SEO 101: Tips for establishing a solid online presence

One of the hottest buzzword phrases in internet marketing is “SEO,” or “search engine optimization.” It sounds important (it is!), but maybe appears daunting (it isn’t!) or overrated (no way!) to those unfamiliar with the concept and how much it can benefit your business and organization.

In a nutshell, SEO is the strategy and implementation process of increasing the organic traffic to your site from the world’s leading search engines. By creating quality content and tailoring your website to users and search engines alike, you’ll increase its likelihood of appearing higher on result pages for relevant search terms and keywords.

So, how can you get Google and others to better rank your website? As even the most cursory searches will show you, there’s no shortage of solutions out there with advice on increasing your SEO efforts. It can be a lot to take in and process, so here are a few short and sweet tips to take with you into the larger world of search engine optimization.

The need for speed

It isn’t just potential customers who will negatively judge your website and not want to spend time there if pages load slowly. Google has been including website speed and performance as one of its all-important ranking factors for almost a decade. Declutter your website of any non-essential plug-ins, pop-ups or other elements that keep it from reaching peak performance.

Is your website mobile-friendly? More than half of all searches are happening on smartphones and tablets, meaning your site’s ability to work well on those platforms is of utmost importance. Google has its own free Mobile-Friendly Test tool that can show you a site-wide mobile usability report.

Content is king

Website content that incorporates the keywords your prospects are searching for is obviously an important factor in your SEO efforts. But don’t overdo it — stuffing content full of primary and secondary keywords just for the sake of including more of them isn’t going to help. Readers want to engage with user-friendly informational content that helps answer their questions, educates and provides real value.

Try to mention keywords where they matter most — like page titles, domain names, URLs and meta descriptions, but don’t prioritize search engine crawlers over actual human readers in your main content.

Remember: quality over quantity. Having a large number of pages duplicating similar content isn’t going to help your site land in Google’s good graces. Longer, expanded and unique content will do better to engage your audience, earn their trust and (hopefully!) return visits — all of which will do more to increase your SEO than simply churning out low-value pages in an attempt to flood Google with keywords.

Fresh and new content is also given priority in Google’s rankings over older, stale content. Updating old content that’s performed well in the past can often give it a new boost. An important reminder, though: don’t make a habit of changing those URLs!

Speaking of URLs…

Keep your URLs simple and search-friendly

If an average user can’t easily read or understand the URLs across your website, chances are Google and other search engines will be confused by your web addresses as well.

Include an important keyword or two and keep URLs simple, concise and free of numbers or characters other than lowercase letters and dashes.

Make the most of meta titles and descriptions

As they don’t actively appear on your actual website, meta title tags and meta descriptions can often be overlooked. But they’re important pieces of information and are the first things users will see when your site appears among search results.

The title tag is an important headline that should include the most important keyword you want your page to rank highly for. It’s your first chance to stand out and grab eyeballs — and probably shouldn’t exceed 55-60 characters to ensure it always appears in full.

While the title tag effectively acts as a headline, the meta description serves as the first ad copy promoting your site to prospective visitors. Showing up in search results is just the first step in the process — unique, compelling descriptions are next and important for increasing the traffic from a page of results to your site! Try to keep your meta descriptions under 160 characters.

Keep at it!

Maybe you won’t see immediate spikes and drastic improvements right away as you work to improve your website’s SEO. Don’t give up! Be patient, continue creating unique content and promote it any way you can.

The ultimate goal of increasing the awareness and visibility of your site is an ongoing, never-ending process that can constantly be worked on and improved upon. Keep learning everything you can and refine your processes as you discover what strategies work best for you and your web presence over time.

At Collective Alternative, we help local businesses strategically assess and implement SEO improvements to boost rankings, increase organic web traffic and see positive results. It’s just one part of our comprehensive approach to connect you with the audience searching for your services.

Let us show you what’s possible through strategic SEO campaigns, social media management, public relations outreach, media advertising and more. Schedule a strategy session with Collective Alternative today.