14 Apr '16
My Big Fat Geek Wedding 2
So, I’m losing a few kilos for the wedding. (Yes, even vegans need to watch what they eat sometimes. Do you know how fattening carob can be?) This is for two reasons – I want to fit into my wedding dress, and also because I’m broadcasting the ceremony live over the internet.
As Chief Researcher in the IT department at Friends of the Earth, as you can imagine, I have formed cyber relationships with colleagues and other friends in vegan chat rooms all over the world. They have intimated they’d like to be “present” on the day. (This is how you have a wedding in the new millennium, people.) Surprise, surprise! Robert is dead against it. But as someone in IT I feel it behoves me to ‘walk the talk’ albeit down the aisle.
Now, my trusty SEO guy (that’s Search Engine Optimisation manager if you’re not too cyber savvy), is convinced I’m doing it all wrong. Over countless chai lattes, we’ve decided my website isn’t keyword friendly, meaning it’s a bit hard for others to find. (Like the organic food section in your local supermarket.) So he presented me with a list of popular search terms and told me to throw them into the site. But here’s the rub. I’m dubious about spoiling the website’s aesthetics but I secretly suspect my SEO guru is right. “It’s no use having the best website in the world if nobody knows about it – apart from you!” he said into his glass of chai. What to do?
Where’s Wally? Is her SEO guy right? We cannot sideline the fact that we need people to find our websites. We spoke recently about the relevance of online advertising for retirees but relevance becomes redundant if no-one sees it.
In an ad-jammed cyber world, making your website visible can be daunting. So how do we lead a retiree to our site? Let me unpack a few things for you on how SEO works.
Remember, most web developers or web designers don’t specialise in SEO. Think of it like a rock band. You have a lead singer. You have a drummer. You have a guitarist. You wouldn’t have the drummer play the guitar, right? So in other words whilst a web designer might have a reasonable understanding of SEO, it’s a very specialised area; aside from the fact they don’t have the time or inclination to spend hours building backlinks or posting articles for blogs that specialised SEO people might do.
And beware the Cyber Snake Oil Salesman who will call you from crackly phone lines overseas promising to get you in the top three search results in Google for a few dollars. These people can often do more harm than good and can even ultimately get you banned from Google. (Yes you read that right: banned from Google.) Can you imagine how that would impact your business? This practice is often referred to as black hat SEO. For example, keyword stuffing is a dodgy SEO trick, which is simply stuffing hidden keywords on your page. Imagine the words ‘retirement village’ written on your home page in white on a white background (so it’s invisible) a thousand times. Guess what? Google doesn’t like this, and will come down on you like a ‘ton of clicks’.
SEO is not something you should outsource lightly – you need the right people in your corner. Knowing the right percentage of keywords to use is just one of the skills a good SEO expert will have. There are many other refinements and tweaks that can climb your site up the Google ladder but it’s not a game for amateurs.
So as you might expect, after designing a new website it's not uncommon for clients to ask us, "and by the way – I'd like our retirement village to be number 1 on Google when somebody types in ‘retirement village’". But it’s not that simple. There are thousands of retirement villages worldwide all wanting to achieve the same outcome. Unfortunately, if you are not on the first page you might as well forget it. Did you know that only a very small percentage of potential clients go past the first page when searching on Google?
So what’s the solution? Follow an integrated approach and niche marketing. Don't try to be all things to all people. Sure, you still try to optimise your website in search engine results but you need to think outside the square. Look at keywords that are unique to your business and that are less competitive. The obvious place to start is geography. If your village is in Bendigo, that’s a keyword right there. But there are many others you might not be aware of. Our people will help you tweak the keywords on your pages, along with other techniques, to get you a good position and integrate it with the overall design strategy. David, our Digital Marketing Coordinator, says: “Unlike sneaky black hat SEO techniques, at GBD we use only Google-approved white hat SEO practices. From sentence construction, photo labelling to social media presence – not one comma is overlooked when we build an SEO optimised site.”
Finally, don’t be shy to pay for some advertising on the internet and buy some ads on Google. Sure, if you can get a good organic listing in Google it’s free, but as one musician sang Times are a-changing…. You spend money on advertising in traditional media, right? Talk to us about expanding into online advertising. The results might surprise you. The good news is that with Google AdWords you only pay if someone actually clicks on your ads – so you know if it’s working. Back to the band analogy, it’s like tickets sold at a rock concert. So if you do think about the elements of your web strategy as a rock band, think of GBD as that rock band’s manager. We’ll make sure the drummer’s not the lead singer and vice versa.
Anyway, I’ll canvass this topic in future blogs, as it’s an important subject for us all in the digital age. Any thoughts? Please share them with me below.
My name is Jeff McGarn, the managing director of GBD. I’ve worn many hats in the creative field over the last 45 years and have worked on over 200 retirement projects.
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