How To Improve Your Search Engine Rankings

improve search engine rankings

You’ve written the text, picked out good images, and everything looks fantastic. However, no one is coming.  Now comes the hard part of improving those search engine rankings and getting those eyeballs on your site. How do you do this? Here are ten actions to take:

  1. Know Your Target Audience

You need to know who your audience is. This is important for a number of reasons, including keywords (discussed more later), success with your market and return visitors. It does no good to create a great website if the people visiting do not interact with your material and buy your products.  By the same token, it is a lot easier to benefit from a return visitor than to have to recruit new visitors constantly. The reader who says “Great content, but not what I was looking for,” is not who you are looking for.  You are looking for a visitor who reads, buys and returns.  Knowing your audience helps you to attract that person.  To know your audience, research both your past clients and competitors.  Ask yourself: What makes you unique?  What has resulted in past sales?

  1. Do Keyword Research

Research the correct keywords to work into your piece.  This is because without using the right keywords search engines will not find your blog post.  The post needs to incorporate the words that the average searcher uses, not the words that are used in the industry or in your company.  It is good to know those last two, and thus to be current in the field and to be able to work with your colleagues. However, your web site needs to use the vocabulary of the public.  To determine this, look at the keywords used by your competitors and what terms are used in more popular discussions of the topic. There are a variety of online tools to help you out with keywords. One of them is SemRush, another is Mozpro.  Both cost some money but they also have a free trial.

  1. Create Good URLs

One might imagine Dorothy today might ask “Are you a Good URL or a Bad URL?”  Bad URLs add nothing to your chance of being found by a keyword search.  Good URLs help your chance of being found by a keyword search. Your page title, which should contain some of your keywords, might automatically go into your URL and save you the hassle of altering it. However, you need to check your URL before publication in order ensure this.  For example: If your website was about beach culture on the west coast, two decent keywords would be travel and California but a better two would be surfing and Malibu.  One good title would be “Surf Malibu” and the good URL would be your organization’s website with surf malibu (as a URL of course) at the end, as that way the keywords you want are in the URL.

  1. Make Sure to Use ALT tags to your Benefit

An ALT tag is an HTML attribute which gives a description about your image. Having this description in addition to your image helps you in a couple of ways. First, if a person is not able to access the image, the ALT tag makes your website ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant and this is something everyone wants.  While if you are not HTML conversant this might be out of your league, it is a good thing to think about. The ALT tag also gives information about the image, and so that is a good place to work in some keywords.  Anything that both improves your compliance and your SEO status is a great benefit. To work on this, check to see what ALT tags you are using.

  1. Mobile-Friendly and Responsive Website

Your website needs to be nimble, responsive, and mobile-friendly.  If your website does not load quickly and well, people will move on to the next search result. It will not matter if your website is included in the search results if no one visits it. Search engines also pay attention to how quickly people click off your site and rank the websites with that in mind. Even if you are among the top hits at the beginning of the day, you will not remain there if people quickly leave your site.  One doesn’t want to start among the top sites, one wants to stay among the top sites. Finally, the website needs to be designed with today’s users in mind. More and more people are using their phones as their main way of interacting with content, particularly web pages. Thus, you need to design your page with the phone in mind. What does this mean you need to do?  First, test your website here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly.

Second, use responsive design on your page. Third, remember that the screen is a lot smaller on the phone than on your computer and make your top content easy to find. To improve here, in addition to visiting the site listed above, try loading your site on your phone and see what it looks like.  Have a friend see how quickly they can find anything.

  1. Update Content/Write Good Copy

There are two parts here. First, write high quality material. Second, keep it updated.  The reader will not stay on the page if the material is not attractive.  The keywords need to be on the site, but no one will stay there if the keywords are the only thing there. Those ideas need to be seamlessly worked into the rest of the material and the website needs to mix attractive material and the concept being sold.  Second, the website needs to be updated.  This is both because dated material will not attract anyone and because new material is more attractive to search engines.  A good website is not simply put up and left up. A good website needs to be constantly improved. One way to improve your website is to beta test it and see what messages are being presented.

  1. Have Good Links to Other Pages of Your Own

A good page that is returned in searches (and gets visited) is a first step. The second step is to produce a series of pages, which are logically linked. One part here is to link correctly.  Now this does not mean merely to do the internal process of linking correctly but to use rich hyperlinks. Instead of just writing “link”, or “click here,” link the name of your subpage as that will show up in search engines and improve your ranking. It also will have a higher chance of being clicked on.  Also organize your pages into a logical structure that makes it easy for people to navigate between them. That will improve the amount of time people spend on your site.

  1. Right Sized Content

In addition to having well linked pages, they need to be of the right size.  Web pages of 1000 to 2000 words are best. Pages of that length tend to show up in Google rankings. Now, if your topic only needs 500 words, then only 500 should be written as the end focus needs to still be on the user.  Several surveys have shown, though, that pages of less than 300 words tend not to be ranked, so there, on the other hand, such a thing as too little text on a page. Review each page to see how long it is and augment selectively to get things up closer to the 1000 word goal, but don’t rely on fluff or just lists of keywords. The material added must result in increased value to the reader while still gathering the attention of the search engine.

  1. Utilize Your Headers Well

Your headings on your page are very important for SEO optimization.  Your top headings here should be used to increase your Google rankings.  You should use related words and pay attention to how your header tags are constructed. While this is a bit complicated for people not familiar with the HTML structure it well worth asking about or working on a way to redo your header tags in order to increase your SEO optimization.  The top-level heading is an H1 and that is your page title often.  An H2 heading is for the next level of importance, and so on, down to an H6.  The H1 should tell the user what is on the page and have some of your keywords in it.

  1. Use Some Tools in Google

These include Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Google Analytics will show how your site compares to others in general. You can also see what people are finding when doing the searches that you want to lead to you. Google Search Console in turn will show you where your pages rank in specific keywords and also alert you to some technical problems your site may be having. Both of these require a bit of work to figure out their structure, but they are both free and helpful.  You should use these to see where you rank and outline any problems that you need to fix.

With all of these areas, one might wonder “Where to begin?”  I’d suggest starting with #10 and using those Google tools. They’ll give you a good jumping off point and let you know what else to focus on.

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