Undeniably, generating traffic to your website and getting eyes on your product is key to increasing your online reach and more importantly, your business’s revenue. But, there’s a bit of a science to how someone stumbles upon your site after a basic Google search. Here, we break that science — called search engine optimization — and share some simple tactics you can use to drive more traffic to your website.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the concept of increasing traffic to a website through strategic tactics related to organic search engine results. Search engines, like Google and Bing, continuously crawl — or scan — websites to slowly learn what topics they cover. They reward user-friendly sites that are easy to navigate and provide relevant information by allowing them to appear higher on the search engine results page.
Certain changes to your website’s design and content — like ensuring it is mobile-friendly, using keywords, and internal linking — can make a huge difference in whether your site carries some weight in the eyes of Google.
Power of SEO
Gone are the days of simply telling Google what your site is about by embedding meta descriptions in its HTML code. While this is still good practice (more on this later), search engines have gotten smarter.
Not only are they looking for sites that reference a specific keyword, they want to ensure the quality of the content as well. They do this through a variety of ways, including how many other sites link to your own, how often various keywords from the search show up on your site, and how many users ultimately click through to view it. And these are just a few.
According to Lyfe Marketing, search engines generate 90% of all overall traffic on the web. This means making your site attractive for these search engines is crucial, even if just a small percentage of those leads turn into a conversion. And if high quality leads are essential to your business and can potentially lead to big payouts, like for real estate agents, pay even closer attention to effective SEO practices.
While it can take some time to creep up to the top of search engine results, and can depend on many variables — including budget, competition, and website quality — it usually pays off in the end. John Mueller, a Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, says it could still take a couple of months or even a year for a full overhaul of a website to have an impact on its search ranking. But, the return can be worth it, especially if you’re a business that primarily operates online. SEO is specifically important for small businesses because it makes reaching new markets and expanding beyond your original location much easier.
Internal linking is the practice of linking to other pages on your site via a hyperlink. Not only does this allow your users to reference other relevant information on your site, it keeps them there longer and helps you gain SEO traction.
Search engines see internal linking as a good thing and a clue that your site is actually applicable to a user’s search on a particular topic. So, a good rule of thumb is to link to at least five other pages within every blog post or page content.
Internal linking can also help search engines find older posts or content and drive traffic there. When using links to your own content, make sure to choose keywords and content that are relevant to each other. It’s bad practice — and won’t be looked highly upon by search engines — to just shove in a link because you want more traffic to a page. Trying to be sneaky will only hurt you with SEO.
The best place to start when determining which keywords to use for SEO is to brainstorm search terms you think your customers may use. By plugging these terms into a Google search, you can find other related search terms. You can also use Google Analytics to see which search terms are currently driving traffic to your site.
Using this knowledge, plug these keywords into your page titles, subheadings, and overall content. Be careful to avoid keyword stuffing — plugging the same keyword/s over and over. This will not only frustrate your users but can negatively affect your SEO.
As more and more users view sites almost exclusively on mobile devices — like a phone or tablet — the quality of your mobile site becomes even more crucial. Historically, Google has most often used the desktop version of a page’s content to determine a site’s ranking. But now, they lean more toward crawling a site’s mobile version — called mobile-first indexing. Google says that now over half of the pages shown in search results globally are from its mobile-first indexing procedure.
Check the mobile version of your site often to make sure it’s user-friendly and easy-to-navigate. Most websites do this automatically, but you may catch some glitches to revisit. You’ll also want to make sure the photos you use are small enough to load quickly on mobile and display properly and that any buttons or links are easily clickable with a finger on a phone.
Meta descriptions are small snippets — up to 155 characters — that summarize the content of a web page. These descriptions are hidden within HTML tags so they’re not seen on your actual site, but they do show underneath the page title in search engine results to entice viewers to click through to your site.
Since Google uses click-through-rate to determine the quality of a site this means meta descriptions can have an indirect effect on your SEO. You’ll want to include top keywords in this description to have the best chance of it appearing during a search. A good meta description is also written in active voice and includes a call-to-action, like “Get it now!,” “Try for free!,” or “Find out more.”
Technical specifications, like price and size, for tangible products are also a good idea — it helps users immediately decide if your product is the one that fits their needs. Be careful to make sure your meta descriptions fairly represent the pages content, as Google may penalize you if they are misleading simply to generate clicks.
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