Search engine optimization—three words that dictate how consumers find you online.
If you ask any expert, they’ll tell you that your SEO solutions are one of the most, if not the most important, online marketing tools for your business. So what does it really take to see search engine ROI?
From keywords and content, to website optimization and social media, it can be difficult to decide which SEO tactics your business needs and the best ways to implement them. To help make these choices simpler, we’ve compiled four things you need to know about SEO:
Your website’s performance is a major factor in your SEO rankings. A poor-performing website will counteract any SEO tactics and drive away consumers faster than you can complete a Google search. That’s why website optimization should top your SEO to-do list.
Start with the design of your website—is it built with mobile-friendly and responsive design? If not, fix this ASAP. One of the first requirements of Google’s SEO algorithm is a website’s ability to scale to different screen sizes and display properly on mobile devices. Any website that can’t do these two things will never appear on the first page of search results.
Another major player affecting search engine rankings is your website’s speed, more specifically its page load time. Web visitors expect a website to load in less than two seconds, and 40 percent of consumers will abandon a website with a load time over three seconds.
Still not convinced? Amazon reported a one percent loss of revenue for every additional 100 milliseconds of load time. Mere fractions of a second can be the difference between a conversion and a lost sale. Most often, a slow website results from:
Large image files
Failing to use HTTP compression
A large quantity of CSS image requests
The content on your website also impacts how you rank on search engines. When it comes to website SEO solutions, it’s extremely important to think of the end-user first and the search engine second. Google may ultimately rank your content, but its algorithm is smart and will penalize poor-quality content. And it will only continue to get more intelligent.
Photo: Example of keyword research via KWFinder
Before you start writing, consider the information consumers would search for in relation to your business and industry. Then, research related keywords to focus your content. When choosing your keywords, aim for ones that have a decent search volume (at least 100 per month) and are relatively easy to rank for.
Use keywords strategically throughout your content. For example, in blog posts, keywords should appear in the title, at least one heading and a few times in the body copy. On the backend of your post, the keyword should also appear in the web page URL, meta description and any image alt tags. However, be wary of overusing keywords in your content. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to know when a website is using keyword stuffing to increase rankings.
Photo: Example of a single web page SEO analysis by SmartKai.
Another factor Google scrubs for is content length and quality. Many of the top ranking web pages contain content that is 2,000+ words. However, in any case, Google values the quality of your content much more than length. For the best of both worlds, provide in-depth information that your consumers will find valuable and aim for a bare minimum of 400 words. Check out how your website content is performing with SmartKai’s SEO analysis tool.
If there is one SEO solution that is often overlooked by companies, it’s social media strategy. Although Google hasn’t officially announced social media as a ranking factor in its SEO algorithm, posts with higher numbers of social shares do tend to rank higher, indicating that social media can’t hurt your SEO ranking. In addition, adding social media icons and sharing options can also boost SEO rankings.
Social media is a useful tool because it allows you to reach a larger audience than your website. Not only can you promote your own content, but you can also use it to interact with others in your industry and consumers. Using hashtags on sites like Twitter and Instagram can help reach those who may not be following your account, and they can be used to encourage consumer engagement and drive traffic to your website.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of SEO solutions is patience. One of the hardest parts of implementing an SEO strategy is that you won’t see any significant changes overnight. Rather, seeing the results of your efforts takes time, often months. On average, you will start to see results and changes in your rankings within 3-6 months.
Several factors can affect the time it takes to see any changes in search results (you can see a longer list here). One of the biggest factors is the size of your industry and competitors. The larger, more dense your industry, the more competitors there are competing for the same keywords, which may increase the time it takes to boost rankings. If you have a competitor with a large domain authority, it will take even more time to increase your rank. On the other hand, a business in a smaller, more niche industry with less competition may not need as much time to see results.
Overall, SEO solutions are becoming a necessary element of online marketing success. When implemented correctly, they help consumers find your business online and are beginning to dictate the way search engines display results. Most importantly, remember that optimization and strong SEO will only help your business, but like most good things, you might have to wait just a little while before reaping the benefits.