Getting customers to your website is critical if you want to generate new business in the security and home systems markets. One way is to optimize your website to maximize search engine rankings, which you can do in-house or outsource. Either way, you should understand basic elements of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Optimization is no longer simply adding key terms to meta tags, which most people assume. That strategy worked 10 years ago, but not today. Learn five elements that you should understand about SEO.

  1. Back links—Back links are links that go from another site to your website.  For example, a back link might come from one of your suppliers who lists your company on its dealer directory.  There are numerous places to go to get back links, such as local business associations, trade associations, online trade magazines, alumni schools, etc.  You can even post press releases via the Wire, which will give you back links by media outlets that publish your release. The concept behind back links is that search engine companies, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing view websites with many back links as popular sites that people trust.  Search engine companies rank non-profit sites and sites that end in “.edu” as more credible and assign more points to these sites. Basically the more points your site gets, the higher you will be listed in a search.

    Stay away from “link-farms.” These are services that will link your website to thousands of websites.  Search engine services will remove your website from their website if they find out you practice this behavior, which is termed “blackhat.” Don’t do it. You will never be able to return to Google, Yahoo and many other search engine sites again.
  2. Title tags and relevancy—Title tags are the terms listed at the top of your website. You might have not noticed them before, but if you go to your website, look at the very top of each page. These terms are what shows up in search engine searches and viewers see those title tags when selecting which site to visit. Search engine crawlers look for these terms. Your website needs to be relevant to the title tags. If you try to cheat by having several pages of title tags that are not relevant to your company, search engine services will once again drop you.

    When determining title tags, consider this factor: it is hard to own popular words such as security or audio/video or home theater. It is much easier to own groups of words, such home theater and Minneapolis, Minnesota because fewer companies are located in your area and will use local key words.
  3. Fresh content—Search engine companies rank sites with fresh content higher than sites that haven’t been updated in a while.  Because you have limited time, updating your site can be a daunting task.  One easy way to update your site on a regular basis is through a blog.  A Wordpress blog, for example is easy to integrate into your website and utilize on a regular basis.  You simply log into your website and add a sentence or two each week.  If you don’t have the time, assign it to someone in your company or a family member. You can choose to enable other people to contribute to your blog and at the same time, control what gets posted.

    When writing in your blog, make sure you use relevant key words that people will search for. You’ll need to know the terms that your customers generally search for.  For example, the residential industry uses the term “distributed audio;” however many of your customers use the term “whole-house audio.” You can find out what terms people have used in the past to find your website by signing up for a Google account.  Here you will learn a wide variety of information, such as sources that visitors came from, how long they stayed on your website, terms they used to find you, and much more information about your website.  You can even sign up for Google Alerts, which is a free service that notifies you every time your website is posted on another website.
  4. Content, not flash—Search engine crawlers eat code, not images.  Flash is cool from a visual perspective, but it does nothing for your optimization. It’s important to have the right balance between flash and appropriate text.  In addition, make sure photo file names use relevant terms, such as “security keypad” or “home theater” or “flat panels.” These are terms that people look for —not for example, “Smith’s living room” which many integrators label their image after the name of their customer.
  5. Pay Per Click (PPC)—Up until now we’ve talked about “organic” search engine optimization, as compared with “paid for” optimization.  In organic optimization, sites typically come up in search engines on the left column. Paid for optimization, such as Pay Per Click comes up in the right column.  Many search engine users know the difference between “popular sites” and “paid for” listings and go to organically grown sites found in the left column.  However that doesn’t mean you should rule out options such as PPC services.  It’s a trade off.  You have to determine if you want to invest the time and money in organic website optimization or if you want to pay for PPC.  Pay Per Click in not inexpensive either.  You bid on keywords and then you pay for it every time someone clicks on your website. You can put a limit on it, such as 100 times per month, but you could go through your limit within 5 minutes. 

Website optimization, whether through organic optimization or Pay Per Click will cost you time and money. You have to determine your best return on investment.  In addition to SEO, you also should consider ways to drive customers to your website.  Some examples includes sending them informative e-newsletters on a regular basis and publishing your website on your marketing tools, such as your vehicle signage, literature, stationery, etc.

For more marketing tips and strategies, look for future articles from Leslie Stevens in SDMeNews andsmartHOME eNews.