LinkedIn has become so successful since its launch in 2003 that it now ranks third behind Twitter and Facebook in terms of the number of unique monthly visitors it receives. However we find that many businesses and professionals can underestimate how useful their LinkedIn profile can be. This means that they often don’t pay enough attention to their profile. In order to ensure that you are getting found by the customers and clients that you want to connect with it’s vital to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is professional, optimised and up to date.

We have found that lots of people don’t realise that you can actually optimise your LinkedIn profile so that you can get found more easily in the search engines – and look more professional online. It’s simple to do and it could have a really big impact on your business, so here’s how you can go about doing it.

Create a customised URL for your page

Creating a customised URL for your business or personal page gives a much more professional feel to your profile and it makes it much easier for people to share your page online. It can also improve your click-through rate as people can instantly see what the link is about and are more likely to use it to visit your profile.

A standard LinkedIn URL usually just has a number code at the end so anyone receiving a link to your profile or seeing a link on social media may be reluctant to click through to your page. However you can make a personal URL i.e. http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnsmith simply by clicking on your public profile settings then going into your public profile URL (found on the right-hand side) then customising it with your name or business name.

Use keywords to optimise your LinkedIn profile

Just as you use keywords to optimise your website you can use them to the same effect on your LinkedIn profile.  Think about the kinds of words or phrases that people might look for when they are searching in LinkedIn with reference to your industry, product or service and make sure that these keywords are included within your page. It can be particularly important to place them in high profile areas of the text such as your headline and summary.

Make sure that anchor text for website links are optimised

If you have links through to your website or blog on your LinkedIn page you can make sure that these are optimised too so that they offer more information to people viewing your profile. This means that they are more likely to want to click through. Instead of using the default text links you can modify the anchor text by editing your profile. Begin by clicking Profile >> Edit Profile at the top of the page. Then click the Contact Info section, click the pencil icon next to your website links, and select Other in the drop-down menu.

Now you will find that instead of simply having the word ‘blog’ as your link you can add in keywords that are relevant to what your blog is really about i.e. ‘Wagada’s SEO blog’.

We think LinkedIn is a really valuable tool for businesses and it definitely makes sense to take the time to optimise your LinkedIn profile for the search engines. You might also want to make sure that your profile looks polished and professional by adding a custom background photo relevant to your business, making sure that your latest customers have endorsed you and keeping your details up to date.

Want your products to stand out in a Google search?  If you’re selling items online, Google Product Listing Ads let you display eyecatching images that showcase your products, positioned above the text based search results. This means that you could even appear twice on the same search result page, marking your territory with images in the Shopping results and text in organic search. And what’s more, the cost per click for shopping campaigns is usually relatively low.

Are Product Listing ads right for you?

All our Adwords clients are different, and we’ve found that what works best for one isn’t necessarily right for another. Text based search is the perfect medium for lawyers or locksmiths, where people already have a good idea of what they’re looking for. But sometimes with a very visual product it’s better to get an image out there to show people what you’ve got – a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s where Product Listing ads come into their own.

(It’s worth noting though that certain products fall foul of Google’s Shopping Policies – so if you sell concert tickets, for example, you won’t be able to use this advertising medium because of their time sensitive nature. See the full list of policies here.)

How do you set them up?

The setup process can seem daunting, but taken stage by stage it’s really quite simple. First of all, you’ll need a Google Merchant Centre account. This is a fantastic resource for online sellers, allowing you to maintain an online product inventory that can be shared with customers across the globe. You’ll also need an Adwords account for your company, and you’ll need to link the two together. (Instructions for this can be found here).

After verifying your site and ensuring that it meets some basic requirements, you’ll need to create a file with information about all the products you wish to include. This is a Products Feed Specification, which provides Google with all the information it needs in order to be able to display your shopping ads. Adding all the data can be a laborious process and we found it took a few attempts to get it uploaded error free! But once it’s up there, you’re all set to create your shopping ads within your Adwords account. Google asks for an image URL for each product you sell, so we’d recommend you pay particular attention to this to ensure your wares are displayed at their best.

Finally, log in to your Adwords account and take a few simple steps to set up your first Shopping campaign.

Monitoring your success

Google’s Shopping campaigns differ slightly from other search based ads. You don’t get to specify which keywords you want your products to appear under, as Google determines this from the information you’ve provided in your Products Feed Specification. So getting information about what’s working and what’s not is a little different.

The great thing about your product feed is that it can include really specific tracking information – so you can add custom parameters for each individual product, which can then be set up to be viewed in Google Analytics.

