Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just making sure that when people search for something you are promoting, they find you.
That’s different than people finding you when they search for you. You want people to search for “widgets” and find your business, for example.
The first three steps of SEO are things you can start on by yourself for free.
STEP 1. Make it friendly
Make sure that your site is visitor friendly and search engine friendly. Visitor friendly also means mobile friendly. The majority of searches are starting to be done on phones rather than desktops. Google will rank a website lower if it is not mobile friendly. Google inspects the pages when it is indexing, and it can tell whether the page is designed to be viewed on mobile devices or not.
Tablets are common, but are never the preferred device for any demographic group as a whole. The tendency is to prefer desktop or prefer a phone. Often, people use a tablet as an interim device.
Avoid technologies that will not render properly on phones, such as Flash or other plug-ins.
Avoid putting text solely in images. Google does not index text that appears in pictures.
Use good page names and page titles. If your website has titles like “page 1” “page 2” etc. then it will not be ranked as well as if it had titles like “ABC Widget Co. – How to choose the Right Widget for your Home.” Headings on the page should be relevant and should use appropriate HTML heading tags.
STEP 2. Get on Google Places.
Google automatically creates “place pages” for businesses. This is done using information that Google finds publicly available. It will generally include the name of the business, phone number, address, and can include hours of operation and customer ratings and reviews. If you have not taken control of your business place page, you should do so immediately. If one does not already exist for you then you should create one.
One reason for controlling the Google place page is that if you don’t, then Google will create it anyway and it will be out of your control and can have incorrect information. Imagine if you owned a restaurant and the Google place page stated it was closed on Sundays when you were trying to attract more customers for that day.
The second reason for controlling the Google place page is that you can leverage it. The address is used to tailor localized searches. Google knows where most searchers are when they search, and the results are tailored based on that information. If you take your laptop from Winnipeg to Vancouver, you should expect to see different results for the same search in the two cities. The local search results are prominent, with a map showing them. If you can get in the top three in this method it will have a huge impact on your website visits.
Even if your business does not have a storefront, or does not have face to face customers, these addresses can help you get more local customers. Google Places also have an option for businesses with no store front though.
When your Google place is set up, you can ask your customers to leave you reviews. Reviews are the best way to get referrals, but also a great way to increase your search engine ranking. A business with positive reviews will get a higher rank, and will also get more clicks than one with poor reviews. If you are in position three, you can get more clicks than the site in position one by having better customer ratings.
STEP 3. Write words.
The main thing that search engines use to index your site is still words. Many other things are at play as well, but the copy on your site matters.
Start by identifying your main keywords and phrases. You might think it is obvious, but you might also get this one wrong. You need to consider what people are searching for, not what you are promoting. For example, if you are offering taekwondo classes for children, you need to consider that “karate” could be a more popular keyword because people think of it first. Or maybe “after school programs” is a more popular key phrase. The words and phrases that have the most people searching for them are not necessarily the ones that accurately describe what you are promoting.
You do not have to settle on a single key word or phrase, but you do have to optimize each one on its own. The easiest way to do this is simply have a separate page on your website that talks about each key word or phrase. You can intermix them across all the pages on your site, and this will be helpful too. If certain words appear frequently on your website then it helps optimize for those key words.
Making a separate page to talk about each word or phrase allows you to concentrate on a discussion of the phrase, which will automatically add in proper context and supporting words. You do not have to figure out what those supporting words are. If you write the page honestly, then it will already be in the right context. Don’t over-think it.
You can do this continuously over a long period of time. However, adding new content is better than frequently changing content. This is one of the reasons that a lot of entrepreneurs post regular articles on their websites.
If you follow these steps you will get started on helping your site rank well. If you want help going through the process, let us know and we would be glad to help out.