Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of creating and optimizing content for better rankings in search engine queries. The more relevant your content is, the higher it appears in consumer searches, and the more visible your brand becomes. In the past, marketers focused solely on using, or rather overusing, keywords in order to game the system. While keywords are still a vital part of any SEO strategy, there are more factors for beginners to keep in mind when developing an overall SEO strategy. If you want to boost the appearance of your brand in search queries, these six tips will help get you started.
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Build a Quality Site
Modern SEO requires knowledge that goes beyond just the keywords that capture attention when a search query is entered. Whether a consumer is searching on Google or Bing, the quality of your website is going to play a big role in how (and where) those search engines recommend your brand in a results list. Google, in particular, continues to increase the value it places on the quality of a site and the value of the content contained within. As you build your site, remember this is the foundation of all the SEO tactics you will employ. Make sure the overall structure of your site is sound. Try to avoid complex navigation, eliminate broken connections to internal and external content, and keep the visual appearance of the site simple, yet appealing to visitors.
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Research and Understand Keywords
With a solid foundation in place, you can start focusing on the keywords that will help push your site higher in the search rankings. It is important to remember that keywords are entirely unique to your product/service and the consumer searching for it. It is a good idea to take advantage of external tools that can help you discover valuable keywords that drive site visits within your niche. From there, you can narrow down keywords to those which perform the best for your specific product. For example, if you operate a 24-hour locksmith business in your region, it is a good idea to focus on long-tail keywords that include not only “locksmith in [region],” but also highlight the 24/7 nature of your business. A mixture of short keywords and long-tail keyword phrases helps enhance the performance of your site in search results.
Streamline for Mobile Users
More than half of web searches are now conducted from mobile sites. As such, you can assume that at least half, if not more, of your site visitors are looking at your brand via a mobile device. It is important now more than ever to have a site that is mobile-friendly. What does a mobile-friendly site look like visually? Simple is the best answer. To be more precise, navigation should be quick. Drop down menus shouldn’t engulf the entire page. Don’t force users to click several links within your page to get to the content. Most importantly, the site should load fast. Consumers are known to abandon a mobile search if the site and its internal pages take more than 3 seconds to load.
Focus on Unique, Valuable Content
This factor is particularly important to Google, but it applies more broadly to all searches. Google bots not only assess the validity of a site in relation to a consumer search based on the right keywords being present, but also on the value and uniqueness of the content. Think to yourself: does this content answer relevant consumer questions? From landing pages to blog posts, your content should be unique to your brand and your product/service. It should directly address common consumer concerns. Finally, it should highlight why your product/service is superior to the competition.
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Check Out the Competition
Speaking of the competition, sometimes a little reconnaissance is necessary to help you build a successful SEO operation. If you find that your brand is constantly lagging behind your competitors in search rankings, spend some time researching their site. Is there something about their content or site design that is different from yours, perhaps even better? Are they using different keywords? Look at the differences to see where you could make changes that would benefit your brand. Keep in mind, however, that simply copying their recipe won’t lead to success. You have to make it your own in the end.
Know What to Avoid
Finally, be aware that there are approaches to SEO that Google and other search engines will punish rather than reward. There is no shortcut to SEO success. You have to put in the work and go through a process of trial-and-error to discover the right twist that works for you. Google has a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide that will point out the SEO tricks it punishes rather than rewards. Make sure to avoid these at all costs!
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