Diving into the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can, at times, feel like a bottomless pit of technical mumbo-jumbo and conflicting, confusing information. Businesses of all sizes — from the local sandwich shop to large multinationals brands — need search engine visibility. Yet for most non-technical business owners, that “high rank” on search engines like Google and Bing seem completely out of reach. Allow me to help demystify the world of SEO and provide some actionable ideas that just might give you a leg up climbing the ranks to search engine success.
DO I REALLY NEED SEO?
You may already know that “everyone” uses Google and that’s one of the reasons you’ve put up a website for your business. You want to be found. But do you know how your ideal customers use search engines? As it turns out, the top three search results from Google (excluding ads) receive nearly 80% of all clicks for any particular search query and less than 5% of searchers navigate beyond the first page of results. Having a website is a great first step toward being seen, but if you are a local business and your website doesn’t currently appear on the first page of search results, you could be virtually invisible to your potential customers at the make or break moment when they are searching for products or services like yours.
OKAY, SO SEO SOUNDS IMPORTANT BUT WHAT EXACTLY IS IT?
Simply put, SEO is a marketing technique focused on growing your website’s organic (non-paid) search result visibility. “Optimizing” your search engine performance consists of both technical and creative tactics that help you improve ranking and drive traffic to your website. From the words on your webpage (called keywords), to the way other websites link to yours (called backlinks), there are many other important aspects to winning at SEO. Here are three easy tips you can implement today on your website to begin improving your search rankings:
A MILLION TINY BILLBOARDS:
Probably the oldest trick in the book, but it persists as one of the most important: improve page title, URL and page descriptions. The page title is the blue portion of the link that appears on Google for users to click on. Your page URL is the green portion directly under the blue link, and your page description is the small paragraph of supplementary text that appears last.
Your Page Title
Your page description
As an example, imagine you are a local pet store and you have a page for displaying your dog food products. When a user searches for “buy dog food in London Ontario,” they may be presented with these two results:
Sam’s Pet Store
Home page | About | Contact
Wide Selection of Dog Food in London Ontario | Dave’s Pet Store
At Dave’s Pet Store, we carry the highest quality dog food at the best prices. Stop by in store or buy online – See Our Selection
Now ask yourself, which one of these search results is more descriptive? Catchier? More user- friendly? Which gives you the best idea of what the website is about without even having to click through? Most importantly, if you saw each of these search results side by side, which one would you choose?
If you treat your website page title, URL and description as a tiny billboard for your business, you can see how much more appealing it is each time a potential customer searches for your product or service. Not only does having a meaningful and unique title/URL/description combination improve user experience and drive click-throughs to your website, the keywords you incorporate will also help you rank better on search engines. If you maintain your own website, you can make these adjustments yourself. If your website is built on WordPress, SEO Yoast is a great plugin that will get you started, and if you don’t manage your own website, contact your webmaster to help you with these simple fixes.
X MARKS THE SPOT
Set up a Google My Business account.
Google My Business is Google’s way of ensuring your local business has correct information displayed to the right customers when they are in the right area. Google My Business information includes your physical location, opening hours, phone number and any other industry specific categories such as menus for restaurants, ticket prices for an escape room, etc. The data you enter into Google My Business is syndicated across Google Maps, Google Search and other Google services that will display when a user is looking for your type of business in the local area. Setting up Google My Business is completely free. Just Google the name and follow the instructions. Keep your profile up-to-date and start gathering reviews. These local and personal references will drive even more traffic to your business – assuming they are mostly
FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED
Improve your website’s loading time.
How quickly your website loads is a ranking criterion for Google and also generally affects your customer experience. Over 40% of customers will abandon a website on their mobile devices if it takes longer than one second to load. This is called a bounce. There are a few things you can do to improve your site’s speed and keep users’ attention. You can upgrade your web hosting package, or make optimizations to the site yourself or with the help of a web developer.
The general rule in the world of web is faster = better. The three tips above may seem simple, but they are very important steps to take on your SEO journey. Of course, there are many more tactics to apply to your website down the road, but by focusing on the basics and building on that incremental success, you’ll see results in no time. You may just have to Bing it to believe it.
Written By Xi Yan
Business & Digital Strategist