“We can move your website to the first page of Google, Yahoo! and Bing.”
Have you seen or heard a company make that guarantee? Just how possible is it for your website to improve its search engine rankings?
According to Google, no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on its site. However, many small businesses are leaving a lot out of their sites that would help them to get a better ranking. Search engine optimization services can be well worth it if you are working with a reputable consultant, but you can actually hurt your site if the person you use doesn’t follow the rules.
The truth is, if you have a small site in a competitive industry (real estate is one example) and you don’t update it regularly, you’re not going to rank as well – no matter what an SEO expert does for you. So before you hire someone to do SEO, look at what you can do to improve your site overall.
Remember, getting a visitor to your site is only part of the fight. Once they reach your website, potential customers must be interested – otherwise, they’ll turn around and leave. And all your hard work and dollars spent on search engine optimization are down the drain.
Here are five things you can do to help your site compete:
- Regularly add content. A blog is one way to do this; so is posting regular news or other articles. A Hubspot survey found that blogs on websites generate 67 percent more leads than a website with no blog. Interesting blog posts dramatically improve your search engine rankings because you have more pages indexed in Google, more keywords to attract searchers and more links, because people see, like and link to your posts.
- Keep your blog in your domain. Did you know that if your blog is not part of your domain, but is hosted by a third party like Blogger or WordPress, that you’re not getting the search engine attention that you should be? That’s because they are viewed as two separate sites by search engines. You want something like “visualpeople.com/blog” not “visualpeople.wordpress.com” for your blog address.
- Pay attention to your headlines. Text that is designated as a larger font size is viewed by search engines as a headline and thus, a summary of content. Put your keywords into headlines whenever possible. Plus, a human reading a headline will make a split-second decision about the value of the article beneath. If you want the person to read through, make the headline not only full of keywords, but interesting or appealing.
- Use relevant photos. We see a lot of websites and blogs with stock photos or clip art that don’t do anything to personalize the business. A potential customer can tell, whether consciously or unconsciously, when an image is of your store and products or something generic. Take your own pictures or, for the best results, hire a professional. Dark, blurry images aren’t going to help establish trust and interest between you and the website visitor, either. And use ALT attributes in image tags to identify the photos and integrate keywords.
- Customize title tags and meta descriptions for each page of your site. This could take awhile, depending on the size of your website, but making the title of each page (the text that shows up at the top of your browser window when you’re on a page) and the description (what a search engine will use as an excerpt or blurb under your link in their results) unique to what the page says will help. We recommend that you do write description tags, because even if they are getting less attention in search results than they have in the past, that text is still what your potential visitor sees when deciding whether to click on your site’s link on the search results page. Make it count.
Beyond that, yes, there are tips and tricks such as how to structure the code on a web page, how to set up redirects and how to integrate keywords that may help your search rankings. Also, a top-notch SEO consultant will be thinking about ways to make your site better and increase your site’s visibility overall. But a site that is not growing and improving – or a site owner who is not willing to do so – won’t perform to its potential in search engine rankings, no matter what clever tricks are used.
Would you like a free evaluation of your website, including structure, content and SEO? Become a fan of Visual People on Facebook for information on how to get our three-page evaluation ($149 value) free.