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“How does my business website land that number one spot on a Google search result?”

We hear this question from almost any business owner in every industry you can think of. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple or quick.

The process of improving your website in order to rank highly in online search results is called SEO, or “search engine optimization.” SEO isn’t something that can be done overnight — and certainly isn’t something you do once and never have to do again. To improve your website’s search ranking successfully, you’ll need to understand the factors at play and practice a few key steps consistently over a long period of time.

Start with a Great Website

If you’re in it for the long haul, you need a website that is optimized from the beginning. Whether you hire a web designer to create a beautiful website for you, or you find a clean and easy-to-use template to do it yourself, it’s vitally important that you have an online presence that is ready for your audience.

At a minimum, your website should:

1. Align well with your company’s brand.
2. Be easy to read and navigate.
3. Provide useful information about your products and services.
4. Offer answers to FAQs about your business.
5. Direct website visitors to contact you to learn more.
6. Engage users by displaying appropriate, high-quality visuals (such as photographs and videos).
7. Be optimized for mobile devices.

Completing these steps will be imperative to ensuring the foundation of your SEO (your website) is sound — that it is informational, accessible, and appealing to your ideal clientele.

Optimize Your Images for the Web

When it comes to SEO, adding visuals to your website is about more than simply uploading them. Your website images and videos should be properly sized for the web, titled appropriately, and given descriptive alt text.

File sizes that are too large may slow your website down, often making pages load more slowly and (in turn) negatively impacting how well users interact with your website. Typically, you won’t need website images wider than 1800 pixels for most pages and blogs. You might also consider using a software like Blogstomp to help you quickly resize images (and combine them into beautiful collages) before uploading them to the web.

Once you upload them, be sure to write titles and alt text that describe the image and/or use keywords you wrote in the content of the page or blog post you’re adding the image to. Take a look at some of the following examples for ideas:

  • Best Restaurant in Downtown Denver
  • Denver, Colorado Web Designer
  • Small Business Lawyer in Colorado
  • How to File Taxes in 2018

It’s often helpful to include your keywords that describe your location, services, products, or industry — especially ones you know your clients will be searching for on search engines. Google uses the title and alt text to learn more about what the image is of, so it’s extremely helpful in boosting your SEO.

Consistently Add New Website Content

One of the best steps you can take to rank higher on search engines is to regularly publish new content on your website that your ideal customers will find engaging and useful. This can be in the form of educational blog posts, portfolio examples, video tutorials, interactive tools, or case studies. The key is to make sure your content is relevant to your audience, published on a regular basis (such as two times a week), high-quality, and entertaining. By publishing top-notch content on a regular basis, Google will begin to see your website as more trustworthy over time and will begin to rank it higher more often.

Use Keywords and Answer Questions

What’s the first thing most people do when they want to learn more about a topic? They “Google it.”

And when they want to learn more about something you can help them with as a business owner, you want your website’s pages and blog posts to show up as high in the search results as they can. In order to do so, you need to first research your audience and understand your buyer personas so well that you know exactly what keywords they use when they go online to search for answers. A good way to start might be to research your competitors and see what topics they are talking about, or survey your current customers to discover what information they’d like to see more of on your website.

Then you can compile these words and questions and turn them into pages or blog posts on your website. Some of the best blogs out there today use the questions their audience is asking on Google as the title of their posts. The key is to begin thinking of situations and problems from your customer’s perspective, rather than your own.

Link to Other Websites Within Your Industry

It may initially seem counter-intuitive, but linking text inside your blog posts to other trustworthy websites can actually increase your SEO.

Why? Because this shows that you are doing your research. Search engines like Google only want the best results for their users. If you show that you are referencing other reliable resources in your content, search engines will begin to see you as reliable as well. Some of the best websites to link to are government websites (.gov websites), nonprofit websites (.org), trustworthy organizations, newspapers and media outlets, and academic resources (.edu).

Drive Traffic to Your Website from Other Sources

Whether you have a Facebook page for your business or you have a substantial list of email addresses on file, utilize them in directing more users to your website when possible! The more traffic you send to your website from other online channels, the more search engines will begin to see your website as being relevant. You might even consider writing a guest blog post or be a guest speaker on a podcast to reach other audiences you wouldn’t normally reach.

Stay Up to Date on Recent Algorithm Changes

As a business owner, you likely already know that educating yourself is an important part of being successful and growing your profits. It’s just as true for SEO: search engine algorithms (or the system that ranks websites in search results) change from time to time, and you’ll continue to have a leg up on your competitors if you make adjustments before they do. For instance, search engines recently made changes to the algorithm so that websites who were mobile friendly would rank higher than those who were not. Be sure to regularly read up on the latest changes so you can prepare for them if necessary.

Use Tools Like Yoast and Google Analytics

One of the greatest tools on WordPress websites to assist with SEO is the Yoast plugin. This plugin allows you to see specific tips and suggestions that can help you improve the SEO for each page and blog post on your website. It will also give you the opportunity to adjust your page’s meta descriptions — the few lines of text that shows up underneath the page titles on a search results page.

And if you’re really interested in getting detailed information about how much traffic you’re getting, where your audience is coming from, and what pages are performing the best on your website, Google Analytics is a fantastic free platform you can use to create in-depth website reports. While a lot of what the platform can do may seem overwhelming at first, the data it can collect for your website is second-to-none and can help you see where your online presence is working and where it can improve.

Have Patience and Give it Time

If you’re just starting out, it can be extremely difficult to take over the top spot on page one of Google for most keywords, especially if your competitors have been publishing on the web for several years. Gaining a high ranking takes time, often months or years, but it does pay off! Not only is it a great way of gaining leads and increasing customer engagement, it’s free. Have some patience, give it time, and keep working on it to see the impact it can have for your business.

When in Doubt: Ask for Help

Hummingbird Collective offers blogging, SEO, social media and other digital marketing services to small businesses and nonprofits in the Denver area and beyond. We love working with passionate organizations who are ready to take the next step in their digital marketing efforts. Reach out to us online for more information about our digital marketing packages, or call us at (719) 422-5198 to tell us more about your story!