Tempt interested customers back with dynamic remarketing

Google has started to promote this relatively new form of display advertising to its Adwords clients, and if you have a Merchant Center account with a product inventory list already up and running, getting dynamic remarketing ads set up should be a relatively simple step. Then, instead of appearing as shopping results in a search, your product listing ads will appear to people who have previously viewed these products on your site. And here’s the dynamic part – Google says it will use its “product recommendation engine” to tailor its ads to the individual customers, deciding which product and ad layout will provide the best results for each person. All you need to do is provide the product feed specification and create dynamic ads in the Adwords ad gallery.

Find out more about Wagada’s Google Adwords service.

If you are designing your business website and starting to think about how you can make sure that your product ranks highly in the search engines, then one of the key things that you need to think about is how you can put your website users first. The website optimisation industry is no longer about being re-active to consumer trends and opinions but rather about being pro-active in understanding your audience and putting them at the centre of your online proposition.

In fact at a recent SEO conference the delegates discussed how the focus within the industry was moving from SEO (search engine optimisation) to SUO (search user optimisation). As we see a rapid change in search technologies from the increase in mobile search to the new voice search options businesses will need to move forward towards building increasingly user centric websites. Of course at Wagada we like to provide the latest innovative techniques to help our clients get to where they want to be on Google, so here are some of the things that we feel you should be focusing on when considering your website optimisation.

Understand your user and get intuitive!

To build a great website you need to really understand what your potential customers want to see on your website and how they will use it. Make use of all the data that you have about your customers from their age to their geographical location, hobbies, interests and the search terms that they might be using. Ask yourself how they interact online, what papers they read and what social media they prefer to use. Once you have collated your data it is recommended that you build ‘personas’ for your customers and refer back to these constantly whenever you are making any changes or developments to your website. Customers want businesses to intuitively understand their needs and to be aware of their preferences and will expect to see this when they search online.

Include search queries that go beyond keywords

The way that your customers search for information online is changing, and as search engines get ever more sophisticated – so should you! You need to look beyond only considering simple keywords which will only take you so far. Instead you could try using long-tail query sites to help you understand the different phrases that people are using to search for your product or service.  You could even search relevant forums online to find out what the demographic that you want to target are talking about, and take a look at any relevant items that are trending on social media such as Twitter or Facebook. You should also look at what search terms your main competitors are ranking for as well because this can give you some guidance as to how your target audience is currently using the search engines.

Make site usability and speed a priority

Getting customers to visit your website is only half the story to successful optimisation. Once they are there you want them to stay and fulfil their purchase. If possible you want the option to upsell to them and of course you want them to keep coming back and to recommend your site to others. One of the best ways to do this is to make your website as usable as possible. To do this you must make sure that it will meet your customer’s needs and deliver what it promises. Make the customer journey through to purchase as easy as possible and think about what information your customers might be looking for and how you can clearly signpost them to it. A key part of a usable site is the speed with which it loads so pay attention to this too. Slow pages or graphics can lose you customers instantly and increase your bounce rate so make sure that your customers can get to your site quickly and easily.

Remember that content is still a vital part of SUO

Content is key in SEO and it is still a vital part of an SUO proposition. However businesses now need to think about content holistically.  Rather than simply generating content as a place to put your keywords start to think about how useful your content is to your user. Google really wants to see articles that have a real relevance to your audience so you need to go beyond just basic content. Think outside of the box when it comes to your product or service. For example a travel company might write not only about holiday destinations but could also offer checklists of what to pack when you go away for the summer or ideas for entertaining children on long flights. By keeping your content fresh and useful you will also encourage your customers to keep on coming back to your site.

Build your own community of online influencers

The power of social media has really increased over the last couple of years and if you can build a supportive community of online influencers who will share and promote your business you could see real benefits. Use your Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts to connect with your audience and keep them up to date with content that they will want to read and share with others. You could also consider connecting to bloggers who are relevant to your product or service and who will be able to help you spread the word online. Make the most of social media to see what topics are being talked about that relate to your business and you can then use them to inform your content and learn more about what potential customers want to see on your site.

Keep up to date with your search results – and those of your competitors!

The search engines are constantly changing and evolving so you need to keep up to date with the world of search engine optimisation. Make sure that you check your rankings frequently as this will enable you to make simple changes as and when you need them rather than suddenly realising that you have dropped down the rankings. It’s also worthwhile seeing what your competitors are doing and keep an eye on the market as a whole. This means that you can then pro-actively respond to any changes that you see and implement any successful ideas that are working well for others.

The world of website optimisation is changing at a fast pace, and as you can see it is vital to keep abreast of any changes within your industry. Build and create a website that has the user at its heart, know your audience and don’t forget about making it fast and usable too. Make the most of what social media can offer your business and build a strong online community. By doing this you should be able to maintain a strong position in the search engine rankings and reap the benefits that this will bring to your business.