SEO tips to try if your want to improve your ranking
Search Engine Optimization is a complicated business. If you're like most other small business owners, you already have a million other things on your mind and spending hours trying to figure out how to improve your website's search ranking is probably low on your list of priorities.
However, SEO is critical for any business - if you're trying to market your business online, you need to make sure that you're making the most of your investment. With that in mind, we've put together a list of 5 quick, concrete steps you can take to make sure your site is optimized for search engines. If you take these steps, you should see a big improvement in your search rank.
1. Add a sitemap
A sitemap is an XML document that tells Google and other search engines the structure of your website and what pages they should index.
Sitemaps are very important, but amateur web designers often neglect them. Here are a few words about the importance of sitemaps from Dummies.com:
A good site map does the following:
Shows a quick, easy-to-follow overview of your site.
Provides a pathway for the search engine robots to follow.
Provides text links to every page of your site.
Quickly shows visitors how to get where they need to go.
Utilizes important keyword phrases.
Google has detailed instructions on creating and submitting your sitemap.
2. Optimize your images
Everyone knows that you need to have text content that emphasizes the keyword phrases you want to rank for, but have you optimized your images for keywords as well?
A picture may be worth 1000 words, but they're 1000 words that search engines aren't able to read. Luckily, there's a handy tool you can use to help Google and other search engines understand your images - this tool is called an alt tag. Joost de Valk wrote a great post over at Yoast about alt tags and why they're important, which you can check out for more information.
3. Fix your broken links
If your site has been operating for any significant length of time and you haven't kept up with maintenance, you almost definitely have at least a few broken links on your website. A broken link is a link that no longer points to the page it was supposed to link to. These usually end up with an HTTP 404 error.
Pages with broken links (and broken images) are seen as less trustworthy by Google. Check out this post by Trent Blizzard at BlizzardPress about how fixing broken links resulted in an instant boost in a site's search placement.
4. Improve your site speed
Google's goal is to deliver great results that solve the problems its users have. One of the factors that Google considers when deciding whether a site is a great result is how quickly the site loads for visitors. After all, if a visitor gets impatient and clicks away before it finishes loading, that site is not going to help the visitor.
With this in mind, it's important to reduce your site's loading speed as much as you can. Moz has written a great article about the impact of load times on search ranking. Search Engine Land has a guide on how to improve your load times.
5. Make sure your site is mobile friendly
Google has made a couple updates over the last year or so that penalize websites that aren't mobile friendly. You can read our posts about these updates here and here. But the bottom line is that your site needs to be mobile friendly, which means you either need a dedicated mobile site, or you need your website to be responsive.
Redesigning your website to be responsive can be a costly task, so make sure you need it first. Use Google's new tool that tests sites for mobile-friendliness.
How is your site ranking?
If you've taken any of these steps to improve your small business website's SEO, let us know how they worked. Did you see any improvement? How quickly did your site's ranking increase? Leave a comment or drop us a line on Twitter.