SEO. Chances are you’ve heard of it, but if you don’t know what it means, and you have a website for your small business, you may have problems.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s a strategy used to help web pages reach the top of search engine results. Most people find web pages through search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, so it’s to your advantage to make sure your web pages appear on page 1 of search engine results – not page 25.
It’s no accident that Google returns the most relevant pages to you based on the words or phrases that you enter. How they do this is known only to Google – it uses a top-secret algorithm to rank search results – but we have a good idea what works and what doesn’t.
So what’s the secret? How do you get your pages to the top of Google’s search results?
To do this, you’ll need to do a little research. First, look at each of your pages and find out what they’re about. Try to find the word or phrase that people will search for to find your page. For instance, if you have an electrical company and have a blog post that mentions electrical safety, “electrical safety” may be your keywords. If you don’t know what the page is about, perhaps that’s a page that isn’t doing your business any good.
You can then plug that word or phrase into a keyword analyzer and get other ideas for keywords. Entering the keywords “electrical rewiring” into a keyword analysis tool such as A hrefs or kwfinder.com reveals related keywords such as “house wiring,” “electrical cabling” and “home electrical wiring.” Determine which one is your main keyword – the apps will tell you what keywords are the most searched – and then build your content around those keywords.
That doesn’t mean every other sentence needs to contain your keyword. Google calls that “keyword stuffing” and will actually penalize you if you use the word too often. At the very least, you should put the keyword in a headline on your web page, and scatter it throughout the copy.
If your website is powered by WordPress, a plugin such as Yoast SEO will allow you to enter a keyword and will then analyze your page to see if it’s optimized for that keyword. It will recommend things you can do to improve SEO, such as providing internal links to related content and using your keyword in describing images.
Don’t forget those other related keywords, though. Google is learning about related keywords and can find those keywords and relate them to the main keyword, giving you even more of a boost.
Think of meta tags as information about your web page. The most important tag that describes your web page is the title – in WordPress, this is usually the title you give your page or post. It’s important to have the keyword you want to rank for somewhere in the title.
Another important tag is the meta description, which describes your page. This is the copy that appears below the link in Google:
By default, it’s the first 155 characters of your web page, but you can change this. Again, the Yoast SEO plugin will allow you to change the meta description to anything you want. You’ll want to incorporate your keywords into the meta description.
Google also takes into account the number of web pages that think your content is important. The more pages that link to your page, the higher your page will rank. So it’s time to reach out and do some PR. Get in touch with colleagues, influencers in your industry, and related websites and offer a link trade – you’ll post a link to their website if they’ll post a link to yours. You can also guest blog on other sites and provide a link back to certain web pages on your site.
One thing to remember is that it’s not a big deal to get links to your homepage. More than likely, people will be searching for information that will be on your website. You want to try to rank for as many keywords as you can. Keep fine-tuning your content, looking at which keywords rank well and are easy to rank for.
Your site needs to perform well on a mobile device. About half of all web browsing is now done on a mobile phone, and Google has recognized this. Make sure your website is responsive – that is, it resizes based on the device you’re viewing it on. Many WordPress themes are now responsive by default, so you don’t have to do any work.
Make sure that your website loads quickly as well. Even if it looks good, if it takes 8-10 seconds for the site to load, people won’t stick around to read your content, and Google will notice as well. Optimize your images, and work with a web developer to minimize scripts that are called when a web page is loaded.
A long road
SEO is not an overnight success. It takes hard work and constant tweaking. Try one thing, and if it’s not working, try another. Keyword trackers like A hrefs will tell you how you’re doing for each keyword, so you can gauge your success as your content travels up the search results page.