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Operating a successful small business online or offline is highly dependent on traffic, whether it’s local or on the web, you’ll always need ‘eyeballs’. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a marketing discipline aimed at improving the ranking positions of web pages on search engines results pages (SERPs).
A strong SEO strategy is crucial today because consumers are using search engines to discover products and access information. In fact, SEO is partly responsible for the growth of highly successful companies like Amazon, Yelp and WebMD.
So if your business isn’t visible on search engines, you’re certainly leaving money on the table. Organic search is a very important source for acquiring new customers.
Also, try not to fall for the social media hype. Your success won’t come from any one social platform. These companies are only additional channels for generating traffic to your site (including lead gen, sales, awareness campaigns etc.) and should be seen as such, nothing more!
“But what if I don’t have the budget to hire a professional SEO”
This post should guide your focus until you’re able. That being noted, saying you don’t have the budget for SEO is kind of saying you don’t want to grow your traffic, don’t you think?
Has SEO changed?
No, it hasn’t changed much from the previous year. Yes, there are a few things like site speed and mobile-compatibility (both of which we’ll discuss shortly) that make search engines happy but at its core, the goal is still the same. And that’s getting your web pages on page one of SERPs!
What does success in SEO look like?
When you have several web pages appearing on page 1 for their given queries, then you’re doing a great job, providing that you’re receiving organic traffic.
All right, here are five things that you absolutely must do in SEO.
1. Earn Links
Despite what some people will want you to believe, links still matter. Backlinks to your website continue to show the highest correlation with top rankings. The number of web pages or sites that link to yours are seen as ‘votes’ by search engine algorithms.
2. Content is The Beginning
Content is the start but not the finish line and you’ll need lots of it in high-quality.
The reason people come to your website is primarily for information. Your site has to solve the user’s problem or provide a solution to their need. So every company needs great content but it’s only the beginning because if no one is reading your stuff, then your publications have no value.
If you don’t have the time or resources to produce engaging content, just hire quality content writers to do so for you. Here are 5 content formats that you can consider for your site.
Infographics (visually appealing graphics with information) get shared the most and viewed more out of any other content type. A review by BuzzSumo revealed that images are among the most shared content elements.
A video is super engaging and has the potential to go viral in minutes. A video can communicate messages clearly and drive qualified traffic to your site. It can also increase the likelihood of your content being shared.
Memes are funny, likable, viral and easy to make. You have seen memes before, like this one:
Guides are long-form content that’s informational and very detailed. They help users understand a certain subject without having to look at different pieces of content. Our guide to writing for the web is a good example of this.
Lists are great, especially when applied to blog content. Take this publication as an example. We’ve included a mini-list within it. This is a mini-list within a blog post. Lists are great and people love them because they’re straight to the point.
3. On-page Keyword Use
There’s a strong correlation between on-page keyword use and higher rankings. But it’s tricky because if you overdo it, your web page can become penalized and drop in rankings. Your target keyword should be present in the page title and description search snippet, on-page header, subheaders and body content.
The general rule of thumb is to have as much or similar keyword density as others on the SERP. This is because Semantic Search has changed the way search engines understand web pages. What is it?
It means actively trying to understand web pages without heavily relying on keyword usage. So there’s no magic number when it comes to keyword use. Look at the sites that are ranking for the keyword you want to target and calculate their keyword density like VodaHost puts it:'Divide the number of times that you have used a specific keyword by the total number of words in the text that you are analyzing and multiply the result by one hundred to achieve your percentage.'Click To Tweet
4. Mobile Usability (mobile-friendly sites)
Google informed the public a while back that more searches are coming from mobile devices. And they even started favoring sites that were mobile-friendly. They still do so!
So it’s important that your website’s compatible with mobile devices. No one likes to scroll side-to-side just to read info on your site.
Take the two images below as an example. The image on the left has information that you can’t see on mobile unless you scroll to the right. The image on the right has all the information visible without needing to scroll, therefore, it’s mobile-compatible.
5. Site Speed
The speed at which your site loads is important to users. We live in a world where people have less patience and I’m not blaming social media for this. I feel that when we look at history, human behavior has always changed with the introduction of new or advanced technology.
Your site should load fairly quickly on mobile and desktop devices. If you’re in an industry like beauty or photography where you need to show high-res photos, then make sure that you get a fast web hosting service.
Your SEO strategy should incorporate all of the above. You should be actively building links to your website and creating content with target keywords. Ensure that your website is responsive or at the very least, mobile-friendly.