Competition is constantly growing in the digital advertising space. Businesses in every industry are tasked with constantly making optimizations that help potential customers discover their products or services. The good news? With a well-strategized plan, you can gain an edge without spending a fortune.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. In short, it’s a way to get more eyes on your business without paying for advertising.
In this article, I’ll lay out a few steps you can start taking today that will improve SEO and won’t cost a thing.
1. Create New Content
Websites aren’t just a place where users learn about your company, they can also be a resource for learning new material regarding your industry.
It’s crucial to upload blog posts with regularity, but the work doesn’t stop there. Blog posts (and all website content in general) should be written with SEO strategy in mind. That means they should:
- Include hyperlinks within the copy that directs users to other pages on your site.
- Incorporate keywords that are relevant to the topic.
- Provide value to your audience.
Search engines notice when websites lay dormant for a long period of time and push them down in search rankings. Engage with your site and watch your ranking increase.
2. Use Long-Tail keywords In Headers
Search engines like Google are perpetually crawling your site in order to serve its users the most relevant information for their search. With presumably thousands of sites providing similar information as yours, it’s important to give more detailed explanations via headers in order to stand out.
For example, “Social Media Marketing Tips” might be a blog title and topic, but “Social Media Marketing Tips for Schools” will be more effective in getting the right traffic.
It will vary based on the specific content you have on each page of your site, but the more exact you can be with your headers, the better you’ll perform when a user searches for the topic.
3. Keep Mobile in Mind
If you’re at all familiar with the world of digital marketing, it should come as no surprise that this makes the list.
In the last couple of years, the majority of web searches are now performed on a mobile device. If you want to keep up with the times, this should be a priority in your SEO strategy.
What exactly makes a website better-optimized for mobile? We’re glad you asked:
- Remove excessively large photo or video files that could slow down loading speed.
- Make content easily consumable. Don’t use long paragraphs or small text.
- If you use pop-ups, make sure they translate to mobile devices effectively.
- Clearly display CTA buttons.
If you think you’ve taken the necessary steps to optimize your website for the mobile user, there are a number of programs available that can help you check your site and make adjustments where they’re needed.
4. Get the Most out of Meta Descriptions
Even if you don’t know them by name, you probably read dozens of meta descriptions on a daily basis. They’re best described as that little snippet of text that appears when you view your search results in any search engine, and it’s crucial that you make the most out of this space.
It should go without saying that you need to be including some valuable key words in this space (be smart, there isn’t a ton of real estate here!), but you should also give an accurate description of the page’s content. If you have the space, including a call to action can help motivate users to take the next step and click through to your site.
Remember that these seemingly innocuous little pieces of text might not seem all that important, but search engines take them seriously. When it comes to the perfect meta description, practice (and a little research) makes perfect!
5. Build Citations
For some of us, the word “citations” bring up research papers and strict formatting rules that are sure to cause more than a few headaches (okay maybe that’s just me). In this case however, citations refer to the listings of your business that can be found around the web.
Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, Foursquare, YP.com – the list goes on and on. Search engines don’t just take into account the listings set up on their own site, but also crawl the web to make sure your information is in various places. The reason? It gives extra credibility to your business and ensures that the search platform is providing its users with the most reliable information.
Not only is it important to have a presence on these sites, but you must make sure the details are accurate and consistent. For example, if your business’s name on your website is “Bob’s Bar and Grill,” you need to be sure that it’s formatted the same way on all citations. If your Google My Business listing is Bob’s Bar and Grill and your Yelp listing is Bob’s Bar & Grill, this can actually hurt your chances of showing up.
Additionally, address information needs to be uniform. Easily overlooked components of an address line such as ‘Street’ vs. ‘St.’ can hurt your ranking.
There are several citation management platforms available, but they almost always have some cost attached. Because this article is focusing on what you can do for free, my recommendation would be to go over the most prominent listing sites and focus on making sure those are all accurate and consistent.
Maintaining and improving your website’s search ranking isn’t something that happens overnight. In fact, it can take up to three or four months to see any improvement, even if you’re doing everything right.
SEO is a long-term game, which makes it even more important that you start implementing best practices today. Don’t worry if you aren’t seeing results right away – trust the process, follow the guidelines above, and you’ll be getting more traffic before you know it.