Search Engine Ranking Tips
Anybody can have a website for their small business, but what is the sense of having a website if nobody can find it when searching for your products or services in your city and you are on page five. I will show you ten search engine ranking tips that you can apply and help your small business website climb near the top of your local search engine rankings. Google is the leader when it comes to your customers searching for your services and products. Recent data indicates Google commands 65% of all searches with Bing and Yahoo making up a combined 20% of the search volume in the USA. For the purpose of this tutorial we will focus on ranking your website higher in Google, however Bing and Yahoo have similar ranking requirements. In all honesty nobody knows the true formula in Google’s algorithm as they have stated there are over 200 dynamic factors that go into calculating a websites ranking, but from years of research and experience I can let you in on some key points to include to help your odds of getting listed on the first page.
1. Yoast SEO Plugin For WordPress
This is a WordPress plugin that you can add to website with a couple of clicks. It’s purpose is to help guide you in applying many of the required SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tactics that will make you stand out from the competition. It automates features such as creating a sitemap to help the search bots crawl your site effectively and guides you in filling out the meta data for each post or page you create. Meta data is basically what shows up when you do a search and a small description for each result appears. It is pretty important that you get this right and make it appealing so that somebody will want to click on your search result snippet. It is probably the most downloaded WordPress Plugin, and for good reason.
For a helpful 10 minute video tutorial on suggested settings when setting up the Yoast SEO Plugin please clickhere.
2. Back Links
Probably the most important factor in ranking a website is the amount of links pointing to it. A link is when another website points to your website.
•Links should be from websites that are related to your website. For example, a gardening website pointing to your lawn care business.
•Links are never to be paid for.
•A link from a long established site is worth multiple times more than a link from a new start up blog.
3. Important Analyzing Tools
Not only is it important to apply these tips I am showing you, it is equally important to track your website data. You will want to study how much traffic you are generating, what pages are effective, how long people are staying on your website, where they are coming from etc. In order to study these metrics, there are two tools that I use supplied by Google.
•Google Analytics: Hands down the best tool out there for giving you metrics on pretty much any traffic data you could imagine relating to traffic to your website. In order to improve you need feedback and a way of tracking your progress. Google Analytics can be easily installed to a self hosted WordPress site by following this helpful short tutorial. The SEO tool will help you track how long visitors are staying on each of your pages, a very important metric to monitor and improve upon as Google uses it to measure the user experience and rank your site accordingly.
•Google Search Console: Google Search Console allows you to notify Google quickly if you add new content, notify you of any crawl errors, what keywords are being used to find your website and exactly where you rank for those terms. You will need to sign up for an account and you can use the Yoast SEO Plugin that I mentioned above to easily add your verification code.
5. Mobile Friendly Design
Google made an important update in 2015 to reward sites that are mobile friendly in their search rankings. I witnessed my older sites traffic drop off quickly. Google also announced in 2015 that mobile devices surpassed desktops in search volume for the first time. Nobody wants to pinch and stretch when they land on a website with their phone anymore, often resulting in the user quickly backing out of the site. If you already have a website and are not sure if it is mobile friendly, you can use this mobile-friendly test tool. Google likes to serve up sites that people find useful, so make you sure you choose a mobile friendly theme for your WordPress small business site, otherwise you could find yourself at the bottom of page 5 and never moving up. When choosing your theme to use on your new small business website, you will want to look for themes that are RESPONSIVE. This will allow your website to fit properly to the various screen sizes out there.
6. Page Speed
A recent study revealed that 57% of web visitors will abandon a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. I may be a little more tolerant than most, but I have caught myself several times hitting the back button on my browser waiting for a sluggish website. There are several factors that cause a website to be slow. I have four tools that I use to help speed things up.
•Google PageSpeed Insights: This great tool will analyze your website and give you instruction on how you can improve speed performance on for both your mobile and desktop users. Aim for a score of 80 or more.
•Autoptimize: This WordPress plugin is the one I recommend after running Google Page Speed Insights. Be sure to go into settings and enable all of the optimize settings. You should see an improvement in your Page Speed scores.
•WP Smush: One of the most common reasons websites are slow to load is from the image files being too large. We all admire a detailed crisp photo, however when it comes to websites, there is a happy medium we must find between file size and quality images. Most professional web designers have access to programs such as Photoshop that allow them to manipulate an image and refine it down to a great image that will not hog a lot of resources in order to display it. Fortunately the WP Smush plugin will do most of the image manipulation automatically for you.
