When it comes to getting Your Small Business noticed amongst the line-up of other Businesses on Search Engines, it’s safe to say the competition is stiff. Think about it: there are literally thousands upon thousands of other Businesses within your industry, all vying for that all-important click from an Online browser that could determine whether or not you make a sale.
Of course, one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd and guarantee more traffic to your Site is by ranking more highly in the Search Engine Result Pages. Research suggests that most people only click the first 1-3 organic results (those which are not paid Ads) with much fewer searchers clicking on Websites 4-10. And if you’re on the second page of Google, forget it. This means that the top three results are the only ones that most people see, once they get past Google’s Ads and other features, making it THE place you want your Website to be.
Easier said than done though, right?
Well perhaps not. When Google’s robot looks at your Website, it considers a lot of different factors, including the content on the page, the URL, the Meta Tags and more. In fact, Google says there are more than 200 ranking factors (both on-page and off-page) that they pay attention to. This means there are 200+ ways that you can carefully and strategically optimize your Site to make it more favourable with Google. And if you’re friendly with Google, you’ll likely see a boost in your Search Result Rankings.
While we can’t list all 200 ways to optimize your Site, here are our pick of the top 6.
1. Be Mobile Friendly
These days, if your Website hasn’t been optimized for Mobile Devices, this will have an immediate negative impact on your Search Ranking Results.
The main way that people now engage with, search, shop and research Online is via their Mobile Devices, such as Smart Phones and Tablets. For this reason, Google places a high importance on Sites needing to be optimized to provide its users with the very best Mobile experience possible.
This means that when someone visits your Site they’re not greeted with a jumbled mismatch of content squashed onto a screen that’s too small or pixilated images. No, instead their Mobile experience is seamless and they’re met with a Website that looks good and is easy to navigate on their iPhone.
If you’re not sure whether or not your Site is Mobile Optimized, Google has a free tool that can help you find out. If you’re site isn’t Mobile friendly, getting there needs to be your top priority if you’re really committed to boosting your SEO efforts.
2. Include Sitemaps
No idea what a Sitemap is? Don’t worry, it’s not exactly terminology that comes up in everyday conversation. But trust us, the concept is quite simple and if you get it right they can play a big role in boosting your rankings.
Essentially Sitemaps are a way of telling Google what to expect when it tries to index your Site to determine where your Site will rank. If Google can’t find one, it has to crawl your Site through the available links, which means that if there’s an area of your Website that isn’t accessible through links, those pages won’t get indexed without a Sitemap.
Most CMS systems will automatically create Sitemaps for you, but there are also a huge range of plugins you can use to generate them. You can check whether or not your tool is creating valid Sitemaps by submitting the Sitemap in Google’s Webmaster Tool.
It may sound complicated, but once you get the hang of it, creating Sitemaps is well worth it for the betterment of your rankings.
3. Improve your site speed
The time it takes your Site to load also plays a significant role in where Google will place your Website in its rankings.
Research shows that the average attention span is now only 8 seconds – probably even less if you’re searching on your Mobile and are distracted by your surroundings! This means that if your Site takes any longer than 3-4 seconds to load, you’ll likely have people bouncing off your Site faster than you can say “please don’t go!”. Google will identify these people abandoning your Site and will punish you by pushing you further down the Search Results Pages.
To ensure your Website isn’t so slow that it’s driving both your customers and Google away, put it through an Online Tool that can give you an average load time. If it’s far too slow, consider what could be the cause and make the necessary adjustments.
4. Are you SSL Protected
Search Engines take security very seriously these days, and so they should! And you should too – not just for the benefit of improved rankings, but also for the cyber safety of your Site visitors.
You’ve probably noticed the little https that so often precedes a Site’s URL. Well this means that this Website is protected by an SSL certificate, something that Google values when it comes to establishing its organic rankings. In fact, Google recently announced that Websites without an SSL certificate could not expect to rank highly within search results any longer.
So there you go – straight from the horses mouth. An SSL certificate is absolutely crucial for your Website.
5. Good Quality Content
High quality Website content is often overlooked as a critical component of aiding (or hindering!) a Website’s rankings in Google. This isn’t hard to believe, given that most Small Business Owners aren’t professional Copywriters skilled in the art of SEO writing.
If you really want your content to assist your rankings, hiring a professional Copywriter is always a great idea. Here at Sites n Stores we have a trained team of writers who can generate content which is perfectly optimized to suit Googles requirements.
However, if you really can’t afford it, or think you can do a top job yourself, then there are a few key things to remember:
- Web Pages with approximately 350-500 words tend to perform the best in search results.
- Include Keywords that are relevant to your industry, services and products.
- DON’T fall into the trap of Keywords stuffing.
- Avoid creating duplicate content, as Google will see this as spam.
Essentially, you want to generate content that’s easy to scan and appeals to both Google and your potential customers.
6. Get Social
While Google hasn’t announced exactly how much weight it places on social signals when determining the Search Rankings, we do know that it does take them into consideration.
With this in mind it’s important to provide people with a way to share your content via Social Media, as well as embed your Social Stickers on your Website. This will not only see you impressing Google, but it will give your visitors an easy way to, not only reach your Site through Social Media, but also share your content with their friends, helping to attract new visitors to your Site.
By following the above 6 steps, you’ll likely give your Website the boost it needs to see it improve its ranking and, hopefully, make its way into those highly prized 1-3 position in the Google results.