Each year, Google answers more than two trillion search queries — which translates to more than three million searches per minute. This means that for every minute a business is not properly optimized for search engines, it is missing out on thousands of potential visitors and customers. Search engine optimization (SEO), the process of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to a website through search engines, is a must for small businesses that engage in marketing online.
Here are 5 best practices for maximizing your results using search engine optimization.1. Be user-friendly.
SEO is about people finding things based on what they need. While some people may argue you should design your website for either younger people or older people, the best approach is to develop a website that is usable for people of all ages. One of the easiest ways to make your website user-friendly is to make the purchasing process smooth and easy to follow. For example, when designing buttons, make sure they are clearly noticeable on the screen, and that site visitors know what is going to happen when they click them. A consumer should be able to determine where to find information that they want quickly. One way to test a website is to have a relative or friend try it out. If they get stuck at a certain point in the process, other people will too.2. Know the difference between short-tail and long-tail keywords.
The journey to your website begins with a person typing words into a search box. One of the most important components of your SEO strategy is keyword research, which is essentially figuring out which words people use to get find products or services like yours. One category of keywords is short-tail keywords, also called head terms, which are generic and usually one-to-two-words long. For example, if you own a design agency, you may want your website to rank for the words "design agency." Short-tail keywords cast a wide net, but in this case, more is not necessarily better. The goal is not to drive as much traffic as possible to your site, but rather to attract visitors who are likely to become customers. For this reason, your strategy should balance short-tail keywords with more niche long-tail keywords, which are three-to-five-word phrases that are more specific than head terms. Long-tail keywords tend to attract lower quantities of visitors, but the quality of their interactions with your business can be better.3. Have a landing page.
Landing pages are used to facilitate purchases initiated through marketing channels like paid search advertising, paid social ads, or social campaigns. A landing page is not the same as a homepage, which is the place customers go begin navigating through your website and to access general information about your business. Landing pages, on the other hand, deliver a specific message related to a promotion or offer. Imagine that someone sees a paid search ad that they find interesting. When the potential customer clicks the ad, they will likely be confused if you send them to your homepage. They may not know where to go to find out more information about what was contained in the advertisement. If they are frustrated and give up, then you'll lose the chance to make a sale. Rather than being sent to the homepage, a customer accessing your site from an advertisement should be sent to a landing page, a page that has specific information relating to what was pitched in the ad and where they can find out more about brought them to you in the first place.
4. Make sure crawlers don't overlook content.
A search engine's crawler (also called a robot, bot, or spider) follows links across the web, indexing pages as it goes along. Your website's crawlability refers to a crawler's ability to access content on a page. A web page will not look the same to a human visitor as it will to one of these robots. The crawler will not be able to view an image or a video or listen to a podcast. A small business should take steps to ensure crawlers don't overlook non-text content. One way to do that is by putting important words and phrases into the HTML text on the page, providing alt text for the images, and creating written transcripts of any audio or video content.
5. Make your URL search engine friendly.
Your website's uniform resource locator, or URL, should be search engine friendly, meaning it should be logically and adequately descriptive of the page's content. It's a good idea to include target keywords in the URL and close to the root domain. Be wary of using too many keywords, since overuse will cause the link to look like spam and hurt your performance. Superfluous words, such as "and," should not be included. Making your URLs as short as possible will keep them from being truncated in search results.