No matter how exceptional your product or service, to grow your brand, your ideal audience needs to find you easily; in other words, you need to get on Google’s good side. To get you started, here are five search engine optimization tips.
Stuff with quality, not keywords
There was a time when stuffing your pages with repetitive, robotic keyword-filled text was your best bet for favorable search engine rankings. Think homepages like: “Hairstylist hair colorist in Portland, Oregon does best hairstyles, updos, haircuts, hair color for Portland, Oregon.” Yuck, right? Now, such tactics are not only frowned upon by your visitors but by Google as well.
Matt Cutts, a Google engineer, warned back in 2012, “All those people doing, for lack of a better word, over optimization or overly SEO – versus those making great content and a great site…We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page.” For those who do keyword stuff, Sarah Duffy of creative marketing agency Red Hen Creative explains, “Yes, you’ll probably boost rankings for a short time, until Google blacklists you, and in the interim once you do get a potential customer on your site, they’ll click off within seconds. People buy from people – be natural, be engaging, be human.”
Don’t try to “beat” the system; You’ll only end up hurting your business. “Meaningful content that operates as part of a wider digital marketing strategy, with the likes of social media and blogging all playing a part, is now key,” Mark Smith at The Guardian adds.
Don’t underestimate social media
Speaking of social media, don’t forget about search options within these platforms; Google isn’t the only tool info hunters utilize. “People also search for things within Facebook, they click on hashtags in Twitter and Instagram, and they look for videos using YouTube’s built-in search engine,” Anna Colibri writes at B2C. “Which means that if you’re not optimized for both search engines and social media, your site is not going to pop up.”
Make respectable friends
“Another tick in the plus column when Google is ranking you is if reputable websites link to you, and if people are talking about you online,” Smith adds. External links (meaning a link to you from another company/organization) are powerful SEO fuel. “External links pass ‘link juice’ (ranking power) differently than internal links,” Moz explains, “because the search engines consider them as third-party votes.” In other words, if you can get established, popular, relevant companies to link to your site, Google may say to itself, “Hey, these high-quality folks are all talking about this other site; it appears this is a legit company worth moving up in my holy rankings.”
Keep up with the tech times
Google is now penalizing non-responsive websites in its search rankings; if you’ve been waiting to make your site mobile-friendly, here’s the kick in the pants you needed. Google announced the following earlier this year: “We will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” So, even if you’re producing high-quality content, cross-promoting on social media, and securing respectable external links, if your website looks horrible on an iPhone, your efforts may be wasted.
Give it time
“SEO results are only keenly felt long-term, and therefore it can be difficult for small business owners to see the value in taking time out of their day to write about their industry,” Phil Morgan, head of search at an advertising agency, says. For example, getting quality external links can take time and will likely require some requesting/prodding on your end. Even if you have links, search engines still need to crawl and index that content, which, again, takes time. Then there are your competitors who are probably working on their SEO simultaneously. “White Hat SEO takes time to start showing results,” Tommy Landry of Return On Now writes. “It is also something you need to commit to in the long run. If you stick with ethical SEO practices and keep the faith, you will see benefits over time.”
The SEO game, along with the rest of the digital marketing world, is constantly changing. These search engine optimization tips will make things a little easier. Still having trouble keeping up with it all? Contact us for help navigating the waters.