A good friend of mine set up business a few months ago in a local village. The business is in the medical arena, and he trained part-time for 5 years to get to the point where he could pass his exams and start trading officially. So far his business seems to be doing better than expected, and life is pretty good.

However, there’s one small exception to the situation, and unfortunately it’s web-related. My friend contact me this morning to have a moan about his web developers (he signed up to them years ago, before we really knew each other).

One particular frustration was that, having put certain keywords in the site, he wasn’t appearing high in the Google search results for his profession in the nearest large town (e.g. dentists in Middlesbrough) Oh, and no, he isn’t a dentist and Middlesborough is the other end of the country 🙂

Managing expectations

Now I don’t know what information he was given initially. But I suspect many businesses are not informed during the sales process just how hard it can be to get a high ranking on Google (or your search engine of choice). For what it’s worth, here’s an outline of the things you need to consider:

  • Site Design
    Does your site allow you to enter meta information such as keywords and a description? Does your site have a sitemap?
  • Links
    Links to your site from highly ranked sites are really powerful, Google loves them. Links on your site to others are pretty much ignored (otherwise every site would link to Google, BBC, etc). Top tip – comment on blogs on high ranked sites in your line of business, and make sure your website URL is included.
  • Fresh Content
    Stale, static sites will only ever fall down the rankings. Google loves fresh content, so add a blog/news section to your site and put relevant stuff on there. Or if you like twitter, add a widget to your site that shows your last few tweets.
  • Location, location, location
    Google search results for businesses are dominated by geographic results – go on, try searching for Dentists in Middlesbrough to see it in action. Having an business entry in Google Maps is essential if you want to appear in these results.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but should give you an idea of the basic considerations for Search Engine Optimisation.

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