So you would have noticed in the news lately the battle that has been growing between the Australian Government and both internet giants Google and Facebook. Fortunately both Facebook and Google managed to strike deals to avoid having to shut down their services or part of it. With this proposed law it would have meant that would mean both Google and Facebook would have to pay media companies for using their content.
Google's own position is that they are willing to pay for news but the proposed law's specifics would break their business model (particularly around news companies wanting advance notice if the search algorithm is going to change - something that would mean news companies could unfairly adapt to this algorithm and get better search results, an advantage no one else has currently). Fortunately Google has been able to strike a deal with most major news media companies.
But what's quite scary is that Google did originally say that if they couldn't meet an agreement that works for both parties, Google would have pulled the plug on search in Australia. Yikes.
Facebook on the other hand is different. They don't have control over what people decide to share in their news feeds. Yes, Facebook can take something down after the fact, but this would mean they would still involuntarily end up being charged for any news company's content they decide to post on Facebook.
The result of which is Facebook was that they pulled all news company content from users and organisations in Australia. They too only just recently have been able to strike a deal with the Australian government that works.
The original move by Facebook to pull news content in Australia resulted in a massive drop in traffic as a result of this move. Something SEO experts and news media companies noticed very quickly.
So this leads us to our point.
Being very heavily reliant on social media for a very large portion of your marketing efforts for your business, particularly if you own and run a business in Perth, is not such a great idea.
Imagine for a moment that suddenly Facebook pulled the plug on Australia completely. How much of your current incoming customer enquiries are generated directly or indirectly as a result of Facebook?
While it would be good if Google doesn't pull the plug (and we really hope they don't), there are other search engines to use. But like Google, Facebook is a very specific, very unique and very popular and extensive marketing tool.
So while we hope there doesn't come a time that we completely lose either to the void, have a think about your current marketing plan, and make sure that you are growing your customer base in other ways.
Growing your own website's visibility
Since we are all about designing websites for people in Perth, we encourage you to focus on improving your own website's visibility, both in terms of how successful the site is capturing opportunities and giving people a reason to visit and better yet return to your site.
Sites that are well designed, load fast, have plenty of useful information and show up in relevant searches (rather than irrelevant searches) is an absolute must.
Set up a newsletter if you can, start collecting subscribers who might be interested in topics you and your business would like to write about. Don't spam them of course, but on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice a month, email them something useful. And make sure you have a means to allow them to unsubscribe so that you are abiding by the relevant spam act laws.
Post content regularly on your site
Post content on your website often too. This not only helps provide more value to your customers (if the content is good), it can give them good reason to return to the site for more. Search engines treat this as a positive too. If search engines can see that you are regularly updating content on your website, it means the site is fresh, updated, not stale, stagnant and collecting dust.
Back links can also be an excellent strategy to help improve traffic to your site. Reach out to other website owners who have some relevance in some way to what you do, or compliment what your site is about. Offer to write a guest blog with permission to link to your site.
Keep in mind however that not every site with a back link to your site is always good. The domain name of one site could be seen by search engines as extremely credible, popular and legit. Where as the domain of another could have a really poor reputation or have very little traffic or credibility.
Linking to your site from every site you can get your hands on won't do your own site many favours. So be mindful and selective as to which sites you want to gain back links from.
Have good headings. Have relevant headings.
Behind the glossy front of a website, there are different things search engines make sense of when trying to work out how all the information on your site is structured. And one of those things are headings.
In the web design industry we call them H tags. And a H1 tag more specifically is something a search engine is definitely going to look at when trying to decide what a webpage is all about so that they can catalogue it to show up in the right search results. So for example, let's say we have a mechanic in Greenwood.
If they had a H1 heading on their homepage that simply said 'Expert service with a smile' that's not really telling Google anything, other than theres a service of some description and that theres a smile. Someone searching 'service smile' or 'service with smile' for argument sake might see their site show up.
Only, thats not where we want a mechanic in Greenwood to show up. Instead, we could set the H1 heading on the home page to say 'Car repairs and car service in Greenwood' Now we're getting specific and relevant.
Google will now understand the page has to do with getting your car repaired and/or serviced and they are located in Greenwood. Now anyone in Greenwood (and yes even in neighbouring suburbs near by) searching for a 'car service' will have a better chance of seeing that search result show up.
Use internal links
Another good sign and strategy to improve search results for your site is to include links on your pages to other pages of your site.
If a user is interested in something, and they click through and the content on the following page is interesting enough, and they click through again to another, and so on and so on, that shows Google the content on that site must be good.
So that would also improve your search results because it's showing people aren't just visiting your site and then leaving after 30 seconds having never visited any other page (that's called your bounce rate - the percent of people who will not click through to another page and bail from the very same page they arrived on).
Keep your image sizes slim in size
Another thing you can do to improve your search results is to ensure your pages load fast. One contributing factor is the file size of your images.
If you have images that are way too big in file size, that slows the page loading of your sites pages right down. Ideally, you'll want your sites pages to load in under 2 seconds. Anything longer than that and it will start impacting the performance of your site's SEO (search engine optimisation).
There are a couple of things you can do to ensure any images you upload are slim, one is by using a free service like tinypng.com - which can reduce image sizes for free (under 5mb per file).
Another is by using a caching service. Image caching in a nutshell is where a copy of an image is saved for re-use so that people who visit that website don't have to wait for that image to be re-downloaded onto the page every time. Most web host providers have this as a service, and its always a good idea to check with your web hosting provider if that's something they provide.
If you are using WordPress for your website, there are also a few good free plugins you can use that will provide some level of caching for you too.
This list isn't all inclusive of course, as there are many other ways you can improve your website's visibility. The lesson at the end of the day is this: We are incredibly dependant on using social media to connect with and communicate with others, but it's not the only way to get the word out. And if and when the light switch get turned off for Facebook in Australia, you'll want to be in a position where you are still getting plenty of visitors to your site and generating lots of opportunities for your business.