How important is search ranking in 2020? What is SEO? What can I do to improve my site’s ranking?
One of the most important things about your website is how easy it is for people to find it. You’ve probably come across the term “SEO” somewhere in your adventures as a small business owner, but not everyone understands what that means. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. It’s a fancy way of saying “this is how we make a webpage attractive enough to be a top search result.” By using SEO techniques, you can improve your search ranking.
But how important is it really to improve your search ranking? Well, in a survey conducted in 2018, 82% of people who shop on their phones use “near me” searches to find local businesses, and 90% of them are most likely to click on the first set of results. 60% of people will click on the first 2-3 results that they see (Oberlo, 2020). So how can you make your webpage more attractive to search engines? Here are some simple guidelines to follow.
Provide valuable content
On the Internet, content is king. Providing information that people are interested in is the most important part of improving your search ranking. A key element is optimizing the content to fit strategic keywords and phrases that your customers are searching for. A good way to think of some keywords that might apply is to consider how you as a consumer, would search for your business online. What questions would you have if you were in need of your services?
The type of content you create should be optimized for your audience. If your customers are expecting a video, but get a text description, they’re likely to go elsewhere. It’s important to keep visuals in mind when creating content, especially for sharing on social media. Graphs or infographics (like above) can be attractive ways of summarizing your content. And you don’t necessarily need to hire a designer to make it. This free infographic tool from Adobe is a good place to start. Keeping your website fresh with regular additions of new content will help to improve your search ranking as well.
Label your content appropriately
Making sure that your site uses proper markup and tagging is important in making sure that search engines are understanding your content clearly. Including text descriptions for your images and using appropriate heading tags are two quick tips for communicating clearly with search engines. Adding a site map or table of contents to your site, can help and make sure that all of your content is being considered. If you’re using an up to date version of WordPress, this is now automatically done for you.
Google provides a great tool for managing how Google looks at your site. Setup a Google Search Console account to see what pages are indexed, what search terms your site is appearing for, and see any errors that may be causing issues. It’s quick and free way to keep a behind the scenes look at how your site is performing.
Make sure that your site loads quickly
It’s no secret that people prefer faster websites, so you probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that search engines like them too. Search engine ranking priority is given to the sites that load faster and are mobile-optimized, so this means that loading faster on mobile devices, is especially important.
Mobile phones create over 52% of the total internet traffic (Oberlo, 2020). In fact the average US adult now spends about 3 hours per day on their mobile devices. As of Fall 2020, Google now uses the mobile display of your website as the default view. So, making sure your site loads quickly (and looks good) on mobile is no longer something that can be overlooked. How does your site perform on a smartphone? Is it a good experience?
One of the most effective ways to boost your page speed is to optimize your photos for quick downloading. Loading smaller images on mobile can drastically reduce page load time. Another quick fix is to keep your pages short and focused on one topic. This helps improves readability and cuts down on load time.
Include, and be included in, reputable links and reviews
Links from reputable, established sites count as a ‘vote’ for your site. Links from reputable sites help to show your credibility as well. This can take some time as it works best when you have some high-quality content to show your company’s merit, but it could be from a partner company, an organization you’re a member of, or maybe a charity that you contribute to.
Think about when you’re considering a purchase online, reviews are a big part of your perception of the companies credibility. Reviews work great for promoting your business too. Try featuring a few on your home page or in social media posts. Always be sure to get customer permission before posting if it isn’t an open forum.
Your logo is also a big part of your branding so wherever possible, ask to have your logo included and perhaps a little snippet about your company. Visibility is key, and having multiple sources will help to boost your search ranking.
If you need immediate results, try paid search
While SEO is a great long term strategy for improving your standing online, it’s a slow, gradual improvement that takes time to bear fruit. If you’re in need of a quick fix and have some money to spend, try a paid ad service such as Google Adwords. Paid search services like Adwords allow you to buy ad space that appears above search results.
It will get you site traffic, however it can be expensive to maintain over time, and you still have to have good content on your site to engage your visitors. Plus, the majority of users tend to avoid ads online in general (Moz, 2019). So ultimately Adwords should be more of a tool to utilize along with some of these other practices, instead of a standalone fix to improve your search ranking.
So there you have it, provide clear and quality content and label it accordingly. Use a wide variety of well-labeled media and update your site with new content as regularly as possible. Make sure your page loads fast, and is well connected to other sites through reputable links. Utilizing paid advertising can improve your exposure, but weigh the pros and cons.
We’ve only scratched the surface of SEO, but if these general practices should be enough to get your website climbing the search engine rankings in no time.