Like any business, you need customers. Potential customers look for things online. If they search Google for a product or service you offer, will they find your business?
I’ve written before about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. Today we’re going to dive into it a little more.
SEO is the technical process of optimizing a webpage (or pages) so that Google, Bing, and other search engines display it when someone performs a search for a product or service that you offer. These are called SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages.
SEO can be EXTREMELY technical and time consuming, which is why it can get expensive quickly, depending on the competitiveness of your industry, geographic location, and keywords your business is targeting.
Typical SEO services can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars per month into the thousands, all depending on the amount of work and time involved.
Although expensive, it’s still one of the cheapest forms of marketing, as you can directly tell (through your site analytics) what the return on investment is.
There are two technical types of SEO work: On-page and off-page. The on-page elements are those things you can directly control, as you can change the necessary elements of you website to improve it’s ranking. The off-page optimization you have less control over, as it generally relates to what, and how many other sites are linking back to yours.
Here’s a few quick tips for on-page SEO.
Each page must have a descriptive and unique title tag. This is the single most important factor of on-page SEO, as it tells Google what the page content is (supposed to be) about. For a local business, your location and keyword are good things to place in the title tag.
High Quality & Unique Content
The information displayed on your site should use the keywords that people are searching for. Don’t overdo this. Always write your content for people, not search engines, and don’t write the same information on multiple pages. Each page should be unique. No duplicate content. Ever. Each page on your website should be unique. It should not have content that is pulled from another site, as Google will dock you SEO points for this.
Meta Description & Permalink Structure
The description about your page that shows up in the search results is called the “meta description.” It doesn’t directly affect ranking, but a well written description will increase the number of clicks to your site, and in turn your conversion rate. The unique URL that each page on your site has is call the permalink. It should be descriptive, short & to the point, and not contain unnecessary characters if at all possible.
Content is king. write for people, not search engines. If you want to rank, “write good shit.”
–Jason Falls, CEO of Social Media Explorer
Off-page SEO is all about other sites linking back to yours. Here’s some tips to help you get those back-links coming back to your site:
Local business directories are the new yellow pages. Besides that, they link back to your site, which helps to increase your site’s authority level, and signals to Google that they should pay attention to your site. You should list your business in as many of these local directories as possible. An important consideration is to make sure that your information is consistent on every one.
When someone needs a product or service, many times the first thing they do is search for customer reviews on a particular business they are considering purchasing from. Your business needs to be listed on these sites, and have lots of (positive) reviews/testimonials. You should consistently ask customers to leave a review for your business after each transaction. If your business is specifically local, then reviews and testimonials that include geographic keywords should help as well.
The search engines are increasingly looking at social signals to determine rankings. Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Youtube, and Pinterest are all used for this. Search and social are becoming so intertwined that’s becoming difficult to tell the difference between the two. If you’re not using these tools, you should be.
Online Press Releases
Press releases are a great way to get back-links to your site, and they can help your business to gain exposure through more traditional media outlets. Many reporters scour through the online press release services to find interesting topics to write on and feature.
Some other technical considerations for SEO are:
-Longtail keywords: These are keyword that are over 3 words in length. It is much easier to rank for longer phrases, as there is less competition than for short.
-Domain age: Google gives some additional SEO juice to sites that are older than others.
-Website design: You may have a high ranking, but if your site isn’t decently attractive and easy to navigate, potential customers will not stay on it for long. This is especially true for mobile users.
-Photo/picture optimization: Google image search gets a lot of traffic. Adding a unique title and alt tag to each photo will help them to rank higher.
-Video optimization: YouTube gets millions of hits a day. If you utilize videos for your business, make sure to include the URL linking back to your site in the description along with a quality description about the video and your business, and contact info for potential customers to get in touch with you.
-Back-link relevance & reputation: The websites and pages that are linking back to yours need to be relevant to what your site is about. They should also have lots of high quality and unique content. The anchor text used to link to you should be a unique keyword.
That should be enough information to get you started. As Charles Floate says on his blog, SEO is a technical and time consuming process. But remember, all the search engine optimization in the world won’t help your business if your website doesn’t convert. That’s why the design of your site and the information presented are so important.
If you’d like some additional training on improving your site’s search engine optimization, this course is a super DIY option.
The video below will also give a quick overview about some SEO basics.
How does your website stack up using these search engine optimization benchmarks?