How to Improve Your Search Engine Optimization
8 min read | Posted Aug 11, 2015 | Updated 8 years ago
Having an online presence is necessary for business owners.
After all, around 78 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 14 has purchased something online and about 59 percent of consumers use Google when they want to find a local store with a good reputation.
With more than half of the population regularly hunting for you online, don’t you want to be there for them to find?
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
On its own, being online won’t help unless people can find you. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what makes this happen.
In a nutshell, SEO encompasses all the tips and tricks you need to use in order for your business to rank in search-engine results when people search for specific words.
This helps your website get more organic traffic, which means consumers are visiting your site because of its relevance to certain search terms, not because of its placement in an advertisement.
How Do I Improve It?
There are many ways you can improve your website’s SEO. It is important for you to follow all of these tips to see the most success:
Step 1: Who Are You Selling To?
This should always be your first question when it comes to your marketing efforts. SEO is not an exception.
For example, Third Angle is intended to help small-business owners with their SEO and marketing.
Therefore, we know our intended audience consists of small-business owners who are just starting out and need our help the most.
By determining this, we can better direct our SEO initiatives towards that target audience.
If you’re unable give a decent description of your audience, take a moment, sit down and answer these questions:
- What is your product or service?
- What market need does your product or service fulfill?
- Who stands to benefit the most from your business?
- Who is most likely to want your product or service?
Be specific when answering these questions. Saying you want to sell to business people is not enough.
Break it down farther; for example, maybe you want to target B2B salespeople in the Denver, Colo. area.
The trick is to define your audience enough so that your SEO efforts actually increase the chances that they’ll find you – but to not be so specific that your target audience is too small to be beneficial.
Step 2: Figure out what they are searching for.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your target audience, figure out how it searches.
In order to take full advantage of SEO, you need to be optimizing your site for the people you want to find you.
This means you must determine what terms and phrases they are searching for.
The good news is there are programs available to assist you. For example, Google Keyword Planner and Google Trends are good starting points to help you determine important words and phrases (known as keywords).
Come up with a list of keywords that match what your target audience might search for in relation to what you are selling.
This means if you sell ski equipment, but your target audience is also interested in “red shoes,” you probably won’t get much help including red shoes on your list.
Instead, focus your list on ski-related words and make sure you pay attention to the exact search.
If people are searching for “ski stuff,” they are going to get different results than if they search for “ski things.”
Similarly, plural versus singular makes a difference.
In order to be found, though, you need to make sure you appear high up in search-engine results.
That means you should do your best to incorporate exact keywords.
Step 3: Make your keywords localized.
As a small business, it is likely you are not trying to sell to the whole world. At least for now, you are probably focused on a local area.
Make sure to consider this when defining your audience and potential keywords.
A few years ago, for example, Google said one in three searches were about a place.
According to Search Engine Watch,
- 34 percent of people who use a computer to run a local search will visit a store from that search within 24 hours.
- When considering mobile searches, that number jumps to 50 percent.
- Of people going to a store after a local search, 18 percent are ready to make a purchase – that is a lot higher than the 7 percent of the people running non-localized searches.
This demonstrates how you need to be choosing your keywords with your target audience’s location in mind.
For example, our clients are not only small-business owners, they are small-business owners in the Colorado Springs area.
This means our SEO keywords should be focused around Colorado Springs.
Step 4: Use keywords in your writing.
Now that you have your keywords, start using them in your site’s content.
They should be used in a wide variety of locations on your site:
- Product descriptions;
- About Me;
- Meta information; and
- Any other place you might have content related to your business.
As you start adding them, though, make sure you do not keyword stuff.
Keyword stuffing happens when you clearly throw in a bunch of keywords just to get ranked highly. This will backfire on you.
You need to make sure your keyword density, the percentage of times a keyword is included on a page, is not overpowering.
About Tech suggests a keyword density of less than 5 percent.
You can put multiple keywords on a page and you can use keyword density for each of them.
However, you still do not want to overpower the writing and make it awkward. The keywords should flow naturally into the content.
Step 5: Make sure you are writing quality content.
Keywords on their own are not enough. You need to be creating quality content.
To see why, let’s use Google as our example.
Google has a reputation to uphold. That means they want to help people find the most relevant, beneficial information.
If they lead people to pages that make no sense or are clearly stuffed with keywords, those people will not be pleased and may eventually switch to another search engine.
In order to avoid this, Google does everything it can to send searchers to the best sites.
In order to do this, it uses a complicated algorithm to find terms and figure out the quality of the site.
Through the years, it has changed its algorithm with updates, including Panda and the Quality Update.
Both of these updates are designed to penalize people who do not offer high-quality content.
This does not mean offering one great piece and a bunch of horrible pieces.
Not only do you need to add good content to your site, you need to remove bad content.
Google will penalize an entire site for having poor content or repeat information.
Step 6: Make your content mobile optimized.
Now that you have your content on point for SEO, it is time to think about mobile optimization.
Remember when we pointed out that 50 percent of people who search for a local business on a mobile device end up visiting the store within 24 hours?
This should tell you something. You need to make sure you are ready for optimization.
Your SEO efforts are not complete without mobile optimization of your website.
Not only does Google like mobile-ready sites (they just made an algorithm update favoring mobile sites), but searchers do as well.
So take the time to make your website easy to use from a mobile device, and your SEO results will improve too.
Step 7: Monitor your results.
Now that you have taken steps to improve your SEO, make sure you monitor the results.
This not only will make you feel great when your efforts start to work, but you will be able to make adjustments if something is not working as well as you would like.
If you do everything right, though, it will still take time for Google and other search engines to recognize your content work.
This means you need to be patient. However, you should start to see some results pretty fast and the rest will follow soon.
Final Thoughts on SEO
Now that you know some of the basics about SEO, it is time to start building up your SEO efforts.
After you start taking advantage of this technique, you could start seeing great results in a short amount of time.