Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the art of improving your website’s ranking on search engines. Ranking high in the results on search engines like Google is hugely important for your business. Around a third of all clicks on Google’s organic (i.e., not sponsored) results go to the top result. Around two thirds go to the top five results. The further outside the top five you get, the less likely it is that anyone will ever see your website. Only around four percent of searchers will visit the second page.

Here are some simple ways to boost your small business’ website rankings. You might not be able to compete with the big companies, but there are some easy ways to get an edge over your local competition.

Use Responsive Web Design

“Responsive web design” means that your website works equally well on desktops and on mobile. Google’s search algorithm is as a closely guarded secret, but they are absolutely clear on this issue: starting in 2015, they began using mobile-friendliness of websites as a key element of search engine ranking.

A responsive website looks more professional: more people now use search engines on mobile than on their desktops, so failing to mobile-optimize your website is leaving a huge amount of traffic on the table.

Responsive design isn’t difficult to achieve if you use a good web designer, but so many small businesses don’t. If you take the mobile-friendliness of your website seriously, you can achieve an instant edge over the competition.

Optimize For Local Search

If you search for “coffee shop” on Google, it will show you a Google Maps result of coffee shops near your location, even without adding the city to your search. This is a great way for small local businesses to get noticed, as it’s one of the few places that they really can compete with big chains.

To succeed in local searches, ensure that your business information (name, address, phone number) appear on each page of your website. Get your business listed on local listings websites, including Facebook, Google, and review sites like Yelp. If you have a blog, use it to discuss local news and events that are relevant to your business. Build relationships with local media and bloggers: local backlinks help you in the search rankings, and links in articles drive traffic to your website.

Start A Blog

Having a regularly updated blog does a few useful things for your search engine ranking. First, Google’s algorithm likes fresh content. Regularly updated websites get pushed further up the page, especially if their updates cover trending topics. If you can commit to publishing a couple of times a week, you’ll see real results in your search engine ranking.

Second, it increases the amount of time that people spend on your website. Google, and other search engines, track something called “bounce rate”: the percentage of visitors that leave your site quickly. The higher your bounce rate, the more your search engine ranking falls. Giving your visitors something interesting to read encourages them to stick around. If possible, use multimedia content: pretty pictures and interesting videos improve time-on-page like nothing else.

Third, good content encourages people to link to your website. Once upon a time you could just buy backlinks, but nowadays that’s a quick way to get your site blacklisted. Sharing content that people want to link to builds up your site’s authority, improving your search engine ranking. Try linking out to other high-authority sites, as well: this helps Google’s algorithm to determine the topic of your page, and therefore show it on relevant searches. Don’t forget to signal boost your content through your social media channels.

Summing Up

Search engine optimization can be a highly technical subject. In fact, there are agencies specifically dedicated to SEO. However, a few simple changes to your website can give you a real edge over your competition since many small businesses do not focus on it at all. By adopting even just one of the strategies listed in this article, you can improve your search ranking and enjoy more traffic to your website and more conversions.

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