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Have you recently established or taken over a business that still doesn’t have a website? Or did you just recently set up a website for your business? Either way, you’re going to have to learn how to optimize your website to ensure the growth and success of your business. As a new business owner, it is understandable for you to be a little overwhelmed with the thought of striving to get your site to the top of search results, considering the amount of information currently floating around on the web. But don’t worry too much; you can achieve your SEO goals.
Some business owners choose to do nothing until they are able to afford the services of an SEO professional, whether as an in-house employee, as a consultant, or as an outsourced service. But you don’t really have to wait. Although it may seem a bit complicated, all you really need is some basic knowledge in order to start your SEO campaign off on the right foot. You can start gaining a higher position in search results even without the help of a professional. The important first step is to build a solid foundation for all your future SEO campaigns.
The Golden Rule
Before we start discussing the actual tips for starting your SEO journey right, there’s a need to emphasize one thing: You should never overdo anything. If we tell you to use keywords, that doesn’t mean you can fill your web pages to the brim with keywords. If we tell you to build links, that doesn’t mean you should grab link-building opportunities indiscriminately. If we tell you to publish high-quality content, you shouldn’t feel obligated to post new content on your website or blog several times each day. There is also something called over optimization, and it’ll get you into trouble, so do everything in moderation.
Okay, let’s begin with some tips on creating and designing your site. First, you need to make sure your website’s structure is planned such that it is easy for search engines to access. There should be a clear hierarchy in your web pages. Your Home page should serve as the general page and then each page going forward should contain more specific information about your company, your brand, or your products/services. It is also a good idea to create a sitemap (general map for users and XML file for search engines), especially if you plan to post a lot of content.
Second, remember that the primary audience for your website is your target market, not the search engines. Therefore, your website should be easy for consumers to use and navigate through. The better their overall experience is on your website, the likelier they are to spread the word about you. This increases the chance of more people visiting your site, which can also lead to better search rankings. You should also make sure the titles and Meta descriptions of your web pages are accurate, as that also affects user experience.
Third, make sure your URL links, categories, and file names (for downloadable content) are descriptive of the content they point to. This isn’t just more appealing to users; it also helps search engines correctly categorize your pages for relevant searches. You’d also do well to make use of robots.txt and “nofollow” attributes, which specify which directories search engines can crawl and which ones they can’t. This way, irrelevant comments and posts on your pages won’t get indexed by the search engine bots. You should also remember to use the “alt” attribute to describe images on your web pages because search engines do not see images in the same way humans do.
Have you kept up with the latest in SEO and online marketing? If so, then you’re aware that content is one of the most important elements of an online marketing and SEO campaign. High-quality content helps you win the heart of both your target customers and search engines. The more high-quality content you have, the likelier search engines are to index your web pages and reward you with high rankings. And the more relevant content you have, the likelier your target customers are to visit your site repeatedly and for extended periods.
Now, what exactly do we mean when we say “quality content”? For one thing, search engines will consider your content “high quality” if it is unique and original. Reposted content from other sites might help you gain a few more website visitors, but it isn’t likely to help you gain top search rankings. In fact, it could get you flagged for duplicate content, thereby seriously harming your SEO performance. Your biggest advantage as someone who is still about to build a website is that you’re free to populate the site with original content, as opposed to being weighed down by generic content if you had to take over a pre-existing site.
Note that search engines now allow people to search not just for articles, but also for different types of content, such as images and videos. And because you want your site to rank for all types of searches (right?!), it is only logical that you should create different types of content. Create feature and news-type articles, blog posts, infographics, how-to- videos, podcasts, etc. Variety is important not only because search has become more specific, but because people are generally turned off by sites that greet them with a solid wall of pure text. So, diversify!
You should also bear in mind that search engines show results based on keywords. This means keywords are indeed an essential part of any SEO campaign and should be a mainstay of your content, regardless of what types of content you choose to publish at a given time. Make sure, though, that your keywords are used such that they fit naturally into your content. Search engine algorithms are now so advanced that they can determine when keywords are just stuffed into content without regard to relevance and websites that do this are penalized.
High-quality content may be a huge investment, but the results you get from it are definitely well worth the time, money, and effort you invest. Your site visitors will like your website so much that they will likely share your content and speak well about your brand on their social media accounts. Social media being the modern form of word-of-mouth advertising, it is definitely a plus to have your brand mentioned and your content shared on major social sites. And as mentioned earlier, search engines love high-quality content, so your investment will surely be rewarded with excellent SEO results.
Promoting Your Site
You may have created the best website in your industry and posted the best content anywhere on the web, but if no one knows of its existence, it won’t do you or anyone else any good. You can’t rely on search engines telling your target audience about your site via search results because getting to the top of SERPs does not happen overnight. You need to spread the word about your content and your website. Set up social media pages and post teasers and links to your content there. Join online forums related to your niche and promote your brand and website there. Exhaust all avenues to let people know that you have something they will appreciate.
You can’t just work on optimizing your website and then leave it at that. You need to regularly monitor your performance so you can make the necessary adjustments and keep improving. Some of the metrics you need to keep your eye on are bounce rates, dwell time, and click-through rates. You need to make sure your bounce rates are low and your dwell time and click-through rates high. And the best tools for you to use in monitoring your SEO performance are, of course, Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools).
Bonus Tip: You’re never done with SEO. After you’ve established your website, filled it with high-quality content, promoted it in as many platforms as possible, and set up a monitoring schedule for your site’s performance, you may think your work is done, but it isn’t. The world of online marketing and SEO is very dynamic; it constantly shifts and changes. This is why you can never say your website is 100% complete and your work is 100% done. You need to keep your content fresh and your website attractive to both users and search engines.
No matter what kind of business you plan to put up (or may already be running), the above tips will be sure to help you get your SEO campaign started on the right foot. Keep the golden rule in mind (everything in moderation) and be patient. Remember that where SEO is concerned, you can’t expect to see significant results overnight, no matter how good your strategies are. Just follow the suggestions above and be consistent in delivering high-quality content to your audience. Pretty soon, you should start reaping the rewards of your hard work.