Spoiler Alert: There’s No SEO Magic Bullet!
Have a website? Building a website? Already built a website? Thinking about a starting a website?
If you can answer "yes" to any form of the above listed questions, and you're worried about your website's SEO ranking, then you're in the right place!
You invested in your company's website to give your customers another option to connect with you and increase your sales. Of course, your clients and prospective clients need to find your website. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) plays an essential role.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the focus of optimizing a website in order to rank higher in the search engine results, and it addresses the most obvious goal for any website - which is to make sure that people can easily find the products or services that you sell. Your website needs to rank high on the list of search results in Google, Bing, or any other search engine that one of your potential leads may be using.
When the keyword or phrase often appears in your content in a high-quality manner, the search engine ranks your website higher. This means when the potential customers get a list of results, your website is at or near the top.
Improving your website's SEO ranking takes some careful planning, but it's worth it, so your website can be found at the top of the page in search results.
There are five steps to you can take to start improving your website's SEO:
Let's dive deeper into these five easy steps to start optimizing your SEO and finding those new customers to grow your business.
1. Measure Your SEO Baseline to Compare It to Future Results
You won't know how much progress your company has made with its website's SEO if you don't know where you started. You need to know where your website ranks right now.
What do search engines, like Google and Bing, think about your current website and where do you appear in search results for key phrases that you’ve determined are the most important for you?
Here are some things you need to know to start your SEO baseline report:
How Are People Arriving to Your Website?
How are people coming to your site now? Some traffic you see on your website comes from direct traffic. These customers already know about your company and enter your website address into their browsers.
Organic search traffic arrives at your website by using a search engine, such as Google and Bing. This is essential information for your baseline because if your SEO optimization is successful, you'll see the number of clients arriving through organic search traffic.
To Arrive at Your Website, What Keyword Did the Customer Enter Into Google?
What key phrases are people searching on Google to find your website? This is a really important step. Knowing what keywords and phrases that REAL people are searching to find you is critical because you can begin monitoring these key phrases for results.
You have your own industry jargon, but this isn't necessarily phrases a customer would use. You want to find out what your actual target audience entered into Google to land on your website.
You need to determine if these words and phrases are turning into leads and customers. If the answers yes, then you want to create new content focusing on these topics. If the phrases and keywords you're already focused on aren't getting results, it's time to start over.
Do you know who you're targeting? It's essential in this step to know who your key market is and get into their thought process.
Who Is Your Competition?
Who are your competitors? It's essential to know your competition to measure your success. You can usually see your competition in two categories.
- First, as the owner of the website, the companies that you believe are your competition.
- Second, the companies with websites showing up in the Google ranking where you want to be. Who is showing up in the first page of the search results for the keywords that are important to you?
2. Create A Plan To Publish Original Content
Original content with the right keywords and phrases makes a huge difference for your company. It's essential to your Google ranking and for new customers to find your website to purchase items or services. Now that you have a better idea of the keyword and phrases that are bringing you more leads, you can start to add content in the areas where you’d like to see more growth.
Look at the success rate of your SEO keywords and phrases and identify those that aren't doing well. These are the words and phrases to concentrate your efforts when creating and publishing new original content, including:
- Website pages -You can always add more pages to your website that revolve around the keyword or phrase.
- Blogs - Write short articles about a specific topic that includes your keywords that offers value for your customers. These blogs should align your company as an expert on the subject. For example, if you're running a peanut butter company, you might write an article about using peanut butter as a protein source.
- Videos - Adding video content on the topic to your website is a great way to up your SEO power. Film videos about the keyword or phrase to boost your SEO results. You must include a transcript with your video to optimize your SEO.
- Long-form or ungated content - Creating content offers in the form of white papers, case studies, or eBooks are great and powerful tools that provide real value for your clients and leads. However, they aren't doing much for your SEO game if they are locked behind a form. You must create an ungated version with the same content so Google can read it while searching for results.
Pro-Tip: Sit down and create a six month content calendar based on your goals, personas, targeted keywords, and special events/holidays. Creating a content calendar helps you stay focused and ensure that you're planning to hit all of your content creation goals.
3. Don’t Forget the Most Basic SEO Strategies
While you're concentrating on the latest and greatest SEO strategies, you don't want to skip the basics. It sounds obvious, but so often the most elementary SEO tactics are forgotten!
These basics are the building blocks for all of your SEO content. You don't want to miss out on the new business that these basics can add to your website. Here are a few to keep them fresh in your mind:
Page Titles and Descriptions
Make sure you use logical and keyword-filled page title tags and page descriptions.
You want your page titles to feature at least one of your keywords or phrases. Of course, you need to make sure that the title is logical, and it doesn't look forced. It should be easy and second nature to add SEO keywords to your product descriptions. While you don't want the description to appear repetitive, you can usually add a couple of keywords into a detailed description of a product.
Backlinks serve as a way to link your webpage with another website. While these play a big role in SEO rankings, it's a good idea to check your backlinks from time to time to ensure the pages are still active and a good match with your website and company. Check the health of your backlinks and remove/disavow any that are harmful to your site.
What is a backlink, you ask? Click here to read more about backlinking.
Be sure you are linking your similar content. If you haven't started creating your topic clusters, now's the time!
You want your content to link to other webpages on your website. This helps your rankings with search engines. However, the links need to be relevant. You can check these occasionally to ensure that the pages are still the best-related page.
While all of these are small things, it can make a huge difference to your website's ranking in Google and Bing.
For additional SEO strategy pointers, read our blog: 5 Things You Need for Improved SEO But May Not Know How to Do
4. Introduce Your Site to the Search Engines
Are you using Google Search Console yet? What about Bing Webmaster Tools? If not, why aren't you???
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are two essential programs that you need to use on your website. If you aren't already using these tools, stop reading and follow the links to get them.
These free tools are another useful SEO tactic that can help you monitor and maintain your presence in the search engine results.
For our clients, we create XML sitemaps then submit them to Google or Bing. The great thing about these free tools is that after submitting your sitemap, they quickly know what pages exist on your website and can start crawling them. It seems to decrease the time it takes to get found for the most important key phrases because we’re able to feed new webpages into the search engines quicker than they might have normally been found.
5. Make Sure You Have the Right SEO Tools
Some of these action items you may be able to get done on your own, and even better, many of them are free! Unfortunately, free tools can only get you so far. When you want to meet your SEO ranking goals, you're going to need the right SEO tools.
In order to really put all the pieces together and make sure that your SEO is integrated with your sales strategy, you’ll need data that goes further than what is available in the free stat offerings. We like HubSpot, but there are many tools available. Hubspot can provide you with the data you need to integrate it into your sales goals and achieve them.
HubSpot is the closed loop analytics system that we recommend for not just improving your company's SEO, but for increasing inbound leads and ultimately sales that help your company reach its growth goals.
The HubSpot Marketing software allows you to:
- Plan an effective SEO strategy.
- Increase the number of leads through your website content strategy and landing pages.
- Understand which key phrases are creating the most leads.
- Optimize your content.
- Track the leads through the sales process and even once they’re customers.
- Communicate with leads beyond just your website through landing pages, emails and social media.
- Measure real return on investment.
Well, there it is - five steps to get you started down the road of website SEO optimization. With these five easy steps, you can up your SEO content game and reap the rewards in the form of new leads and customers.
If you don't have an overall SEO strategy in place for your website, we recommend getting started on that right away. And, after you've ensured that you're taking these initial steps to optimize your website, you may want to read more about other features that every website should have. Download our free ebook book below:
Originally posted June 2014. Updated July 2020.