Get Your Google On - How to Improve Your SEO
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, refers to the steps taken to improve a website’s visibility in search engine results. In other words, the way your website is performing in a Google search.
At a glance, SEO may seem like a complex science that will take hours away from what you’d like to be doing—running your business. Fortunately, there are several basic steps you can take to assure your online presence is attracting attention and growing your audience.
Produce Strong Content
Google rewards the consistent production of strong, relevant and timely content. Indeed, relevant content is among the most important ranking factors that Google uses to prioritize its listings. Web content can include anything that engages your audience on your website, including written, photo and video content.
When producing content, it’s important to remember that when your audience visits your page, they will expect to find content that is relevant to your business, as well as detailed and authoritative. Strong content will keep visitors on your page longer and will attract repeat visitors, all of which Google’s algorithms will notice.
Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly
Considering that more than 50% of Google searches are done on a phone or tablet, it makes sense that Google is prioritizing mobile-friendly as a search factor.
Fortunately, today’s drag-and-drop website builders provide mobile optimization. If your existing website is not mobile-optimized, your site will not perform as well in a Google search as it should.
Build Up Your Backlinks
Backlinks are the links that connect one website to another. Backlinks remain an important ranking factor, however, Google has become much more sophisticated its approach to links, meaning you don’t just want to have links, you want to have good links.
Building your backlink network brings us back to strong, original content. The better and more relevant content you are producing, the more other users will be inclined to share it, the more traffic you will earn for your site, the more Google’s algorithms will take notice and your ranking will improve.
But content alone won’t get the job done. Backlink building requires some real effort and outreach to your niche market through email, Twitter. SearchEngine Journal covers link-building strategies in depth.
Do the Little Things
There are other steps you can take to quickly improve your SEO that doesn’t require a major time investment:
Use a font that is bold and easy to read. A site that is difficult to read will chase visitors away and increase your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors to a website who navigate away after viewing just one page), undermining your SEO ranking.
Make your site easy to navigate. A busy, confusing site will frustrate your visitors and they will likely leave before finding what they are looking for, increasing your bounce rate as well. Make sure your layout is clean and user-friendly and encourages visitors to stay a while and visit several pages.
Make sure your site is HTTPS encrypted. HTTPS is the more secure evolution of the HTTP protocol, and Google now gives priority to sites that are HTTPS encrypted.
Use social sharing links. Although it remains unclear exactly how much Google takes social shares into consideration, adding social media buttons is perhaps the easiest way for your content to reach a wide audience, and it certainly can’t hurt your SEO ranking.
Eliminate broken links. The Google Webmaster Tool is one way to test your website and assure that all links are in working order.
Use outbound links to other (high quality) sites in your market. Citing a study from marketing firm Reboot, SEJ suggests that “Google can determine the authority of a page or website based on what other authority sources it associates itself with (by linking to them).”
Use H1 and H2 tags. H1 tags are the largest text on a page and serve as a title. H1 tags are probably the most important determinant of whether a visitor will continue reading, so they should be relevant to the content of the page. H2 tags serve as a subheading, using keywords to support your page’s main topic while guiding your reader through the article. There is some debate whether these headers and keywords directly impact SEO, but they do help keep your visitors reading.