How to Boost Your Site’s SEO
Search engine optimization is important for any business trying to gain exposure. If your website is well-optimized, this means that your site will rank higher on search engines. For example, if you’re a wedding planner located in Houston, Texas, you’ll want to have your site well-optimized so that it is one of the first websites that appears when someone searches “wedding planner Houston.” Also commonly known as SEO, search engine optimization requires a lot of patience. Many industries are very competitive nowadays, so it generally takes much longer to push your website up towards the top of the rankings. However, with plenty of devoted time and effort, you should be able to see your site slowly climbing the rankings toward your goal. In order to do so, there are a few key aspects of SEO you should pay close attention to.
One of the most common ways to try and raise your ranking is by optimizing your website with the correct keywords. Before you even begin brainstorming your website’s content, you should create a list of keywords to place into your copywriting. To start, include your business’s industry and location; then, try to be a little more specific. For example, if you’re a Kansas wedding baker who specializes in luxurious or gourmet wedding cakes, you could choose the more specific key phrase “gourmet wedding cakes Kansas.” Essentially, you should pick one word or phrase per page of your website and use that as your focus keyword.
Next, you need to use your chosen key phrase for each specific page a certain number of times. There is no general guideline for keyword density, except that you should use it as often as you can without being repetitive or sounding like you’re purposely “keyword stuffing.” Obviously, the more content you have per page, the more you can use your keywords. The most effective way to use your keywords is to include them as close to the top of your page as possible, and to place emphasis on them; this means you should make them bold, italicized, or (most favorably) place them in a heading.
Anchor text is the text that is clickable in a link. For example, in the following link, “Modern Luxe Creative” is the anchor text: Modern Luxe Creative. Anchor text is important, because it helps search engines gauge what a link is about. Rather than using the common “click here” and placing the link under “here”, try specifying where the link will take you, or what it’s about. Aside from keywords, anchor text is crucial in allowing search engines to quickly know what your website is about. If you place a few links throughout your website with anchor text that is related to wedding planning, search engines will know your website probably has something to do with wedding planning; therefore, your ranking will increase for search terms related to wedding planning. (By the way, the number of times I just mentioned “wedding planning” is a crystal clear example of keyword stuffing, which you should avoid for your keyword density. Plus, it just doesn’t sound nice.)
Also known as inbound links, backlinks are links on a website that link back to your own website. The process of establishing a large number of backlinks is commonly referred to as “link building.” Link building is often said to be one of the most effective and imperative ways to build up your search engine optimization. To get started, include your link on all of your social media accounts, and ask your friends, family, and colleagues who have a site to please link to your website. Another easy way to add a few links to your stash is to register your business in industry directories; you can find many free directories (depending on your industry), and who doesn’t love free advertising? Even if these are “nobody” sites, every link helps. However, backlinks can have more weight if they are from well-trafficked, well-established sites.
Additionally, link building is one of the main reasons having a blog is so crucial for a business that needs to boost their marketing and exposure. The more often you write high-quality articles, the more likely those posts are to be shared throughout social media. Each time one of your posts is shared, a backlink is created. For this reason, and many others, I am a strong believer in business blogs. Although they’re very time consuming, the reward can be substantial.
If you have a brick and mortar storefront, or if your online business is based in one specific place, you should create a local listing on the major search engines for your business. You can visit Google, Bing, and Yahoo to create a local listing on each of these major platforms. This allows your ranking to increase for your specific industry and location. Now, when someone searches for your particular trade in your state or city, your business will be one of the listings that pops up in regular search or on a map search. How high up it appears, though, depends on your overall search engine optimization. For this reason, a lot of the SEO tactics go hand in hand; you can’t solely focus on one of the methods for building your SEO, but rather you have to collectively work on each of the major methods.
Lastly, to boost the chances of your website being indexed, you should create and submit a sitemap to the major search engines. When a site is indexed, a search engine’s robots “crawl” your site; in other words, the “bots” navigate through your pages to get an idea of what your site is all about. This is why keywords, anchor text, and backlinks are important; the more clear signs there are as to what your site is about, generally the more thorough the indexing will be. Indexing is a frustrating part of search engine optimization because there is no guarantee when or if your site will be indexed. Also, there is no telling how many pages or how much of your content will be indexed; that’s really up to the search engines and there don’t seem to be specific guidelines that say that will or won’t be indexed or when. For this reason, it’s important to spend some sufficient time on your content to create the most favorable text as possible.
To create a sitemap, visit this sitemap generator and input your website’s link (PS- that was a perfect example of effective anchor text; “sitemap generator” is the anchor text, which clearly tells you where the link will take you). From there, click “Start”, and your sitemap will be generated. Once your sitemap is generated, it needs to be uploaded to your website (which you may need a web developer for), and then submitted to the major search engines. Here are instructions to submit your sitemap to Google and Bing. By submitting your sitemap to Bing, you have also submitted it to Yahoo, or vice versa.
How important do you think search engine optimization is? Some people believe it is crucial, while others believe it is on its way out.