In today’s ever-growing online world, business owners shouldn’t be asking, “Should I do SEO?” but rather, “When can I start?” And luckily, the answer is that you can start today!
Though it may seem intimidating, Search Engine Optimization is easier to grasp than you might think. As search engines like Google, Bing, and Spotlight get smarter, optimizing your website for search engines aligns more and more with optimizing your website for your consumers, which leads to higher conversion rates. Who doesn’t want a user-friendly website that converts?
We know you do. Here are our 10 Simple SEO Tips that you can start implementing right now.
1. Run a quick mobile-friendly test
Google announced that mobile-friendliness would become an official ranking signal on April 21st, 2015. Only websites with design that caters to a mobile audience could ensure a top position in mobile search results.
Unsure if your website makes the cut? Stop reading right now, head to Google’s Mobile-Friendly test, and enter your URL.
Did you pass? If so, gold star. If not, you could be missing valuable traffic. We suggest (per Google Webmaster’s recommendations) a new website with responsive design. Responsive design, rather than having a separate mobile and desktop site, caters to devices of all sizes: tablets, iPhones, androids, laptops, desktops, smart tvs, etc. If you aren’t mobile-friendly, now’s the time to make the plunge.
2. Update your website content
When was the last time your content got a facelift? It’s been said again and again (and again), but content is king. Google’s Panda update hit sites with thin content starting in 2011 and became a part of their “core algorithm” this year. Search engines like fresh content—and that doesn’t mean changing a few words here or there.
Take a good look at your website and see where you can add interesting, consumer-targeted content. The more, the merrier (yes, longer content performs better). Not sure where to start?
- Get rid of any duplicate content. Now. STAT. Duplicate content, or content that appears more in more than one location on the internet (whether that is on your own site or another site), is a major no-no and isn’t doing you any favors. Think: any content copied from somewhere else, location or cities served pages that have the exact same content with the city name swapped out, using the same product description over and over, or that catchy closing paragraph you’ve used on every page of your site.
- Ensure your content is user-friendly. Break up paragraphs that are longer than 3 or 4 lines, add bulleted or numbered lists, and use relevant video and images where possible.
- Use keyword-targeted header tags on every page. This tells both users and search engines what to expect. Every page should have an h1 tag, but h2 and h3 tags are great for adding keyword variations and can help break up text too.
- Audit for grammar, spelling, and clarity. Whether or not your content is stellar, it should at least make sense. Google has never directly said a spelling error or out of place comma will move you down in rankings, but poorly written or unclear content = less authority = consumers bouncing from your site = lower rankings
3. Use Unique Meta Tags
While we’re talking about user-friendly content, we should probably mention bot-friendly content too. Each page of your website should have a unique title tag and meta description. These “tags” only appear on the back-end of your site, but they tell search engines what each page is about in a sentence or two. Taking the time to really amp up these tags with your focus keywords and calls to action can help you stand out.
Though not always the case, these tags are what appear for your page in search results as the title and description. Check out what your competition is doing by searching your keyword, then write something better!
Quick tips: Title tags shouldn’t be any longer than 60 characters and descriptions should fall under 150 to avoid being truncated. Want to double check? This site shows you how your tags will appear in a SERP (search engine results page).
4. Make your site HTTPS
Website security is another new ranking signal. Whether or not you collect secure information, making your website secure, or HTTPS, is an easy way to boost your search results. To do this, you can typically purchase an SSL Certificate from wherever your website is hosted and then install it on your site; just make sure you keep your certificate up to date.
Quick Tips: This task can get a bit technical, so if you have or know a web developer, you can ask them for help.
5. Check Page Speed
Page and site speed, or loading time, has been a ranking signal since 2010. Almost 50% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less, though 31% are a bit more forgiving on mobile devices.
Run a quick check on both your mobile and desktop site here. Got a slow site? Try optimizing your images, getting rid of unnecessary white space or line breaks, and consider a caching plugin.
6. Make the most of Social Media
Your business needs to have a presence on Social Media yesterday. Healthy Social Media accounts have a positive effect on your rank, especially when they’ve been active for a while. What do we mean by healthy? Post consistently, use different channels correctly, grow your audience, and please, make sure your website links to the correct accounts.
We recommend starting a Facebook Business Page, a Twitter business account, a LinkedIn Company Page, and a Pinterest Business Account. If you have any videos you can share, a YouTube Business Channel linked to your Google My Business page is also a great asset.
Quick tips: Double check your business information on each platform to ensure it is correct. For smaller sized businesses, you don’t have to post every day, multiple times a day: consistency and quality is more important than quantity. Make sure your posts cover a variety of topics and don’t make every post a sales pitch.
7. Claim and Verify your Google My Business Page
Have you noticed that when you search for somewhere to eat, you get results local to where you are? Yep, search engines know all. Google has created a platform for businesses that they use to pull information for search results like phone number, website URL, hours, address, etc.
So, you need to have an accurate, verified Google+ Business Page. If a page for your business already exists, you can claim that page to ensure the information is correct. Claiming a page will let you add photos and respond to reviews. Verifying a page tells Google, “Hey! We really exist!”, links your profile with Google Maps, and can help improve your spot on search rankings. Google outlines the steps for claiming and verifying pages here.
If your business doesn’t already have a presence on Google+ or Google Maps, you can get started building your profile here.
Quick tips: Add photos of the inside and outside of your business, your team, and your branding. Don’t forget to create a YouTube channel (Google owns YouTube too) for your business that’s linked to your Business Profile.
8. Claim your Yelp Profile
Though Yelp is mainly a review platform, it offers another place where you can appear in search results. Just like any other Search Engine, it’s important to ensure that Yelp has your business information correct.
To claim your profile or add your business to Yelp, you can follow the steps listed on their website here. Once you’ve claimed your account, you can update your information, add relevant photos, manage your reputation by responding to reviews, and even offer deals and discounts for Yelp users.
9. Ask for Reviews
We know, easier said than done, but we can’t stress how important it is to have positive reviews on a variety of profiles. The big three? Google, Facebook, and Yelp. Make a point of asking every client to review you somewhere! It’s been proven that giving people options makes them more likely to follow through, so point them to a variety of places they can leave some good words.
Quick Tips: Got an old client email list? Send out a review email campaign. Are you a home services business? Create a postcard with all the information and links to your profiles to leave at their home once you’ve completed your work. Don’t forget to respond to reviews, both positive and negative!
10. Set up Google Analytics and Search Console
Google themselves have created FREE platforms that allow you to track a variety of key data for your own website. Why not use them?
Google Analytics lets you place a tracking code on your website that tracks who is visiting your site, where they come from, what pages they are viewing, if they are converting, and lots more. Google Search Console gives a detailed report on your placement in Search Engine Results, shows what keywords people are searching to find you, and lets you know if Google has any issues with your site.
Though these two platforms have lots of depth, the basics are pretty straightforward and fun to explore. And, just setting up these accounts could give you a boost in Google’s search results. Get started with Analytics here and sign up for Search Console here.
Quick Tips: You can actually link the two accounts to get even more helpful information. Forget to check these accounts? Set up a dashboard with the information that is important to you and schedule it to email you the data once a week or once a month.
There you have it. Our 10 straight forward tips to help you get started with SEO. Implementing these 10 tips will have you well on your way to better Search Engine rankings and better website conversion. Got more questions? We’d love to help: call 561-923-9698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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