SEO – Search engine optimization is absolutely fundamental.
Consider the following chart about online shopping behavior:
The findings of the Nielsen Global Connected Commerce Survey demonstrate that many consumers look up product information online before making a purchase. SEO or search engine optimization represents a major opportunity to draw more targeted traffic (and sales) to your business. But only if your site is visible for relevant keywords that your audience is searching for.
So how do you increase visibility of your site?
The answer is with SEO. Site optimization helps position your brand online in front of potential customers who are still in the buying process. A well optimized site not only ranks well in search but also converts visitors into customers.
So What Are Search Engines Looking For?
Google relies on complex algorithms to deliver results for billions of search queries on a daily basis. Two sites obviously cannot hold the top position at the same time so the algorithm looks at hundreds of different factors to determine rankings.
Some of these factors include:
- Content: How relevant is the content to the search query? Content is easily one of the most important factors. All else being equal, a page with more comprehensive content will rank higher than a page with barely any content. This is why Wikipedia tends to ranks so well for many competitive terms.
- Authority: Can the site be trusted? The authority of a site also largely determines its rankings. Google assesses authority in different ways, one of which is to look at the quality of the links that link back to a page.
- Performance: How well does the site perform? Performance is another important factor that affects rankings. Google now considers site speed and mobile-friendliness as ranking factors. So if your pages load slowly or your site isn’t optimized for mobile, your rankings could take a hit.
- User experience: Are users able to find the information they are looking for? Sites with usability issues or complex structures can also negatively affect rankings.
Understanding what search engines reward is the first step towards higher rankings. Because implementing any questionable practices (e.g. keyword stuffing, backlink spam, etc.) runs the risk of a ranking penalty. Here we look at basic SEO practices to establish a strong foundation for your business and grow your presence online.
1. Start With Keyword Research
Keyword research is a critical step.
Knowing what your customers are searching for enables you to better optimize your pages. Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that provides traffic estimates for search terms. Note that you will need an AdWords account to use the tool.
Start by entering in keywords that are relevant to your business then click on Get Ideas:
Target local keywords that are specific to your business (e.g. internet marketing services Austin).
2. Optimize On-Site Factors
Consider the following two search results for the terms “emergency dentist Austin”.
Which are you more likely to click on?
Probably the first one.
Not only is it more relevant to the search but it also ranks higher for those terms.
With the initial keywords gathered from the previous step, the next step is to optimize the following aspects of your site:
- Title tags
- Image ALT text
But you also need to be careful not to over-optimize your site as doing so can lead to a ranking penalty.
3. Create a Blog
A blog is an invaluable marketing asset.
Creating content is easily one of the best investments of your time. Companies that blog are much more likely to see a positive return with their efforts than those that don’t. Each post is an opportunity to rank for target keywords and drive sales.
So how do you get started?
The keywords from the first step is a great start.
Use those keywords as a basis to form new blog posts, answer questions, provide examples of case studies, cover a recent event, and offer your knowledge. All are great ways to get started with a blog and drive more targeted traffic to your site.
Even a basic understanding of SEO can be hugely beneficial for your business. But the reality is that many small business owners do not make the effort to optimize their sites. This is good news as it means that implementing the above can give your business a significant competitive advantage.