Tips for better search results (SEO), before paying for ads
Many people ask me how they can increase traffic to their website, or rank better in Google searches, without spending lots of money. Although Google search ranking criteria changes often, the basics stay the same. If you have a DIY website or have not reviewed your SEO, content and business information in a while, it's time to do it now.
Some website developers would like you to believe your website can't rank well because it is not on their platform of choice (so you should switch to them). Not true. Good SEO has more to do with how well your website was set up on the back-end and the relevancy of your content.
Take my own photography website for instance, jaynecarney.com. It had been on the back-burner for a couple of years because I was too busy with my website business to deal with it. I recently took the time to review my content and back-end SEO information, and I realized it had outdated content, keywords, services and images. Even a web designer can own a website that needs serious attention!
Steps you can take for better search engine results, or SEO, before spending money on advertising:
Content and Branding: When is the last time you reviewed the content on your website? As your business grows and evolves, so should your content and branding. If someone searched for your services, would your website content tell search engines that you provide that service? Has your website just existed online without any updates or changes for a while? Search engines are more interested in active websites than old, stale websites. Keep your content updated and relevant to your business, and start adding blog posts regularly. I know it's hard to find the time, but it can pay off!
Site Structure: What the heck are H1's, H2's, H3's keywords and alt text, anyway? If you had someone create your website or if you are a DIY-er, chances are, you don't know how site structure can impact search results. Search engines try to figure out what the most important information is on your website. To do that, they use the site structure. Incorrect or missing items will impact your search results.
H1, H2, P1, P2: Search engines rank headings and paragraphs according to importance. H1 text means Header 1, which should be used only once on each page, indicating the most important text on that page. H2 would be the next most important, typically sub-headings, and can be used more than once per page. P1 would be the most important paragraph text, and so on.
Keywords can be used within your content and paragraphs, as long as the wording fits in the paragraph organically. Think about what phrases people may use to search for your services, and use those phrases within your website content.
SEO and Alt Text: SEO should be set up on each page. If you look at your page tab in your browser, do you see a proper description of that page? This is the title text that Google will show in search results. Alt text is a text description added to images. It tells search engines and screen readers what is in the image and how it relates to your website. Websites that don't have on page SEO or alt text won't rank as well in searches.
Links and Backlinks: Search engines like good links - each page should have a link to another page. Visitors should not come to a dead-end on a page with no option to click and move on. Links to other high traffic websites are great, and links from high traffic websites to yours are helpful. Those links indicate that the high traffic business has confidence in your website.
Social Media and Directories: What comes up when you do a search for your business? Many times, your social media pages and website directories will show up at the top.
Social Media: Do your social media pages reflect your current business? Have you posted anything on social media lately? Is your About information current, with a working link to your website? Do you have reviews showing for visitors to read? Encourage visitors to "like" and share your page, which can then direct more traffic to your site.
Directories: The most important directory to update is Google my Business. Make sure your information is current with Google and that you have claimed your business with any directories that show up in a search for your company. Request reviews; if customers are loving your business, search engines takes notice!
I hope these tips help you determine what you need to focus on before spending money with Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or other online marketing efforts that will cost you money. If you start with the basics, that may be all you need to boost your search engine rankings and SEO.
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