4 Easy Ways to Keep Your Website Optimized for Search Engines
Twenty years ago, nobody would have launched a new business without getting listed in the phone book. What would have been the point? Most people relied on phone books to find addresses and contact information for local businesses. An unlisted new business might as well not exist.
Now, thanks to the Internet, phone books are obsolete — but search engines have taken their places. People routinely use Google, Bing and even Facebook to find businesses in their areas. In addition, search engines essentially tell consumers where to find the goods and services they need. No phone book could do that!
Businesses that launch without SEO strategies might manage to succeed, but they will struggle to reach their potential. Fortunately, improving your website's SEO doesn't take a Herculean effort as much as it takes consistency, time and patience. Read on for four easy ways to keep your SEO optimized.
1. Don't Play Tricks
SEO has come a long way since the end of the Phone Book Era. Digital marketers used to rely on tactics such as link spamming and keyword stuffing to get their websites ranked. They'd spam keywords in their content and in their website meta tags. Back then, gaming the system sometimes seemed better than providing your visitors with a helpful, intuitive online experience.
Those olden days are long gone. Now, succeeding in SEO is all about making users happy. In crafting its latest search engine algorithms, Google has leaned on artificial intelligence to analyze vast amounts of user data and determine the subtle signals of high-quality websites. Google has grown to reward websites that engage visitors with updated, sharable, high-quality content and fast-loading webpages that load on all kinds of devices.
So, don't try to game the system, and don't become consumed with any perceived hacks that claim to magically boost your search rankings. Stick with the long-held basics of good SEO and don't fall for alleged shortcuts. Even if a shortcut is found, Google will just patch it with its next algorithm update.
2. Make the Most of Search Engine Results Pages
Standing out from the competition is important for any business. Even when phone books were the gold standard, high-rolling businesses purchased ads to stand apart from the rest.
Nowadays, getting noticed in Google requires more than a top ranking. Google has pushed its organic search rankings roughly halfway down the page, giving above-the-fold real estate to knowledge graphs, locator maps, business listings, featured snippets and other elements intended to help users. While this might seem like a hindrance for SEO, it's actually an opportunity. Play your cards right, and your business might someday land several first-page placements.
First things first - start a free Google My Business page. Be sure to include your website url and business contact information. Then, use that exact same contact information to start profiles in Yelp, Angie's List and other online directory sites - those also frequently land first-page placements, and you can piggyback on their success.
3. Create Content to Get Backlinks
Few things boost your SEO like quality inbound links to your website. These links, referred to as backlinks in SEO parlance, are foundational in Google's search engine algorithm. When people share links to your business on their websites, blogs, forum posts and social media pages, they're essentially endorsing your site as trustworthy — and Google loves trustworthy websites.
Regularly updating your website with fresh content can lay the groundwork for building a network of backlinks. Focus on content that is unique and helpful to your customers while highlighting your brand and expertise. Share your content on your social media pages. If you have money to spend on advertising, you can even pay to boost these posts to reach larger audiences.
More importantly, think about how you might get your business featured in local news stories or by local bloggers, business organizations or trade associations. Offer to write articles or blog posts as a guest contributor in exchange for a link to your business.
4. Keep Your Website Clean
Websites tend to grow and change over time. Business websites often evolve as they add pages for different products and services, or as they restructure their site maps to better reflect their business models. These website changes are necessary, and updating your site with new content is good for SEO. However, blindly changing your website can lead to broken links and overlapping content that undermines your efforts. Google's algorithm is designed to penalize websites with thin, low-quality content. Broken links and repetitive content are both red flags for Google.
To keep this from happening, either remove broken links from your site or use 301 redirects to send visitors to the appropriate pages.
All businesses should take their SEO strategies seriously. This is especially true for fledgling businesses that hope to gain footholds in competitive markets. Most people nowadays go online to connect with goods and services, and this trend will only accelerate as more people carry smartphones. To ignore SEO is to shut yourself off from countless potential customers. Don't do that, unless you want your business to go the way of the phone book.
Want more SEO tips? Click here to grab your copy of the Ultimate SEO Checklist.
Phil is Founder and COO of Main Street ROI. Phil leads the company’s operations and is primary creator of Main Street ROI’s marketing training programs. He is an expert in search engine marketing, website analytics, and sales funnel optimization. Phil’s marketing thought leadership has been published on Forbes.com, Inc.com, MSN.com, and many other major business media outlets.
Phil earned his Master of Engineering Management degree from Thayer School of Engineering and Tuck School of Business and his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Engineering degrees from Dartmouth College. While attending Dartmouth, Phil started every game on the varsity football team as the defensive safety.