For owners and managers of SMBs, taking time to understand the intricacies of search engine optimization (SEO) can seem unnecessary. However, leveraging the latest digital marketing tactics is important to your bottom line.
Here are five relatively simple SEO tactics that can help you achieve your revenue goals.
You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s certainly worth reiterating: make sure your website content is original and well written. Duplicating someone else’s content is not only unethical, it will hurt your Google rankings. The same goes for duplicating your own content. Each page of your site should be devoted to a unique topic presented in original content. If you use the same content over and over again, your website’s pages will not rank high in search engines.
Google recommends creating content with your website’s users in mind. What information will be useful and meaningful to them? What content will demonstrate your credibility? Repetitive content, information that they can find anywhere, awkward use of keywords or keyword stuffing and poorly written sentence are sure to turn your site users (and Google) away.
As with content, when choosing keywords for your website pages, keep your site users in mind. What words are they going to use when searching for your business, products or services? Many SMBs choose keywords based on their areas of expertise and their industry’s jargon. For example, personal injury attorneys naturally use the language of their profession, so you’ll find a multitude of web pages with keywords such as “premises liability,” “product liability,” “medical malpractice” and, of course, “personal injury”; whereas research shows that people searching for a personal injury attorney use terms specific to their situation, such as “attorney for accident injury” or “cancer misdiagnosis lawyer.”
Wanting to reach as many customers as possible, other types of businesses used general keywords, such as “computer repair,” “moving company,” “specialty foods” and other phrases that put their web pages in competition with hundreds of thousands of pages in Google. What SEO experts will tell you is that long-tail keywords, those phrases that are very specific to what you’re selling, are much more effective. Not only are they much easier to rank for, they bring people who are really interested in your products or services to your website, as opposed to site visitors who are casually looking for information.
Time spent auditing and improving your website’s navigation and internal links can be well worth the effort, since many sites are set up so that unimportant pages, such as contact pages, are ranked higher in search engines than more important pages due to the site’s internal linking structure. Changing the navigation and internal linking structure can then benefit your site’s ranking in Google, while helping users find the pages they want.
Online tools can help you identify the pages of your website with a lot of inbound links, so you can make changes to the code and links to these pages to stop Google from indexing and ranking them. However, a good examination of your site’s pages could be just as useful in helping you identify places where navigation and page linking could be improved. For example, a moving company with one page on “extra services,” which includes move coordinators, packing and storage, may find that site navigation and search engine ranking would be greatly improved if each topic were covered on a separate page, and each page were linked to the others.
The speed at which your website loads affects not only its search engine rankings, but also the number of site visitors that convert to customers. According to Google, an average user leaves a site if it doesn’t load on mobile within three seconds; so even the best looking website with the most well written, optimized content will be ineffective at attracting, engaging and converting visitors if the site is slow to load.
Google and other companies provide free online tools to help you analyze and optimize your site. Google’s PageSpeed tools examine things such as CSS, HTML, scripts and images to see how long it takes your website to load on both a desktop and mobile device and identify the specific areas in which improvements are needed to speed up load time. Google also lists and explains “Speed Rules,” including avoiding landing page redirect, enabling compression, improving server response time, optimizing images, prioritizing visible content and using asynchronous scripts.
The quantity and quality of inbound links to your website have a significant effect on its search engine ranking. Formerly, in an effort to boost inbound links to their sites, many businesses and SEOs bought links on other sites. Now, however, using this “black hat” tactic is strongly discouraged, since it violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can lead to your site being penalized.
A much better strategy for increasing the inbound links to your site is to write authoritative, original content that credible organizations will want to link to. A law firm specializing in nursing home abuse law could, for example, write a guide for families who have been victimized by abuse that advocacy groups and nonprofits working on elder abuse prevention would want to link to. A marketing professional could give a presentation to business students at a local university, lead a discussion at regional business organization meetings or publish an article online, and use those opportunities to have the associated organizations link to his company’s website.