Earlier this year, members of the AOE team sat in on an informative session about search engine optimization (SEO) hosted by our partner ForeFront Web. Not only did they simplify an incredibly complex concept, they also provided some very helpful tips for people interested in improving their search ranking themselves, understanding that not everyone is ready or able to spend money to hire a firm that specializes in SEO. It’s true that the pros will be the most effective at moving your website up in results on search engines like Google, leading to increased clicks on your website and ultimately more sales, but for those who want to handle it on their own for now, ForeFront shared with the class some easy-to-do suggestions for an almost immediate improvement of your SEO.
What, exactly, is SEO?
Before you read further for ForeFront’s tips on boosting SEO, it’s important to have a basic grasp of the concept. Search engine optimization can be difficult to understand, even for those who are familiar with it. Ads for companies who promise to boost your SEO, peppered with unfamiliar terms like “organic results,” “search engine indexing” or “meta tags” can be overwhelming, but what SEO really boils down to is making your website something that both people and search engines are interested in reading. No, search engines aren’t sentient (yet!) and can’t truly have an interest in anything, but they do scan each and every website for keywords they deem, via complex algorithm, to be worth pushing up in the ranks of their search results.
If you have ever searched for something on Google and wondered how the top non-ad results got there, chances are someone worked their SEO magic to move them up towards the top. It’s incredibly effective, too – SEO leads have a 14.6 percent close rate compared to a 1.7 percent close rate for outbound leads like direct mail or print ads. Here are four key things to focus on when improving your own SEO:
Good Content. The term “content” encompasses everything on your website: text, images, videos, comments, etc. Good content is original, meaning text you wrote, images you created, videos you shot and so on. If it’s something that has never been published on any other website before yours, a search engine will consider it more valuable (and therefore rank it higher) than an article or image copied from another website. The better your original content, the more it will be shared by other people, moving you even further up in the search results.
What you can do: Write a well-researched blog between 350-1,000 words (Google thinks this length is substantial enough to warrant bumping you up in its search results) – no page should have fewer than 250 words. If you post a new video or image to your website, write descriptive text to accompany it. Instead of labeling a photograph of a project your company is working on as “Pouring concrete for new job,” try “Our concrete crew is busy pouring concrete for the foundation of a new hospital in Columbus.”
Relevant Keywords. Search engines like Google and Bing crawl through every single website and pick up on keywords, and the more relevant they find them to be to someone’s search, the higher that website will be in their search results.
What you can do: When writing content for your website, use keywords that relate to your business, products or services, and use them frequently: shoot for about three or four times per page, including variations (for example, “build,” “building,” “buildings,” “builder”). If you format those particular words in bold or italics, Google and other search engines are smart enough to realize that you consider those words to be important, further improving your SEO.
Update Frequently. Search engines consider websites that are more up-to-date to be more valuable in terms of results ranking than sites that haven’t been updated in a while.
What you can do: Update your blog, news section, photographs and more to keep your content fresh and relevant in search engines’ eyes. Don’t think you can get away with adding a word or two and considering it an update—search engines are smart enough to know when not enough has changed on your website to warrant a boost to your ranking!
Social Media. By now, we all realize the value of social media in building and maintaining relationships with clients, showing off your company and all it has to offer, and staying on top of trends in your industry. However, did you know that it has an indirect effect on your SEO? When you engage on social media and people share your posts, search engines consider the proliferation of your content across other websites an important metric for ranking your site.
What you can do: If you aren’t already on social media, join a few sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, making sure to link each back to your website. Be descriptive in your posts and pins, making sure to hit on keywords, and your social media posts will appear in search results. For example, if you create a pin on Pinterest that links to an article for the grand opening of a project you just completed, write a description with 200-300 characters rather than just “Library we did wiring for.” Try something like, “The Cleveland Public Library opened the doors to its new branch after a year of construction. Our company, Engineering Pros, Inc., did all of the electrical wiring to provide lighting, security and sound systems for this facility. Thanks to the public for their patience during the construction process – now go enjoy some books!”
SEO and all its associated techno-jargon can be intimidating, but its value cannot be overstated. If your firm or association isn’t showing up on page one of search results, chances are very few people are finding your website through that search engine. However, you can change that with the above tips, and AOE is happy to assist along the way. Reach out today to get started on boosting your SEO, your visibility and your sales!