There’s no need to run a survey to know that everyone uses search engines for everything. From checking the wheater to finding out «What is Beyonce’s favorite color?», we all turn to Google, Bing, or other search engines to find the information we need.
Providing results is a whole business itself. Search engines work permanently to improve the quality of the results they offer. A happy customer is a returning customer, as you know. And we are all search engine customers if your think about it.
In this market, Google leads the rankings. About 60% of all consumers use Google search to find businesses, and most of those online searches result in direct sales (either web or in-store purchases).
Having a website up and running is not enough to rank on 1st page. Not even on the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th page. You want to optimize your website so that you show up at the top of these searches. This should be a top priority for any business owner.
Search optimization is not a simple task to complete and mark as done. It’s a whole set of tasks you must perform once and review periodically. Like a strict diet whose results disappear when you abandon them, getting to the first page after an entire website optimization can revert to the second page or even deeper positions if you forget about it for years.
With that in mind, you should be doing the following tasks on a regular basis to continually optimize your website, and keep high on the results page.
Optimize your Website’s SEO in 5 steps
STEP 1: Keyword Research
Any project to lead a search optimization on your website must start with deep keyword research. You have to achieve a total understanding of the current search landscape and your keywords.
This research is critical and must be done at the beginning of any marketing strategy. And the conclusions of your research should be re-evaluated periodically. A keyword that worked in the past may not be used now by your target audience, and you want to stay up-to-date.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that can unlock great information about the best way to take your business to the first page.
To start, run a search with your industry and location. The tool will then give you a list of search terms. It will also tell you how often people do a search using those terms and how they combine different keyword terms. Plus, you will know beforehand the competition over those words, since the price you pay for each click will be based on how many competitors are buying ads based on those search terms.
The objective of this research is to find as many relevant keywords for your business as possible, so your website is organically oriented to succeed in those searches.
For pay-per-click campaigns, you should pick those that have low competition (thus a lower cost) but still show high search numbers.
STEP 2: Update Your Page Titles
Most business owners have their page titles as simply as the name of their business. This could be just fine if you are Coca-Cola, Mercedes Benz or have a unique business name who’s actually the best keyword to define you, perfectly optimized from scratch. Most of us need to walk a long way towards a perfect optimization.
Page titles are a great space to promote the keywords you intend to rank for, specially the one that matches with that specific page content.
Try changing your page titles to include your #1 keyword. This can be something as simple as “Your business name + Top Keyword” but you can get creative. Try to incorporate a slogan that includes the keyword.
If you sell a service or have a store, you should include your location: «Iowa City Camping & Outdoors Store | OPEN TODAY» (for a general page) or «Iowa City Camping Tents | Free Shipping» (for a particular product)
STEP 3: Create Great Content with those Keywords in mind
Content is the basis of any digital marketing success, as simple as it might sound. An unatractive website, with poor or poorly writen content will not turn visitors into customers, no matter how much you pay to get clicks on the selected keywords.
Wheter you sell a product or service, you have to do your homework. Would you acquire a suit or dress in a boutique that is dirty, smells awful or whose employees treat you disrespectfully?
Think on your website as a fancy boutique. The clothes are exposed to look gorgeous, the lights are set to create an elegant atmosphere and the soft music on the background is relaxing. The sales associate and the cashier smile at you and give you all the attention you deserve. They help you to combine the clothes you like with a belt, shoes and offer you all other accesories you have not even considered when you steped in the store and somehow you end up buying a whole set. See the picture?
The keywords you want to rank for must be present not only on each piece of content (header, subtitles, text paragraphs) but also included in page names, link titles, image names and ALT descriptions.
This advice is often taken to the extreme where a given keyword is burnt out through the entire website making it unatural and causing rejection.
If there are multiple keywords you think that apply to a single product or service, you may try creating different landing pages along with different ads. But make sure you do not overdo yourself with too many landing page -this could also be penalized as a bad SEO practice.
Use your keywords as a springboard for content ideas, and try to include them often, but naturally.
STEP 4: Speed it Up
There are two visitor types: those who stay and those who bounce. An entry bounce means that the visitor did not spend more than 30 seconds on your website. A visitor may take just a quick look to your web and decide that it does not respond to the query search (get back to point 4). Or they may just close the window because the page loads too slowly.
How fast does your website load? You want to make sure your page is always up to speed and loads smoothly on any web browser, since Google is beginning to punish slow running websites.
It is important to test your website regularly, since the inclussion of new pages may result in a slow overall performance.
STEP 5: Use Landing Pages
Create special landing pages to enforce the message given on your ads. If your keyword was «camping tent», and your ads’s line is «Best camping tents for only $59» the visitor expects to see the tent and not something else. Most visitors who click the ad with a single product in mind tend to leave the site if they are taken to a general page where the product they want is messed up with many others.
Making a landing page for this tent allows you to put pictures, measures, a complete description and, a «call-to-action»: the well known «buy now» or «add to cart» button. There are many live chat tools that may also lead to sales if you handle the inquiries properly.
STEP 6 (a bonus!): Create «Call to action» points
A great website is the one that invites the visitor to navigate through the pages, and mark a goal. A marketing goal is defined as a measurable result. Depending on your particular business a goal may be:
- dial your number
- download a whitepaper
- fill out a contact form
- request a quote
- subscribe to your newsletter
- check out on your cart
Of course, since you are running a business, the ultimate goal you need them to comply with is the final purchase.
If your have an online store, after browsing by your product pages you will expect those visitors to take out their credit cards and buy from you. Otherwise, the website will be your chance you create a great first impression that leads to an offline purchase.
The content and how it is presented will grant you that visitors stay at your website and convert those goals. The graphic design, the quality of the pictures and eventually, tables or graphics (if this applies) must be all in accordance with your marketing objectives for the website.
These are six general but really important points. Each of them can be disaggregated into smaller tasks to optimize the SEO of your website.
SEO takes time, take the first step today.