Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of digital marketing, helping to lift websites in organic search rankings. The algorithms that determine how high your site ranks may seem mysterious, but there are plenty of best practices to guide you through the SEO process. Here are the basic steps for optimizing a website to rank better in search results.
1. Start With a Site Audit
Before you can improve your site’s search ranking, you need to know how it’s currently performing. An SEO site audit identifies issues with structure and content and prioritizes areas for improvement.
2. Determine the Keywords Your Customers Use
Search engines want to serve up the best content to users, so pages that closely match a query rank higher. Invest time in keyword research so you know the phrases your customers are using to find your product. Then, create a content plan so that each page of your site targets certain keywords — you don’t want pages competing against each other for the same search terms. Incorporate keywords naturally into your pages, concisely answering user queries and offering original content that users find valuable.
3. Make Your Content Easy to Understand
Once you’ve nailed down the content of a piece, ensure search engines can understand it and index it correctly. Identify important sections with H2 headers, and indicate sub-sections by using H3s and H4s. Make use of numbered lists and bullet points for readability and add sidebar navigation for in-depth content. Title tags, alt image tags and internal links are also helpful for providing further context to search engines.
4. Ensure Your Website is Easy to Crawl
Your site needs a clear, logical hierarchy that search engines can understand and navigate easily. Use consistently structured, descriptive URLs. Add a sitemap that shows how the site is organized and the relationship between pages. If content doesn’t need to be indexed, use robot.txt files to tell search bots not to crawl those pages. Better yet, prune stale pages that are adding bloat to your site.
5. Technically Optimize Your Website
Stellar content is crucial, but your site also needs to deliver a premium user experience. Check your site speed and make sure pages and images load quickly. Sites should be mobile-friendly for easy navigation and have up-to-date security certificates.
6. Show You’re an Authority in Your Field
While your content may be well-researched and full of valuable information, in order to rank highly, it must demonstrate authority. Backlinks are the best way to show search engines that your site is a trusted resource. These third-party links to your site from other credible sites are viewed as an external vote of confidence in your content. Quality backlinks take time to build, but are worth it in the long run.
7. Consider Local SEO
If your company relies on customers in your neighborhood or city, focus on local SEO so that your business surfaces for searches containing the phrase “near me”. Start with your Google Business Profile to ensure your business listing appears in maps, local three-packs and organic search listings.
A successful SEO strategy involves many components working together to boost online visibility. Get in touch and find out how Kick Digital Media can streamline your SEO efforts and get your site to stand out from the crowd.