Whenever you need something — a product, a piece of information, a contact number — what’s the first thing you usually do? You pull up a search engine and type in your query, right? Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches every day. With odds like that, it’s no wonder every business wants its site to land in the top ten results for relevant queries.
But with billions of Web pages in existence, hitting that sweet spot is a serious challenge. That’s where search engine optimization comes in. With legitimate, “white-hat” SEO, a small business can greatly improve its chances of landing in the first page of relevant search results.
To the outside observer, SEO often seems complex, intimidating and bogged down with technical logistics. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here are eight quick and easy ways to make your site more visible to search engines:
1. Optimize every page of your site with rich content.
Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage and contact us page. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site. If you have pages without much content, prevent Google from indexing them by using the “noindex” attribute, and “nofollow” any links to those pages, as well.
2. Link your website to MYBUSINESS
By registering your business on Google My Business you can help it appear in relevant geographic search results. When you do this Google will send a postcard containing a pin to your business address – when you receive this you can use the pin to ‘verify’ your business with Google. This lets Google know that your business operates in the physical location you stated, meaning that you have a strong chance of appearing in search results – and on Google maps – for people who are searching for a business like yours in the area in which you operate.
3. Weed out 404 errors.
When you delete a page (or post) from your site, you delete one or more URLs too. That old URL, when visited, will usually return a 404 not found error. 404 errors are annoying for users and may interfere with the number of pages Google can index. By themselves, they’re unlikely to hurt your rankings, but it’s still usually worth setting up a 301 redirect or restoring the page if you notice a 404 error where there shouldn’t be one.
Google Search Console has a great tool for checking this: Look under “crawl errors.”
4. Make your content easily shareable.
This is a simple change, and if you haven’t done it already, you’ve probably missed out on some significant opportunities. On your blog page, feature social share icons so your users can actively and easily share your content socially. Social shares don’t contribute to rankings directly, but can make your pieces more visible, making it easier for them to earn more inbound links.
This benefit was recently confirmed as one of the top two ranking factors in Google’s algorithm. If your site is WordPress-based, there are a number of plugins that can add social share buttons to your website dynamically.
5. Use relevant keywords in your page titles, meta descriptions and URLs.
Title tags serve as the headlines of your pages in search engine results pages (SERPs), while meta descriptions serve as the descriptive text. Not only do these constructs inform Google about the content and purpose of each of your pages, they also dictate how your pages appear in search results.
Google routinely shows snippets of your meta descriptions in search results, and uses them to decide how relevant your site is in particular searches. Avoid being spammy though by stuffing titles and meta descriptions with too many ‘catch all’ keywords, because this can…
- actively damage your chances of appearing high in search results (Google’s algorithms are pretty good at spotting spam),
- make your site appear appear off-putting to users who come across it during searches.
6. Optimize your images.
Your images should be optimized for SEO too, and that task is relatively simple — title them appropriately, add descriptive alt tags and keep them in the proper format.
If optimization is done correctly, your image will be indexed and searchable in Google Image Search — an indirect, but valuable route for online searchers to get to your site.
7. Optimize your website loading speed.
This can be as simple or as complicated as you make it; there are several ways to make a site faster, such as reducing image sizes, adding a caching plugin, switching hosting providers and deleting unnecessary plugins.
8. Optimize for mobile devices.
The majority of Google search now occurs on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t display attractively for mobile users, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic. Also, Google will not display your website prominently in mobile search results if your website isn’t mobile-optimized.
Read our article on How a Responsive Website Brings Success to Your Business. If you’re looking to develop a responsive website or a blog , we’d be happy to hear from you. Drop us a line or give us call us.
Now, don’t think these eight strategies are the full extent of SEO. In fact, they barely scratch the surface of what on-site SEO is about, and they don’t even take off-site SEO into consideration. Nor will these tactics net you a dramatic difference overnight, but they are simple to execute, and can provide a meaningful spark of growth in your website’s search visibility.
If you want to bring more traffic to your website by making it rank higher on major search engines, drop us a note or give us a call. We’d love to offer you a free SEO audit of your website.