What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In plain speak, SEO is all about getting your website to show up high enough in search engine search results for people to find you when they search for specific words or phrases.
There are tens of thousands of good (and not so good) companies out there that are dedicated to helping you show up higher in search results. Depending on your website and your budget, it might be worth hiring a professional to help get your website's search engine ranking.
But before you do, there are lots of simple things you can do to help boost your website's search engine ranking without spending thousands of dollars per month.
1. Set Your Key Word Priorities
When folks go to Google to search for the products or services that your company is offering, what should they be looking for? It's safe to assume that they aren't going to type in your company name unless they are local and know you personally. If you are a company that sells Boomerangs, your keyword would be "Boomerangs". It's good to get more specific and unique too. Maybe you only sell genuine Australian boomerangs. Then your keyword would be "Australian Boomerangs" or it could be "Genuine Australian Boomerangs". The more unique your keyword or phrase, the less competition you will face for that keyword.
Once you've nailed down the keyword that best fits your company's offerings, read through your website and make sure that you have included this keyword or phrase in your content. If you haven't, add it.
Different parts of your website can promote different keywords. There's nothing magical about keywords. Just use them where it makes sense, and be intentional about it.
2. Sharpen Up Your Page Titles
This is a big one, and fortunately, it's super easy to get this one right. Every page on your website should have an intentional, clear, focused page title. The page title shows up in your browser's tab when you are viewing a specific page, and factors strongly in search engine ranking.
So in our boomerangs example, the page title for the boomerangs store page might be, "Order Genuine Boomerangs Online - Aussie Boomer Inc". A good rule of thumb is to keep your page title under 55 characters.
So how do you tell if you've got the correct page title? If you see the address for your page repeated in your browser tab, that means that specific page is missing a title. Every content management system (CMS) has a different way of adding a page title. Here are instructions to managing page titles on some of the most popular CMS tools: Wordpress Joomla Drupal DotCMS
3. Set Up a Company Youtube Channel
Google owns Youtube. When you create a Youtube channel, and link it to your website, your website gets a little bump in its search engine ranking. This is especially true if your channel and video descriptions include those key words or phrases we talked about above. As for the videos you post, go with videos that are beneficial to your clients or customers. For our boomerang company example, tutorial videos, demonstrations or history lessons would all work extremely well. Videos don't need to be super flashy. They just need to be watchable and informative.
4. Build Up Inbound Links
Have you ever gone to a party where you didn't know a single person? It's awkward. What you really need in those situations is a friend or two to introduce you to everyone else.
Inbound links do the same thing for your website. Let's use the boomerang company example again. If Google sees other related websites linking back to your website, it will help improve your site's credibility, and boost your rank for specific keywords. The important thing here is "related" websites. For our example, related websites might include an Australian toy company, an Aboriginal heritage website and an American boomerang competition website. An inbound link from a petrochemical company would be pretty worthless. If Google sees too many of these unrelated inbound links, it can even harm your search engine ranking.
To get these inbound links, ask the owners of each website if you can trade links. Most organizations want to see their own ranking go up, and will gladly give you an inbound link in exchange for one to their site. The other way to nab inbound links is to create great content that other websites would like to link to.
5. Keep Your Website Updated
Google is a hungry monster. The more you feed it with delectable morsels full of valuable content (that includes those key words or phrases we mentioned above), the better off your website will do in search engines. Content in this case means blog articles, instructional pages, staff biographies, event descriptions, product guides, etc. Don't stuff your website with fluff pieces just for the sake of getting your keywords on the site. Really work to make your articles something that a human would want to read. This also means you need to practice good habits like proper grammar and correct spelling and punctuation.
6. Avoid Saying "Click Here"
It is common to create a link on a page to a document or page with text that says, "Click here". Visitors may know what to do next, but it is less clear to search engines what your link does. Instead of "Click Here", create a link that gives more context. For example, on our boomerang website, if we wanted users to click on a link to order boomerangs online, rather than saying "To order your boomerangs, click here", create a link that says "Order Your Boomerangs". The link is clear for human visitors, and it gives some definite context to search engines.
7. Get Your Company into Social Media
With the rise and dominance of Facebook, social media can play a helpful role in how your website ranks on Google. Setting up a Facebook page for your business provides a great, free place to further promote your organization online. It also provides a place for you to spread all that great content you have on your website. If your website has a blog, I would highly recommend re-posting your blog entries on your Facebook page. Encourage folks to share and like your content online to help build up exposure with their own friends.
There are companies that will offer to sell you thousands of likes and followers, but don't fall for this gimmick. Google can tell if those likes and followers are legit, and you'll be throwing money and credibility down the drain. It's better to slowly build up a base of followers than to try and take the fast route with imaginary followers.
There are other social networks out there that may be beneficial to your company, including Twitter, Instagram, Four Square and Snap Chat, among many others. Go where your client base goes. If most of your target demographic is using Instagram, set up an Instagram account and start building a following there.
8. Rinse and Repeat
SEO isn't like doing a home renovation. It's not something you do once, and never do again. It's something you need to keep working at. Keep writing great content for your site. Keep building up those valuable inbound links. Keep spreading your content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks where your customers and clients live.
There's much, much more to all this SEO "stuff". And that world is constantly changing. But if you apply these principles to your own website, your website will be more successful over time in search engine results, leading to more engagement with potential clients and customers.