If you have a website you have probably heard alot about SEO and how important it is. And you may not have a clue as to what it even means! SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, and it basically means optimizing your website for search engines, with the hope *not guarantee that it will help your site rankings. Now I am not a SEO guru, but I do have some tips and tricks that are relatively easy to accomplish and free (which is always a good thing!).
How much it will impact your site rankings is really not clear. All of that depends upon a lot of factors. SEO in its basic form will really just allow your site to be ranked by the search engines and hopefully with the basics in place, you will have a good starting point! SEO doesnt come overnight, and site ranking can be improved over time, or you can pay big bucks to have someone work on the site on a monthly basis which, according to them, will boost your ranking, some even guarantee you a first page placement on google! I have never used one of these companies for this, and it may or may not be appropriate for you to hire one, it will all depend on the revenue of your company and the need for a certain amount of traffic from your website.
Most of my clients, and myself included, are really using their website as an informational portal. Of course having your site on the first page of google is always a good thing.
And yes my website is listed on the first page of google if you search for “graphic designer of Jacksonville nc”. But that has a lot to do with the type of search you do to find it there. My business is graphic design and if you did a general search for “graphic designer” or “graphic design”, my website would probably be hundreds of pages in. The more specific you get with the search, the “keywords”, the closer to the top of the ranking I get. Search for “graphic designer Jacksonville, NC” and there I am! The reason why I am so close the top (and I used to be there at the very top!) is because there is very little competition in my little city of Jacksonville! Change the search to “logo designer jacksonville nc” and I am at the top of the list! If you did a search for “graphic designer” I would be farther down in the search since it is broader.
First of all, if your website is in WordPress, bravo – that is a good way to start with as WordPress comes optimized for search engines out of the box. Even better, use the Genesis framework from Studiopress and you have even better SEO optimization and security. Genesis is top-notch for both. If you don’t have Genesis there are still ways to improve the SEO of your wordpress site. You can download a plugin called SEO by YOAST and with some configuration you can add your site titles and keywords to match the content of your page. Another plugin that is a must when you are ready to publish your site is Google XML Sitemap Generator. As always you need to register your site for free with Google Analytics and add the tracking code to your site. Usually your theme has a place for this code, and if not, you can add it with a plugin such as Google Analytics available in your wordpress dashboard or at wordpress.org. This plugin will also auto-submit your site to all the major search engines!! Now how cool is that?!?!
Once you install these items you will have some configuring to do. You will have to decide what keywords you want to use – and if you want a location/area/region to be a part of how people find you. That is a big thing for me, but others maybe it not important. What will visitors be typing in google to find you? hairdresser in Cleveland OH? baby planner in Oceanside CA? or maybe just keywords that establish what it is you do, like sleep consultant, sleep coach, certified sleep consultant, online sleep coach…You get the idea. it is best practice to keep your keywords from around 10-20. Quality not Quantity is the key here. You will have to go in and tweak your keywords from time to time – see what is working and what isnt. Come up with a site description for your site that also contains the keywords for the overall website and/or repeat these keywords in the first paragraph of your website. You will have to assign different keywords and titles for each unique page of your site. For example, if you have services on one page, you need to include keywords specific to the content on your services page. All of this is configurable in the SEO by YOAST plugin settings page, or for Genesis users, below the text editor area of your page. If your website is not a wordpress website, you will have to use a website editor to add this to the header of every page of your site. Hooray if you have WordPress, yet another reason why its so darn cool!
Another tip is to submit your address to Google Maps – It just adds another level to help get your business (and website) closer to the top of the search results FOR YOUR LOCAL AREA searches. If you are purely an online business, and do not reach out locally to your immediate area, then this will not apply to you.
So that is the basics, and they are all free resources available to anyone! Your main key is keeping up on your stats in google analytics. Blogging is a great tool to drive traffic to your site. Twitter, Facebook – all these links in to your site help your site rankings. Plenty of ways to help keep your site up in the rankings without having to pay a high-priced SEO consultant. Hey they’re great at what they do, but if you are like me and a small business owner, anything you can do for free is always good! And if it turns out you still need to hire someone to help – give me a shout and let me know what you need. When it comes to the basic tricks I got you covered – but by no means am I an SEO expert, just someone who has some experience in the area and some basic, handy know-how. If you are more serious about driving more traffic to your site, and you have the budget, your best bet would be to research SEO consultants in your area. There are plenty of them online, but just be sure you know exactly what you are getting for, and I would avoid anyone promising you first page search results!
List of places to get listed : (all free)