What Is SEO?
Many of the businesses that have registered with BookingHawk.com have asked about how they can make their website appear higher up on Google searches. The practice of doing so is known as SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. The better optimised your site is for search engines (Google / Bing etc), the higher up it should appear in a search. For example, if you are a mechanic in Galway, you would hope that when someone searches for ‘Mechanic in Galway’, your site will be listed as number 1.
Optimising your site for search engines is not a one item job. There are many small contributing factors that Google consider when deciding where to rank you. Despite what people say, nobody (Google aside) know exactly what these factors are. However, through trial and error, the industry now has a reasonable idea. With that in mind, if somebody promises that they can make your site appear first in a Google search, you should be very wary of them. Firstly, Google may at the drop of a hat, move the goal posts and decide that in order to rank well, all the things that have worked in the past are now obsolete. Secondly, there are ways to try and trick Google into giving your site a good rank. Google is getting smarter at automatically detecting these ‘black hat methods’. If Google suspect you are attempting to trick them, they may black list you and your site may never appear in a search again. Therefore, it is much better to hear someone say that they will do all they can to improve your websites performance with Google.
When Google crawls your site, it is trying to decide what your site is all about. So, if you have loads of fresh original content, Google may decide your site is relevant for a whole range of searches. Obviously, you want to be appearing in as many relevant searches as possible. So, Google crawls ‘Galway-Mechanic.ie’ and decides that this site is claiming to be relevant for people searching for mechanics in Galway. It does this as it finds the content (words/text) on the site are all car/mechanic related and Galway and its hinterland is frequently mentioned.
Google doesn’t just crawl your site once and decide where to rank you. Google is constantly crawling your site. Therefore, Search Engine Optimisation is not a once off job. Your site should be updated regularly to meet with Googles latest algorithm changes.
Quick Changes That Should Help Your Websites SEO
Below I have listed eleven (it was ten but I thought of another!) things that your website should do to encourage a good ranking. This list is not exhaustive, merely an example of contributing factors.
- Have fresh, original content that contributes to the internet. Google likes you to make the internet a better place. So if you are a good citizen and producing content that people want to read, it will probably look more favourably on your site. This is why many business sites have blogs.
- Embed Google software such as Google Maps or YouTube videos (YouTube is owned by Google)
- Have a number of other relevant websites linking to your site. The text that they link to your site with is important. For example, instead of having ‘Click Here’ to read about mechanics in Galway, where ‘Click Here’ is the link. It is better if the keyword is the link. So, a better link would be read more about Mechanics In Galway, where ‘Mechanics In Galway’ is the link.
- The type of website that links to you carries weight. For example, there is little value in having ‘Tims Newsagent Wexford’ linking to ‘Galway Mechanics’ as they have nothing in common. There is much greater value in having ‘Honda Europe’ linking to ‘Galway Mechanics’. For one, Honda Europe will have a great Google rank and will be trusted by Google. Apart from that, both sites will be talking about ‘cars’, ‘car servicing’ etc – ie, common keywords that Honda and Galway Mechanics would like to rank well for.
- Using well written and structured code to render your website – this is largely out of your control unless you built your own website and have a certain level of coding knowledge.
- Using images that have populated and relevant alt tags set.
- Having a page that loads quickly.
- Having a mobile version of your website.
- Have meta keywords and a meta description set in your website code.
- Have social media integration (Facebook / Twitter / YouTube)
- Submit a sitemap.XML file to Google.
How Can BookingHawk.com Help With My Websites SEO?
BookingHawk, although new, is doing quite well in Google rankings for our keywords. This is down to all of the things in the above list being complete and more. As time goes on, and more sites sign up to BookingHawk.com, this ranking should improve further. Therefore having a link on BookingHawk.com to your website should help your search engine score.
If the aforementioned Galway Mechanics has a BookingHawk.com page, when Google crawls it (BookingHawk.com business profile page), Google will discover a link to ‘Galway-Mechanic.ie’. It will also crawl the text on Galway Mechanics BookingHawk.com business profile page which will be talking about ‘car servicing in Galway’ etc. So now Google has the original Galway Mechanic site claiming to be relevant for ‘servicing in Galway’ and now it has another page, on a well ranked and trusted site (BookingHawk.com) backing up Galway Mechanics claim, and linking to the Galway-Mechanic website. This should reinforce Googles opinion that Galway Mechanics is indeed a mechanic based in Galway and therefore contribute to a better rank.
Getting Help With SEO
There are many companies that make a living from improving their clients Google ranking. Finding good ones is as easy as doing a Google search. After all, if they cannot rank their own site well how can they be trusted to rank yours well? My advice on the subject is to agree on certain key performance indicators with whomever you hire to carry out the work. For example, if after a couple of months, your page is still not ranking well, you should be entitled to a percentage refund. Ask the company, if they have any of your competitors as their customers, if they do, you must decide if this is a conflict of interest. The company you hire should be feeding back reports to you at least once a month on how your site is preforming and what they are doing to improve things.
The world of SEO is full of con artists that have the potential to severely effect the traffic that comes to your site, which will directly effect your sales. Therefore you must choose your SEO partner wisely.
If you know someone that would benefit from online booking, please let me know about them. I will send you a two paragraph email for you to forward to your friend so it couldn’t be less hassle for you to help a couple of Irish businesses to grow! As a thank you, I will help you out with some advice on your website / SEO / Tech Support.
Hi, my name is Niall Smith and I am the Founder and CEO of BookingHawk.com. I am an experienced software engineer and have worked with companies like AOL, Guidewire, Deloitte and SAP. I am a graduate of The New Frontiers entrepreneur development programme. I live in Galway, Ireland with my wife. I love to meet other founders and learn from as many people as possible.