The term SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization,” is likely to produce a glazed-over look for a lot of people who just don’t know what you are talking about, but if you have a business or are thinking of developing a business, this is a term you need to know.
SEO is a process which affects the visibility of a website or web page in a search engine’s search results. Whether through natural or organic (un-paid) search results, SEO is what gives rank to your website, and rank is everything when it comes to the success of your business.
If your company has already established a web page or website, you might be asking, “Well, isn’t that enough?” The plain and simple answer is “no.” It is not enough for a web page or website to simply exist; it must be structured in certain ways in order for search engines to read them properly according to their algorithms, i.e. get the most information out of your website and into your consumers’ hands.
How your web page or website is structured, by the addition of keywords and descriptions added to titles, headings, and links, is what boosts a search engine’s ability to find and index things. This is the basis of SEO, and this process of organizing and indexing data is what allows search engines like Bing, Google, and Yahoo to find your pages. The search engine then uses various metrics and popularity indicators to determine page ranking.
Now you may be thinking, “This sounds expensive.” To this I say: it all depends on what you are trying to accomplish in relation to the size of your company, web pages and website. But if you’re a small business just starting out and on a limited budget, there are still quite a few things you can do on your own to benefit your business.
Here are 10 tips to get you started:
- Start now. The longer you wait to get started on SEO for your website, the harder it becomes to rank higher than your competitors. Also, if you don’t implement it at all, then there is no way for search engines to find, categorize, or rank your site.
- Be patient. SEO results may not appear immediately. Sometimes it may take weeks or even months for search engines to credit your work. Easier said than done, I know.
- Don’t expect to automatically outrank older, more established sites. Remember, it takes time to build trust and authority. Repeat Step #2.
- Adapt. To gain and retain positive rankings, your SEO strategy needs to evolve along with search engines’ frequency in releasing algorithm updates.
- Set up and utilize free Google tools. That’s right, I said “free.” Two important tools are Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (now known as Google Search Console). Google Analytics measures website activity and performance, and provides detailed statistics about a website’s traffic and traffic sources. Google Webmaster Tools helps you identify issues with your site and provides detailed reports about your site’s visibility on Google. These tools can tell you a lot about who your visitors are, where they’re coming from, and how they’re finding you, which can help you develop important strategies in marketing your business.
- Remember your audience. If your content isn’t interesting, helpful, or doesn’t encourage sales, then there’s no point for visitors to stay or return. If it is engaging, visitors will stay longer, return more frequently, and it will send a signal to search engines that your site is relevant and deserves good rankings. It is imperative that you spend a significant amount of time building high quality content (blog posts, YouTube videos, case studies, etc.) that answers common prospect questions while showing the value of your products and services. Use things like Google Analytics and YouTube Analytics to monitor these pages and determine user engagement. Keep yourself in check and make sure you’re building content that is engaging. This cannot be stressed enough.
- Maintain your website. Your work is never done. Rankings fluctuate like the stock market. If you want your site to attract more visitors, sales, or to rank higher, then you should continuously be improving it.
- Build your online reputation. When you develop positive relationships through your website, you are building trust, which encourages your visitors to make recommendations to others, which leads to more growth for your business. Creating a Google+ page will give more credibility to your business and will improve your rankings for localized keywords. Within the social platforms and online communities (forums, local sites) where you are active, find other high quality, professional individuals and companies to establish a relationship with. The more you associate with good quality companies and people, especially those that have a good online following of their own, the more it can assist you in building your online authority and visibility.
- Be responsible for your website. The quality of your content, or lack thereof, is a determining factor in your risk for certain Google penalties. Search engines will not remove penalties simply because you didn’t know, didn’t understand, or didn’t realize the effects it would have on your website. Playing risky games with things like inexpensive link building services for large volumes of links can come back to bite you in a big way. Bottom line, build the best quality content that you can and try to establish relationships in your industry with the best quality people and companies that you can.
- If you don’t know, ask. Google support and advice is available online via their Webmaster Guidelines and Webmaster Help Videos.
These are but a few of the many steps you can take to optimize your website on a shoestring budget. Remember, you can still achieve big results if you just invest the time needed for creating quality content and establishing online relationships. Consider the resources and relationships your company already has, and how you can better take advantage of them. Then, once your business experiences some growth, you can hire an agency like Apogee Results to help improve your SEO even further. In the meantime, make the most of the tips provided above and tune in next time for more useful tips and advice.