In the UK, over 90% of searches are conducted on Google. This de facto monopoly has made life that little bit easier for internet marketers as success on Google will be followed, in time by success on the other engines naturally or, in the jargon, organically. Also Google have provided tools that can give you a good idea of how your site is performing on search engines.
First - you need to sign up for a Google account, if you do not already have one. If you have been living i a cave for the last few months you may not be aware that Google, with the launch of G+, have changed their interface screens across their services which makes a lot of the tutorials on the web (e.g. YouTube) out of date and confusing. If you need how-to walkthroughs to sign up for a Google account the best idea is to go straight to the source for the time being as, while a lot of services are being adjusted and refined, it is simply not worth putting together a third party tutorial.
You may already have a Google account that you use for personal mail (Gmail) and it may be that you want to keep your business separate from your personal stuff. In Lesson One you will have set up your business email. You can use this for your business Google account. Be aware however that Google are getting strict on multiple personalities on their user accounts and require verification through mobile phone and postal addresses to be registered these days. It will be best if you can create whole set of unique verifiable credentials for your business identity. This will include a business phone number and business address too.
Once you have your Google account in place, sign up for the following services. You don't have to use them yet but it will be useful to have them in place as they come into play during the course:
- Webmaster Tools
The first one we are going to use is Webmaster Tools. Firstly you will note as you go through the process to add your site it will require you to verify your ownership by use of uploading a file to your website or using a meta tag.
To do this you will need to add a plugin to your Wordpress website. The plugin you are recommended to use is called "Easy Verification" which you install in the usual manner and simply copy the meta code provided by Google into the box provided in the plugin settings.
While you are updating your plugins, get yourself a sitemap with the plugin "Simple Google Sitemap XML".
When you have verified your site ownership within Webmaster Tools you can submit your sitemap using the instructions provided with the plugin. My experience is that it takes approximately 12 hours before a new site is registered with the Google search engine and crawled by the famous Googlebot!
The cool thing about using the Simple Google Sitemap XML plugin is that every time you post a new article, the plugin will automatically tells Google about it decreasing the time it takes to get your articles on the search engine.
Now STOP! Pause for a second and focus on your content.
Before you go any further you need to build up the content for your site. This means sitting down and writing articles of quality that your readers will find of value and want to come back for more.
Google values good content. Even if your website is an on-line retail store you will need to provide content around your products to attract customers to it. Google also requires you to do one or two other things to demonstrate that your business is bona fide. It is wise to follow these codes anyway to demonstrate to your customers that you are providing a legitimate service.
- Write an "about" page. This is a page where you explain the basics of what your business is all about and who you are.
- Write a "terms and conditions" page. Explaining how you do business and how you expect payment for your services.
Nobody writes these documents from scratch and you can probably adapt one from a site you like. Just make sure that the documents are legally valid in your jurisdiction and waterproof if somebody gets upset and decides to sue you.
The problem you'll be thinking about now is - How to put these compulsory pages on my website without looking like a total idiot? You can put them front and face for everybody to read on the menu. I did go and alter the source code on my them to do this, you don't have to. You can use the "MenuMaker" plugin to achieve the same result. This will not work if you want your site to look really professional and place these links in the footer like a "real" business, for that you will have to sit down and learn how to edit the footer.php file in your theme.
It takes minutes and really is worthwhile...