For most businesses and organizations, your website is a primary point of contact and front-line marketing tool for a large portion of your customer base. Optimizing a site for SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, helps to boost its visibility on search engines. This is a fundamental component of any modern digital marketing strategy. Here are six essential steps for optimizing the SEO on your website.
Domain Name Control
Your domain name is one of the first things you do when creating a website for your company or organization. When choosing a domain, the name should have explicit ties to a specific cause, product or service that you represent or offer. The main concern for most site owners is to secure similar domain names that could confuse customers or damage their other SEO efforts.
It is best to select a name that coincides with your company’s or organization’s name. This will make it more memorable and easier for your clients or potential future clients to find. Avoid adding special characters or unnecessary numbers to your domain as this makes it harder to remember and type in correctly. Additionally, you should always use a .com where appropriate. While other types of top level domains like .net or .co may be less expensive, they don’t carry the same kind of authoritative weight that a .com domain carries.
If you need to change your domain, you want the new domain to carry all of the same SEO power that your previous domain had. Make sure you do your redirects correctly to send users to the correct site and signify to search engines which version of your domain and website they should be showing to searchers.
Find Good Hosting
A good hosting service provider isn’t just about improving user experience on your website although, it does often do this. When users enter a site and it takes too long to load, they will often click away within three seconds. This is referred to as bounce rate and a poor bounce rate can negatively affect your SEO.
Additionally, websites that have slow response times can be penalized by search engine algorithms. When a search engine crawls your site and sees that it takes a long time to load, especially if it has certain elements that take longer, like a banner or product page, it will give lower value and priority to your site. Instead, the search engine will steer users towards streamlined online destinations that load faster and provide information more quickly.
Sitemap and Architecture
It’s always better to plan your site’s layout and architecture before you start designing it, but it’s never too late to reorganize it to offer better SEO potential. Many conventional sites follow an umbrella structure with a primary landing or home page that branches out into categories, which may be divided even further. Regardless of which strategy you choose, you should create a sitemap once your website is complete. A sitemap is a file that you store on your website that helps search engine crawlers better understand the layout of your website. You can create your own sitemap or you can have an external company create one for you, particularly if they have already created your website.
Keywords and Content
Keyword research has always been a fundamental part of SEO optimizations, even on sites that are dominated by pictures and video. Search engine algorithms rely on written content to determine key details about sites, which allows them to deliver search results to users. Appropriate keywords, geographical focus and proper grammar are all relevant.
Focus on using the right keywords for each specific page on your site. While you should have an overall keyword and content strategy, each page will have content that caters to what that page is about. If you have a blog, this is a great place to work on a content strategy for each keyword that you have for your website. This also haleps in making your messaging cohesive for visitors and is a good place to add internal links for SEO.
Internal and External Links
Part of what determines your site’s visibility through search engines is the presence of internal and external links. Links from credible, external sites that have high authority ratings can offer a huge boost to your SEO efforts. These external links need to be built as organically as possible. Always avoid spammy links, link farming, and any other poor SEO practices. These will get you a quick penalty from search engines, particularly Google, and will be hard to come back from.
Most websites should also have internal links that connect content and information to create a more fluid experience for users. The purpose of these links will vary, but often it is good to include internal links on blog posts and point readers to where they can learn more about a particular service or product and how they can obtain it.
Frequent Updates and Maintenance
A good website is never really finished. Trends, information and consumer habits change constantly, particularly in digital environments. Website maintenance should include fixing or removing broken links, updating existing content with new information, and generating new material on a regular basis. Remember to always update your content in particular if you have product listings. If your products run out or are in limited supply, this should be clearly stated on your website. You may also want to regularly update or at least check on your site security. Ensuring a secure connection for users encourages search engines to rank your site more favorably.
Website optimization always involves a healthy amount of trial and error. While this process presents its share of frustrations and setbacks, a well-developed SEO strategy can offer amazing marketing value in the long-term. If you aren’t sure where to start, work with a reputable marketing or SEO company to see what needs to be done first on your website. They can guide you in the right direction to make sure that your SEO is done in the best way possible and that all of your website optimizations are correct and accurate.