Do you ever feel like your web site is invisible?
It’s a common complaint for small-to-medium-sized businesses and non-profits alike. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. The bad news is, there’s more noise than ever on the internet, and it’s harder than ever to rise above it. The good news is, the fundamentals of SEO still work – if you work them!
Here are 10 things you can do right now that will improve your visibility on Google.
1. Make your website mobile-friendly.
You may have heard terms like “mobile-friendly”, “responsive” or “adaptive” before – these are all ways of saying “make your website behave properly on computers, phones and tablets”. About 70% of all web searches happen on a phone or tablet these days – if your site has been built using old-style, inflexible layout, it’s not going to work on these devices. This is going to be a big deal going forward, because Google favors sites that are mobile-friendly.
This is why we recommend WordPress to all of our clients. Most themes are mobile-friendly by default, and older, non-mobile WP sites can make use of plug-ins like “WPTouch” to implement a mobile-friendly web design. For a quick evaluation of where your site stands, visit Google’s Mobile-Friendly tool and enter your web address; the tool will quickly tell you if your site is up to modern standards or not.
2. Start blogging…
You have to have a website for your business – that’s not negotiable these days. But merely having a site isn’t enough; to attract traffic and demonstrate to Google that your site is a worthy search result, the site has to provide some kind of value to the visitor beyond selling things to them. Find out what kind of information is useful to your customers, and write long, informative articles about that topic. Longer articles perform better, convey more information, and are more likely to be shared, which in turn improves your chances of being found in searches for the article topic. Pro Tip: only 1 key phrase per article.
3. …but don’t ignore other social media & content marketing
Remember that content is not meant for search engines – it’s meant for people. The search engines look at how and when people read it, share it, link it, and click on it to determine if your content is a relevant search result. Share your blog posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, wherever your potential customers may be found. The more people interact with and share your content, the more relevant it looks to Google, and the more you’ll appear in search results for your topic.
4. Link your pages to each other.
Don’t stuff your pages with keywords – Google is wise to that trick, and will penalize you for it. And don’t use “click here”. Just use natural language in your site copy to link to other pages within the site – the pages that contain your strongest calls-to-action, or your best-selling products/services.
5. If you don’t have a sitemap, add one NOW.
Google really likes XML sitemaps. Have you ever seen those search results that have the pages within the site neatly broken down below the main search result link? That’s made possible by XML sitemaps. They give Google a better view of how your site is put together, which helps it see that your site is a relevant search results. Visit Online XML Sitemap Generator right now and create a sitemap for your website. If you need help doing this, reach out to us and we’ll help you.
6. Make sure your site loads fast.
There’s a great tool called Google PageSpeed Insights that can show you how quickly (or slowly!) your site loads. Additionally, it will tell you exactly what the problems are with your site, so you can have them fixed.
Remember, slow websites are the kiss of death, especially when customers are searching for you on a mobile device. You get one chance to grab somebodys attention with your site, and if your page won’t load, they’ll just click on the next search result.
7. Keep your URLs simple, and include keywords whenever possible.
Dynamic URLs were all the rage for years, and you still see them on the web sometimes. The new, SEO-friendly way to structure URLs, however, is simple and human-readable; remember, content is meant for humans, not search engines. When you create a new page for your site, try to keep the URL brief, easy-to-read, and composed of whatever keywords you want that page to rank for.
Again, WordPress makes this really easy, which is one of many reasons why we recommend it to our clients.
8. Maintain your title tags in good order.
Title tags are old news in SEO, but they’re still part of those fundamentals that still matter (and probably always will). Give each page of your site a unique, easy to read title that describes what the page is about. Google Webmaster Tools have a great HTML Improvements Report feature that can identify and suggest fixes for any issues with your title tags.
9. Take control of your various listings and social pages, if you haven’t already.
There are search, social and directory-type sites all over the web – SuperPages, YellowPages, Yelp, Factual, FourSquare, Bing, CitySearch, Best of the Web, and on and on and on. If your business data is not up-to-date and consistent across all of these listings, it will negatively impact your SEO efforts. Start finding, claiming, and taking control of your business listings on these sites.
Moz Local offers an affordable and reliable tool for updating all of these listings automatically. For a small fee, Moz will push your most current info out to those various directory sites. It may take several weeks for everything to update (the internet moves surprisingly slowly sometimes), but the more consistent your business information appears, the more confidence Google can have in showing your business as a relevant search result.
10. Stick to .com, .net and .org.
Lately all sorts of cutesy and clever new top-level domains have become available. You may think it’s really cool that it’s possible to slap a “.construction” at the end of your web address, but please – don’t.
The overwhelming majority of web searches are dominated by pages using .com, with .net and .org after that. This isn’t going to change for a long time; the “standard” top-level domains are well-understood by people, and don’t appear scammy like many of the new, too-clever-by-half ones do. Stick to the classics, you’ll never regret it.
Bonus Tip: don’t be afraid to ask for help.
None of this is truly simple, but it doesn’t have to be impossible, either. If you know your website could be doing a better job for you, but implementing these tips is too much, reach out and talk to us. This is where we live and breathe, and we’re happy to help you.