One of the obvious keys to growing a business is to get introduced to people who need your products and services. Great news! Research indicates that over 90% of people use the Internet when evaluating a purchase. In other words, the Internet is full of people looking for you.
But how do you get them to find your website?
There are two options: either you purchase the traffic by buying online ads or you don’t. If you’re one of the 100% of people who prefer free options to paid options, this article is for you.
The free option is search engine optimization (SEO).
What is SEO?
The term refers to techniques you can use to improve your website’s ranking on the results pages of search engines such as Google. If you want to attract more free Internet traffic, it’s something you need to focus on and get right.
SEO can be complicated when you dig deep into it. But, it’s relatively easy for you to understand the basics and implement them on your site. And, just by covering the ABCs, you will be putting your business ahead of the competition in many cases.
A simple SEO recipe
Here’s how to do it
First, take a look at your website and structure it so that each page is built around one single theme.
You want to do this because search engines aim to provide users with the information they’re seeking the first time, every time. In order to do that, they need to understand the content of your webpages.
Make it easier for search engines
By building each page of your website around a single theme you make it much easier for them to classify your page and present it when it’s relevant to a search.
Next, choose keywords you will use to optimize each page. Think about the keywords people are most likely to use to find the information provided by that page.
How to choose your keywords
Write down your choices for the 5 to 10 most relevant keywords for the page.
Go on Google AdWords. If you do not already have a Google Account, create one. It’s free.
Once on Google AdWords, go in the Tools menu and select Keyword Planner.
Select Search for new keyword and ad group ideas. This will bring you to a page where you can input the keywords you have written down as well as the address of the page you are optimizing and your product/service category.
Once you have entered your information click on the Get ideas button.
Right below the Search volume trends graphic, you will see two tabs; Ad group ideas and Keyword ideas. Click on Keyword ideas tab. It was a bit complicated to reach, but this is the magic page.
Here, you can plug in your search terms (the keywords you wrote down) and find the average monthly searches for each of them. Now you know if people are actually searching for the keywords you came up with and how often they do so. You want to make sure the keywords you will be optimizing your page for are as popular as possible while still being very relevant to your page theme.
Below your search terms you will find keyword suggestions from Google as well as their own average monthly searches. Look for relevant keywords with high average monthly searches.
- Now, come up with your final list of five relevant keywords with the highest average monthly searches. These will be your targeted keywords for optimizing your webpage. It is likely to be a combination of some of your own keywords and ones suggested to you by Google.
Next, create your SEO tree. This is a document where, you will track six important optimization components for each webpage as a reference to use when you prepare your content. Here’s what it will look like.
Search Engine Optimization - SEO tree
||Search engine optimization
||Search engine optimization (SEO)
tips for small business
||Search engine optimization for small and medium business. How you can easily improve the ranking of your website in search engine results.
(H1, H2, etc)
H1 = Search engine optimization for small and medium business
H2 = SEO tips for your online marketing
|Image ALT tags
||The SEO tree, a free SEO tool
Input your list of five targeted keywords for the page. Having them written here will help you to optimize the other components.
Search engines look at the page title, also known as the title tag, to understand the page’s content. They also show it in search results pages, as highlighted below:
Page titles have to be unique and include the most important targeted keyword for that page. The title should be compelling enough to trigger interest in 60 characters or less. Also note that the words at the beginning of the title have more SEO weight than the ones coming after. So, you should try to start your title with your keyword.
Search engines display the description under each page title on the results page to help searchers determine the best link to click on. See an example below.
Having a good page description is important because the information you put there greatly influences the decision of the searcher whether to click on your link or someone else’s. The description must be unique too and be no longer than 160 characters.
In website code, headings are designated <h1> to <h6>. These simply define the size of your headings, as they appear to the reader. Among these six levels of headings, H1 is the biggest and H6 the smallest.
The headings are more than shortcuts to quickly change the size and face of your text. They tell the search engines that the keywords in headings are more important. This is a great opportunity to use your targeted keywords. Remember, you must use one and only one H1 header per page. This is your main title and it should include your most important keyword.
You can then sprinkle your most important and other keywords throughout your text. But don’t overdo it. Using keywords too much is called keyword stuffing. It can annoy your readers and cause Google to penalize your pages in its search rankings.
Image ALT tag
The ALT tag is used to display descriptive text when an image cannot be displayed. Obviously, using image replacement texts makes sense for users who prefer to browse the Internet with images disabled. What’s more important for you is that search engines can’t read numbers or text on images, let alone understand the context of the image itself.
Your keywords may look fantastic and eye-catching on an image, but the only way for search engines to see them is the ALT tag associated with the image. Therefore creating ALT tags and including your targeted keywords in them is another efficient SEO technique.
The URL is the address of the page. The words used in URLs send one of the strongest signals to search engines concerning the content of the page. URLs should contain the most important keyword for that page. You should also try to avoid using strings of characters in URLs that don’t make sense to the visitor. Only lower-case letters and numbers should be used, and dashes should replace spaces.
Helping your pages to climb
If you create SEO trees for each of your webpages and make sure you optimize the six components, you will have covered the most important aspects of search engine optimization. You will definitely help your website climb in the search result rankings.
In some industries where online marketing is fierce, this may not be enough for your site to appear on the all-important first page of search results. But without optimizing these components, it’s very unlikely that your website will rank for any searches not involving your brand/company name.
Implementing your work
Now that you have all your optimized content, it is time to implement it on your website. If your website is built using a content management system (CMS), such as WordPress, all the changes can easily be implemented in it without the help of a programmer.
If your website is built using an older proprietary system, you will have to give your SEO trees to your programmer so that he or she can implement your optimization work on each page.
SEO is in constant flux
The search engines are constantly changing the way they rank websites in their search results. What’s important now may not be so important two or three years from now.
One development in recent years is the growing importance of social media in search rankings. If you are regularly involved on social platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn, you increase the chances your website will rank higher in search results.
Great content is your best weapon
One thing that is sure to remain central to SEO is the need for good content. As long as people will be looking for answers, search engines will strive to find and deliver them the best pages to provide these answers.
So your best strategy to get to the top of search results and stay there is to create good fresh content regularly. This will help position you as a leader in your field and attract more visitors who you will be able to convert into customers.
To learn more about online marketing, download your free copy of BDC’s eBook, Boost Your Sales with Online Marketing: A guide for entrepreneurs.