If there’s one piece of advice you should take when growing your small business online, it’s this: Don’t make your business’s success depend solely on borrowed land.
Social media may be the most effective way of discovering, engaging and being engaged by your targeted audience, but even if your profiles are yours, the properties on which they reside are still on someone else’s land (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc). And this pits several elements against your website, such as overcrowding, constantly changing social algorithms, network crashes, etc.
That’s why you need to build up your website’s SEO (search engine optimization), which makes it easier for people, as well as search engines, to find (and rank) your website.
So without any further ado, here are seven actionable tips to help you improve your website’s SEO rankings.
Make sure your website is well structured and labeled
The easiest way for people, and search engine web crawlers, to find your website is through having a clearly defined and well-organized domain property. This means, ensuring proper and relevant naming and meta descriptions for your website’s labels, pages, menus and anything else created in the building and maintenance stages.
Think about it this way: If you can’t easily find something on your website, how will your users and search engine crawlers be able to?
Another good tip to remember is to make the most important details, products or services of your business available in three clicks or less. Requiring more than three clicks to reach this information often results in your page content being ranked as less important, as well as making it more likely that your users won’t find vital information they’re looking for about your products or services.
In other words, this causes higher bounce rates, less time spent on the page, and overall lower search engine rankings.
Know your most relevant keywords (and use them!)
Think about this: When you’re searching for information online, what do you type into the search bar to find that particular information?
Now, think about what entries you’d like your traffic to be entering when you want your business to be found in their searches. Write these ideas down because these are the keywords you need to be using on your website. These keywords should be used in your blog entry titles, URLs, your meta descriptions and alt-tags, as well as in any of your top-performing and most relevant content. Just make sure not to spam or use keyword stuffing.
In the past, bloggers were able to trick the search engines into ranking their pages higher by stuffing their content with keywords. But today, the use of keywords too many times in any piece of content (keyword stuffing) can be detrimental to your website’s SEO.
Speaking of URLs, customize them
Your URL may just feel like a quick shortcut entryway to your website, but your URL content can be another crucial aspect of your website’s SEO. Rather than using a dynamic URL, like “www.yourbusiness.com/201908/page###/content###”, use a customized, static URL, such as “www.yourbusiness.com/product-category/product-name-keyword” instead. Note how much easier the static URL is to read?
It’s so much more clear and concise and lets the reader know exactly what to expect when they view the page’s content. Keep in mind that web crawlers pick up on URL content, as well as the website’s actual on-page content. Use this to your advantage, and make sure that your URLs are easily readable and relevant to the page’s content. This might seem like a simple SEO tip, but I guarantee that it can make a world of difference for both your readers, as well as your website’s SEO rankings.
Add alt-text to your images
Images don’t just make your website look great. In your website’s backend, they can also make your website more relevant to its audience. When uploading images to your content management host, always fill in the titles, descriptions and especially the alt attributes with useful, relevant keywords.
Web crawlers won’t know what an image is just by looking at it (after all crawlers don’t have eyes to see with), but when you fill in the alt-text of your images, they’ll be able to scan this information and understand the context of the image it’s crawling. And at the same time, if your website’s images don’t load up properly when someone visits your page, for example, the alt-text will still be displayed, allowing the visitor to understand what the image was meant to be, despite it not being displayed.
Avoid creating irrelevant content
You know those conversations you often find yourself in? You know, the ones that just go on and on, full of fluff and unnecessary details, and that seem to repeat themselves over and over and over again?
Well, unfortunately, many people also do that with their websites. Essentially, they believe that the more content they put out there, the better, regardless of its quality or relevance. However, this is hardly the case. In fact, by creating content that isn’t useful or valuable in any way, you won’t have any way to keep your readers engaged with your website. In other words, most users will bounce and look for better, more valuable content somewhere else. Therefore, it’s important to always keep your content fresh, relevant, and not too long so that it’s going to bore your readers before they get to the end. Also, be sure to use the relevant keywords in your content, which you should have already identified by now.
It’s a good idea to use a healthy mix of both your focus keywords, as well as a variety of LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords. LSI keywords are essentially synonyms of your focus keywords, which help search engines better understand the content that’s being viewed. In other words, the mix of both, focus keywords and LSI keywords, ensures a better read, as well as making it easier for search engines to understand the content. In turn, this results in better SEO rankings.
Network within your niche
One of the best off-page ways to let the internet, and thus the search engines, know your website exists is via other websites and blogs that are willing to talk about it and link to it. External linking to your website is known as backlinking. And when this is done from a relevant, high-quality, authoritative website, your website essentially becomes associated with that higher-quality, more authoritative website.
In turn, this works to improve your website’s trust and optimization relationship with search engines, making your site that much more organically searchable. There are many different ways you can go about backlinking. However, it’s best to avoid sponsored or paid backlinking. Various online services may try to promise you numerous backlinking opportunities in one shot, but their hosted content is often spammy and un-authoritative in their published niches. And since the websites that link to yours will inherently affect the perspective of your site’s quality, it’s best to avoid this type of poor-quality backlink.
These services may be able to offer a large number of backlinks, but their poor quality will cause your site to take a hit in the rankings. Therefore, stay clear. Know your value, and let others see it for themselves.
Take advantage of social media (but don’t depend on it)
Any time you publish new content on your website, promote it on social media with to-the-point descriptions, relevant images and the proper links.
Promoting your content on social media doesn’t work directly to improve your site’s SEO. However, it’s an easy way for others to not only see your content but also to share it with the people they’re connected with on their social networks. Just remember, these applications can go down or go away quicker than you can boot up your computer in the morning. So don’t depend solely on social media to keep your site alive and well.
Improving site SEO in 2020
The fact is that well-made websites, clear content, positive networking, and an authentic, well thought out social presence isn’t just appealing to search engine web crawlers, it’s appealing to everyone: customers, online communities, potential clients, other business owners, your co-workers and even yourself.
In the end, always think about what you want your target audience to find and how you want your content to be conveyed. Then optimize your website and its content to offer the most in terms of both value and entertainment. And remember that SEO isn’t a process that happens overnight. So make sure to take it just one day at a time, or even one image at a time.
Keep your audience happy first, improve the structure of your website and better SEO rankings will come naturally.