Often referred to by its acronym, SEO, search engine optimization encompasses any strategic action taken to help search engines better find and rank a website.
Showing up near the top of Google search results is the best billboard you can buy. Yet, SEO is often underutilized or ignored by organizations which could benefit from it the most. A recent report indicates just 17 percent of small businesses are investing in it. It’s a surprisingly small percentage when you consider that effective SEO doesn’t require a major overhaul of an organization’s current vision, operations or even marketing tactics. Committing to a little research and devoting extra attention to keywords and web content can pay major dividends in boosting organic traffic to your website.
Below, we’ve laid out a beginner’s guide to search engine optimization, including five broad steps any business could use as a checklist when launching an SEO strategy in 2021.
1.) Optimize the Mobile Experience
It wasn’t that long ago when searching the internet was accomplished nearly exclusively on desktop computers. The advent of smartphones, however, has changed the landscape of cyberspace, and today, more than half of internet searches are made using mobile devices. Google also uses mobile-first indexing, so failing to optimize your website for phones and tablets will be needlessly detrimental to your search ranking.
Keeping your website mobile-friendly requires using responsive design that automatically reformats and scales content for mobile visitors. This keeps things easy to read and eliminates resizing, panning and too much scrolling.
2.) Conduct Keyword Research
To ensure a new or revamped website’s content aligns with your marketing/business goals, keywords must be identified. These words and phrases are the embodiment of your business and what it offers—what your target audience is likely to type into a search engine to find your product or service. Tools like SEMrush and Google Keyword Planner are essential for identifying relevant keywords with good search volume. Those keywords and phrases should then become the foundation of your site’s content, guiding what is written to attract and engage prospective customers. Incorporating the proper density of keywords will also improve your visibility in search results.
3.) Incorporate Relevant, Informative Content
Writing informative, easy-to-read content is one of the most critical ways to optimize your website. Content shouldn’t be crafted solely for search engine crawlers. You must address the needs and answer the questions of your target audience without wasting their time. Years ago, SEO experts focused their efforts on computers instead of people, stuffing web pages with keywords to the point where it could be frustrating for anyone trying to navigate the content. These days, search engine algorithms no longer reward such tactics. Plus, prospective customers are now quick to browse elsewhere if locating the information they seek is cumbersome or takes too much time.
Providing useful content is also more likely to build inbound links, which can vastly improve your site’s search ranking.
4.) Evaluate Website Performance
How is your website performing for visitors? Are images properly sized? Are videos loading correctly? Is the site ADA compliant? Don’t forget to check how the site is presented on desktop and mobile. You can test the load times of both versions through Google PageSpeed Insights. The results are important because a website’s speed is one of the signals used by Google’s algorithm to rank websites.
Beyond basic functionality checks, make sure you’ve built a clear path to conversion with calls-to-action that support your marketing and business goals. What are you motivating a prospective customer to do? Specifics can change depending on whether you want them to request a whitepaper, reach out through the contact form, call your business, or make a purchase.
5.) Track and Analyze Essential Metrics
Another vital step of improving a website’s search ranking is analyzing data from user interactions and refining your strategy. Google Analytics can be invaluable in this endeavor, presenting information such as:
- Visitors’ demographics
- Your website’s most highly-trafficked pages
- The page people are on when they click away from your site
A high bounce rate may indicate a technical issue or that the landing page’s content is unhelpful/irrelevant. It’s important to learn why visitors aren’t engaged and take remedial steps, because a high bounce rate can drag down your search ranking.
Google Analytics data will also identify content that resonates well with visitors, which provides the opportunity to extrapolate features and messaging from that specific page to other areas of your site.
Top search rankings cannot, and will not, be achieved overnight. An initial investment and proactive, ongoing maintenance is needed to be effective in the long term. Climb search rankings by tracking your position, keeping tabs on algorithm changes, and adjusting tactics accordingly.
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming (or you’d prefer to leave SEO strategy in the hands of trusted experts), contact Baer Performance Marketing for help growing your business with proven SEO, search engine marketing and lead generation strategies.