input your chosen keywords. Google will provide a selection of keywords similar in nature. Use a combination of competitive and non competitive keywords
Once you are happy with you keywords place them into the pages of your site. Please save a copy of your keyword selections somewhere
And that is keywords (Kinda)
Creating online presence:
1. Go to www.facebook.com
2. Create a PERSONAL profile (Create a profile for you as a person – If you have an individual or individuals who are already connected to FB then use one of their profiles)
3. Create a Facebook page: A Facebook page connects a business, Cause, Charity etc to the users profile. This means that the page is immediately available to the people following the Page owners. Always better to use a page rather than create a new unique profile. (see http://www.socialmediaiq.co.za/social-networks/how-to-create-a-facebook-business-page-public-profile/ to create a page)
1. Go to www.twitter.com
2. Create a profile and start by following some interesting people (in your genre). The profile can be person specific or company specific
3. Tweet (Introduce yourself to the community: Who you are and what you do, use a # tag so you show up on searches)
1. Take the links to your Twitter and Facebook account and add them to your home page
2. Get a like button for Facebook here and get your webmaster to add it (Get some cool online vector icons or, even better, a graphic designer to build them for you)
You can get the “like button here: http://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/like/”
Get a blog…
If you feel that you are really good at something and your knowledge would be useful to others then blog it. You can use Blogger, WordPress, Drupal and many other platforms to get what you say out there. Most of the blogs will allow users to comment. You will get some negative ones so be ready for that and don’t let it get you down. Blogs also generally provide you with statistics which can be very helpful in seeing how you are performing. Another great thing about Blogs is they create another source for inbound links to your site
So now you have created you social presence but how do you manage it.
Manage your profiles:
I suggest using Hootsuite to manage you profiles. It is a nifty tool that allows you to manage posts and tweets from one location. You can get it from www.hootsuite.com. It is a free tool but you can upgrade to a pro account once you get serious with your Social presence. It is a great little tool and easy to use.
The great thing about well managed social profiles is that it gives your site good inbound links that will help you reach the SERPs.
Inbound links are one of the most NB items when it comes to SEO (In case I had not made that clear)
You need to know who is saying what online. This is possible using a programme such as Radian 6, Saidwot or (My favourite) Brandseye. These help manage you online reputation management and track sources of conversation.
A good ORM tool will:
1. Provide Keyword and Site performance stats
2. Provide recommended actions
3. Give an insight into a competitors site
The reason I specifically mention Brandseye is that it is particularly user friendly. However before you suddenly wet your pants from excitement, these are not free tools. They have a valuation period but after that they will charge you. More than that they are not cheap when you are an SME. We still recommend, if you can, that you use a good ORM tool
Lastly I want to emphasise something I began checking lately. There is an organisation called W3C (World Wide Web Consortium – www.w3.org) who can give you almost anything you need to know about website and website design. From here there is a tool called the ‘markup validator” that gives errors and warnings with regard to the Markup language used by the site. You can use this tool to see how many errors and warnings a page has. It will also help to tell you which browsers will give your site a problem with a specific error/warning. This will also affect your SEO as Google will see these errors and your users will have a negative experience if your site suddenly starts resizing Div tags etc.
With the validator you can see where your code is falling flat and then find a way to correct it.
Right, so to summarise:
Get your keywords and Validate your sites Markup (Google keywords tool, www.w3.org validator)
3. Use Hootsuite to manage
Get a good tool to monitor your online presence and manage mentions.
I know this is a very ‘Scratch the surface’ article but it is meant for the somewhat technical advantaged people in the world. if you can blog, tweet and post then it is probable that you can manage a Online Reputation for your company while in its infancy.
Best of luck and when in doubt ask someone who knows.