If SEO — search-engine optimization — sounds scary, it shouldn’t.
Sure, some steps may seem daunting, and others are certainly for the experts, but the basic rules of getting your auction website to rank higher in search-engine results aren’t that overwhelming.
For example, consistent navigation, good blog posts and some simple rules for properly naming the components of a website will get you a long way.
While some parts of search-engine optimization require basic knowledge of HTML, most of today’s website-building programs provide SEO-friendly fields or templates to which you can add content that will be indexed by search engines.
Even if you don’t manage your company’s website — or for that matter have no idea what people are referring to when they mention SEO — it’s good to have basic knowledge of the subject.
Whether you maintain your website yourself, outsource the work or have employees manage it in-house, get as much search-engine traffic as possible with these best practices:
1. Navigate your way to the top
Search engines are happy when websites are designed to make things easier for their users. So, it’s important that visitors can easily find what they’re looking for.
Start with making sure a menu navigation bar, similar to what’s found at http://www.auctioneers.org, is consistent throughout the pages of your website. For example, the National Auctioneers Association’s homepage has the NAA logo in the top left, and seven tabs run across the top of the page.
No matter which of the tabs a user clicks, all content above the orange line at http://www.auctioneers.org stays consistent, and this optimizes user experience. Visitors who want to go back to the homepage can simply click the NAA logo at any time.
Another important thing to note is the footer of the NAA’s website also stays the same no matter which page a user clicks on. This also should remain consistent throughout.
2. Come up with quality content
Search engines pay a lot of attention to websites with new and constantly updated content. Your website will certainly have some static pages — contact forms, about us, services, etc. — but engaging resources for readers should come in the form of new web pages or blog posts with stories, photos and video.
Some content ideas for an auction business include the following:
• How to buy at auction
• How to sell at auction
• The top myths about auctions
• Fun facts about auctions or Auctioneers
• A list of the highest prices ever paid for your company’s auction items
• A list of auction results from recent sales
• A history of your company or a story about your auction career
• Blog posts about current events in the auction world
Try to add at least one new piece of original content to your auction company’s website per week.
3. Use phrases for links
Throughout a website, auction companies have the opportunity to prompt their users to other pages, forms or articles that provide further information. It’s better for users and search engines if your linked text is descriptive, as it will help users make better decisions before clicking, as well as help search engines understand the content of the linked page.
For example, a company’s “about us” page might include the call to action, “Click here to check out our services section to learn how we can help you.” It’s better to embed a link to the services section in the phrase “check out our services section” than it is to embed the link in “Click here.”
4. Pay attention to page titles
Title tags are some of the most important elements toward achieving optimal SEO for your website. The tags are displayed at the top of a website browser, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.
For example, if you go to EdibleArrangements.com, at the top of the browser is “Edible Arrangements Fruit Baskets & Bouquets, Chocolate Strawberries.” If you conduct a Google search for “Edible Arrangements,” the same description comes up in search results.
So, for your auction company’s website, make sure your title tag doesn’t say something like “XYZ Auctions | Home.” Instead, provide detailed title tags that help search engines out, such as “XYZ Auctions, Auctioneer in Oklahoma – Auctions, Real Estate, Art Auctions, Estate Auctions.”
Title tags are in HTML, so they’re easy to change; however, don’t replicate your title tags across all pages of your website. Each page should have unique tags, such as this for a “services” page: “XYZ Auctions | Auctioneer in Oklahoma | Auctions | Real Estate | Services.”
5. Make time for meta tags
Although recent reports say Google no longer pays attention to meta tags for keywords, it’s still a good idea to get meta tag descriptions as accurate as possible. Other search engines might still place weight on keywords in meta tags.
Meta tags are summaries of your website pages that use easy-to-read, compelling language.
For example, an auction company’s homepage meta tag might be the following:
“XYZ Auctions provides professional auction services for clients in the Kansas City Metro Area. Our auction professionals are highly educated in the auction business and have combined experience of more than 50 years. They specialize in estate auctions, livestock auctions, antiques and collectibles. XYZ’s Auctioneers are members of the National Auctioneers Association.”
Again, as with page titles, make sure every website page uses unique meta tag summaries.
6. Use your URLs wisely
Search engines are more likely to pay attention to document pages that have easily understandable structures. Make them relevant for search engines and website visitors.
It’s a pretty simple idea, but an auction company’s “about us” page is much more effective if it’s structured like this: http://www.example.com/about-us.html. A page called http://www.example.com/Page3.html provides search engines and visitors little help.
Another thing to note is dashes are more effective between the words that describe pages. Avoid capitalization, underscores, spaces or no spaces. So http://www.example.com/xyz-auction-history.html is best for SEO.
7. Provide hierarchy with headings
In HTML, heading tags provide cues to readers regarding the importance of what they’re reading. They come in six sizes: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>.
Web browsers display headings as larger text on a website. So, going down a “services” page, an auction company might use these three headings (with body copy below each):
<h1> Auction Services in Chicago
<h2> Ready to buy or sell?
<h3> Our terms and conditions
This hierarchy makes the page easier to follow for the reader, and search engines place importance on the headings. The most important keywords should be in the <h1> tags, so avoid using multiple uses of the tags on single pages. Also, don’t use heading tags for body copy.
8. Describe images with alt tags
It’s important to embed into the source code of your images an alt tag, which offers a brief description of the subject of the photo. Search engines pick up on alt tags to determine what a web page is all about, and they sometimes will be indexed in search results for images.
In addition to providing content for search engines, alt tags help visitors understand what’s inside image placeholders when pages don’t display them properly. This is especially important when visitors come to a website using a mobile device.
Avoid generic tags like DSC107.jpg. Pictures on an auction company’s website might have alt tags such as “Auctioneer calls bids at estate sale.”
9. Get a Google Webmaster account
An easy way to track the effectiveness of your website and keep it functioning properly is to sign up for a free Google Webmaster account at google.com/webmasters.
More than a resource center, Google’s tool identifies website problems, suggests areas for improvement, records search inquiries that drive traffic to your site and reveals external web pages that link to your site.
10. Increase inbound links
Probably one of the most important but difficult steps toward achieving good SEO is in getting other websites to link to your auction company’s web pages.
Search engines will place more trust in a site that has multiple inbound links from other websites, as this alerts Google and other search engines to the popularity of a site.
Building inbound links takes a lot of time and effort. Start with interesting content, and then let consumers and other professionals know about the resources available at your website. Encourage them to link to your content from their websites and social media platforms.
For even better SEO, consider these additional tips:
• Create a Google map that points people to the physical location of your business
• Monitor visitors with a statistical program such as Google Analytics
• Use a social network, such as Facebook, to bring traffic to your site
• Place links in your company’s email newsletter to your website
• Purchase pay-per-click advertising
• Include a sitemap
• Use custom 404 pages
Sources: Petsittingology.com/blog and kb.weebly.com/seo.