Getting Started with SEO
So, you’ve taken the plunge and invested in a shiny new website for your business to take things to the next level. But what good is even having a website if no one can find it? That’s where SEO comes into play.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it essentially means making your site visible for search engines like Google and Bing so people can find you when they search. The tricky part is that no one knows exactly how the algorithms these search engines use work (because that’s basically their secret sauce). But we do know some things you can do to improve your chances of getting listed and therefore found by potential customers. If you’re not quite ready to invest in hiring an SEO expert, there are a few simple things that you can start doing today to help your website get noticed.
Use Keywords & Phrases
Think of the last time you looked for something specific on the internet. What was the first thing you did? I bet you Googled a few words that summed up what you were looking for. Those are keywords! Your keywords and phrases should be simple and descriptive to get the best results. Imagine what your target audience might search for if they were in need of your services and pick a few of those words that best fit your business. Once you’ve figured out what your keywords and phrases are - it’s time to put them to work!
Keep these words in mind when writing all of your website content and blog posts. The best places to use your keywords and phrases are in headlines and near the top of each page. Best practice is to use your keywords naturally and strategically. Don't overuse them or try to cheat the system by repeating them over and over again on your page - because Google and other search engines have figured this out and will punish you for trying to fool them! Instead, naturally work them in so that search engines know you are a real person and they will start to index those words for your site.
Pro Tip: If your services or products are based locally, adding in a location to your keywords can help narrow down your competition. For example, if you are a wedding planner, there are millions of others competing for the keywords Wedding Planner - however, there is much less competition for Wedding Planner in Denver. See what I mean?
Use Alt Tags and Captions on Your Images
Website that use photography get much better results than those that don’t. We are visual beings and photos can make a strong impact! But unfortunately search engines don't see images, they only see text. Since they aren't seeing your images, it’s really important to give them a way to identify the content in those areas. That’s where alt tags come in! Alt tags are the text associated with your images that search engines see and use to identify the content on your page. Adding alt tags to your photos is a great way to give your site an SEO boost and make it more accessible to search engines.
If you are using Squarespace you can use alt tags by adding captions to your images or using the Filename area in the image’s settings. If you're using Wordpress, you can add alt tags to your images in the Media Library. Also, don't forget to resize and format your photos for web before your post them - Google appreciates a site with fast-loading images!
Pro Tip: Make your alt tags and captions descriptive of what the image is, but also use some of your keywords and phrases to be sure that they get indexed even more times!
Get Other Trustworthy Sites to Link to Yours
Part of getting good search engine visibility is to identify yourself as a credible and trustworthy source of information. Just as you would establish your credibility with reviews and testimonials from previous customers, you can get a "referral" from other reliable online sources by getting highly-trusted websites to link back to your site. The more trustworthy a site is, the more the links from that site matter - and Google knows it! Some ideas to get others to link back to you could be getting listed in a local directory, geting customers to link back to you with a badge or icon, or creating content in blogs that people will want to share.
Use the Free Tools That Google Gives You
There are number of tools that Google provides to anyone with a website for absolutely free - so why not get some use out of them? Google's Search Console helps you to see your site as Google does. A site that is active in the Search Console has a better shot at being found by Google and ranking well. Get started here.
Google My Business is another free tool that can help you show up as a local business in search results and on Google Maps. It’s easy to use and you can get started here.
The best thing that you can do to help your website's SEO is to be sure you’re creating a valuable site for real people and real customers. By creating a user-friendly and information-rich site you’ll also be creating a site that connects users to relevant and important information - which is the most important to search engines! Keep your website updated and publish content that people will use. And remember that search engine optimization takes time!
How does your site show up on search engines? Are you doing anything to optimize your site now?