If you're new to SEO (search engine optimization) and you're wondering why your website is getting little to no traffic from Google, this post is a good place to start. While getting to the first page of Google (much less the top of page one) can be difficult in competitive industries, and certain searches are dominated by Google Ads and Local results, you can make initial headway by taking care of some of the basics.
I've seen businesses that make just these initial changes and start to see a swell of traffic from the search engines resulting in more qualified leads and sales. When you finish these tasks, you may want to check out Why Doesn't My Website Show Up in Google?
Quick Changes to Improve Your Search Visibility and Traffic
There are hundreds of things you can do at your website (and off site) to increase your search engine visibility, and if you're in a competitive market you'll need to do a whole lot more than three of them.
Your established competitors have hired search engine experts to get their sites to rank higher than yours and new competitors are coming on board all of the time, looking to displace you from the first page of results.
However, sometimes it helps to start with the basics. If you haven't done these three things listed below, now's the time to improve your visibility and rank at Google and the other search engines.
Improve Your Title Tags.
I still see business owners making the same mistakes when it comes to title tags. Titles are the words that appear in the title bar of your browser window, not on the page itself.
Here are some tips for improving your title tags:
- Use words that your prospects will use at the search engines. You want to get found by people who don't know your business but know they need your products or services. Those people are more likely to search on what they need, i.e., “green building supplies” or “Cleveland cosmetic surgeon” than the name of your company…unless your company is named Green Building Supplies, Inc.
- Use unique titles on each page. Don't forget that each page on your site is an opportunity to be found by the search engines, so create unique, descriptive titles for each page.
- Front load your title with your best keyword phrases. Search engines tend to give more weight to the first few words in a title, so “Skiing with Children: A Practical Guide” will probably do better than “A Practical Guide to Skiing with Children.”
Support Your Title Tag with Headers and Copy.
A page with an optimized title won't succeed without a supporting cast, any more than a leader can succeed without followers. While it is possible to over-optimize a page or post, putting in your keyword phrases and variations of that phrase in key parts of your post is important. To make sure you haven't over-optimized your page just read it out loud. It should sound like natural speech, and not like you poured a bag of your desired keywords willy-nilly into your post for better ranking.
Yes, I said “willy nilly.” And I stand by it.
- Keywords in your header tags. Header tags are marked up with H1 – H6 tags, although most SEOs only use H1, H2, and H3 tags. Best practice is one H1 tag, then H2 and H3 tags as needed. If you're not sure about HTML, don't worry. Headers and subheads are generally bigger and often bolder than regular copy. You've been using them all your life. Now just think about them strategically. This article on How to Find Your Audience Online is a good example of working keywords into H2 and H3 tags.
- Keywords in your opening paragraph. The opening paragraph of your page should support your overall keyword strategy. Unlike a personal blog, you should immediately tell the reader what they're going to get out of this page or article. That makes it easy to work some keywords into the page. Don't feel pressured to use the exact phrase over and over again, though. Google understand semantic language; in other words, it understands that “commercial real estate” and “available office space” are related.
- Keywords in your intra-site links. Incoming links are important to SEO (see the H2 tag below.) But you can also help Google find and understand important pages on your website by linking to them from other pages on your site, and using relevant keywords in the link rather than “click here” or “learn more.” For example, if I wanted to drive more traffic to our article on the difference between search engine and directories, and how they each impact your search visibility, I'd work some keywords into the link (like I just did.)
Get More Incoming Links.
Since search engines see quality incoming links as “votes of confidence,” it's important to cultivate those links. Although there are many ways to get incoming links, here are four proven methods:
- Guest blog at other blogs. Find blogs that target your ideal customers and write for them. Although you won't get paid, you do get at least one (and sometimes several) links back to your website and key pages. Try doing a Google search like this: “guest post + [topic]” where topic could be your topic, industry, or ideal customer base. Google will return a list of blogs that are open to guest blogging opportunities.
- Get on podcasts. This is a similar approach, but takes a lot less time, as a good blog post can take hours to write, and a podcast usually takes less than an hour, and sometimes as little as 20 minutes. Just make sure that the podcast in question publishes a new web page for every episode and they link back to you.
- Get links from member organizations. If you're paying for a professional membership, whether it's industry specific or the local chamber of commerce, likely they'll link to you from their website or their member directory.
- Create link-worthy content. I recognize this is one of the most vague and over-suggested suggestions out there. Regardless, it's true. No one's going to link to a website that is a 3-page brochure. Instead, try publishing unique content, research, and other data that would likely be picked up by news organizations.
If any of these tips were news to you, make the appropriate changes and watch your rankings improve. If these aren't enough to give you a satisfactory bump at the search engines, it may be time to bring in a professional.
President, flyte new media