If you want your business to be easily discoverable through search engines like Google and Yahoo!, then you have to understand the basics of SEO, or search engine optimization. SEO is an organic, cost-free marketing strategy that helps drive customers to your business when they search for things related to the products or services you offer. It works best when you have a webpage or site. But you can also benefit from SEO by simply listing your business on Google My Business.
You’ve experienced the beauty of SEO as a consumer yourself. Let’s say you want to find a gym in downtown Atlanta. You’d search “gym downtown Atlanta” and probably pay attention to the first five results of the SERP (search engine results page). How did those gyms make it to the top five results? They implement good SEO strategy. And so can you!
Here are the most important steps to boost your SEO and grow your business.
1. Think “incognito”
If you want to understand how your business is performing online, you first have to act like a customer and search for yourself in Incognito Mode (hidden). Perform two searches—one using the name of your business and the other using keywords related to your business. But here’s the key factor: Use your browser’s “incognito” mode when you perform these searches. Why? Your browser remembers your Internet history and displays results based on your behavior. So, if you visit your own website a lot, Google will remember that and present it to you higher in the results. However, in “incognito” mode, you browse anonymously. When you search for your business or related keywords, Google will show you truer results (as someone who has never searched or visited your site), and you can get a better sense of how your business ranks.
2. Google Analytics
Next, you need to understand how your business’ website is performing in order to set goals and KPIs for your SEO strategy. Here are the key metrics to focus on:
-Unique monthly visitors- This measures the number of people who visited your site but does not count repeat visits, so you can get an idea of how many individuals you are reaching.
-Referrals- This tells you where your visitors came from. This is extremely important in measuring your SEO. If the majority of your visitors came from Google, that means they are discovering you in their search.
-Bounce rate- This tells you how long visitors stay on your website. The longer they stay, the better it is for your SEO. If they “bounce” quickly (under 30 seconds), then search engines like Google will ding your overall SEO score.
-Conversion rate- If you have a call-to-action on your website, the “conversion rate” measures how many visitors completed that action. It could be completing a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, “following” your social media and more. The higher your conversion rate, the better your SEO.
Okay, now that you have an idea of how well your SEO is performing, it’s time to take it up a notch. The first and easiest way to do this is with some very simple HMTL coding. When Google searches websites to bring users search results, it looks for:
- Web page title (these appear in the web browser’s title bar)
- H1 headers (this appears in the body text of your website)
- Content of your website
These elements are called “On-page” SEO because they are visible on your page; your page visitors can see them. But keep in mind that your website title and H1 page titles must also appear in the code of your website—if they aren’t in the code, Google won’t be able to find them.
Your SEO performance also depends on how mobile-friendly your website it. In fact, mobile web browsing is now more popular than desktop browsing, so your mobile site performance really matters more than ever. Make sure that your mobile site is “responsive,” meaning it automatically adapts to the device it displays on. A responsive mobile site is just as easy to read on an iPhone 6 as it is the latest Galaxy.
5. User Experience
You probably hear the term “user experience” a lot. Quite intuitively, the “user experience” or UX of your website has a huge effect on how users feel about the experience of visiting your site. A lot of factors can impact UX, but you should prioritize the following:
-Load time- Make sure your site loads quickly on all devices otherwise users will have a bad experience and bounce. You can check your current site speed here.
-Navigation- Organize your site in a standard, intuitive way so that users aren’t searching for the information they want.
-Design- The look and feel of your site—i.e. its design—also has a big impact on user experience. Pay attention to your color palette, font types and font weight. Users prefer visual information rather than lengthy text, so factor multimedia into your design as well.
The Wrap Up
SEO can seem like an intimidating process when you are on the 20th page of a Google search and want to move up to the first page of results. But the good news is that you can see a quick improvement in your SERP ranking within a few months, if not a matter of weeks! Start by completing the five steps we listed above. Once you see an improvement, keep updating your website on a regular basis and measuring your analytics to track your SEO growth.