Search engine optimization (SEO) can be a bit of an enigma as a component of your website: You know it’s important, you want to rank well on search engines, but you aren’t sure exactly how to make that happen. Just know that you’re not alone, and you aren’t unintelligent for not understanding the inner workings of Google and Bing—search engine ranking factors are pretty dynamic, and it can be difficult to know what’s important and what’s not.
SEO knowledge isn’t something you can acquire once and be good to go since algorithms are always changing, but there are some key components you can keep in mind as you build your digital strategy to make sure your website qualifies as SEO-friendly. Good search engine optimization equates to your website getting in front of more potential customers, so the sooner you start working on your SEO strategy, the sooner you can reap the fruits of your labor.
From Keyword Stuffing to User-Focused SEO
As websites and the way people use them have changed over time, some things that were once go-to strategies are now SEO relics you should leave in the past. In recent years, search engines have been adjusting their ranking factors to match up more closely with what website users want and need.
A prime example of this is keyword stuffing, a strategy that was commonly used (and unfortunately sometimes still is) by businesses who wanted to drive users toward their content using commonly searched phrases. Keyword stuffing is defined as overusing the same words and phrases in your website content in ways that may read unnaturally or out-of-context in order to boost your rankings on search engines. However, as search engine algorithms have gotten more refined, content readability is an important component of ranking, which means that pages jam-packed with keywords are recognized as awkward and unhelpful to users.
All this isn’t to say that the words and phrases you use in your content aren’t important anymore—keywords and phrases are still a crucial piece of the SEO puzzle, but reframing concepts like keyword usage for the present day is key to helping your website succeed in search results for the years to come.
How to Start Optimizing Your Website
It’s easy to see why business owners spin out and get overwhelmed when thinking about how to improve their SEO, considering that Google alone is known to have over 200 ranking factors, and many of them are relatively vague and intangible.
If you’re starting from the ground up, here are some tangible SEO basics that will give you a better understanding of some of the ranking factors that are within your control, either now or over time as you lay the groundwork.
Focus on Your Organization’s Overall Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness
In order to build an online presence that is generally seen by search engines and website users as legitimate, you need to have what SEO professionals refer to as EAT: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Although these concepts are not formally considered ranking factors, achieving each of them together builds a presence that Google considers to be worth prioritizing in search results. Let’s break each of those components down so you understand how you can build your organization’s reputation online:
In order to build an online presence that is generally seen by search engines and website users as legitimate, you need to have what SEO professionals refer to as EAT: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
Expertise—Show a High Level of Knowledge or Skill
Are the people who work for your organization skilled and experienced? Make sure that visitors to your website will be able to tell that from your content! One way to prove your organization’s expertise is to maintain a blog and have your skilled team members write content that is relevant to your industry and their particular roles within it. The more industry content you have available on your website, the more search engines will get a well-rounded picture of the topics your business covers.
Authority—Prove Your Legitimacy in Your Industry
Let’s be real: your online opinions and advice about things do not hold much weight if there’s no way for users to tell that you have the industry experience and authority to back it up. The best way to prove that your expertise is not only backed by your personal experience, but your industry as a whole is to build real-life connections and online relationships within your industry. If your business is mentioned online by other professionals or if you have backlinks from other websites with good reputations in your industry, that helps prove other professionals trust you.
Trustworthiness—Build Rapport with Your Customers
Trustworthiness online comes in many forms, and if you have proven to be trustworthy with your current paying customers, search engines and new potential customers will see that and reward you for it. Having good reviews across multiple platforms like Google, Facebook, Yelp, and more go a long way in proving trustworthiness, but if you’re still building your reviews, there are some things you can do in the meantime. Keep your Google My Business profile updated so users can see your current, accurate business hours and address. Make sure the contact information on your website is clear and that it’s easy to get in touch with you. Be transparent on your website about any return policies, payment methods, or other crucial pieces of information that potential customers may need to know.
Make Use of Your Website Headings
Remember when we discussed keyword strategies that work for the present day? Incorporating keywords and phrases into the headings on your pages is a great way to write copy that is easy for users and search engines to skim and immediately know that you have what they need. As an example, users aren’t going to find paragraph copy that uses the phrase, “best exterminator” multiple times very helpful, but a heading like “How to pick the best exterminator” or “You deserve the best exterminator for the job” lets users know what the paragraph below is about at a glance while also incorporating a phrase you’d like to rank for.
Utilize Interlinking on Your Pages
As you are writing the content for your website, take advantage of any opportunities to naturally link to other content on your website that’s relevant. Building strong interlinking relationships between your website’s own content pieces helps search engines build a more accurate picture of how your products and services connect, which in turn, lets them know which types of queries best match up with your service offerings.
SEO Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The bottom line when it comes to improving your SEO is that a long-term strategy is your best bet for consistent success over time. A website redesign is a great time to clean up a lot of factors to make your website SEO-friendly, but in order to keep ranking, it’s important to keep adding content to your website, refining it, and focusing on your digital presence across all platforms. These tips are ways you can start improving your SEO on your own, but there are many other factors involved in ranking, and if your industry is highly competitive, you may need to loop in SEO experts to get advice on how to build the best strategy.
If you need an extra boost to get your website traffic off the ground while you are building up your organic SEO, you may opt to run ads on Google or social media platforms or work on a social media strategy that will foster engagement with potential customers in the meantime. If you need assistance talking through your SEO and marketing options, feel free to reach out to our marketing and SEO experts to discuss! We’re happy to consult with you and help you find the best solution for your needs, whether it involves additional assistance from us or not.