Everyone knows how important a good website is for a business, to let potential customers know what you do and where to find you. Well designed websites expand your business’ reach, inform your prospects, and generates new leads. However, none of this is possible if people can’t find it. Ensuring that your website shows up in relevant web searches is the role of Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
What is SEO and Why Should You Care?
SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results—the list of websites that people see when they search for something on Google or other search engines. An optimized website ensures people searching for keywords that relate to your business (for example ‘widgets near me’) will be more likely to see your website in the search results than your competitors, or other unrelated websites. For brand new websites, SEO helps build the volume of web traffic to begin generating leads. For existing sites, SEO helps further increase volume and improves the quality of leads by better targeting people who are searching for products or services that match exactly what you sell (‘large green widgets near me’).
SEO Is Not Just One Thing
Search engines like Google and Bing are constantly changing the way they handle internet searches to give users more accurate results and to prevent crafty web programmers from gaming the system with fraudulent websites. Search engine algorithms consider over 200 different factors in determining their results. One factor that always counts is the quality of content on the website. Websites that clearly communicate, by containing plenty of words and phrases that accurately describe the business, will always rank higher than websites with poorly written copy, without a clear focus or that use irrelevant keywords to try to lure in visitors.
Enlist the Help of an SEO Expert
For large corporate websites, managing SEO is a full-time job for someone who is specially trained. Small businesses with simpler websites can employ an agency or a knowledgeable individual to optimize a website in as little as a couple of hours per month. SEO specialists follow a framework of rules and best practices aimed at satisfying search engine algorithms to get better results. They use advanced tactics and SEO tools to monitor website traffic, evaluate current rankings, and identify optimal keywords that will increase your website’s search rankings over time. A good SEO specialist will also work with you to understand your business goals before making any recommendations or changes.
What Can You Do?
It isn’t likely that you have the time or the inclination to become an SEO expert, so your best bet is to hire someone to do it for you. However, if you’re not ready to take that step, there are a few simple things you can do on your own that will improve SEO for your website.
Create a Google My Business Page
Google allows business owners to create a free Google My Business account which generates a simple page with basic business details, a description of the business, contact details and business hours. Search engines give preference to recently published pages, so update your Google My Business page at least once per month with new keywords, photos, customer quotes, or other news about your business to help keep the page fresh.
Think About Your Keywords
What are the words or phrases that people are likely to be searching when they look for the products or services that you sell? What words and phrases are they using to find your competitors? Make a list of these keywords as well as words that reflect your location (city names or neighbourhoods). Try using a free keyword generator to get your list started. Incorporate as many of the higher volume keywords as you can into the pages of your website.
Consider Starting a Blog
Blogs are great for boosting your business’ credibility and providing information to help get the attention of potential buyers. They are also an important source of SEO. Try using the keywords you identified as sources of inspiration for your blog topics, or hand off the task to a marketing agency or freelance blogger to write, and optimize blog articles for you.
Search engine optimization is a complicated concept to understand and to execute without the right knowledge and tools. The services of an SEO expert are usually well worth the cost, however, if it’s not in the cards for you, do what you can on your own. Optimize the language on your website, keep the content up to date, create a Google My Business page and write a few blog posts. SEO takes work, but you’ll benefit from getting more customers, who want what you are selling, to visit your website.