Did you know? 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, and 75% of Internet users never scroll past the first page of search results.. (via Forbes)
SEO is one of the most misunderstood terms in the marketing world. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It's the term provided for ensuring your website can be found in search engine rankings. When a user submits a query for words and phrases relevant to what your website offers, you want your site to come up on the first page. The higher you are, the easier it is for your audience to come across your website.
In order to rank higher among these searches, you must ensure your website is fully optimized. Research what keywords are most relevant to your business and make sure you're using them within your web page content, as page headers, and within your back-end information. By investing time into your SEO, it gives you optimal exposure for brand awareness and potential for conversion.
When people submit a search, they expect the search engine to provide them with links that match what they're looking for. As long as your site is within those top results, your SEO is working. Appearing on the first page of search results, or even better, within the top 5, allows your business to gain credibility with your audience. How many times have you searched for something, and clicked through to the 2nd or 3rd page to find results? Chances are, not too often. Do you trust the results Google provides to you on the first page? Most people do.
The more your site appears in searches, the more traffic you get. Although traffic itself doesn't sell products or services, it does, however, give you a great percentage of qualified leads. With the additional traffic, Google Analytics can now track information about your visitors that you can use in decision making regarding your business and marketing strategy. The better you know your customers and their patterns, the better you can arrange and optimize your content for a higher conversion rate.
18 Ways to Improve Your SEO Rankings
Consistently Publish High-Quality Content: If you aren't frequently posting new content, chances are, visitors are not coming back to your website. By posting high-quality content, you'll drive more traffic to your website and impact your SEO rankings. Give visitors a reason to come back to your website.
Blog: Almost a no-brainer. Blogs are the perfect way to frequently share high-value content! By having fresh, updated, relevant content, it will drive people to your website and give them a reason to stay on each page, improving your dwell time.
Optimize for Mobile: Over 60% of Google searches begin on a mobile device. If your site isn't mobile-friendly, it will affect the user experience, decreasing your search rankings. Whenever you publish new content, you need to make sure it's properly optimized for mobile.
Use Multiple Forms of Content: Your website should include multimedia, in addition to text. Different elements such as videos, slideshows, lists, or audio can all help improve the user experience. Adding new photos to a portfolio, or new videos from time-to-time will boost your SEO.
Optimize Images: Large images slow your page loading time. Before uploading, you must resize / compress your images. Pay attention to the name of your image files, and plug in keywords whenever you can.
Create Lists: Your content should be neat, organized and easy to read. Colors, boldness, script and italics should be used sparingly. By creating numbered or bulleted lists, users can easily scan through your content.
Use Hyperlinks: Use internal links within your content that direct visitors to other pages in your website. Use outbound links to establish the credibility of your content. Any data claims should be linked to a trustworthy source.
Connect Your Social Media: Once you publish new content to your website, you should be sharing it across all of your social media channels and encouraging others to do the same. If people are sharing your content, you're driving traffic back to your website. Be sure there's an easy way to do this - include social sharing icons on all of your blog posts and pages.
Research Keywords: Establish what keywords people are searching that are related to your business, and make sure that those words are included throughout your content. Don't go overboard. The keywords have to naturally appear within your text, otherwise, Google will recognize this and it could have a negative effect.
Write Meta Descriptions: Each page in your website should have its own meta description. Make it as descriptive as possible, unique to each page, and 160 characters or less.
Make Your Site Readable: As a small business owner, oftentimes, you can be the one writing your own content. Make sure you're content is readable and easy for people to comprehend.
Monitor & Improve Page Load Speed: Pingdom Website Speed Test analyzes the content of your page, and grades the responsiveness of your site.
Create Click-Worthy Titles: Headlines should be 65 characters or less to avoid any cut-off. Your title should be clear and predictable - people want to know what they're clicking. If possible, make it emotional.
Create Infographics: People follow directions with pictures 323% better than without. It's no surprise that infographics are liked and shared 3x more than any other type of content on social media. Don't cram too much information into one design. It should be clean, easy to read, exciting to look at and include valuable content. Host this on your website and pay attention to the image title, URL, meta description and ALT tags.
Get Backlinks: Backlinks are when another website links back to your website. When other trusted resources site your content, it puts your website in front of a new audience and increases traffic, which will help you rank higher. Network with other business owners, focusing on mutually beneficial relationships. If they feature one of your products in a blog post, maybe you can link to their site as a local recommendation. Offer to guest blog, and share your own original content on their website. Reach out to local newspapers, blogs or publications and see if you can offer expert insight towards a new article.
Set up Google Business: Having a Google Business page is important. It's actually CRUCIAL if you're a local business. Set-up your account with all of your contact information, business hours, business category, description and recent photos. Best of all, it's a free tool offered by Google that will improve your local visibility and generate new customers.
Manage Google Business: Once you set up your Google Business page, you should be constantly monitoring and updating it. Be sure you are responding to all reviews, both positive and negative, promptly and professionally. Whenever you have new photos to share that represent your work, products or business, be sure to upload them to the photos section. Use the posts section to share updates, what's new, upcoming events, new offers or product information.
Participate in Facebook Groups: Although you can participate as your business, to establish credibility and authority, people like to know they are connecting with an actual human. By adding the personal touch and humanizing your brand, users are more likely to trust what you're saying. Share your knowledge when others ask and help them without giving away too much. Don't be too sales-y. If your information is useful, people will seek out more and eventually be directed to your website.
SEO is a very valuable marketing tool that can bring your business qualified leads and new customers. If done correctly and consistently, SEO can provide a business with visibility, web traffic, ROI, credibility and insight into your targeted audience. It is not a one time update, however. You must consistently invest in SEO to see results. According to SEO Mechanic, it takes about 4-6 months of efforts to see any results. Don't give up!