Easy steps to improve your website search results
It’s critical for small businesses to make sure their websites are easily found by search engines and, as a result, by potential customers. Luckily, there are some basic, easy and inexpensive ways to optimize your site for search.
In the online marketing world, it’s called search engine optimization (SEO). It really boils down to placing signposts in the content of your site and in some of the background code that keeps your site running. The signposts — keywords — tell search engines what your site is about, and when a prospective customer searches using one of your keywords or keyword phrases, the search engine serves up a link to your site.
Here are some easy steps to lead you through the process:
Step 1: What are your keywords? If you were searching for your business online, what would you type into a search engine? Better yet, what would your customers type? If you’re having trouble coming up with some, ask friends or a few customers how they would search for you. You don’t need a lot to start, and once you’ve listed a few keywords, you’re on to the next step.
Step 2: Use keywords in your page titles. Page titles are part of your site’s background code, and each page of your site should have one. Search engines rely heavily on title information to determine the rest of the content on the page.
Step 3: Use keywords in your web page URLs. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your business’ domain name (xyz.com) has to contain keywords. But it does mean that your directory structure or the file name of the page itself should contain keywords. For example, the XYZ Shoe Store might have URLs such as xyz.com/womensshoes, xyz.com/sandals or xyz.com/runningshoes.
Step 4: Use keywords in meta data. Although not ranked as highly anymore, the meta data sections of your background code (Page Description and Keywords) were specifically created to help search engines. The description should contain the keywords relevant to that particular page, and it should be readable by a person and make sense. A complete sentence or two are recommended. The keywords section is just a list of keywords relevant to the content on that page. Keep the list short and relevant.
Step 5: Make sure your content contains keywords. In the shoe store example, the “running shoes” page should contain that phrase two or three times. This confirms for the search engine the information it finds in the page title, the URL and the meta data. Make sure to write naturally. Don’t force the insertion of keywords if they don’t make sense in the flow of the text.
Step 6: Use keywords in your H1 text. H1 text is usually the headline for the page or the article. Search engines generally give greater weight to the words in H1 text, so make sure to put your keywords there.
If you’re just starting to optimize your website to improve search rankings, keep things simple. Work with only a few keywords to start. As you add content to the site, determine the relevant keywords for each new page, then make sure each page is optimized with those keywords in the page title, URL, the meta data, the content and your headline.
As with any online marketing effort, monitor your results. Check your search rank before you make any changes, and then check again every few days after you’ve optimized your site. If you’re starting from scratch, it should take just a few days to see improvement.