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If you run a website for your business, you may have heard the term “search engine optimization” or SEO for short, being thrown around a lot. This isn’t a coincidence either… SEO is really important to ensure people actually find and visit your site at all.
Your rankings in search results (such as Google and Bing) determine whether users will find the link to your website. And you don’t have to be an expert to know, the more people clicking and visiting your site, the more clients, or customers you’ll generate.
So how do you make sure you maximize your SEO and get the best possible rankings for your business? Follow these 10 important tips to improve your ranking, make your website more relevant, and help bring in the money.
Before anything, the spiders crawling the internet (bots looking for keywords and data) should be able to find your site. How do you do this? The easiest way to make this happen is to put a sitemap on your site. This tells Google—and people browsing—what pages are on your website. If you’re not tech savvy enough to create one manually, you should consider leaving this one to the professionals… OR if you are on a popular platform such as WordPress there plugins that can help create a sitemap for you. Popular ones, for example, are Yoast, All in one SEO, RankMath, or Seo Framework.
However, if you do not know how to create a site map the second best option is create a site architecture that makes sense. For example, homepage, services (with sub service pages), about, contact, blog posts, etc. Good site structure can help make your site easier to understand from a crawler (bot) perspective. Think like a user as well. If your users can easily navigate it means Google can as well. This can make up for not having a sitemap. Most site builder sites such as Wix or Squarespace create one automatically however they do not allow you to customize it as much. Meaning you may have some pages missed if you do not link to them or a signup landing page for a past event rank higher than your service page.
Before you write your content and put it on the internet, you have to know that “everything” is in a name, well kind of in a name. If you’re cornering an information niche online, do your best to include your most important keyword (usually what your content is about) on your site’s domain name. For example, if your website is about Brunch, it’ll help your search ranking by having the word “breakfast” “brunch” “lunch” or “food” or both “breakfast” and “lunch” in your URL.
Here is the “Kind of”, you should have something that is industry related in your URL but don’t get hung up on the name. The URL structure can make up for a Brand domain. Such as Tabletalk.com/brunch. Many SEO’s and businesses get hung up on the name but consider Nike, hotwire.com (All are brands and none have what they sell in the main domain.) Keywords in the domain name help boost rankings initially but over time other ranking factors start to take higher precedence.
Your subdomain also plays into your ranking. Going further with the Brunch site example, let’s say you went with “food.com”; naming your subdomain “Brunch.food.com” will likely strengthen your search engine ranking. However, with subdomains they involve more technical setup and more seo considerations than just adding a subfolder (example.com/example).
Most people’s idea of SEO is just adding or repeating a bunch of keywords over and over until you get enough density to boost your ranking… But what REALLY matters for good search ranking is to produce some relevant and unique content on your site that will help answer a potential customer’s questions, not just a keyword for a search. Remember behind every keyword is a person searching for an answer.
Of course, being in a niche helps, it only makes sense—the more niche your site’s content is, the less likely it is you’ll have competition in the relevant keywords. And the better the quality of your content is, the more likely people will click on it. Also, the keywords should be present in your page or article’s headline or title. (This is usually the first thing people will see in the search results so remind them why yours is the best answer!)
With your content you should also focus on the main topic then start to branch out from there. Look at this guide, each of these SEO tips could have quite a few blog posts devoted to each one. Think like a librarian, each subject is categorized with supporting subject matter connected in each section.
While you do need to have unique content on your site, make sure that it’s also original, not just stuff you’ve found on other sites. Obviously, the more unique and original it is, the less likely it’s going to appear on other sources. And the more original content you have, the more diverse your offerings are, and the stronger your site’s relevance will be. Cover all your bases, and people will be more likely to click on your link too. Use a plagiarism checker like Copyscape.com to check your content. (It can also track down competitors stealing your content.)
On one hand, while increasing your search ranking is going to help you become more easily accessible when people search for a keyword, it would be irrelevant if nobody clicks on it because it’s not relevant to them.
So even though you’ve done enough to improve your ranking, you need to make sure you present your content and title in a way that’s compelling and enticing enough for people to click.
Usually, this is done via good metadata writing—meaning, the part of the page’s description and title that shows up on the results page. It’s not exactly a simple thing to nail, and you may need the help from some experienced writers if you’re not one yourself. Just make sure it’s too good to resist, and the clicks will come. (The plugins mentioned for WordPress insearch meta titles and meta descriptions into your pages if you want to customize them).
