How to Make the Most of Your SEO Efforts
It’s Wednesday morning, and you’re feeling that middle-of-the-week drag. You want to pick up a cup of coffee before work, but are sick of going to the same old place every time. What do you do? You take out your smart phone, bring up the Google Search App, and type in ‘coffee shops near me’. Now, how does Google know which search results to display first? How can you ensure that your coffee shop shows up as a top result for that adventurous individual who wants to try something new? With an affordable search engine optimization plan, you can take the search terms you want to rank for and tailor your website content to enhance your position.
What does SEO Stand For?
Search engine optimization is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results”. It’s also known as natural, organic or earned results, since you’re not technically paying for the advertising. The primary search engines that we look at when creating an affordable search engine optimization plan are Google and Bing. SEO is different from paid advertising with Google AdWords. With SEO, your ranking is determined by the quality and relevance of your website rather than the quality of your website combined with your bid. A mix of SEO and internet advertising might be the perfect option for your company, especially if you have specific products you’re trying to sell. Google ads let you display items with a picture, description of the products, and ratings of the product at the top of a search query’s results.
Think about it this away. A billboard and commercial can’t be targeted at a very specific demographic in the same way a search engine result can. Sure, you can choose the time of day and the television station that your commercial appears on, but your ad isn’t geared toward someone who you know is actively seeking your product. There’s no point in wasting your resources on a large pool of people (most of which will never buy your product) when you can target your product or service to a potential customer who you know is seriously interested. This specific, high-intent traffic that you get from search engines is where the real money is. The first step to claiming a prime position is understanding exactly what search engines are looking for.
What does Google Want?
Essentially, Google wants to see websites that have high-quality, relevant information about the searcher’s query. ‘High quality’ can encompass spelling and grammatical accuracy, media-rich pages, and content that is being back linked from multiple, trust-worthy sources. A trust-worthy source would be one that has other pages linking to it frequently, like a well-known news site (Forbes). Search engines crawl you page and determine relevancy based on the keywords included in your page content. Your website will also rank higher if people engage with your site and visit multiple pages. This lets search engines know that their query brought them to the information they needed via your website. If users ignore your listing despite a high ranking, this means that your preview text (the meta-description) either didn’t match what they were looking for or wasn’t interesting enough to draw in a site visit. It’s imperative that you include meta-descriptions on every page of you website. If you don’t, Google will automatically take the first sentence of your content and place that as the preview text. In Ontarget’s meta-description, we give a concise description of where we’re located, what we are, and what we do.
More Than Just Content
More technical factors besides content can affect how your page ranks, and an affordable search engine optimization plan will ensure you make the most of your budget. If your website has a faster loading speed, for example, it’s more likely to rank with the big dogs. Mobile friendliness plays a part as well, since Google wants to give their users the best experience possible. If you’re trying to navigate a website from your phone and can’t access certain features, you’re going to get frustrated and try a different site. With the human attention span even shorter than that of a goldfish, it’s imperative to make a user’s experience as enjoyable and easy as possible within the short time frame you have to hook them. Now more than ever, smartphones are becoming the go-to device for web browsing. A responsive website design is your first step to higher page ranking and more conversions.
When it comes to content for SEO, quality over quantity is key. A unique article that’s easily shareable (with social media icon buttons or retweets from your own account) will perform much better than a dozen smaller articles with duplicate content. Before starting a blog post, check to make sure that there isn’t already one on your website with a similar topic. Unless you market yourself as an expert on a particular topic, try to incorporate some diversity into the content you’re producing. This not only allows you to rank for more keywords, but also shows site visitors that they can go to you for information on several different topics.
Your keywords play an important part in determining how much traffic you drive to your website. By using tools like SEMRush‘s keyword difficulty tool and Keyword Magic tool, you can check to see how much competition certain keywords have and how many people are searching for those terms every month. This tool is great for affordable search engine optimization because it lets you choose different plans depending on what you’re willing to spend. There’s no point in optimizing for a keyword that only a few people are searching for, so pick the ones that are relevant to your specific services with high traffic and low competitive difficulty. Just because your product doesn’t match certain specific search queries doesn’t mean you can’t produce content loosely-related to your services. Just getting your foot in the door with someone who’s interested in the same topic as your services can have long-term payoff. However, if you’re an eCommerce site and create a keyword list with informational intent rather than commercial intent, you may have a much higher bounce rate with fewer conversions.
When choosing keywords, one of the first things we do from an SEO standpoint is google search the word you want to optimize for. If the first results are companies/websites that would be hard to outrank (Wikipedia, big companies with the keyword in their name, etc.), it might be better to use your resources elsewhere. This is also a great place to start when looking at your competitors. With certain tools, you can check to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for and where they’re getting their backlinks from. When it comes to affordable search engine optimization, it never hurts to steal from the greats.
Having alt attributes for images can also contribute to your page ranking. They not only help you comply with ADA regulations (images can be read by screen readers), but they also ensure Google’s crawlers can take into account everything on your page—even the images. Adding your keywords into the alt-attributes can help your ranking, but should only be done when the keywords actually pertain to the image posted.
The WordStream Blog points out that the architecture of your website can have just as much of an impact as what you’re saying. The key to affordable search engine optimization is fixing the problems that require a simple tweak. It’s imperative to keep the ‘big money’ pages (the ones targeting your most valuable keywords) higher up in your information architecture. You can accomplish this by creating internal links that go to your big money page and trying to get external links to these pages. It’s a good policy to have a flat information architecture for your website, meaning “you keep any pages that you want to have rank in search engines as few clicks as possible from your home page and most linked-to pages”. You also need to make sure that the redirects on your website are accurate. Moving site content from one URL to another (especially when the page is popular) can seriously harm your SEO score. If you have to redirect, make sure to implement permanent redirects since temporary redirects can indicate to Google that they shouldn’t move the link equity and ranking power to the new URL. Broken links are harmful to your SEO score, and can be easily fixed. With a site audit, you can uncover any broken links, duplicate content, or pages without meta descriptions that may be bringing your ranking down. It’s important to audit your site regularly to make sure there aren’t any toxic sites linking to your website.
If all of this seems a bit overwhelming and you’re looking for local SEO services from a trustworthy SEO company, visit our SEO help page. We have affordable search engine optimization services that will allow you to control your budget, scope and strategy. An expert opinion might be the very thing to get your name out there.