For most startups money is tight. They are always looking to gain a competitive edge and get in front of their target audience wherever possible, and on whatever budget they can afford. Organic search can be huge driver of visits to your website and optimising your website for search engines is an absolute must. This is one of the best ways to drive substantial traffic to your site, and ultimately your business.
Because the top companies are always scrambling to get the number one spot on Google and other search engines, it is often challenging for a new business to compete with their larger counterparts. There is plenty of information out there to help people better optimise their websites for search engines. I would highly recommend checking some of it out. Here is very comprehensive piece about the subject. This post aims to help introduce you to the subject of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and give you some simple tips on how to improve your website ranking on search engines.
I wrote a post a little while back on how you can build your own website. If you are thinking about building a website yourself, I would highly recommend reading it first before getting stuck in to this post.
Understanding what search engines are looking for
The way I like to look at it is that search engines are like any other business or even individual. You only want to make a recommendation of someone or another business if you trust that business or person, and if you can be sure that they are who they say they are. If not, that is your reputation on the line if someone uses that website, person or business and has a bad experience, based off your recommendation.
With this logic, the higher you rank on search engines, the more you are trusted. Sure, it might be perceived as a matter of convenience from the individual searching, but that only scratches the surface of the thought process of the searcher. Yes, there is an aspect where they don’t want to spend a lot of time going through several pages of Google, but there is also the trust perception that ranking on the first page creates. It shows that you are a thought leader in your field, that your products or services are most relevant to them, and that you are trusted by these large search engine companies. So, it only makes sense that websites who rank higher on search engines get more visits.
What is a keyword?
In SEO terminology, a keyword is a word or phrase that people use on search engines to try and find what they are looking for, for example, ‘apple pie recipes’. This search term is obviously used by someone looking to bake an apple pie and a cooking website who provide recipes will want to focus their website content to cater to this keyword. By doing so, they will help drive organic search traffic to their website.
It is important to keep in mind that the keywords your business should focus on will be decided by your target audience - the people who will be searching for products like yours.
The following tips will help you to improve your website’s value and rankings on search engines. There are also some tricks here to help search engines and your target audience find your website and keywords more easily.
Simple tips to improve you search engine rankings
Having a stream of regularly updated content will go a long way in improving your rankings. Search engines like to see that a website is in regular use and is trying to engage their audience with a good flow of relevant content. It will also build your credibility when it comes to being a thought leader in your field.
User Friendly Website
Does your website contain disorganised content and randomly chosen pages, or has it been designed with the user in mind? Your website should be concise, and easy for your visitors to navigate. How users interact with your site and how long they stay browsing are key indicators for search engines when ranking your site.
This is one of the best ways to compete on search engine rankings. Spend a bit of time researching your competitors and try to get a feel for the keywords they are targeting. Then spend some time searching for the keyword terms that you want to use. Try some variations of the terms that have a similar meaning but might not always be that obvious to search. Often, these less obvious terms will still get searches but may be overlooked by your bigger competitors who will be bidding to rank on the most widely used terms. For a business just starting out, being able to rank on the first page for these keywords could have a huge impact on getting more business. Google Trends is a free tool that can help you understand what terms your audience are searching for.
Register your business on search engines
Most of the search engines have a business directory. By simply registering your business, you will make it easier for these search engines to find your business.
This is the information displayed on search engine results, usually followed by a short description of the site. This is the information first picked up by search engines and having your keywords within the title will help you rank higher.
These are often referred to as meta descriptions. Optimising these for your keywords will help search engines understand what your website offers and rank you accordingly for the different search terms.
Some of the first pieces of information that search engines pick up are the titles contained within your webpages. By integrating your search terms within your titles, you will help them find your site more easily and understand what you are offering to searchers.
Linking to your website
A great way to show that your website is providing trusted content is by having other websites link to it. This is not always easy to do and might require some business development tactics, but the results are often worth it. If search engines see that other websites trust your content this will further promote your site.
These are links within your content that direct users to other pages on your site. This is great practice for improving visitor experience by creating a journey of discovery for them. In turn, this will improve your search engine ranking.
Keep it up
This is not a sprint but a marathon. The above tips will help your website to compete in search engine rankings, but it is important to keep working on it. Keep adding more keywords to your website, keep optimising your existing search terms, and keep pushing out relevant and targeted content. Search engines are also constantly updating the criteria that helps websites rank well on their platform. Here is a Forbes article that looks ahead at the main search trends for 2017. Stay up-to-date with the changes and update your site according to the developing trends.
The above is a simple framework that you can apply to your website now but don’t stop there. Like any function in business, you must continually evolve to remain competitive.