•WP Super Cache: This plugin reduces the amount of requests on your server in a nut shell. Caching is used by almost all major sites to improve page speed. When you install this plugin, make sure you go into settings, click on “easy”, tick off “caching on”, and then click on “Update Status”.
You can have the most beautiful website in the world, but if it takes too long to load you will not do well in search rankings.
7. Key Words
It’s the search intent that brings people to content – and for people to find it, you gotta have search volume. No sense having the most beautiful website in the world with content that is so focused that nobody will ever find it……except for the two people interested in that topic. For example, I could do a website for a painting company that specializes in painting yellow fridges in the Bronx. The second website I make will be another painting company that focuses on painting kitchen appliances in New York. A broader range of appliances and a greater geographical area. I know they are both crazy ideas, but for demonstration purposes, what one do you think is going to get more search traffic? Of course, the second one pertains to a broader audience.
You want to target the most relevant search terms that your customers would use to find your services that you offer. Including your city name several times in your pages is not a bad idea if you are servicing a local market. How to know exactly what people are searching for related to your business, there are a three methods I apply. The first one is called Google Keyword Planner and will help you find search volumes in your Country, State, or even city. You will need a Google Adwords account in order to use this tool. A great video tutorial below on how to use Keyword Planner to find key words for your business.
The second tool I use is simply Google search. Try typing in your trade or profession followed by your city into the Google search bar, but do not hit Enter. The search engine is smart and tries to guess what you are looking for to aid you in your search. Notice the results that populate below our search request in the example below? These are popular searched terms related to our search phrase. It is a fun and quick way to come up with some new popular search terms you could target for your small business website.
My third favorite tool for popular term research is called ubersuggest. Ubersuggest takes your search term and gives you several popular related search terms to use.
A good foundation is as important for a building as it is for a website. Make sure in the early stages of designing your website you know what key terms your customers and clients are searching for and be sure to include them in your content in a natural non spammy way.
8. Social Links
Social signals are becoming an increasingly more important factor in determining your site’s importance in search rankings. Be sure to create a business page on Facebook and even open up a Twitter account and stay active on them updating them regularly. You can also use Facebook to mention your page by searching for similar pages that your customers might visit and adding helpful comments. Facebook and Twitter are all about making connections and being….SOCIAL, so stay active, yet do not be spammy.
9. Permalink Structure
Since we made our site with WordPress, we should address one of the tweaks we can make to help the search engines easily understand what our page is about. A permalink is basically the website URL or web address of a page. By default WordPress comes setup with an ugly permalink structure such as www.mywebsite.com/?p=123, where p represents post and 123 represents the post number to fetch from the server. We want something more understandable to both the user and a search engine, such as www.mywebsite.com/about-me. To make this change go to your Dashboard in WordPress and place your mouse over “Settings”, shift right and click on “Permalinks”. The screen below will appear, simply click on the “Post name” option as this offers the most beneficial SEO permalink structure. This is one of the first things I do when setting up a new WordPress site.
10. Less is More
Try to focus on providing exactly what your website users are searching for in the most efficient easy to find manner. If you are a lawyer, let me know what areas of law you focus on and your contact details right on the home page. If I have to start hunting around to find out if you are a criminal lawyer or your focus is real estate, I am possibly going to hit the back button and move on to the next search result. If you are a plumber and I land on your website at 1 am because I just had a pipe burst, I want to know if you offer 24 hour service. If I have to hunt around pages of your website to find this information, chances are I will back out and move onto the next plumber.
Busy web pages full of graphics, videos and animations can be distracting and take away from the user experience. Try to keep a minimalist approach when designing your next web page with a focal point on delivering what the visitor is searching for in an efficient straight forward manner. Place yourself in the visitors shoes in all steps of the design process.
You might ask why I included less is more as a search engine ranking tip? The main focus should be on increasing the quality of the users experience well visiting your small business website. You can accomplish this by delivering exactly what they are looking for in a clean easy to use package. The search engines will pick up these user signals if you manage to have people stick to your website as opposed to quickly hitting the back button when they get frustrated if your site is too busy. Take the two search engines below for example. One is packed full of information on topics such as sports, finance, news, entertainment, and even your email; the other minimalist designed search engine dominates the search market.
Following these ten search engine ranking tips will help you move your small business website to the top of the search rankings and in turn, increase your company’s sales.
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