We all want to get found online, right? Our website is our new storefront--and that’s a fact whether or not you have an actual brick and mortar store. The consumer journey almost always starts online and if you aren’t showing up in search results that apply to your industry or business, then who is? Maybe your competitor.
There are many steps you can take to start showing up in search engine results, but for those that want to get started today, here are 10 things you can do right away to help your long-term SEO efforts.
Search engines love newly updated pages full of strong, specific content. This is why blogging, content marketing, and inbound marketing have all become a growing part of many marketing strategies. The more you blog, the more authenticity you demonstrate, the more reasons you have to rank well for keywords, and the more you can provide value to those prospects looking for answers and solutions.
2. Understand your Prospects and Consumers
By understanding what types of things your prospects are searching for online, and what needs they have, you can better understand what keywords you want to rank highly for in search results. It’s difficult to show strongly for very general search terms simply because there’s so much competition, so starting out you’ll want to focus on long-tail keywords (those that are more specific and less competitive, even if they’re searched less often).
For instance, if our company, LeadG2, were just getting started we might not focus on the term “inbound marketing,” but instead on something like “getting started with inbound marketing” or “inbound marketing best practices for B2B.”
3. Keep Track of Top Questions your Prospects are Asking
To go with #2, it’s important that your salespeople are regularly recording and sharing with the content marketing staff the questions they hear most often during the sales process. These should include specific inquiries and objections about your company or products, but also about your industry in general.
4. Answer those Questions
Take those questions and make sure you have a lot of content--blog posts, eBooks, website pages, etc.--that answer those questions. If prospects are asking those questions directly to salespeople, they are probably searching for them online as well. And if your company is not answering them, then the business may go to a competitor who is.
5. Write Great Titles
We know better than to judge a book by its cover, right? Well, it turns out that as consumers, and especially as online researchers, we judge titles all the time. Research shows that a title can make or break a great blog post or even landing page. Use actionable words, think about what’s going to get the most clicks and draw people in, and also look at what’s already working online.
6. Write Great Meta Descriptions
As stated in Search Engine Journal, “Sites with very appealing, powerful, relevant, and readable descriptions tend to rank higher.”
While incorporating keywords into your meta description is great and all, making it click-worthy (and written for humans) is equally, if not more, important. Do some research and look at what’s showing up at the top of keywords you want to rank for. How are their descriptions written? What words are they using?
And length is important there too. Don’t go over the 150-character limit to avoid having your description chopped off in search engine results.
7. Use the Language Your Prospects Use—Not Your Industry Jargon
Keyword research should be used as market research, as evidence of how customers and prospects speak and search, but so often it’s ignored. One example I see again and again is marketing companies that sell online assets. You might not see a great difference between using the term “digital marketing” over “internet marketing” or “online marketing.” But a little research will show us that on average, monthly searches for these terms can greatly vary:
- Digital marketing - about 12,000 searches a month
- Online marketing - about 6,600 searches a month
- Internet marketing - about 9,900 searches a month
So, the clear winner is digital marketing and it would make sense to use this in place of the other two in most cases.
8. Write Great Content
This should be obvious but writing great content for your website is one of the best ways to show up in search engine results. Your website copy and blog post articles should be well thought out, descriptive, and written to answer questions your prospects have.
Google’s search algorithm rewards great content, so don’t think that it’s all about plugging keywords and just hitting publish. Relevant, unique content is key here.
9. Make it Social
Google and other search engines give a lot of weight to what is being shared socially. It’s the human factor. If people are likely to share an article or webpage, then there must be value in it. So, make sure you’re sharing on social regularly and get your employees, customers, and partners to share content, too.
Not only will this help you attract more visitors via social sites, but it will help with your SEO results as well. It’s a win-win!
10. Make Sure your Website is Responsive
You’ve probably heard this a lot, but that’s because it’s true! Responsive design refers to those websites whose architecture is optimized for screens of all sizes and representing all platforms. If your site doesn’t yet have that architecture, you’re going to suffer starting real soon. This has gone from nice-to-do to important-to-do and now it’s critical-to-do. I could easily have listed it at the very top of this list, as all of the other steps won’t really matter if your website isn’t responsive and optimized for all devices.
Bonus: Be patient!
This isn’t exactly a step, but it’s an important part of SEO. Patience is key. It takes time for search engines to recognize your website, especially if it’s new or if you’ve just started focusing on SEO and inbound marketing.
Don’t get discouraged and remember every little win counts. Track your efforts and remember that it’s all working toward one goal and these little wins will add up over time.