When consumers need to find a local small business, many start with an online search. Those companies that appear at the top of the search rankings are most likely to get their business.
According to a 2016 survey by BrightLocal, only 5 per cent of consumers have never used a search engine to find a local business, and more than half run a search for local businesses at least once a month. Furthermore, 72 per cent of consumers who conducted a local search visited a store within 5 miles, according to a 2016 study by WordStream.
While some businesses pay to appear at the top of the search rankings, another 2016 report by SimilarWeb found that paid searches only account for 5 per cent of shopper traffic, while organic searches are responsible for nearly 95 per cent.
As a result, organizations that are able to optimize their search engine ranking are more likely to be found by local consumers. But with so much traffic on the Internet, climbing the search rankings isn’t always an easy feat. Here are a few simple tricks to help boost your website’s SEO.
1. Choose your URL wisely
Like the sign outside of a brick-and-mortar store, a website URL needs to communicate the company’s name and, ideally, provide some indication of what it does in order to be easily found.
Not only do search engines take cues from the website’s domain, but users skimming the search results likely will, too. Having just your company name in the URL is a great way to be found by those who already know about the company, but you may also want to consider adding a keyword.
For example, instead of JohnSmith.com, consider JohnSmithConstruction.com, JohnSmithLLC.com or JohnSmithDesigns.com.
2. Content is king
As a search engine scours your website, it’s important to be ready with a lot of relevant keywords peppered throughout. As a result, having a higher volume of content can have a big impact on search engine rankings.
Posting articles and blogs for the sake of adding content, however, won’t do you much good. Instead, consider what content your customer base or intended audience might search for, and try and include as many of those keywords as possible.
For example, a bakery might benefit from posting recipes while a tailor might benefit from providing fashion advice, as the content is both useful to readers and contains a lot of relevant keywords.
It helps to consider what your reader might input into a search engine to get to your pages, and then make sure to repeat those words throughout your website. Don't get too carried away though, as you'll devalue your site quality by 'stuffing' too many keywords into your copy.
Italicizing and bolding your keywords can also help draw attention, as can repeating them frequently, but it’s important not to sacrifice the quality of the content for the sake of the search engine. After all, Google isn’t the one buying your product.
3. Avoid duplicating content
Copying and pasting text from another web page isn’t only a potential copyright infringement; it’s also detrimental to your search rankings. After all, if someone republishes articles from a newspaper or blog, the original content will always appear first.
Furthermore, it can also serve to dilute the ranking of both, since Google and other search engines aren't fond of duplicate content. Make sure your content is original in order to climb the search results.
4. Create titles and descriptions for each page
Title tags for your web pages are critical components to boosting your SEO result. They will be seen on the tabs of Internet browsers, across search results as clickable links, and when the page gets shared on social networks. Update those title tags and keep them under 60 characters so they don't get cut off in search results.
Those same title tags are also important for the user experience, helping your visitors to easily navigate through your site, find what they're looking for and 'stay on page.' Furthermore, if you hover over a tab in your website browser, you may also notice a short sentence that briefly describes the web page. While often ignored by users, these little descriptions are essential for search engines when determining your website’s relevance to the search term.
In fact, they are among the first indicators Google checks when determining a website’s ranking. So be sure they are up to date in your site's CMS, along with a thorough description of what’s found on that page, including a few keywords.
5. Make sure your load speed is lightning fast
Believe it or not, the amount of time it takes to load a web page actually has an impact on its search rankings. Online tools like Pingdom can help you improve your load time by breaking down each element on your website and calculating its load time.
With that information, you can cut out or replace your slower-loading content to not only improve your search ranking but also the user experience. You can also improve your load time by upgrading from a shared server to a virtual private network (or VPN).
6. Make regular updates
You may notice that a majority of the results presented on the front page of most search queries were produced in the last few years. That’s because search engines take into consideration the relevancy and timeliness of content.
Blogging is a great way to regularly add content and improve those search results. Create topic categories that directly relate to your business, and then start by writing brief articles that show your expertise in the subject. Aim to publish at least an article or two every month, and integrate images or videos to help bring the content to life.
Even minor updates can have a big impact, as it indicates relevancy to the search algorithm. It’s also good to keep your content up-to-date to improve the user experience once they get to your site, but now you have one more reason to keep it fresh.