Internet searches have become the modern-day phone book. A full 88 percent of consumers do online research before making a purchase, either online or in-store.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) helps ensure that when those consumers are searching for the types of goods or services you provide, your name shows up near the top of the list on search engines such as Google, Bing or YouTube. It’s sort of like being one of the BOLD listings in the phone book.
But with SEO being an art and science unto itself, how do you get the fastest SEO results?
Read on to find 6 of the best “tried and true” methods to improve your SEO ranking.
A Note About Getting the Fastest SEO Results
Before we dive into methods for how to improve SEO, first, a reality check. While you can certainly make significant short-term gains by implementing the strategies that follow, some of them are long-term strategies that will take months or even years to blossom – blogs and link-building, for example.
Also, major search engines like Google periodically change their ranking algorithms, so you’ll need to stay abreast of these changes and make adjustments accordingly.
With that said, here are the most effective ways to get started.
Optimize Your Website Content
When someone looks for a product or service on a search engine, they type in words or phrases, usually in the form of a question or problem (e.g., the best contractor in Santa Barbara, how do I get rid of ants). The search engine sorts through billions of records to find websites that best correspond with these words. The better your website answers the search query, the better you’ll rank.
According to the Search Engine Journal, sites on the first page of a Google search receive a whopping 91.5 percent of traffic. And the first five results share in 67 percent of those clicks. To maximize the chance of showing up higher on the list, you’ll want to populate your content with the words and phrases for which your prospects are searching.
There are dozens of online tools available to help you understand what those words, called keywords, might be. You’ll also find where your competitors rank for these same keywords and use that information to strengthen your own strategy. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend partnering with a reputable digital expert to create the list.
Once you’ve identified a good list of keywords, there are many areas of your website to populate them, including:
- The webpages themselves. Every page of a website (e.g., Services, About, FAQs, etc.) lends itself to keyword-rich content.
- Blogs. Blogs are a tremendous opportunity for attracting new visitors to your site. See the Blog section lower down for details.
- Header tags. These are the formatted headings for different sections. Search engines look for these headers (e.g., H1, H2, Title) to understand the content contained in a given section.
- Alt tags. These are HTML attributes applied to images to provide a text alternative for search engines. It also enables visually impaired visitors to have a better understanding of what’s included in an image.
- Meta tags. These are snippets of text that describe a page’s content. Common meta tags include title tags, page descriptions, and keywords associated with a page. They don’t appear on the webpage itself, but rather are used in the page code.
- Business name and URL. Even your business name and associated web address can positively affect your ranking, assuming it includes one of your keywords (e.g., www.IthacaLawnCare.com).
Focus on Website Usability
In addition to the content itself, the way your website functions can affect how it ranks and how successful you’ll be at keeping a visitor on a page and converting them to a paying customer. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Page load speed. No one likes a slow webpage, so make sure yours is optimized. This is particularly true as the number of voice searches increases. You can test your speed here.
Navigation. Make sure your site is easy to navigate, provides a clear-cut user journey, and has compelling content that is progressively disclosed, and includes strong calls to action.
Mobile optimization. In 2019, 59 percent of searches are conducted via mobile devices. Not only has Google adjusted its search results order to favor mobile-friendly sites, your visitors expect it.
Publish a Blog & Post Regularly
A blog is an ever-growing collection of keyword-rich articles, FAQs, thought leadership reflections, how-tos, and compelling content that good SEO demands. That’s because they are very searchable. In fact, Tech Client notes that businesses have a 434% better chance of being ranked highly on search engines if they feature a blog as a part of their websites.
If you choose blogging as an SEO strategy – and we think you should – be sure to post consistently. There is a strong correlation between the frequency of post publications and search ranking.
Use Multiple Digital Platforms
Having a website is critical, but pairing it with associated social properties (e.g., a YouTube channel, Instagram, Facebook) will boost your SEO exponentially.
Case-in-point? Forbes reported that in 2017 there were three billion searches per month on YouTube, making it the second largest search engine in the world.
Another important part of your SEO strategy should be collecting and publishing reviews on sites like Yelp. A full 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses and another 89 percent of them read businesses’ responses to reviews.
Adding other digital platforms also lets you cross-promote your web content and fosters sharing among your users.
Finally, if you haven’t already, be sure to claim and verify your online properties. Pages like Bing Places for Business, Google My Business and other directories boost your online presence, helping more prospects find you. The verification badges associated with these sites validate that your business is legitimate.
Mind Your Links
Backlinks are an important part of your SEO strategy. These are links that point to your domain from outside websites. The more links you have from authoritative sites, the higher your search visibility and ranking.
Link-building is a long-term strategy, but here are three ways to start:
Vendor & Influencer Relationships: Many websites list some or all of their clients as social proof of their business efforts. Ask your vendors or other partners to include your business logo in those listings and have it link back to your site. Or, offer to do a testimonial and have them post it on their website; have it point back to your website. (Tip: Offer to do the same for them.)
Guest Posts: Offer to share content that you’ve created, such as a blog, with others in your industry. Include one or two links back to your site in the blog. They get the benefit of free content, and you get the added backlinks.
Share Research: Create content so compelling (think: original research or data reports) that others want to link to it. Post that content on your website and ask visitors to use a proper citation and link to your page when they use it.
Get to Know Google Analytics
If you’re not accustomed to analyzing the numbers behind your SEO efforts, it’s time to become familiar with Google Analytics. It has countless tools for evaluating which of your pages are being visited, for how long, and from which sources, among other data.
You’ll want to make sure Google is crawling your site (i.e., indexing your web pages for others to see) and that your site map is accurately reflected. You can dig deeper and set goals for your website, such as length of time on a page, number of visits, or visit-to-sale conversions.
You can start with the basics to learn what content is working well and what isn’t, or you can dig deeper and work with a digital consultant to help you understand the story behind the numbers.
We Can Help
At the end of the day, some of the strategies for getting the fastest SEO results are clear-cut and easily attainable, and some are a bit more technical in nature.
If you’d like help designing a plan to improve SEO for your business, give us a shout. We’d love to help.