Retailers know that location matters. Place a store in a high-traffic area with favorable demographics and you’ll see sales spike. For online businesses, it’s search engines that determine location traffic. Get on the front page of search results when would-be customers are looking for what you offer, and you improve your odds of making a sale. How can you do that? Through Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
Put simply, SEO is the act of broadcasting what your site stands for through design and content so that search engines bring you the most relevant visitors.
4 Ways to Get Google to Notice Your Site
In practice, Bing and DuckDuckGo aren’t all that different from Google. Yet it’s the latter that drives traffic to most online stores. According to researcher comScore, Google still serves a majority of U.S. search requests. Getting good with The Big G is where you want to focus your SEO efforts. Here are four ways you can do that without hiring an expert.
1. Focus on relevance
Search engines are designed to fetch. Enter a term, and Google will return a full page of results. The link at the very top represents its best guess at filling your needs. In SEO, your aim is to be that first link by designing your site to be the most relevant result for a user who’s searching for what you offer. Say build a website that sells socks. Not just any socks, but custom-made “cool socks.” Your site should focus on relevant content that uses phrases related to (and including) “cool socks.”
2. Use multimedia
Good words alone won’t get you a good ranking. Google and its peers are more interested in sites that have a wide variety of content that serves a specific need. Video can be particularly important because it’s accessible content that offers fast answers, says marketer and social media expert Gina Schreck.
3. Build authority
What others think of your site matters to search engines. Connect with fans and customers and make it easy for your content to be shared on social media and blogs. The more sites and services that link to you, the more authority Google will assign to your site when ranking it in results.
4. Be descriptive.
Finally, it pays to know a few HTML tricks. Say you’re building the fun socks website. Insert “cool socks” into the title tag of your site and do the same for “h1” or headline tags, meta description and alt image tags. Think of them as dog whistles: you can’t see the code on a page, but a search engine does, and it uses these HTML signals to decide where your site should rank in an index of related sites (meta description isn’t used as a ranking factor but it does help with user click through from the search engine results page!). For example, look at the website code for Culture Sock, a quirky e-tailer that sells fun socks in odd lots. The title tag tells Google that the site will serve those who search for cool socks.
Before You Hit Publish…
For most of this article we’ve been talking about technical optimizations, and for good reason. Tweaking details can make it easier for search engines to notice your site, but they won’t give you that premium first-page juice you seek — that’s where well-crafted content comes in.
This may sound subjective. Good content to one reader is lousy content to another, right? Maybe. The good news is that free tracking software such as Google Analytics can help you to better understand what your audience thinks. Where do visitors go when they arrive at your site? How long do they stay? Do they buy more than one product? Google Analytics has customizable reporting options that can tell you all this and more.
Use the data to fine tune your content, your offerings, and your descriptions until you’ve reached a satisfactory point, and then tinker more when growth starts to slow. SEO isn’t a fix-it-and-forget-it process; it’s an ongoing effort to serve your customers well — and get noticed in the process.
Author Bio: Adam Tanguay leads SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media programs at Weebly, the DIY website builder used by entrepreneurs around the world to bring their best ideas to life.