40% of internet users click on the number 1 result on a Google search. Less than 1% ever go to page 2 or 3.
That’s a lot of leads and revenue potentially going to your competition. So what can you do in-house to improve your search engine rankings?
It’s a constantly shifting landscape, quite technical and often very time-consuming.
9 steps you can take to start boosting your rankings today:
1. Know your keywords
Targeting the right people is absolutely key before you start.
Quite simply, the words you want to dominate are the words your ideal clients and prospects are using right now, to search for you. If you are a dentist who specialises in orthodontics, then stick with ‘orthodontic’ related words rather than attracting people looking for a check up or a filling!
What geographical area (if any) does your business cover? Include that city or region as a keyword eg ‘business consultant london.’
Having decided your ideal search terms, you need to check whether anyone actually uses them to search online. You want terms which have reasonable search volume as it is this volume (or a good part of it) that you want to come to your website. Google Adwords has a great keyword tool that shows you current volumes.
2. Check your site structure & navigation
Your site structure should organize your content and group it into sections so it is logical for visitors and search engines. Inter-linking your content from one page to another helps rankings as well. Be careful to hyperlink a keyword phrase rather than a generic ‘click here.’
3. URL patterns
Each page on your website should have a unique URL. Each URL should describe the content of that page concisely and include important keywords.
4. Check your tags
There are many tags we work on during SEO, but two of the most important are the Title and Meta. Search engines use the title tag text to determine what the page is about in 65 characters or less (engines don’t display more.) Meta description tags summarize what your page content is about, and they are displayed as part of the information people see on a search engine results page. Keep them brief, informative and include the keyword used in the title tag.
5. Have a site map
An XML site map has a list of all your pages and when they were updated. You can find site map generators online that will create the .xml file for you. Then upload it to the root directory of your website, for example www.website.com/sitemap.xml
Ideally, you should update your xml file at least once a month so search engines have the freshest data.
6. How fast does your site load?
Loading time is a factor in rankings, and slow loading speeds can turn people away from your site. Running a lot of video can slow speeds (embedding from YouTube can assist), or check your cache, which can be optimized using plug-ins like W3 Total Cache.
7. Content is king
Include your keywords in the body content but don’t use them out of context. If you over saturate a page with keywords, you won’t do yourself any favours in the rankings. A good rule of thumb is to always prepare your content for your audience and include keywords naturally. What feels good to people also works well for the search engines.
8. Build links
One of the major indicators to a search engine that your site is an authority in your field, is the quality and number of incoming links.
Comment on blogs, trade links with relevant companies who work in your field, but most of all, produce and distribute fresh, relevant content. A weekly blog is a great way to add value to your field and to create interest in your site, and links back. General articles about your products or skill sets, and press releases also work well.
9. Social Media
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube are all relevant for businesses, and highly regarded by the search engines. So try to create a timetable of social media that is built around events in your business – product launches, news or just a great idea you may have.
It takes time and effort to do your own SEO and Social Media. The list we go through is about 4 times as long as the one I’ve given you today. But if you start with the 9 steps above, you’ll be on your way. Good luck and see you on Google!
We’d love to hear your comments about which SEO strategies work for you, or the challenges you face with SEO. Add your comments below.