Most companies have heard of search engine optimization (SEO) and know of its potential gains, yet many—from the little guys to Fortune 500 companies—still don’t have the basics figured out.
If you’re trying to grow your online presence, search engines are a great source of traffic. There’s a bunch of low-hanging fruit when it comes to SEO that often gets overlooked, especially on business websites. I’ll outline some SEO tricks that can make the most impact in the least amount of time. Though SEO can be confusing and even harmful if done improperly on your website, the techniques I’m going to outline are very basic and shouldn’t be the least bit harmful or unethical. Many of these suggestions can often be cleared up by installing a plugin or a simple change in your site’s template.
Here are nine SEO tricks you can try today.
1. Install Google Webmaster Tools
If you don’t have Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) installed on your website yet, you may be leaving dollars on the table. GWT can give you incredible insight about the relationship of your site with Google, the biggest search engine in the world.
It can give you important data like how many visitors come to your website from Google, what keywords they use to get there, how you rank in the results, errors on your site and much more. It can be a goldmine of data. (Oh, and if you don’t have Google Analytics installed either, do that while you’re at it, for the same reason.)
2. Improve Your Site Load Times
Google has increasingly given more weight to faster sites in the search results. If you have a slow website, it can hurt your ranking. Conversely, the faster your site loads, the better it can rank, plus there’s the benefit of boosted website conversions.
If you don’t know how slow your site is, you can use a tool like Google Page Speed to give you insights on how to speed up your site. Google Page Speed suggestions can get pretty technical, but if you’re using WordPress and know how to install plugins, there are some effective caching plugins like W3 Total Cache that can make it simple. If you’re not using WordPress, a developer worth his or her salt can make these modifications pretty quickly.
3. Install Cloudflare
Cloud flare can easily be one of the best things you can add to your website. It can speed up your site while protecting you from bots and other malicious attacks. Oh, and it’s free for most people. There really isn’t a downside here.
4. Take Advantage of Local Search
Include a page dedicated to your site—your About or Contact page, for example—that lists your company NAP information (name, address and phone number). Bonus points if you embed a map. Google is getting better every day about figuring this data out, but making it very clear to them can only help you. You can use the Google My Business service to flesh out your local listing as well.
5. List Your Business in the Top Local Directories
Here are the big ones: Yelp, OpenTable, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon. If you’ve got some extra time, you can shoot for some others, but these are the important ones. They’re the ones that consistently rank at the top for local based searches, so it’s important you’re in there as well.
6. Add Open Graph Data to Your Site
Are you familiar with Open Graph? It's a protocol that integrates Facebook's functionality on other sites. Google doesn’t rank pages with Open Graph data higher (yet), but this can make your site easier to index and classify for Google and is known to affect performance on social media. Also, this structured data can allow your pages to potentially show up more prominently in results, depending on the type of content. Nearly every content management system (WordPress, Drupal, etc.) has plugins for this that you can simply install and set.
7. Use Share Plugins
This may not sound like SEO advice, but it really is. Getting more people to share your content can be a round-about way to get backlinks, the currency of SEO. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ all have their own versions of plugins, or you can use a service like AddThis.
8. Install an SEO Plugin
There are a lot of small, mundane SEO tasks you can do on your own, like optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, creating and submitting sitemaps, etc. Or you can take 10 minutes and install a plugin that handles it for you automatically.
If you’re using WordPress or some other content management system, this can be really easy, and well worth the time. (I recommend Yoast for WordPress.)
9. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
Recently, Google started giving favor in their rankings to sites that had mobile-friendly designs. Consider hiring a designer to knock this out for you. This one can take a bit more work and time, but can make a huge impact. Mobile traffic is still rising, and the extra weight Google has just added means it may be a must-do.
Most of these changes altogether shouldn’t take more than an afternoon to implement, and they can have lasting effects on your search traffic.
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