Most website builders have a section they title SEO (incorrectly since there is much more to SEO than just titles and descriptions, remember that class we have). The default for most websites if you do not set a custom metadata, is your page title and first 300 characters (Google only shows about the first 60 for title and 150 for page description.) Google will also search your page and create one but it might not be what you want them to show. If you are familiar with code you can insert your metadata into the page header <head > but we do not want to encourage people to mess with their code if they do not take some time to read up on it because it can cause undesirable issues with your site. However, now most website platforms have either plugins or fields they call SEO for pages. The list of plugins we mentioned earlier for WordPress all allow you to edit this metadata.
This also goes into the substance of your site’s content. Length is a big factor in Google and other search engines’ determination of whether your site is authoritative in the particular field you’re trying to capture. The longer (aka the more text you have) your article or page content is, the more likely the page will show up higher in results.
BUT also remember that answering a searcher’s question takes a higher priority. Don’t just write to write. A great example of this is to search for “Is it Christmas” Then we can talk about page length. 🙂
It’s not just the content on your site that matters to a search engine, but also whether other websites know you’re relevant. Because the spiders will also look at other sites and note which link back to yours (hence the term Backlink). Having others backlink to you signifies that your website is a potentially important source for the content for a topic (ideally your target keywords). The more quality links (that are relevant) create a stronger signal that your site is an authority on those key terms.
It’s not just external sources linking back to you that matter. Interlinking between pages in your site also helps—but make sure you don’t overdo it, or else the spiders will know and you’ll get penalized by the search engines. Just try to do it naturally. If you have something that is valuable for a reader and it makes sense to link to it internally, do it. Internal linking has a very strong impact on search rankings. (this is not just the navigation menus and footers but call to actions, text links, images, and buttons.
Try getting your site linked back from other websites with the same kind of content, as well as peppering your content with links to your other pages, and you’ll see your ranking increase gradually. If done correctly. (Did we mention we offer training and consulting?)
Sprinkling your site’s content with SEO keywords is actually how you get yourself found on search engines. That’s the easy part, and you should know that by now. But you may be wondering:
Which keywords do I use?
Simple—not only the generic, broad stuff your content falls under, but also using phrases, synonyms, and relevant questions and answers work really well.
Think of yourself as the searcher, and which words you’re actually going to type in the search engine. If your site is about, say, making aquarium landscapes, “aquarium landscapes” is one keyword, but “how to make an aquascape” is another one you could consider including in the content piece. Using a keyword research tool such as Semrush Or Spyfu can help you find and understand search volumes with those terms.
These keywords should not only go into tags (If you have multiple content pieces that are related topics you can tag them), but they should also be present in your content as well. Google and other search engines tend to look at keyword density, which calculates how dense your text is with the keywords you’ve chosen to use.
How do you calculate keyword density? Simple—take a specific keyword, count how many times it appears in your content, divide that number with the total word count in your article or page, and then multiply the result by 100. We also include a media keyword alternative tag and file name keyword count to get a range but you have to view the source code.
You can analyze other top results on the search term you are targeting to see what they have as well to give you a baseline of the average potential density you might want to shoot for. This is just a guideline to help in content planning and to see if you may have too many keywords.
The media you use on a site, such as images and videos, can also be optimized to increase your ranking. You can include your important keywords in your image’s ALT tags and filenames as well, and those spiders will be crawling through those and adding them up to your score, per say.
This can also help in boosting your site’s images, or videos in image and video search results, and the same rules apply—the higher those images /videos are on the search results, the more likely people will click on the links to your site. They also help fill your brand searches with more content.
Also, you should consider balancing the text in your page and/or site with an appropriate amount of images, as visuals will make a bigger impression on your readers and visitors. Balancing is an art of not too many and not too few. Think of breaking up the text to give readers a visual break.
Remember, these aren’t super hard-and-fast rules; their application always depends on how much text and content you need to and will write on your site. Just make sure to not spam your pages with too many keywords and spammy metadata, and eventually, you may start seeing results in your search rankings on track for increases.
If you want more technical and hands on training and more Value Bombs like that last one: Reach out. Besides SEO Consulting and “done for you” SEO packages.
We also offer one of the only no fluff courses that have a dedicated instructor lab (side by side time) after each class as well as small class sizes for local Twin Cities attendees. As well as live stream options and playback for those who can’t make it. We take you from beginner to intermediate SEO to help you see real rankings increases by the end of the course.
Get started now by scheduling an intro call. We’ll talk through your marketing goals, and determine if we’re a great fit.