Crucial Tips If You Want to Start Using SEO for Your Business
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If you’re a business owner with a website, you’ve likely heard that search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to get more visits to your site and, hopefully, more customers making purchases. However, you may be confused about what SEO is, let alone how it can help your business. In this article, we’ll address the basics of search engine optimization and provide tips for SEO for your business.
What Is SEO?
SEO is an incredibly complex topic but don’t go into panic. It includes part-market research, part-keyword research, part copywriting, and part link building. Your mobile optimization, user experience, and usability all factor into your SEO score. With all of those factors, it can be challenging to understand what exactly affects your business’s SEO.
While an experienced SEO consultant can certainly help you optimize your website, it is possible to build a strong understanding of the basic principles of SEO and how to use them on your own. Without diving into all the nitty-gritty SEO details, here are the most important factors to keep in mind as a business owner:
- Creating a well-structured, fast, and mobile-friendly website
- Filling your website with excellent, customer-friendly content
- Providing informational content that is useful to a broad audience
- Optimizing your page titles and meta descriptions
- Enhancing your credibility with case studies, reviews, and testimonials
1: Speed Up Your Site
As I mentioned, user experience is a significant factor in search engine optimization. User experience means having a fast site that is easy to navigate and contains factual information for your audience. Since 2010, Google has included site speed as one of the most important ranking factors for SEO.
What does that mean for you as a business owner? Pay attention to how quickly the pages on your website load. If it takes 20 seconds to load every image or video, your site will rank poorly. This is crucial if you’re doing any video marketing and still want to compete in organic search.
Customers want a fast, streamlined experience, which is why loading times factor into SEO. Research shows that visitors spend less time on pages that take a while to load, meaning that a slow site will kill your SEO ranking and your conversions.
If your site is already running slowly, don’t worry. There are easy steps you can take to speed it up:
- Start by getting rid of nonessential elements or plugins.
- Keep your page design simple.
- Make your site more accessible (here’s a definitive guide on accessibility)
- Combine all your CSS in a single stylesheet. Implementing these small changes will quickly improve your page loading time.
2: Ignore the Robots. Write for Humans
When people think about SEO, they often think about the old style of SEO, populating a page with as many instances of a single keyword as possible.
That’s an outdated approach.
What does that mean for your copy?
Well, instead of focusing on how many times you can populate your page with a specific search term, concentrate on how to answer the question that got people to your site in the first place. For instance, if you’re a web designer with a blog about using Squarespace best, you’ll want your posts to provide accurate, actionable content about optimizing Squarespace usage.
Gone are the days of stuffing your page with as many keywords as possible, regardless of context. In case you don’t know, here’s the Google definition of keyword stuffing:
“Keyword stuffing” refers to loading a webpage with keywords or numbers to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating valuable, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
In other words, if you’re a pizza joint offering cheap Chicago-style pizza, you don’t need to populate your page with the phrase “Chicago-style pizza cheap” repeatedly. And you certainly shouldn’t use that term if it doesn’t make sense in your copy.
Instead, use your keywords appropriately in a context that makes sense.
3: Get Your Analytics Set Up
To know if you’re SEO strategies are working, you’ll need to track your analytics.
Having your analytics in place before you start implementing your SEO strategies is an excellent practice because you’ll be able to tell whether or not your efforts are working immediately.
4: Be Purposeful About Your URLs
It can be easy to forget your URLs, especially when using a website builder like Squarespace or WordPress. But URLs are one of the most important ways to improve your site’s SEO.
A good URL is easy to understand for both users and search engines. It explains exactly what content is on the page, so the search engines know to direct traffic there when people query. Here’s an example of a wrong URL:
What makes this URL so bad? It gives no information about the content on the page. A search engine won’t be able to tell who to direct to your site.
Here’s a better example:
This URL is straightforward to understand. A search engine can immediately tell that your page is designed to help people understand how to improve their SEO.
Updating your URLs to clear, accessible, and searchable terms is a great way to improve your SEO quickly.
6: Encourage Inbound Links
Backlinks are an essential part of SEO. Backlinks are incoming links to your website or, in other words, when someone on another website shares your content and provides a link for their users to follow to your page.
Why are backlinks so crucial for SEO?
Remember what we discussed before: search engines prioritize high-quality, engaging content.
If people are linking to your site, your content is valuable enough that others want to share it. In other words, your content is high-quality and engaging.
Encouraging inbound links takes a lot of time. You’ll need to invest energy into ensuring that your content is high-quality. That means spending hours creating posts or other pieces of content.
But the upfront investment will pay off when your SEO ranking improves because of your high number of backlinks.
7: Craft a Solid Meta Description
A meta description is what people see when your page appears on Google.
In addition to being the first impression a customer will have of your business, meta descriptions are a great way to increase your SEO ranking.
Your meta description should be structured, match the content of the query, and contain the right focus keyword. Just as you don’t need to keyword stuff your page, you shouldn’t keyword stuff your meta descriptions.
Each page of your website should have a different meta description. Google de-prioritizes duplicate meta descriptions, so you’ll want to create a unique meta description for every page on your site. Personalize your meta description for the content that’s on each specific page. For instance, if you’re a photographer like Michael Will, your portfolio page’s meta description should include information about your photographs.
On the other hand, your contact page should have a different meta description that highlights your location.
8: Update Your Website Frequently With Unique “Authority” Content
Google prioritizes “fresh” content. What does that mean? Google likes new content: it wants to show the most up-to-date information on every topic. Google also prioritizes uniqueness: sites with a high freshness score will have highly original content that differs from what’s found in most other places.
Producing consistent, unique content can be a massive challenge for business owners. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t just be farming out content for the sake of getting content out there – you need to focus on creating high-quality content, too.
This doesn’t mean you’ll be rewarded for churning on thin content every day, but producing long-form written content regularly is highly recommended.
To improve your freshness score, consider updating old, well-trafficked posts. You’ll better your freshness score and use your best content by giving them a quick update and a new publishing date.
Focus on putting out important pieces regularly, and you’ll be fine.
What Can SEO Do For Your Business?
You don’t need to populate your website with 100 instances of the same keyword to rank well for SEO. “And you don’t need to hire an expensive consultant to do so, either,” says expert Leslie Gilmour. With small, thoughtful changes, you can drastically improve your website’s SEO and increase the number of qualified leads coming to your page.
Think quality, not quantity. Creating the best, most personalized experience possible for your users, from design to content, is essential if you want to see results in your business.
Brendan Hufford leads the SEO team at Clique Studios, getting results for clients ranging from local Chicago and Denver businesses to global brands that are household names. He learned everything he knows about SEO by putting some skin in the game and starting his own business. Brendan often writes on the Clique blog and his SEO consulting blog.