Last year gave every business a run for their money, and in a new year where the entire world is bouncing back from Covid-19 it is important to make sure you find a winning marketing strategy before your competitors get an edge.
If there’s something everybody can agree on when it comes to 2020, it’s that the world made sure to put everything online. It is safe to assume that if you haven’t turned your attention to your online presence by now, you are falling behind where you could be. As 2021 ramps up, here are seven essential tips to build a digital foundation on which to grow from.
1) Make Sure Google Knows You Exist
Submit an XML Sitemap of Your Website
Something that is frequently overlooked by many business owners is the simple, yet powerful task of submitting an XML sitemap to Google. While Google (and other search engines) is able to find your website without your help, submitting a sitemap takes minimal effort and helps search engines efficiently crawl your important site files and content.
Think of it as if you were emphasizing the important parts of your resume to a potential employer. Although they may get around to reading your entire resume, showing them which parts to pay special attention to helps them get a view of who you are, what is important to you, and ‘rank’ you accordingly.
Submitting an XML sitemap can be done through Google Search Console (GSC). Yahoo and Bing both provide their own tools for sitemap submission as well. Before submitting, make sure the areas of your site that you want available in search results are included, and that areas you do not want crawled are marked as noindex. Talk to a web developer if you are unsure how to prepare your XML sitemap. From there, log into GSC with your Google account and submit your sitemap!
2) Make Sure Your Site is Usable on All Screen Sizes
Ensure Your Website Works on Mobile
Hindsight is 2020 when it comes to ensuring a good user experience for your mobile site visitors. Starting in September of last year, Google switched to mobile-first indexing for all websites. This means that when it comes to search rankings, Google only crawls and assesses the mobile version of your site.
Now is the perfect time to ensure that your website is mobile responsive. This means that not only does your website work on a mobile phone, but that the entire mobile phone experience is set up to uniquely cater to mobile users. The menu should be easy to find and use, and users should not have to zoom in and out to navigate/read your content, among other mobile best practices.
Although it is not used for ranking your site, in order to provide a high-quality user experience, it is important to optimize your website for other screen sizes as well. Make sure your site is usable on various sizes of tablets and small laptops.
3) Remember that Content is the King of Your Website
Do Not Take High-Quality Content for Granted
“Content is King” is a time-tested and reliable rule of thumb to live by when it comes to optimizing your website for search engine ranking algorithms. Think about it: without content, there is nothing to tell Google who you are or what you do.
At the same time, it is important that the content on your site has a good balance of quality and quantity. The days of ‘keyword stuffing’ to gain positions on search engine results pages are long gone. Instead, it is key to focus on content that accurately describes your business and what you have expertise in. Combining honest depictions of your business with strategic keyword research (more on that below) should naturally demonstrate who you are and help search engines to rank you for relevant search queries.
4) Opt for Effective On-Page SEO
Start with the Basics of Keyword Research & Meta Data
There are almost too many SEO best practices to count or list out, but at the minimum it is important to know who your target users are, what they are searching for, and what the intent behind their search is. If someone intends to use your services, visit your location, schedule an appointment, or simply learn more about you, which keywords will they type into a search bar to connect with you? Answering this question is a crucial starting point to effective SEO.
After answering this question and conducting sufficient keyword research, make sure each page and post that is indexing on your site has an intentional page title and meta description containing relevant keywords. Optimizing your meta data, along with incorporating your keywords naturally into your site content, will give you a good starting foundation of SEO to build from.
5) Frequently Remind Google of Your Relevance with Fresh Content
Publish Blog Articles to Help Your Rankings
Simply publishing content to your site and keeping it there is not a sustainable way to improve your search engine rankings. Google gives more weight to and rewards sites that frequently publish new content that demonstrates Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT). Many businesses seek to accomplish this by creating original content in the form of blog posts or industry articles that help search engines to pinpoint your expertise and who you are as a company. Over time, this leads to a storehouse of trustworthy, expert content written and published by an authoritative source.
6) Focus on and Prioritize Important Goals
Do a Few Things Really Well
It’s hard to effectively grow a business when you’re trying to do too many things at once. As you set out to begin improving your website and digital marketing strategy for the year, be sure you have defined your goals. Do you want to emphasize a service that has the highest profit margins? Do you need to focus on the culture of your company in order to attract high-quality talent?
These larger business goals should be reflected in your website, digital marketing, and SEO strategy. Give more attention to those areas of your online presence; you may consider adding more high-quality content to particular service pages that you want to get more traffic, or perhaps you will decide to create a social media campaign that highlights the perks and day-to-day lives of your current employees.
7) Create Online Brand Authority & Trust
Be Strategic About How You Collect Backlinks
Backlinks are to search rankings what word-of-mouth is to your reputation. Having a lot of high-quality backlinks associates your website positively in the eyes of search engines. If a lot of credible, authoritative websites link to your site as a source of information or connection, it tells Google that your website is trustworthy and rewards you accordingly. On the other hand, having hundreds of backlinks from sources that are not credible, spammy, or have no relation to your business can hurt your ‘reputation’.
The process of building good backlinks takes time, so it is important to steadily make progress in this area. Sometimes this may look like reaching out to your industry partners to ask for a backlink or even a guest blogging opportunity. Additionally, as your authority and influence in your industry grows with the frequency of your content postings, other websites are more likely to cite you as a source.
Get Started with a Digital Marketing & Website SEO Analysis
It is important to note that this is just a starting point when it comes to working on your digital marketing approach and website search engine optimization. The above recommendations are no turnkey solution, because SEO strategies and improved search rankings take a long time to foster. On top of that, search engines like Google are always changing their algorithms for deciding what will come up for any given search query (sometimes multiple times a day!).
It can be hard and overwhelming to keep up with all the best practices for improving your online presence, so it helps to have an expert in your corner. Contact a strategist at BuildThis and request a Digital Marketing & SEO audit of your website. Our team is always eager to help clients find their footing when it comes to growing your success online. Let 2021 be the year of your greatest comeback!