I have spent countless hours on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as a search engine marketer and as a self-interested online businessman. Many critics say SEO is dead, but that just isn’t the case. Every small business person should know that the old techniques of feeding search engines are long gone, but there are practical SEO tips and methods for busy entrepreneurs that you absolutely should apply for online success.
Test your website speed at https://tools.pingdom.com. If your website is has a load time of 3 seconds or more, you need help. Fancy scripts, large images, WordPress installation are typical load killers and should be addressed. For a rundown on why speed is so important, read this “Why Site Speed Optimisation Should Be Part of Your SEO Strategy” at Moz.
Pay Attention to Page Content
Although I have seen numerous websites (especially e-commerce product pages) with little content rank fairly high, each page on your website should contain at least 250 words, but I recommend shooting for 500. Also, the content should be well-written, unique and useful. If you cannot meet these criteria, then consider scrapping that page altogether. Be sure to implement nice images, videos, quotes, reviews, testimonials as easy ways to add important content.
Building Incoming Links
Links are essential to any SEO plan. Don’t overthink this and try getting links from everywhere. Quality matters. Think BBB, organizations, your local chamber of commerce, vendors, friends, blogs, social networks, local travel websites, Yelp and any place that is natural and useful to your website. If your website, service, and product are great, you will eventually grow links without doing very much (we’ll explain later). For a little help with gaining links, read this article over at Hubspot for some ideas.
Remember, it is the quality of your incoming links that matter. Do not participate in any linking schemes. Even though links are very important, try not to obsess over them. If you follow this guide, you will naturally grow valuable links.
Collect Positive Reviews
Reviews are important. Especially positive reviews. Why? Google actually hires REAL people to search for quality reviews from places like Yelp and Google Reviews. Those humans actually rate your store based on quality and trust which is an important factor in the overall Google search algorithm. They care a little less about BBB since you can pay to play there. Poor reviews can and may negatively affect your rankings so beware. Read this excellent article about how reviews impact your SEO by Shopify author Humayun Khan.
Provide Excellent Service and Products
There is no better way to build links than providing a great product or service. If people enjoy buying from you, they will link to you from their websites and blogs. This also leads to positive reviews.
Pay Attention to the Standard SEO techniques
Make sure you are using your primary keywords in your TITLE tags, ALT tags, Paragraph tags and H1 tags etc. But please don’t get caught up in keyword stuffing. Google isn’t stupid and will understand what your web page is about if you are using well-crafted writing techniques. Make sure you are also writing refined description tags and pay attention to character limitations. Everything you need to know as a beginner is here. Don’t worry about applying anything and everything. Focus on important items and things you can quickly fix. Small changes can result in huge increases in rankings.
Blog Like a Master
Blogging is awesome. Posting articles that your customer may find interesting or entertaining can build traffic, increase incoming links, build trust, create brand awareness and convert new customers. However, the key is to write solid quality articles. It is far more advantageous to write less amazing articles than many poor articles. I learned this the hard way a long time ago. A blog is an extremely powerful tool for nurturing and growing your online presence. Read “Blogging and SEO: A Relationship It Pays to Nurture” on SearchEngineWatch.com.
Keep Working It
If you’re a small shop in a little town and need to be easily found, you probably don’t have much work to do beyond launching a website. If you are looking to expand and sell goods online or desire to extend your reach, prepare yourself for a little bit of work. Blogging, improving content, social networking, business policies all go hand-in-hand. All of these combined into one formula create a credibility that consumers and search engines will connect with.
Social Networking is a Must
Participating on social networks is usually an essential component of building trust. Many online visitors check for a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In or Instagram. If you are active and engaging consumers, that will show new people your company is likely legitimate and actve. There is a great article titled “5 Things You Need to Know About Social Media & SEO” at KissMetrics that I recommend reading. Social networking brings many other benefits to the table as well, but that’s for another article.
After some trial and error, you will discover opportunities. What pages are getting the most traffic? What keywords in Google Adwords are providing optimal sales conversions? Which Facebook ads work the best? By measuring your results, you will spend your time and money smarter and more effectively. Take it slow and learn from your mistakes. Unless you hire an expert, don’t try too many things at one time.
Building traffic and increasing rankings to your store is rewarding, but prepare to put the work in. Google and other search engines need to see growth, trust, and quality which are all attributes not always easily attainable. Work hard and develop a real online strategy that is consistent and worthy. In the long-term, you will see results. Also, don’t overly stress about rankings and prepare to embrace advertising platforms like Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising. All of the aforementioned practical SEO tips will help you dramatically improve your online strategy.